The Q&A Archives: Taking Care of Croton

Question: I went to buy a plant and asked for a male friendly plant. I received a beautiful plant was told it was a croton. It is not doing well and I can't find any information online for it. Please help

Answer: Croton is Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum. In the wild, garden croton is an evergreen shrub that grows to 10 ft tall and has large, leathery, shiny leaves. The cultivated garden crotons are usually smaller and come in an amazing diversity of leaf shapes and colors. What they do have in common are rather thick evergreen alternate leaves, tiny inconspicuous star-shaped yellow flowers that hang down in long racemes, and a milky sap that bleeds from cut stems. Depending on the cultivar, the leaves may be ovate to linear, entire to deeply lobed, and variegated with green, white, purple, orange, yellow, red or pink. The colors may follow the veins, the margins or they may be in blotches on the leaf.

As a houseplant, Crotons remain much, much smaller. They need bright, indirect light indoors. Crotons require moist, humus-rich, but well-drained soil. Water and fertilize weekly during the growing season. Water moderately during the winter, and never let the soil dry out. Spray the leaves daily with tepid water in air-conditioned environments.

Hope this information helps!

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