What Is a Croton Plant? How to Care for It and What Are the Different Types

The croton plant is a tropical plant native to South America and other areas of the world with warm climates. It grows best in humid environments and needs plenty of sunlight in order to thrive. The word “croton” comes from the Greek word for tick, as the leaves resemble ticks. Crotons are an excellent houseplant because they require little attention and don’t need to be watered often. They are perfect for those who have busy lives, or simply prefer low-maintenance plants. They also thrive in most indoor lighting conditions, making them ideal for offices, apartments and homes without access to natural light. There are several different species of croton that can grow as large shrubs or small tabletop plants depending on their growing conditions. There are many cultivars available which means there is a croton that suits almost any environment or preference when it comes to looks. Let’s take a look at what a croton plant is, how to care for it and some common types you might see when shopping for one…

What Is a Croton Plant?

A croton plant is a tropical plant that is often grown indoors. It prefers warm, humid environments and can grow as large as shrubs outdoors, but is often kept to tabletop size indoors. The leaves of a croton plant are large, coarse and usually variegated, meaning they have two or more colors in them. The flowers are small, white and fragrant. Crotons are part of the Euphorbia family, which is known for its sticky, toxic sap called latex. This sap contains chemicals that can irritate the skin and even cause blindness if it gets in the eyes. For this reason, it is important to handle crotons carefully when repotting or pruning. You can wear latex gloves to keep clean but avoid getting sap in your eyes.

How to Care for a Croton Plant

Light – Although the plant does not require direct sunlight, it does need bright, indirect light. The ideal conditions for a croton are a south-facing window with some dappled light from the trees outside. – Temperature – The croton thrives in warm, humid conditions. The best temperature for a croton is between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. – Water – It is important to water a croton sparingly, as overwatering can kill the plant. Keep the soil lightly moist and water only when the top inch of soil feels dry. – Fertilizer – Fertilizer can be harmful to a croton plant, as it prefers a low-nutrient soil. Feeding a croton plant too much can cause salt build-up and kill the plant.

Types of Crotons

Croton plants fall into two categories: decandrous and evergreen. Decandrous crotons lose their leaves during the winter while evergreen crotons retain their leaves year-round. Decandrous crotons, such as the Crotons shrub, are the best choice for people living in colder climates since they are deciduous. They should be cut back to the ground in the fall and allowed to regrow during the spring. Evergreen crotons like the Croton ‘Variegatus’ are a better choice for warmer climates. They are more tropical and don’t require much pruning.

Where to Buy a Croton Plant

The best place to buy a croton plant is at an indoor gardening store, where you can view the different cultivars and select the perfect plants for your space. You can also purchase crotons online, but make sure to read the reviews to find reputable sellers. If purchasing online, you should also be able to track the order so you know when your plant will arrive. If you are purchasing a croton at a garden shop, make sure to look for healthy, vibrant plants. They should have plenty of flowers or leaves, and the soil should look moist but not wet. Healthy plants are less likely to die or need to be replaced.

Bottom Line

The croton plant is a tropical plant that is easy to care for and ideal for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time watering and pruning indoor plants. It prefers warm, humid environments and is best grown in pots or trays so the soil can dry out between waterings. When choosing a croton, look for plants that have plenty of flowers or leaves and soil that is slightly moist but not soggy. Healthy plants are less likely to die and can be planted outside during the summer months.


1-Widespread mistaken identity in tropical plant collections

Available online 16 November 2015, Version of Record 16 November 2015.