Growing Crotons Indoors and in the Garden
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.
Handle With Care
Use some caution because the leaves, fruits and sap of this plant can be dangerous or even poisonous.
I love the distinctive colors of this particular plant and have used it in our home garden settings. The green leaves look like they have been spattered with bright yellow paint!
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:
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.
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!
You can probably tell from my photos that this is one of my favorite types of croton. It is a beauty and caring for them is relatively easy!
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!
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.
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.
Do you like to use crotons in your home or garden?
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
How much sun can a croton handle?
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