Ask a Question forum: Croton not doing well! Advice please!

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Name: Pamela Gregory
Maryland (Zone 6b)
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PamelaLynn77
Oct 6, 2016 11:23 AM CST
I'm am about to change his soil Anything else I can do? I brought all my plants outside yesterday to get good lighting as we had 2 beautiful days and most all of them needed some good lighting!!! I'm working on the lighting , gratefully it's still warm here that's saving me a lot right now !!!.Most of them seem very happy. this is the last piece left and he isn't strong at all, he is limpy I removed the top soil over the past 3 days trying to make sure he was drying out also and I watered him half cup in morning half cup in evening . I'm trying to train my plants to be watered at certain times and certain amounts all depending of course on what he needs first. It's also easy for me to keep track of all my plants like that too .. I think that's my main purpose with this idea Anywho... what do you think I can do to help him. I almost feel if I move him now it's gonna break this last leaf. 0
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I do not wish to change the plant, I was hoping I could get my plants if possible on a more routine schedule for watering. So if they plant likes to stay moist I could possibly water the plant half a cup 2 times a day that was keeping the plant moist in the pot it was in unfortunately the soil wasn't a good choice and I lost the crouton. I am working on my lighting system now and I'd like to try again! I have a window I could use but I shall wait till I'm more prepared for a croton
[Last edited by PamelaLynn77 - Oct 10, 2016 4:34 AM (+)]
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Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
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plantladylin
Oct 6, 2016 11:32 AM CST
My thought is probably too much water. Not sure what advice to give on a small stem with one leaf but I hope your Codiaeum recovers and grows into a nice shrub. Hopefully those who grow this as an indoor plant will be able to offer advice.
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Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
Oct 6, 2016 11:56 AM CST

Plants Admin

Crotons can be very tricky to grow, I gave up after a few tries.
As one site (About Home)states, and I'll quote:

they're difficult to please indoors. In their native habitats, crotons like humid, warm conditions, with dappled light and plentiful water. The problem indoors is typically temperature; too cold, and they start losing leaves.

Light: Bright, indirect light. They do not like unfiltered, direct sunlight, but thrive in dappled sunlight. Vibrant colors depend on bright light.
Water: Keep evenly moist in the summer, and reduce watering in the winter to biweekly. Mist frequently during the growth period.
Temperature: Keep above 60ºF and do not expose to cold drafts.
Soil: A well-drained potting soil is perfect.
Fertilizer: Slow-release pellets or liquid fertilizer during the growing season.
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Name: Pamela Gregory
Maryland (Zone 6b)
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PamelaLynn77
Oct 6, 2016 2:09 PM CST
thanks for the info!!!!!
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Oct 8, 2016 8:36 AM CST
I assume that your Croton was at one time much larger than it now is and it has now deteriorated to what we see in the photo. Not knowing how you have cared for it makes it difficult to diagnose the cause and therefore the remedy. Inadequate light and inconsistent watering are the most likely causes. My educated guess is that there are few if any healthy roots remaining on your Croton and that makes it very easy to over water inadvertently.

Plants should be warred as needed by THEM and not according to a schedule that is convenient to you.

Indoors, Crotons need to be close to a sunny, uncovered window. They should not be moved in and out as that is too much of an adjustment for them. Find a sunny indoor location and keep it there. Crotons are quite cold tolerant and in warm temps they are prone to spider mite infestations. They do best when kept quite potbound and when properly potted should be watered when the top half-inch of soil is dry. Fertilizer is not medicine and will not help your struggling Croton.

Overall, provide good light, limit your watering and keep your expectations low.
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Name: Alyssa Blue
Ohio (Zone 5b)
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AlyssaBlue
Oct 8, 2016 11:10 AM CST
In my opinion, there are three plants that are sold as houseplants, but shouldn't be: English ivy, wandering Jew and Crotons. It's the eternal "what am I doing wrong?" I'm convinced that those plants really really need to be outdoors in the right zones to grow well (unless you have a greenhouse).
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Oct 8, 2016 1:15 PM CST
Alyssa - I'm not sure why you are struggling with those particular plants. I know from experience that all three can do well indoors for many years. Hedera Ivies have somewhat fragile root systems, don't like to be repotted and are susceptible to spider mites, especially in warm dry air. Wandering Jews do best in a very sunny window and are fairly tolerant of watering lapses, but do require regular pruning to keep from becoming leggy. I have described Croton care above. I hope that helps. Thumbs up
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Name: Cheryl
Kingwood, Texas (Zone 9a)
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ShadyGreenThumb
Oct 8, 2016 1:22 PM CST
Agree. Crotons are a picky plant. The fact that you are trying to change it instead of answering to what it needs might be an issue. It's a picky plant and wants what it wants like a spoiled 3 year old. They surely don't like change. I moved mine around until it got the sunlight it liked. Then the sun changed during the season and it got too much. It got sad. Moved it again. Then one more time. That was just this summer. Sunlight will change during the season and it seems Crotons are picky about that even though it's gradual and natural. I just keep moving it so that it gets only the kind of dappled sun that it likes. I think I will have to move it yet again. I don't water mine until it needs it about once a week. It struggled for about a year then suddenly it flourished! It looks good now, but soon it will be time to move it again then we'll see! It's Picky!
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Name: Alyssa Blue
Ohio (Zone 5b)
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AlyssaBlue
Oct 8, 2016 4:51 PM CST
Will- I wouldn't call it struggling, I would call it realizing I do not want to spend the extra care on those plants for the following reasons:

Ivies = Spider mites. I have many houseplants, and have decided that certain plants take priority over others. Anything that is a bug magnet, goes.
Wandering Jew= Always ends up leggy no matter how much light is provided indoors.
Croton= Should be in humid southern environment, and will complain if it's not.

