How to Grow and Care for a Croton Plant

Its striking foliage makes it a favorite household plant.

croton plant
Photo: Getty / Jimmy Dunn

Known for its lush leaves with brightly colored stripes and markings that look painted on, croton is a tropical plant native to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and parts of the Pacific islands. It's a sturdy, low-maintenance perennial that has become popular as an indoor plant, effortlessly adding pops of color to anyone's household décor. There are two popular varieties to consider for your own space: Codiaeum variegatum croton is often referred to simply as croton, or "Joseph's coat," and typically grows to six feet tall. Its leaf colors include bright shades of yellow, pink, orange, red, and purple. Meanwhile Codiaeum "Gold Dust" grows into a more modest size, anywhere from two to three-and-a-half feet tall. It produces shiny green leaves with yellow-gold specks.

What Does Croton Look Like?

Croton is defined by large, leathery leaves with colorful bold stripes and splotches in red, pink, purple, orange, black, yellow, or gold; sometimes the leaves are multicolored and sport patterns. Since croton is an evergreen, its large leaves stay intact throughout the year, assuming the plant is being given the right amounts of sunlight and humidity.

Where Does Croton Grow and Bloom?

Various species grow in zones nine to 12, according to the United States Plant Hardiness Zone map. Croton prefers part shade rather than direct sunlight and should be planted in well-drained soil. And there's no real bloom time since croton produces insignificant flowers, according to the University of Wisconsin master gardener program.

Where Should You Plant Croton?

Since you'll want to preserve the colorful leaves as much as possible, put croton in a spot with dappled light (direct sunlight could burn the leaves) and avoid too-cool temperatures. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, since crotons come from a tropical climate, they don't like being exposed to temperatures lower than 60 degrees, which could cause its leaves to start dropping off.

How Big Does Croton Get, and What's the Best Way to Use It?

Croton stretches from two to six feet high with a spread (width) of two to five feet. And it doesn't get too big, making it a great container plant. It's a popular household plant, but it also works as an accent or border plant outdoors.

What's Croton's Maintenance Like?

It doesn't require much attention though it should be kept in a humid environment so it can thrive. Water the plant when you stick your finger (or a ruler) in the soil about an inch and it comes up dry—but don't overwater to prevent leaves from falling off.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles