Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) is a wonderful tropical plant that is actually in the Euphorbia family. In the wild, it is native to India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the islands in the western Pacific, growing as an evergreen shrub in forests. Their thick, shiny, leathery leaves are beautiful; often featuring striking colorful variegation. Crotons only survive outdoors where temperatures don’t drop below 45 degrees F. Colder temperatures cause leaf loss.
In our climate, Crotons work outside in patio containers during warmer weather and do well as a houseplant year round. Plants cultivated for this purpose are usually smaller than wild specimens and come in a variety of leaf shapes and colors. Depending on variety, the leaves may be oval or linear, smooth to crinkled and variegated with green, white, orange, yellow, pink or red. The color may follow the veins or be splotchy. The leaves are most beautifully colored in bright light. In lower light conditions, leaves are smaller and less pigmented. They prefer to grow in 60-85 degrees F with high humidity. Allow the soil surface to dry between watering.
Fall Decorating Ideas
Crotons are one of our favorite fall plants! Their gorgeous foliage colors, make them great for fall decorating. They are lovely mixed into a fall container or grouped together for a fall table centerpiece. If you love the idea of using it for a container garden but don’t want to part with it when the temperature starts to drop, consider planting an empty pot into your mixed container and plopping the Croton down into it. Bring the croton inside once the night time temperatures drop below 50 degrees F. Fill the empty space in your container with cool season annuals or an evergreen perennial or shrub. The Crotons will make a great addition to your houseplant collection adding much needed color to the shades of green. They will thrive inside in front of any bright window.