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Growing Crotons Indoors and in the Garden

My grandpa loved gardening. I learned much from him. To this day I enjoy puttering around in our garden, growing plants for beauty and food.

Closeup of croton plant

Closeup of croton plant


There are many varieties of these plants, and they are primarily added to the garden landscape or included indoors as potted plants because of their bright and dazzling leaf colors. They can be used as an accent plant in a garden design or can be massed for maximum impact if desired. I have used them both ways in our Houston, Texas, garden.

For several years, I had a beautiful specimen plant that could be viewed out of our everyday dining area, and when frost or freeze warnings were given in the winter, my husband and I would cover our more tender vegetation with some old bed sheets which generally saved them and kept the plants alive from year to year.

Last year was a great exception in terms of the weather. Not only did we have prolonged days of freezing weather but it actually snowed a couple of times in Houston and the surrounding area! It was most unusual weather and we lost that specimen plant and a few others that I had planted in other areas of the garden.

Gold dust croton

Gold dust croton

Tropical Plant

The Croton plant is very tropical in nature and is native to either Malaysia, Bolivia or Ecuador depending upon different sources writing about their origin. For that reason, most people are probably more familiar with viewing these show-stopping colorful-leafed plants in indoor settings as opposed to outdoors unless one lives in a tropical climate.

In commercial settings like hotels and other venues that utilize live plants for décor, croton plants brighten up the areas with a rainbow of colors.

Some of the colors that they sport can include shades of the following:

  • green
  • yellow
  • orange
  • red
  • bronze
  • rust
  • burgundy
  • rust

Very often the young new growth starts out green but as the plant matures the leaf colors deepen and change to the more colorful hues.

Crotons on our backyard patio massed together in a collection of pots

Crotons on our backyard patio massed together in a collection of pots

Speaking of brightness, that is one requirement for successfully growing these plants in an indoor setting. They do need bright lighting to maintain their vibrant coloration of their leaves. It can be natural light or even artificial lighting as is often the case in business establishments.

When using natural light indoors place these potted plants three to five feet from an east or west facing window to get the correct amount of light. They need a minimum of three hours of sunlight but do well with much more than that.

If grown in lighting conditions with not enough light, the colors gradually fade thereby losing their main attractive feature. So while they do not talk to one in a literal sense, these plants will let you know their needs in a demonstrative manner!

A collection  of crotons on our patio

A collection of crotons on our patio

Growing Crotons

Ideal growing conditions in addition to the direct sunlight or at least very bright lighting conditions include the right amount of water and humidity.

In Houston, Texas we generally have enough humidity outdoors to suit any humidity loving plant. Our air conditioners hum off and on most of the year trying to wring some of that water-laden air out of our homes and offices.

Thus, if growing these tropical beauties outside, worrying about humidity is one thing that people living in humid climates can cross off of a to-do list. For others, a light misting of water onto the leaves will keep these plants happy if growing them in indoor or in drier locations.

Croton plants appreciate moist soil so again depending upon weather conditions and soil conditions water accordingly.

If it is in the middle of the summer and temperatures could enable one to literally fry an egg on a sidewalk, we water our potted croton plants every day. Other times of the year once or twice a week is sufficient to keep the soil moist.

Taking notice of your plants will indicate if watering conditions can use some improvement.

  • Wilted leaves often indicate that too much water is being used.
  • Lower leaves falling off indicate that that the soil is probably too dry.

This colorful tropical shrub is related to the poinsettia. It can attain heights of four to six feet.

Note any edges on leaves that start to turn brown. The air is probably too cool and they should be covered or taken inside.

A light fertilizing several times a year will help nourish these shrubs.

The potting soil that I choose to use has some fertilizer in it that helps feed any new plants for a number of months. In addition, it helps the plants from being under or over watered.

They are coming out with some great potting soils these days. If anyone is investing in new plants, they may as well spend a little extra and get a good potting soil to get their plants off to a great start!

Underside of leaf

Underside of leaf

The undersides of the leaves are amazing to see as well as the top sides as these photos indicate. The veins in the leaves create intricate patterns and multiple colors would hit just about every color spectrum depending upon which species one is viewing.

Speaking of species, there are 750 of them! Crotons come from a family called Euphorbiaceae.

Croton species in Thailand

Croton species in Thailand

Academic studies have been performed regarding this beautiful plant.

See a list below for some of their many uses in addition to simply embellishing a landscape.

  • These shrubs have been used medicinally as a tonic
  • They even show some antibacterial effects.
  • They have also been used in varnishes, waxes and oils.
  • Some tobaccos have been scented using parts of this plant.

With so many species and more being discovered all the time, research on them continues.



Leaf shapes vary greatly just as their colors do. Some of them are wide while others are narrow. Some grow in a twisting spiral pattern and others are thin and spiky.

Use normal precautions if utilizing these stunning plants around pets or children. Enjoy these colorful tropical beauties for their bright and dazzling colors if using them in your home or garden landscape.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: How much sun can a croton handle?

Answer: Croton plants like the sun. I have pots of crotons in areas where they get a partial day of direct sunlight but also have them on our Houston, Texas patio in full sun.

© 2010 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 09, 2017:

Dear Rosemary from Sarasota,

You had emailed me a question about cutting back crotons. Here is what you wrote: I am having some crotons added to our landscape but am nervous they will grow too high. I only want them about 2 feet. Can they be Cut back

I grow my crotons in pots and they rarely get above 2 to 2 1/2 feet in height. The only time I have cut them back was after a freeze. Those that were not frozen solid did bud and once again grow from below my trimming.

So from my experience I would say that yes...they can be trimmed. Just know that they will take a while to rebound.

Good luck!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 27, 2013:

We have our potted crotons in the garage now for a predicted freeze tonight but should be able to put them out again tomorrow. No freezes predicted for at least another week or longer. Happy Thanksgiving to you tomorrow!

moonlake from America on November 22, 2013:

Beautiful plants I use to grow them in the house when I had more room but can't grow them outside here. We would be covering all the time. Enjoyed your hub voted up and pinned.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 19, 2013:

Hello Always Optimist,

Our crotons have gotten even larger than when these photos were taken and are so very showy! Glad you like the photos. Thanks for your comment.

Always Optimist from India on November 14, 2013:

Very beautiful pictures and I really envy your garden.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 07, 2013:

Hi Roberta,

You should see them now! Our crotons have gotten immense in size! I had to repot them into larger pots and switched from the heavier clay pots to clay colored plastic ones so that during the few freezes a year that we get in Houston, they can be more easily moved into our garage for protection. Sorry you don't have them in the Carolinas, but as you said, you have other types of plants up there to compensate. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 24, 2013:

Hi Mary,

They would be lovely branches to use as centerpieces for dinner parties. Nice to be able to use things from your own yard or garden! Thanks for the share. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 21, 2013:

Thanks Au fait,

They are even larger since I took these photos and I have them as a backdrop against the green foliage against the back fence. Nice that since they are in pots they can be hauled into our garage for any overnight freezing temperatures of which we do not have that many. Thanks for the shares.

RTalloni on October 19, 2013:

Since moving "up north" to the Carolinas from Florida we don't see many crotons. While we do get to grow blooms here that we couldn't there, you've made me miss these colorful plants! :) The photo of them in the setting off your patio is beautiful and I enjoyed seeing the varieties in the video--thanks!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on October 19, 2013:

I love the way you have your Crotons in pots that can be moved. I like to cut branches from the bush and use them as a centerpiece for dinners, especially in the Fall. We can grow these beauties year round here in Florida, too.

Your photos are very good. I like the way you showed the underside of the leaf.

Voted UP, etc. and shared.

