How to Care For a Croton

Crotons are some of the most colorful houseplants that you can find. Their broad, long leaves can sport red, pinks, greens, yellows, oranges and many other colors. They’re very exotic looking plants that can really brighten up any room with their wide range of colors.

The waxy feeling leaves start out as dark or medium green and the colors appear as the leaf matures and can reach ten inches in length.

Croton’s are small shrubs that can grow as high as six feet, but when grown indoors they usually only grow a few feet tall.

As with most plants that have lot’s of color, Croton’s prefer bright lighting. But, many of the newer varieties of the plant can survive in low lighting conditions. If leaves are still mainly green after they reach maturity, the plant isn’t receiving enough light.

They should never be allowed to completely dry out, but you don’t want the plants roots sitting in water either. Just keep the soil evenly moist and use lukewarm or room temperature water when watering. The plant can also be misted with lukewarm water several times a week to help with the high humidity needs of the plant.

Both cold drafts and using cold water to water the plant will cause it to drop it’s lower leaves. On plants that are in 8″ pots, you should water when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. With larger plants allow the top two or three inches of soil to become dry before watering.

You can use a well balanced liquid fertilizer about twice a month to keep you plant healthy. Slow released fertilizer can be worked into the soil once each growing season. Don’t fertilize the plant from October until February when it’s growth rate is slowed.

Croton’s will actually flower during the spring and summer months, the tiny flowers are about 1/4 of an inch wide and are white.

With a little extra care this gorgeous colorful plant will add years of beauty to your home!

Written by Connie Corder for, Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved.


  1. Cindy
    Jun 8, 2009

    I’ve just noticed that most of the new-growth leaves on my croton are wilted. Is it due to over- or under-watering?

  2. Jessie
    Feb 16, 2010


  3. Peter Barnett
    Apr 5, 2010

    Our crotons were affected by the frost and lool like they have not survived as there is no new growth. How do I know whether they have survived or not?

  4. Jane
    Oct 18, 2010

    I am a new Croton plant carer, but am pleased to note that one of my plants has already flowered and the other one is sprouting new leaves, these are green with yellow streaks, will they turn red +orange with age?

  5. Shirley
    Nov 21, 2010

    I live in Phoenix, AZ. I have seen crotons growing in various areas. Can I grow a large one outside. It will get full sun, everyday summer and winter. What kind of ground so I have to provide? Do they have a large root system outside. I had to remove a palm tree because it was popping off my tiles so I have this big area,

  6. Mia
    Dec 2, 2010

    I was given a croton plant at a friend’s babyshower a little over a year ago. The plant has done well in my kitchen window where it gets a good amount of sunlight. The plant is in the pot in which I received it in; however, it has grown so much that I believe it needs to be repotted. I have no clue about repotting a plant so any tips would be so helpful. Also my plant just sprouted 3 flowers and there are 20+ buds waiting to bloom. I know facts state the plant should bloom in the spring however it is winter right now.

  7. Jane
    Dec 2, 2010

    I have owned a croton for some months now, and I too have been delighted to have a flower sprig appear, I have one plant in the Kitchen Window, and one in the Bathroom windowsill,that one has sprouted new leaves but they have stayed green and yellow, although the existing leaves are red and green, why, does anyone out there know?


  8. Evelyn
    Dec 3, 2010

    I am new to the croton family, I just purchased four plants and I love the way that they look in my driveway.My goal is to have a tropical and lush landscape. Can’t wait till it all grows out. Just a little worried about this upcoming winter.

  9. Tracy
    Jan 3, 2011

    I bought my croton back in college. That was in 1984 and paid a $1 for it at K-Mart. It just keeps growing. My question is, how much longer can I expect my croton to live?

  10. James P. Mc Shea
    Jan 7, 2011

    Tracy: i would say,whatever you’re doing, don’t stop! You don’t say where yopu live,but even in less than tropical locations, these can be put outdoors during warmer weather.
    It is not unheard of for these plants to become heirlooms.If your plant is getting “leggy”
    or has a bunch of offshoots, these can be rooted,and you could end up with a Crotofn
    family—and to think I opened this site LOOKING for information!

  11. Allan
    Mar 11, 2011

    I bought a croton from our now defunct Woolco department store in downtown St. John’s in 1992 and was about 7 inches tall. It has grown to about 3ft and flowered about twice a year. It’s still hanging on through several moves and some neglect due to travel. It looks now that it may be dieing. It has gotten very leggy, leaves are dull and the edges are turning papery and beige. I have repotted it, given it fresh soil, put it in a south facing window and put some plant fetilizer spikes around it. Any more suggestions? Thanks

  12. Robyn
    Mar 14, 2012

    I have overwatered my croton….what can I do to save my croton?

  13. Virginia Covington
    Sep 22, 2012

    I have Croton that is almost a year old. The leaves fall, but I have noticed new ones come very quickly. It started looking sick and I took it to the back porch and it is looking very good. After reading comments it can stay outside sometimes. We are in Northeast Arkansas which can get very cool in the winter and very hot in summer. What temperatures are best for this plant? Thanks for any help.

  14. Mary
    Sep 13, 2013

    I have had a croton in my office for about six years now. It has grown and sprouted new growth but only stands maybe 18 inches at it’s tallest. I read that it won’t grow as tall indoors which is fine. I have lots of flourescent light and it’s out of direct drafts and I water it fairly regularly. It has never changed from green and until today I thought that was because of the species but a lady who was in my office today told me it should be changing colors. Now I wonder, if I put this outside after it being an inside plant for six years will I hurt it? Will the leaves change to the beautiful red, pinks and oranges that I’ve seen on other crotons?

    • Jennifer
      Sep 16, 2013

      You should ‘harden’ the plant before placing it out in the sun full-time. If it’s used to only artificial, or light from a bright window; all that sunshine can shock it- and plants can get sun-burnt!

      Place it outside in a bright spot, but not direct sunlight for a couple days, then move it into the sun for short periods of time a few times a day for a couple days; then finally allow it to go into direct sun full-time.

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