Crotons are prized for their leaf coloration which includes different shades of red, yellow, and green. The leaves of these plants attract profuse looks when put in the center as a focal point against a neutral background.
Different Croton varieties are not so easy to grow since they require high humidity and constant warmth without temperature fluctuations, but you can still cultivate them indoors. Provide bright light, let the plants dry out before applying water, fertilize four times annually. Watch out for mealybugs and keep the plant free of dust. Use richly organic soil and mulch it if you are growing the plant outdoors. The ideal home for it is a bathroom.
Read on to find out about 20 different varieties of crotons.
Euphorbiaceae is a plant family that consists of more than 307 genera of trees, shrubs, climbers, and herbs that are massively distributed in tropical areas. Some genera are related to Malpighiaceae and one of them is Crotoneae.
Codiaeum consists of more than 15 species of trees and shrubs from Southeast Asia, Indomalaysia, and the Pacific Islands, including Codiaeum variegatum.
The plants have inconspicuous and unisexual flowers with both sexes borne in pendent spikes on the same plant. The leaf blades are variously or entirely lobed, marked with red, purple, green, yellow margins that are smooth, hairless. Many plants have been hybridized, resulting in a wide array of vividly splashed or spotted smooth, ruffled or twisted leaves.
New vivid forms make attractive landscape displays and have revived the popularity of crotons. They are especially attractive if mingled with other species that have deep green foliage and taller plants because they ensure protection from the sun.
Crotons were popular mainly in the early part of the twentieth century, but they weren’t cultivated properly. They were planted in full sun without irrigation and they don’t do well in the summer sun and need regular irrigation in the summer.
However, they are still cultivated today, primarily as houseplants, but some varieties perform well as outdoor plants, too.
The botanical name of crotons is Codiaeum and they perform well in zones 9-11. Russhfoil is yet another name by which crotons are recognized.
Croton plants bloom if provided with regular moisture and humidity during the warm months and moderate moisture and humidity during the colder months. They can grow more than 30 cm tall.
Their leaves start out green and soon develop incredibly diverse patterns in rich colors. Croton plants are native to Australia where they developed myriad leaf shapes and color mixtures. They can be large and broad to small, narrow and spiral, from green to cream, red, orange, even pink, thick, waxy, almost look artificial.
They leak a white sap that can discolor clothes or irritate the skin, so be careful where you put them and make sure your pets don’t come into contact with crotons.
20 Best Types
1. Codiaeum Variegatum ‘Petra’
Petra has thick stems, thick, large leaves pointed at the tip. Coloration can vary, but the leaves are usually green with prominent yellow or pink venation. It is one of my personal favorites.
Bonus care tip: Plant it in a white pot to make it look attractive. It tolerates lower levels of light.
2. Codiaeum ‘Jamaican Croton’
This plant variety is easy to distinguish because it has deep green leaves that are adorned with pale peach in the center along with hot pink venation and stems.
Bonus care tip: Use a banana peel to make the plant shiny. Provide fertile, humus-rich, and well-drained soil, preferably of acidic pH. As regards sunlight, bright filtered is necessary at midday.
3. Codiaeum ‘Picasso’s Paintbrush’
This plant lives up to its name and looks like a picture made up of long, thin lines in a vibrant color palette that resembles ornamental grass in some kind of a fairytale.
Bonus care tip: Plant this one in front of some larger species to add a splash of color to an otherwise dull display.
4. Codiaeum Variegatum ‘Florida Select’
Another personal favorite of mine, this showy species is made up of contrasts. Dark and light on each leaf, usually green leaves with yellow venation or very deep green with light pink venation.
Bonus care tip: Crotons are poisonous if ingested, so keep your pets away and wear protective gloves when handling the plant.
5. Codiaeum Variegatum ‘Gold Dust’
This is a plant that likes to hang out outdoors. It has oval leaves speckled with yellow spots. With time, you will need to transplant it into a somewhat larger pot.
Bonus care tip: Provide adequate light and find companion plants that will make it stand out.
6. Codiaeum Variegatum ‘Bush on Fire’
This is another interesting species that has green leaves with yellow and pink to red spots, curly at the tips, symbolic of its name.
Bonus care tip: Provide around 5 hours of sunlight and keep the soil evenly moist.
7. Codiaeum ‘Andrew’
This is an extremely popular species that bears narrow and long leaves with creamy markings on the leaf edges.
