Croton plants (Codiaeum variegatum) are incredibly varied plants that are often grown as houseplants. The croton plant is often grown outdoors in tropical climates, but also make excellent houseplants. Crotons come in a wide variety of leaf shapes and colors. Leaves can be short, long, twisted, thin, thick and several of these combined. They are noted for their bold, often strikingly colorful foliage. Glossy, leathery, smoothed-edged leaves are in bright colors ranging from yellow, pink, orange, red, bronze, purple and green plus combinations thereof in patterns involving blotching and striping. Foliage color is distinctive, appearing somewhat gaudy at times.
Like many houseplants, caring for a croton involves proper watering and humidity. Because it is a tropical plant, it does benefit from high humidity, so placing it on a pebble tray or regular misting will help keep it looking its best. Croton growing in containers should be watered only when the top of the soil is dry to the touch. Then, they should be watered until the water flows out the bottom of the container. Croton plants need bright light for best leaf color, with some direct sun. They may lose lower leaves if they do not receive enough light. They do not require winter dormancy, but appreciate a resting period with reduced watering from fall to late winter. The plant should also be kept away from drafts and cold, as it cannot tolerate temperatures below 60° F. If it is exposed to temps lower than this, the croton will lose leaves and possibly die.
Use as a tropical accent in containers and border gardens, however, crotons are not hardy in our area. Bring this plant indoors before night temperatures reach 50° F – or use as an annual. Crotons can also be kept indoors year-round, with the best color and overall vigor being achieved with plenty of bright light and even moisture.