Croton

Croton

Croton is an ornamental deciduous plant from the Euphorbia family. The more accurate name of the flower is considered to be “codiaeum” (from the Greek. “Head”), while by “croton” botanists mean a completely different representative of the same family, but this name is found more often than others. The third name of the beautiful bush – “Joseph’s cloak” – refers to the plot of the biblical story about the multi-colored clothes presented to Joseph by his father as a sign of special love.

The Pacific islands are called the birthplace of Croton. In addition to them, it is found in the southeastern regions of Asia, also in India and on the Australian continent. The genus of codiaeum, depending on the classifications, can include from a couple of tens to more than a thousand species, but only one croton is grown at home – a variegated one, as well as hybrid forms obtained on its basis.

Croton attracts flower growers with its beautiful foliage – it is often called the most decorative of plants with elegant leaves. Its leaf blades can have different shapes and combine several shades at once: from green and yellow to burgundy and dark brown. A pot with such a bush will decorate any room, and also, due to the shape of the crown, it will not take up too much space.

Brief rules for growing croton

Croton growing rules
Croton

The table shows brief rules for caring for croton at home.

Lighting level A sufficiently bright light is preferable in the morning or in the evening, in the afternoon – diffused lighting or partial shade.
Content temperature About +21 degrees in summer, in winter – not colder than +16 degrees.
Watering mode The soil is moistened regularly, but moderately.
Air humidity Humidity is preferable high (about 70%). The bushes need to be sprayed periodically, wipe the leaf blades or periodically wash the aerial part under the shower.
The soil The optimal soil is a mixture of sand with peat, turf and leafy soil.
Top dressing From April to mid-autumn, complex mineral compositions are used (twice a month). In winter, fertilize is 2 times less.
Transfer Transplants are carried out every six months for young bushes, and every 2 years for adult plants.
Dormant period The dormant period occurs during the winter months.
Bloom Little is remarkable. Grown for beautiful leaves.
Dormant period The dormant period is weak, although in winter it is preferable to transfer the flower pot to a cool room. Sometimes the color of the foliage depends on the cold wintering.
Reproduction Seeds, stem or leaf cuttings.
Pests Spider mites, as well as mealybugs, nematodes and scale insects.
Diseases Fungal diseases, gray rot.

Important! Croton juice is considered poisonous. Therefore, keeping it in children’s rooms is not worth it. When transplanting and processing a plant, gloves must be used.

Croton description

Croton is a small shrub with bright leathery foliage. Its natural dimensions can reach several meters, but indoor views look less ambitious. Their average size reaches 70 cm, but some can grow up to 1.2 m. Croton has erect stems, forming many lateral shoots, decorated with large petioled leaves. In this case, the shape of the leaf blades can differ: there are both uniform oblong and asymmetric, three-lobed, notched and some other varieties. The leaves can also resemble laurel or oak. The edge of the foliage can be flat or slightly wavy. Fresh leafy shoots most often have a pale yellow-green hue, but over time, the leaf begins to acquire a rich green and burgundy color. This combination of colors gives the codiaeum its unusual appearance.

The foliage of all croton varieties has pronounced veins. Often they are painted in contrasting shades. At the same time, the possible unusual appearance of the croton bush, especially at the beginning of the growing season, may be explained by the plant’s tendency to mutations. During this period, its young foliage can take on a particularly unusual shape. This property allowed breeders to create a large number of hybrid varieties that differ in the shape and color of the foliage.

The bloom of croton is less expressive than the color of its foliage. During this period, the bush forms racemose inflorescences located in the sinuses. They include miniature creamy flowers.

When purchasing an adult codiaeum bush, you should carefully examine it. The foliage should be dense, firm and glossy. The brightness of the veins will indicate the health of the plant. The presence of pits on the trunk is traces of fallen leaves, but there should not be too many of them. In addition, care should be taken to prevent the bush from getting too cold on the way home.

Features of Croton

It is quite difficult to grow croton at home, since the flower has a capricious disposition. A beginner with such a wayward plant, most likely, will not cope. Before purchasing codiaeum, you should know that:

  • The croton plant is poisonous. The milky juice of codiaeum contains toxic substances that can cause poisoning or irritation. All work with the bush must be carried out with gloves, hands must be thoroughly washed, and also kept away from pets.
  • Cold water, along with drafts, can harm the codiaeum.
  • Codiaeum require high humidity for healthy growth. The bush will have to be sprayed more often, wipe its foliage with a damp sponge or cloth, and in the summer – wash it every month in the shower.
  • Croton inflorescences are hardly noticeable and not very decorative, but their formation takes a lot of strength from the bush. If no fruit is required to obtain seeds, the flower buds (or the flower stalks themselves) are usually removed as soon as they have formed.