C E Clark from North Texas on October 19, 2013:

Beautiful photos and lots of good information about how and where to grow crotons. I never knew what they were called before. Gave you 5 more stars, voted up, BUI, pinned to my 'Trees, Plants & Flowers' board, and will share with my followers!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 11, 2013:

Hi vespawoolf,

Hope your move is an easy one. Happy that I could enlighten you as to what the name of these colorful plants are...crotons. Thanks for your comment.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on February 10, 2013:

I've admired crotons before but never realized that is what they're called. With enough sunlight and humidity, they sounds like hearty little plants. Once we move into our new place I'll have to find a place for some, either indoors or out. Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 09, 2013:

Hi Thelma,

So nice that you have large and beautiful crotons growing in the ground where you live. The nice thing about also having them in pots is that they can be moved around for splashes of color in various places or can be easily protected from occasional freezes such as we have in Houston, Texas. We have had a warm winter this year and have only had to move our potted crotons into our garage a few times. Soon all danger of frosts or freezes will be over for the year. Thanks for your vote + the share.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on February 09, 2013:

So that´s the name of the plants we have in our garden. Our Crotons are higher than me now because they were planted ages ago directly in the garden, not in the pots. I will plant some in the pots as they look beautiful in your photos. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 12, 2012:

Hello abu bakar,

I assume you liked learning about the colorful croton plants or seeing the photos from your comment. Thanks.

abu bakar on August 12, 2012:

i want this croton all verity

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 05, 2012:

Hi Natashalh,

Since crotons can easily be grown in pots and used inside as well as in outside tropical settings right in the ground, they are often seen in a number of climates. Now you know what you have been viewing and photographing. Glad that you liked this article. Thanks for your comment. Do you have photos of crotons in any of your hubs?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 05, 2012:

Hi rajan jolly,

I see that you really do like crotons. As you pointed out, each and every leaf has different colorations and patterns. They are lovely plants! Thanks for your comment, votes and the share.

Natasha from Hawaii on July 05, 2012:

So thats what they're called! I love these, really enjoy photographing them, and see them everywhere, but had no idea what they are called. Thank you for the information and great pictures!

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 05, 2012:

Peggy, the photos of your garden and the crotons in there are a visual delight. I have a few potted crotons growing in my house, both from the Codium & Codiaeum Genus, with an amazing mix of purple black, pink, yellow and green colors. Each leaf is differently colored from the other. The sheer variety in the look of the leaves is amazing.

Thanks for putting up this visually delightful hub and some fine writing.

Voted up and beautiful and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 04, 2012:

Hi moonlake,

If you noticed, our crotons are in pots. I did have a croton planted in the ground that survived several winters by just being covered with an old sheet during our few frosts or freezes, but then during an extreme winter it finally died. Now, by keeping them in pots, we just move them into our garage the few times a year that we have to protect them from freezes. It is working well.

Wow...throwing orchids away. Did your friend not have anyone who would have wanted them? When I thin plants, I like finding a home for them and often have happy recipients.

Thanks for your comment and vote.

moonlake from America on July 04, 2012:

I use to have crotons in the house but I now have no room for them. I don't grow them on the deck because I know when winter comes I would have to get rid of them. I had a friend that just threw away her orchids because she was tired of them. I just can't do that. Voted Up

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 04, 2012:

Hello Pamela Kinnaird W,

Thanks for your generous comment regarding this hub written about the beautiful and tropical croton plants. I would love to see your drawings and paintings. Have you written any hubs showcasing them? Thanks!

Pamela Dapples from Arizona. on July 04, 2012:

What a comprehensive and wonderful hub you've written here on one of the most interesting plants on earth. I used to draw it and paint it and find my paintings looked as though it couldn't be real but there is an artist on Maui who does a beautiful job of capturing some of these varieties in all their color and light. That's all he puts in the portrait -- is one of these plants.

Beautiful job here. Sorry for all the un-concrete adjectives I'm using -- very poor writing to do so, I know -- but it's how I feel when I see these plants. They're so colorful and sort of beyond description.

Voting up, across and sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 28, 2012:

Hi KoffeeKlatch Gals,

Crotons surely add color to the landscape. Between those and all of our colorful flowers in bloom, it is a delight looking out into our backyard this year. Thanks for your comment and votes.

Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on May 28, 2012:

I love the color that crotons add to a garden. They can be so vivid. I didn't know that crotons could make your child or pet ill. But as you said, it's not much of a problem, my dogs don't eat plants. Your pictures are beautiful. Up, be4autiful and interesting.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 12, 2012:

Hello alocsin,

In doing the research for this hub regarding crotons, I discovered that apparently the sap contains some toxins and just like poinsettias, oleanders and other plants, pets and children should not be munching on them. I don't see this as much of a problem. Our pets have certainly never been seen chewing on these plants. I just mentioned it because the literature that also mentioned the medicinal things being studied might be of some interest to people who may wish to take precautions. Thanks for your comment and votes.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on April 11, 2012:

I've seen these plants before but did not know they were called crotons. You mentioned they had medicinal uses and yet you caution against using these plants around pets and children. Are they dangerous to pets and kids? Voting this Up and Useful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 22, 2012:

Hi Michelle,

Glad that looking at these crotons gave you a break from doing your paperwork. Thanks for leaving a comment. :)

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on March 22, 2012:

After poring over paperwork, it is refreshing to visit your hub and savor the photos of crotons in the garden. It's so lovely. Thanks Peggy for sharing your photos. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 10, 2011:

Hello Peyton,

You are correct in that Codiaeum variegatum comes from a different place. According to Wikipedia it is "native to southern India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the western Pacific Ocean islands" so the common name of croton, as you suggested, becomes confused between genus and species. Here is the Wikipedia link:

No matter where they come from or what species or genus, crotons are beautiful plants. Thanks for your comments.

Peyton on December 10, 2011:

Hi Peggy,

Some helpful corrections...

The common name croton refers to just one accepted species (Codiaeum variegatum) with hundreds of named cultivars. Codiaeum is considered to have originated from the Malay Peninsula area and neighboring Oceania, definitely not from Bolivia or Ecuador...

The genus Croton has about 750 species, many that are small weed-like plants (some probably growing wild in southeast Texas) from which various oils, medicinals, and scents are derived. True Crotons have nothing to do with Codiaeum and vice versa, other than that Codiaeum was originally mis-classified as a Croton and hence the enduring confusion of names...

Hope this helps!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 25, 2011:

Hello may018,

Nice that you also enjoy crotons in your garden. They are beautiful plants in landscapes or even if kept in pots. Thanks for your comment.

may018 from Philippines on October 25, 2011:

Hi peggy,this awesome,crotons are truly vibrant.Actually we have planted many of that here in our garden.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 28, 2011:

Hi Billy,

Real cold weather will be many months from now, but hopefully we will get some rain from that tropical storm in the Gulf named Don. Our trees, potted crotons, grass and other plantings would surely love some rainwater for a change. Let's cross our fingers!

billyaustindillon on July 26, 2011:

Yes pots are useful in this heat replanting may be a tad traumatic. When is that cold change coming through????

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 26, 2011:

Hi Billy,

Since we are having so many abnormally high temperatures this summer, I did move my potted crotons off of the patio and back into the garden beds to the rear of the yard. We can still enjoy seeing them from the house and so far they are getting enough dappled sunshine to keep their bright colors. That is one advantage to keeping the crotons in pots!

billyaustindillon on July 26, 2011:

Crotons don't do too badly in the heat as the past week can testify!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 24, 2011:

Hi KoffeeKlatch Gals,

I agree with you that crotons brighten up a yard or garden. Ours are now back out on our patio and certainly add color. Thanks for leaving a comment.

Susan Hazelton from Northern New York on April 22, 2011:

Peggy, I love crotons, they are so bright and cheerful. We have them prominately displayed in our yard. Great information and as always, love the pictures.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 01, 2011:

Hello sofs,

Crotons, as you say, are pretty hardy but we who live here in Houston will be experiencing a hard freeze tonight. So we have moved our crotons into our garage to protect them. Will be covering many of the other more tropical plants outside with old sheets tonight. These predicted temperatures will be the coldest of the season! It is Feb. 1 today and generally by the end of the month we no longer typically have freezing weather.