I wish I had a greenhouse, then I could keep those plants happy, but I do not. Cheryl- I agree about croton being picky!!! Good for you for sticking with it!
Name: Laurie Basler
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
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lauriebasler
Oct 8, 2016 9:06 PM CST
@WillC you said:

"Fertilizer is not medicine "

Such a simple truth, but something we can all benefit from hearing again from time to time.
Name: Pamela Gregory
Maryland (Zone 6b)
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PamelaLynn77
Oct 8, 2016 9:12 PM CST
As a new Gardener I am offend that I bought this plant at the Home Depot sold as a house plant. I guess I could say its just my fault for not knowing more about what I brought home. I over watered him considering the time of year also. I CUT IT WAY BACK biweekly is what im understanding. Either way I made a mistake and I do wish to keep the Croton, I am working on a lighting system and I hope to be finished tomorrow evening. Until then its a low of mid 60 degrees here for the next few days and its saving my plants! thanks Mother Nature!! Thank you all so much for your advice and your experiences with this plant. He was so beautiful pink and green foliage { same size he is just lost all the leaves but one,Id love to save him if not I may try again when I do have the lighting correct.
[Last edited by PamelaLynn77 - Oct 8, 2016 9:13 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Oct 9, 2016 5:08 AM CST
Pamela, I think you're looking for a set schedule for watering but you need to water when it is needed, not on a timetable, as Will noted. So bi-weekly may be too much or too little and may vary depending on the time of year and where the plant is located amongst other things. To help you can either get a moisture meter, push a finger into the potting mix to feel if it is dry, or learn to assess the weight of the pot when you pick it up. It doesn't matter how experienced we are as gardeners, we all have had plants not do well or die. It's a never-ending learning experience.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
Oct 9, 2016 8:32 AM CST
Alyssa,

Your points are well taken. Hedera Ivies are indeed mite magnets. I syruggeld the same way fior many years with leggy Wandering Jews and other hanging plants until I learned how to prune ruthlessly. But in that sense they are labor intensive. Crotons are fussy for many reasons, but they can do well in low humidity indoor northern environments if they are given proper attention.

But I do appreciate your approach that recognizes your particular interests and limitations. Too many folks try to take on interesting or unusual or gorgeous plants without realizing the headaches or work that accompanies them. To each his own. Glad you have found yours! Hurray!
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional interior landscaper
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WillC
Oct 9, 2016 8:41 AM CST
Laurie - Fertilizer is promoted as the remedy for practically every plant ailment, yet it is an exceedingly rare plant problem that is solved with plant food. But I know how seductive it is to attempt to fix a plant problem by simply adding fertilizer rather than getting back to the root (pun intended!) cause.

Sue - To add to your point, I have had 30 years of professional experience and still lose plants. Case in point, I have been carefully rooting some Jade leaves from a Jade originally owned by the artist Georgia O'Keefe for more then 6 months. I just lost them this week. So it goes - another learning experience.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
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Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Oct 9, 2016 10:31 AM CST
I've been playing in the dirt and growing many plants in containers indoors and out for 50 years but the older I get, the less patience I have for "fussy", "finicky" plants. Green Grin! I love colorful foliage as much as I do blooms and Codiaeum (Croton) are a favorite of mine for their beautiful, variegated leaves. I'm fortunate to live in a state where Codiaeum (Crotons) are common landscape plants.
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Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Oct 9, 2016 10:34 AM CST
Beautiful crotons, Lin! They remind me of when we lived in the Marshall Islands. Bushes like yours were everywhere and so common. Now I know how special they are!
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Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Oct 9, 2016 10:52 AM CST
Karen, they are very common here in Florida and some folks don't seem to care about them one way or the other but I never take that colorful foliage for granted!
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Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Oct 9, 2016 10:55 AM CST
I agree They're very special to me, and I loved our visit to Florida. I loved seeing so many wonderful plants all growing outdoors with no protection. Even in Arizona, I'm having to already start thinking about taking plants indoors or to the greenhouse.
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Name: Lin
Florida (Zone 9b)
Region: United States of America Morning Glories Region: Florida Houseplants Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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plantladylin
Oct 9, 2016 11:00 AM CST
I've gotten so lazy as I've gotten older ... if I had to move plants in and out as I hear some folks do, I'd never grow anything. Green Grin!
~ Eat, Sleep .... Play in the dirt ~
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Garden Art
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plantmanager
Oct 9, 2016 11:47 AM CST
I'm cutting way down on plants that take special care. We are also getting too old to do that every year. It used to take a few weeks to get them all inside using a dolly. Now I can get them in easily in one day at both places.
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