Croton care at home

The opinion of flower growers about the content of croton is divided. Some argue about the finicky Croton, others believe that, provided the necessary conditions are provided, it takes root well in room conditions. In order not to be disappointed after buying croton, you should provide the plant with the necessary care and maintenance conditions.

Croton is a native of the humid tropics. Providing a suitable temperature balance, watering, nutrition, moist air, and most importantly, an abundance of light is the key to growing healthy specimens.

Lighting

Croton needs bright enough lighting, but you can expose the foliage of the plant to direct rays only in the morning or in the evening. On the southern windows, a flower pot can only spend winters; with the onset of warmth, it is advisable to move it to a shady western, eastern or even northern side. The codiaeum needs protection from direct light, although too deep shadow can also adversely affect the expressiveness of the color of its leaves. In order for the bush to develop more evenly, you should periodically turn it to the window in different directions. If necessary, you can apply additional lighting.

When bringing a new plant into the house, you need to carefully evaluate its behavior during the adaptation period. This will help determine whether the plant has enough light or not. In summer, the container with codiaeum can be taken out into the street, making sure that there it is in a corner with diffused lighting. But there is another, opposite opinion, which is that the flower will feel best in a constantly humid and warm environment, without ventilation.

Temperature

With the onset of warm and sunny days, it is advisable to keep Croton at a temperature of about +21 degrees. In winter, conditions can be cooler, but it is not worth lowering the temperature below +16. Constant growing conditions without large fluctuations are preferred. To prevent the roots of the plant from freezing in winter on a cold windowsill, the pot should be placed on a heat-insulating support, for example, on a plank or polystyrene. Otherwise, the foliage may start to ache or the growth of the bush will slow down.

Watering mode

Croton
Croton

For healthy growth, the soil in a croton pot should be only slightly moist at all times. Stagnation of water at the roots of the plant should not be allowed – this will quickly lead to the development and spread of rot. For irrigation, room water is used, necessarily settled, or better – filtered water. Ice watering can lead to shedding of leaves.

In winter, the soil is moistened approximately twice a week, in summer – every other day. You can also water the flower through the pallet.

Humidity level

Croton needs a significant (70%) humidity level. The plant must be constantly moistened with a spray bottle or wipe the foliage with a damp cloth or sponge, trying to cover both sides of the foliage. In the summer, you can arrange a regular shower for the flower, after covering the soil in the pot and preventing it from getting wet. For this procedure, use warm water.

Because of croton’s love for humidity, it is not recommended to keep a container with a flower near heating devices: they dry the air near the plant too quickly.

The soil

Croton prefers a universal soil designed for decorative deciduous plants. The soil should be permeable and light, well-drained. As a substrate for growing croton, a mixture of sand with peat, turf and leafy soil is used. Sometimes crushed charcoal is also added to it.

Fertilizers

From mid-spring to November, Croton is fed every two weeks by adding nutrient solutions to a pre-moistened soil. For dressing, universal mineral compositions are used. In winter, the flower can also be fed, but they do it twice less often.

The feeding regime is usually selected depending on the rest of the conditions for keeping the croton bush. An excess of nitrogen fertilizers in combination with a lack of light can lead to the disappearance of the variegated color of the flower.

Transfer

Young crotons need frequent transplants. They are moved to a larger pot every six months. Adult bushes are transplanted much less often, about 1 time in 2 years.

Croton pots should be short but wide enough. In width, the new container can only exceed the old one by 2 cm. As soon as the size of the pot begins to reach 25 cm in diameter, the transplants are stopped. Instead, they simply change the topsoil every year.

Drainage is laid at the bottom, occupying at least a quarter of the pot, and slightly sprinkled with earth on top: the roots should not come into contact with the drainage elements. In order not to damage them, the bush is carefully transferred into a new container along with an earthen clod, after having abundantly watered it.

Pruning

To preserve the elegant appearance of the crown, croton bushes may need shaping procedures. Young plants are pinched for this, and adults are regularly pruned.