Happy to hear that you enjoyed these pictures. Thanks for the comment.

Sophie on January 31, 2011:

Hi Peggy, one more beautiful hub, I love crotons, they are so easy to grow and pretty hardy. We have a huge variety of them here and they brighten up your day. I love your pictures. Thank you sharing them Peggy.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 18, 2011:

Hi Tony,

We also love the bright leaf colors of crotons. This time of year by having them in pots, we just move them into our garage when the weather dips down close to freezing and then move them back out when it warms up. This time of year we watch the weather closely. It is generally only a few months of the year that we need to protect them like this.

I'm impressed that you grew them from seed. Do they grow fairly rapidly from seed?

Thanks for the comment.

Tony McGregor from South Africa on January 18, 2011:

I love crotons though I don't have any right now. I used to grow them from seed and have them in pots in my office. This is a good reminder to sow them again!


Love and peace


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 01, 2010:

Hi Micky,

Thanks for commenting on these pictures of crotons whether they are in the garden landscape or elsewhere. You are too kind, dear Sir! :-)

Micky Dee on December 01, 2010:

Peggy I do love coming to your hubs. Thank you for being you! God bless you Dear!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 31, 2010:

Hi Billy,

Crotons do seem to be almost a perfect plant for Houston garden landscapes since most of the year our climate is so tropical in nature. Thanks for leaving a comment.

billyaustindillon on October 30, 2010:

We have a few crotons and they are perfect for humid climates like Houston - lots of color and easy to propogate. So much information on crotons here Peggy!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 20, 2010:

Hi Cheryl,

Until I did the research for this hub, like you, I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of crotons. They certainly are colorful. Thanks for the comment!

Cheryl on October 20, 2010:

I agree the crotons are very impressive and attractive plants. They are beautifully displayed in your lovely garden. Thanks for sharing the different species. I did not know there were so many. Very informative hub and beautiful crotons.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 19, 2010:

Hello lyjo,

Enjoy your indoor crotons! They add color whether indoors or out. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Appreciate it!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 19, 2010:

Hi agusfanani,

So crotons are called puring in your part of the world. Always nice learning new things here. As to those in our garden, I purchased them at 70% off (this time of year the nurseries have massive sales) and purposely planted them in pots. If or when we have freezes this winter, we'll just carry the crotons into the garage and not risk losing them like we did last year of the ones planted in the ground. Of course last year was unusually cold. Thanks for the comment.

lyjo on October 19, 2010:

What a great hub, uplifting, interesting, and informative, had no idea they were called crotons, I have another species, quite similar looking...but unfortunately, we have to keep all plants in doors as we live in a very cold climate for the winter months...I would love to have them outdoors. Thanks so much, really enjoyed this one, take good care.

agusfanani from Indonesia on October 19, 2010:

Peggy W, you're right crotons also grow well in my country (we call them Puring) and they have special places for collectors so that their prices can be unreasonably high.

I like those at your backyard patio, they even make your house look more beautiful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 18, 2010:

Hi Dolores M,

When we were first married we also lived in an apartment and had LOADS of crotons, however. My husband used to kid me that he needed a machete to get through the place. Haha! Now most of our plants are all outside.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on October 18, 2010:

Peggy, I used to be a big houseplant nut, when I lived in an apartment and had several beautiful crotons. I loved the bright colors and those tough leaves.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 18, 2010:

Hello HH,

Crotons really do brighten up a landscape whether indoors or out. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. The next time you see one, you will know more about it! :-)

Hello, hello, from London, UK on October 18, 2010:

They are beautiful and up till now I never really paid much attention to it. Thank you for all your tips.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 17, 2010:

Hi suziecat7,

Now you know the name of these bright and colorful plants called crotons. Glad that you found this informative. Thanks for the 1st comment.

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on October 17, 2010:

I never knew they were called crotons. Well done and Informative Hub - thanks.