Bonus care tip: Provide bright light to dappled shade.
8. Codiaeum Variegatum ‘Eleanor Roosevelt’
Henry Coppinger first discovered this species which bears deep green leaves with yellow markings. It can grow around 5 feet tall so you will need a larger pot when it reaches that height.
Bonus care tip: Water moderately.
9. Codiaeum Variegatum ‘Banana’
This croton has lance-shaped green leaves adorned with splashes of yellow and deep pink.
Bonus care tip: It performs best if provided with light shade.
10. Codiaeum Varigatum ‘Zanzibar’
This plant has long and narrow leaves, green, yellow, orange and purple-very colorful indeed. It looks best if potted in a plain pot so that its contrasting leaves can stand out.
Bonus care tip: Indirect light will make this plant extremely happy.
11. Codiaeum Variegatum ‘Superstar’
Now, this is an interesting plant. It has somewhat long and lanceolate deep green leaves that are splashed with yellow spots. What an amazing contrast, right?
Bonus care tip: This one can be grown indoors or outdoors. Provide bright light and regular moisture.
12. Codiaeum Variegatum ‘Oak Leaf’
This is a relatively small variety that has an interesting leaf shape with green and yellow coloration.
Bonus care tip: Grow it in a smaller pot and put some decorative pebbles on top.
13. Codiaeum ‘Mother and Daughter’
This plant represents the symbiotic relationship between mother and daughter, hence the very name. The plant has long and narrow green, yellow, pink or burgundy leaves that hold another leaf that’s usually green with central pink venation.
Bonus care tip: Provide dappled shade and water once the soil becomes dry to the touch.
14. Codiaeum ‘Red Iceton’
The leaf coloration is initially yellow, but as it matures, the plant develops different leaf patterns: green with blatant pink venation, yellow with green tips and venation or green with yellow venation – there is a wide array of them to choose from.
Bonus care tip: Provide a rich, well-draining and humusy mixture for optimum growth.
15. Codiaeum Varigatum ‘Sunny Star’
This leafy friend can grow up to 5 feet tall and it has elliptic and small leaves with yellow venation. The stems are thin and more visible than in the case of other crotons.
Bonus care tip: Find a place where the plant will be exposed to bright light and turn it occasionally so as to ensure even exposure.
16. Codiaeum Varigatum ‘Mammy’
This plant looks dazzling if grown along a walkaway, where it can take even some full sun. It has curly and narrow, yellow, green and burgundy leaves.
Bonus care tip: Mulch for additional moisture if you are growing it outdoors.
17. Codiaeum Variegatum ‘Yellow Iceton’
This plant variety can be grown both indoors and outdoors. It is distinguished by medium yellow leaves with green markings at the tips, central green venation, and small veins on both sides.
It looks best if paired with other burgundy and green varieties.
Bonus care tip: It can take a bit of full sun.
18. Codiaeum ‘Victoria Gold Bell’
The leaves of this beauty will fall over the pot. Green leaves have yellow central venation, while bright pink leaves are embellished with green markings.
Choose a mint color pot to make it look more prominent.
Bonus care tip: Avoid overhead watering so as not to invite fungi.
19. Codiaeum Variegatum ‘Mrs. Iceton’
This is a true autumnal plant. It has somewhat thick stems and usually yellow leaves with central green venation, but rose gold leaves and some light green ones are a common sight too.
Bonus care tip: Plant it in a neutral pot and place it in the center of the room to act as a focal point.
20. Codiaeum Varigatum ‘Magnificent’
Now, this plant showcases leaves that are deep or light green or pink with yellow or peach markings. It can grow up to 6 feet outdoors and around 4 feet if kept as a houseplant.
Bonus care tip: Avoid overwatering and provide partial shade.
Croton Plants Care Guide
Taking care of crotons can be challenging, but it helps if you know how to do it properly.
Where and how to plant crotons?
You can grow crotons both indoors and outdoors. In either way, make sure that soil drains well and is richly organic. Plant in soil-based mix in a pot large enough to accommodate the root ball.
Mulch bed plantings with ground bark, but don’t mulch potted crotons. Mulching around the plants outside allows air circulation and will cool the microclimate.
The best time to plant crotons is during warm weather, but you can also lift the plant from its bed and pot it in the fall. Alkaline soil is a must, plentiful mulch and acid fertilizer.