The first pinching should be carried out when the size of the bush reaches 15 cm, further – when the stems grow up to 20 cm. The natural shape of the croton bush resembles a small tree, but if they try to make the plant more lush, you will have to be patient: the lateral branches have a slower growth rate in comparison with the main barrel. In addition, pruning an adult bush will require disinfection of the sections: they need to be sprinkled with sulfur or charcoal powder. The removed shoots are usually used for cutting cuttings.

Flower buds are also pruned – flowering requires a lot of strength from the codiaeum and can adversely affect the beauty of its foliage and overall health.

Wintering period

In the fall, the croton container is moved from shady windows to sunnier ones. Watering begins to gradually reduce while trying not to dry out the soil in the container. Topdressing is carried out no more than once a month, or they stop fertilizing the plant until spring. Spraying and wiping the foliage does not stop, but the intervals between these procedures increase. In winter, the bush is not washed under the shower.

Croton breeding methods

Croton breeding methods
Croton breeding methods

Growing from seeds

Indoor crotons can multiply by seeds, but only freshly harvested ones are suitable for sowing – such planting material very quickly loses its germination. The seed reproduction method has a number of disadvantages: it takes a very long time to get a full-fledged plant, in addition, the new specimen is unlikely to retain the characteristics of the parent variety. Basically, this method is used to obtain hybrids.

Croton has large seeds, which must be further processed before sowing. For about half an hour they are kept in hot water (about 60 degrees), and then they are given a day to swell. After that, they are planted in a prepared substrate to a depth of 1 cm, covered with polyethylene and placed in a warm place. Before sprouts appear, the soil in the container can only be moistened through the pallet. With the appearance of the third leaf, sprouts can be dived into individual pots up to 7 cm in diameter. Caring for them is no different from caring for adult plants.

Propagation by cuttings

An alternative breeding method for Codiaeum is cuttings. Usually, it is done in late spring or early summer. Plants grown from cuttings will be adapted to the conditions of a particular room.

The easiest way to root is top cuttings 6-10 cm long, as well as shoots that are woody or starting to grow stiff. To obtain several new plants, the shoot taken for the cutting can be divided into parts, trying to each have at least one healthy leaf and at least one internode. After cutting the cutting, rinse the cut sites thoroughly under running water to remove the discharge of poisonous juice. Then the slices are dried in the open air for several hours so that they have time to tighten slightly.

Before planting, the foliage of the apical cutting must be prepared. The lower leaves are plucked, and the upper ones are shortened by about half, trying to cut them parallel to the veins. You do not need to trim, but simply carefully and lightly tie the foliage with a straw to reduce moisture evaporation. The lower cut can be additionally treated with a growth stimulant, and then placed in a glass of water. At the same time, it is advisable to keep the water warm, heating it to +24 +30 degrees. This will prevent the appearance of rot. The vessel with the handle is placed in a bright place and the roots are awaited.

When the size of the roots reaches at least 2 cm, Croton can be planted in a container with suitable soil. For 10 days after planting, they try to keep the cuttings in high humidity, often spraying it from a spray bottle. The sign of successful rooting is the restoration of the turgor of the leaf blades.

You can plant the cutting in the ground right away. To do this, use a mixture of peat and sphagnum moss with sand. Having installed a stalk in it, the container is covered with a film, and then every day it is ventilated and the seedling is sprayed with water. In such conditions, it can take root in about a month.

Croton pests and diseases

Pests

Mealybugs, nematodes, or scale insects can settle on the croton bush, but the spider mite is considered the main pest of the plant. It is quite difficult to deal with it, so it is much easier to prevent the appearance of a harmful insect. As a rule, mites infect plants that are irregularly watered, and also do not often moisturize the leaf blades: the pests are attracted by dry hot air.

As a means of fighting harmful insects, you can use a tobacco solution with the addition of soap. They wipe the aboveground part of the plant, and after an hour or 1.5 they certainly wash it off, trying to prevent drops of solution from falling on the ground. The scabbard can be removed from the bush manually, but then the bush will still have to be treated with soapy water or an appropriate preparation.

