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Codiaeum

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  • Indoor Plants
Codiaeum sp.
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Michel Tremblay)

Onglets

Botany

Origin and description

Codiaeum, better known as croton, is native to India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. This small shrub is well adapted to the warm, humid conditions in open tropical forests. This species has produced many cultivars that are highly popular for their smooth, leathery, colourful foliage, in an amazing variety of shapes and colours. Mature plants produce a creamy white inflorescence. Croton houseplants rarely grow to over one metre.

Species, cultivars and related plants

There are numerous cultivars with a variety of leaf shapes and colours.

Toxicity

This plant contains sap that may be toxic. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

Common name

Codiaeum / Croton

Latin name (genus)

Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum

French common name

Botanical family

  • Euphorbiaceae
Horticulture

Growing conditions

Croton requires bright light with a few hours of filtered sunlight in winter to keep its splendid colouring. It is best to place it in a west- or south-facing window, provided that it is protected from direct sunlight in summer. It needs warmth and humidity to thrive. This plant prefers temperatures between 20 and 24ºC, and never below 18ºC. It requires high humidity at all times. Be sure to protect it from cold drafts.

Easy to grow?

Croton is not particularly easy to grow. It must be given warmth, humidity and bright light in order to keep its colouring. It is not easy to encourage it to produce its non-showy blooms.

Watering and fertilizer

During the growing period (March to October), water sufficiently to thoroughly moisten the soil and then allow it to dry out slightly between waterings. Use water at room temperature. Do not allow water to stand in the saucer. Water sparingly in winter. Plants that get less light require lighter watering. Croton appreciates monthly feeding. Use nitrogen-rich indoor plant food or all-purpose fertilizer like 20-20-20 during the growing period. Stop feeding in winter.

Pruning and maintenance

Prune croton to restrict its growth and encourage ramification to obtain a compact, bushier plant. To reduce sap leakage after pruning, mist the stem tips with lukewarm water or cauterize the pruning cuts with powdered charcoal. Shower off dusty plants with lukewarm water or wipe the leaves with a damp sponge.

Repotting

Croton is sensitive to repotting. Repot in spring when the plant is potbound, with the roots emerging from the pot. It grows in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. You can use a mix containing potting soil, peat moss and perlite.

Propagation

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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