Repot every 2-3 years and position the pot in bright filtered light and protect it from draughts and heaters. Maintain constant warmth that never gets below 15 degrees C.
Provide bright or filtered light indoors and a spot away from drafty windows and heating vents. East or west windows are ideal, but keep your crotons at a respectful distance and don’t give them a front-row seat. This can scorch the leaves and you don’t want to see that sight. Outdoors, find a site in partial shade or dappled sun.
Related: Best Grow Lights For Indoor Plants
Temperature between 15-21 degrees C is ideal for crotons. Unlike most tropical plants, crotons prefer relatively cool temperatures.
Bear in mind that winter temperatures should be cooler than the summer temperatures, and nighttime temperatures lower than daytime temperatures.
Locate the plant in a bright understory or group them with other plants that will shelter them from the sun in summer. If the plant is in shade, it can be susceptible to fungal diseases.
It tolerates periodic dry conditions in winter but requires regular moisture when hot.
Croton plants require high humidity levels. To increase it, put the plant on a tray of damp pebbles. Refrain from misting the leaves since this can invite fungi.
Related: Best Plant Humidifiers
Keep the soil evenly moist from spring to autumn. Allow the top surface to dry out between waterings.
Overwatering can cause crotons to drop their leaves and rot at the roots. To prevent that, let the pots or plantings dry out somewhat before water application.
However, if you totally neglect it for extended periods of time, the plant will drop a few leaves in protest.
Fertilizing is best done once in two weeks using a balanced liquid fertilizer. Repeat this process from spring to autumn. Fertilize four times annually with an all-purpose formula, preferably one with major and minor elements and trace minerals included.
Wearing gloves, trim the plant to keep it to size. Remove discolored, dead or dying leaves just below a leaf node and inspect crotons regularly for insects and diseases.
They do not produce new leaves on old growth, so the lower branches turn to bare sticks. Remove long or unruly branches close to the ground, and nip the leafy tips only lightly.
Make sure you dust the leaves regularly. Some people like to use a banana peel and wipe the leaves for additional shine. You can also soak a banana peel in water overnight and water the plant with it the next day. This acts as a natural fertilizer. You can also apply products for leaf shine on some plants.
Do not water the plant with coffee or any beverage since some plants are sensitive to the substances they contain.
Propagate by dividing clumps or take stem cuttings. Using a sharp knife or shears, cut a stem with 3 leaves, apply some rooting hormone and then plant it in a small pot.
Maintain warm temperatures and regular moisture. It will take around a month to root. When that happens, transplant the cutting elsewhere.
All parts of crotons are toxic, so keep them away from your pets and wear protective gloves when you are repotting or examining the plant. Protect your furniture from the sap crotons produce.
You can pair them with schefflera, dumb canes, bush lilies, ivies, slipper orchids, dracaenas, aglaonemas, ficus and others. Zebra plant shares the same care pattern as crotons, so it makes an ideal companion plant, too.
Generally speaking, croton plants are not fertile ground for fungus or disease infection. However, if you don’t maintain clean hygiene of the growing environment, mealybugs, spider mites or scale insects can find a way to your plant. Mites are active in hot weather and lead to leaf loss.
In that case, wipe the leaves with a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol and isolate the infected plants so that other plants wouldn’t get infected, too. Alternatively, use an insecticidal spray of water weekly in hot weather and that will help to get rid of insects.
Does your plant has sticky leaves?
Scale insects might be the problem and they are the first sign of sticky leaves which gradually turn black and sooty. Rub off the insects and wipe the leaves clean. Also, treat the leaves with insecticide.
Are the leaves of your croton falling off?
Temperature fluctuations might be the issue here or a spot where you keep it too dark. Instead, locate the plant in a warm enough spot between 15 and 24 degrees C. Make sure your watering regime is suitable for croton.
Is your plan leaning to one side?
Plants tend to turn to one side- towards the source of light. In order to save it, turn the plant regularly to make sure it receives even exposure.
Who wouldn’t like to invite a plant in such colorful attire with its big, thick, leathery orange and neon yellow-striped leaves into their home? There are no two plants that look exactly the same and no matter where you put them, they can stop traffic as your guests are moving through your home, especially if you plant it in a container that accentuates its exotic side.
Despite its beauty, the plant will stubbornly refuse to remain clothed if your house lacks humidity. Provide enough humidity and enjoy the rewards of having a croton plant in your home.