Possible growing difficulties

Due to mistakes in the care of croton, the following troubles can occur with it:

  • Drying of the bush. The drying of the lower leaves of the croton is a natural aging process that exposes the lower part of the plant trunk. But from an insufficient level of humidity, the tips of younger foliage can begin to dry out. The moisture content of 70% is considered optimal for a plant. If the foliage dries and flies around, then the flower is watered too rarely. The appearance of spots and drying of leaves along the edges is a sign of an excessively cold place. For recovery, the bush must be moved to warmth. Yellowing and drying leaves are a reason to increase the number of sprays, but in addition to this, it is worth checking whether the soil in the pot is waterlogged, whether the soil is sufficiently breathable and whether the plant is cramped in the current container.
  • Lowering foliage. If the leaf blades of the Codiaeum began to fall, it means that the bush is having difficulty absorbing moisture. This usually happens when the roots of the plant are suffering from the cold. The croton pot is transferred to a bright and warm place, and watering begins only after the topsoil begins to dry out. Fertilizers are not applied during this period. In order to quickly supply the plant with moisture, you can spray its leaves with water, and put a transparent bag on top of the bush.
  • Flying leaves. Croton foliage can fly around not only due to low humidity, temperature or watering problems. The reason may be sudden temperature changes or other stresses experienced by the plant. This behavior of the bush requires an analysis of the conditions of its maintenance and their appropriate adjustment.
  • Foliage cracking is another possible codiaeum problem. This can be due to an oversupply of nitrogen fertilizers, temperature surges, or improper watering. If a purple bloom was found on the inside of the foliage, returning after washing off, along with the falling of the leaf plates, this may indicate the development of fungal diseases. Red spots on the foliage will also talk about such diseases. Overflowing the plant can lead to the development of root rot. If the flower is sick, it is necessary to water and treat it with a fungicide, repeating the procedure up to 4 times with 10-day breaks.

Types and varieties of croton with a photo

Of several dozen species, only one type of croton is usually grown at home – variegated or variegatum. This plant is found in China and Pakistan. In nature, the variegated croton bush can reach 3 meters in height. Its foliage is usually brownish-green and has small petioles. The species has several forms, in addition, it is distinguished by an interesting property – such croton is capable of changing the color and shape of the leaves, depending on the growing conditions. This feature has allowed breeders to develop many hybrid varieties on its basis.

Mrs. Aiston

Croton Mrs. Aiston
Croton Mrs. Aiston

A fairly large bush or tree with foliage, combining dark shades of burgundy with bright pink specks. It has several varieties with leaf plates of a different color: golden with dark spots and pinkish-yellow.

Petra

croton petra
croton petra

In nature, it can grow up to 4 meters. Shoots branch well, forming a sprawling bush. The foliage can be pointed at the end, oval or lobed. Its color is dark green with bright yellow dots and streaks.

Black Prince

croton - black prince
croton – black prince

It has flat, broad-oval foliage. The color of adult leaves is deep green, almost black, decorated with reddish or yellow spots.

Disraeli

croton-disaerli
croton – disaerli

Lobe-shaped leaves. The upper part of the bush has green foliage with bright yellow veins, the lower leaves are painted greenish-brown with a brick tint.

Excellent

croton-excelent
croton – excelent

The elongated leaf blades are a bit like oak foliage. Younger leaves are colored in yellow-green tones, and the lower ones acquire a reddish-burgundy hue.

Along with these varieties of codiaeum, croton molluksky, genoin, “minus”, curly, oval-leaved, spiral and tortoiseshell are also popular.

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7 Comments

  1. I have a problem (((listened to my friend and cut off the top. And that’s it. It does not give new leaves, nor does it wait for new shoots (((the trunk is not stiff yet, what should I do?

    1. But nothing. wait. Until Until your croton develops a good root system. you will not see clear signs of growth. Check if the pot is too big for him, he grows better in cramped conditions. Spray often, feed once every 2 weeks until autumn.

    1. It is difficult for you to advise anything without seeing your croton. I have a completely bare trunk (45 cm) this summer, the top of my head was nailed with three tops, so thick and magnificent, and I already wanted to get rid of it. For 10 years, 30 processes were cut off from it. Apparently, he turned out to be with character, he decided to prove that he was in power.

    1. Good night, Doris! Leaf fall due to dry air. Maybe they dried it out once. If your croton has lost its attractiveness, the trunk is bare, then you can cut off the top and put it in a jar of warm water for rooting (do not forget to throw activated carbon into the water). It is better to cover the jar with a transparent bag, make several holes in it, and keep it in a warm place, and not on a cold windowsill. Cover the trunk cut with paraffin or wax. It also does not hurt to put a bag on him. Just do not forget to remove packages from time to time for airing. Regular and frequent spraying of the leaves and trunk is encouraged. Water the plant with water at room temperature. I did this procedure with my crotons last year at this very time. The result pleased me. Very hardy and strong specimens with two and three tops have grown.

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