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How to Grow Croton — Codiaeum

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Codiaeum–commonly called Croton–is a colorful small plant. Plant leaves are mottled with patterns of red, yellow, orange, pink, brown, and green. Croton grows best in bright light indoors and outdoors.

Croton is a tropical shrub extensively grown in warm regions for its highly colored ornamental foliage, which is extremely variable in form and color. Leaves range from large entire or deeply-lobed to long, narrow, and often twisted. The color combinations are very striking, involving shades of green, yellow, orange, pink, red, and crimson.

Massed in a sunny place outdoors during summer they five a rich tropical effect and are also useful for containers and window boxes.

Codiaeum prefers a mixture of fibrous loam with leafmold and sand. in the early stages of growth, they need very warm and moist conditions. While good light is needed to induce bright coloring. Some shade may be necessary during the brightest weather to prevent leaf burn.

Get to know Croton

  • Plant type: Tropical small shrub
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 10-11
  • Hardiness: Codiaeum is damaged or killed by freezing temperatures
  • Optimal growing temperature: day 68° and 78°F (20°-26°C), night 650 and 68°F (16°-20°C)
  • Height and width: 6 tp 36 inches (15-91cm) tall and wide
  • Foliage: Large oak-leaf-shaped mottled leaves with patterns of red, yellow, orange, pink, green, or brown
  • Uses: Houseplant, annual bedding or shrub in warm regions, outdoor containers
  • Common name: Croton, variegated laurel
  • Botanical name: Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum
  • Family: Euphorbiaceae
  • Origin: Malaysias and Eastern Pacific islands

Where to plant Codiaeum

  • Grow Codiaeum outdoors in sun or partila shade.
  • Indoors grow Codiaeum in bright light.
  • Indoors plant Codiaeum in a light soil mix rich in organic matter.
  • Outdoors plant Codiaeum in humus-rich, moist, but well-drained soil.
Croton or Codiaeum with large striped yellow leaves
Croton or Codiaeum with large striped yellow leaves

When to plant Codiaeum

  • Plant or repot Codiaeum in spring

How to water and feed Codiaeum

  • Keep the soil evenly moist for the best color in leaves.
  • Water with tepid water, never cold water.
  • Fertilize Codiaeum three times in summer with a 10-10-10 fertilizer.

Codiaeum care

  • Remove any flowers that might form; they can attract pests.
  • If plants get leggy, cut the stems back to about 6 inches (15cm) above the soil, just above a node.
  • Codiaeum rests during winter; reduce water but do not let the soil dry out, withold fertilizer.

Growing Codiaeum as a houseplant

  • For best leaf color, Codiaeum needs direct light, a warm temperature, and medium to high humidity.
  • Codiaeum thrives in medium-moist soil, but it can tolerate a wide variation in soil moisture.
  • Feed Codiaeum regularly from early spring to late summer.

Codiaeum common problems

  • Spider mites can cause stippling on leaves; spray mites with horticultural oil
  • Mealybugs can be knocked off plants with a strong spray of water.
  • Cold temperatures can cause Codiaeum leaves to fall.

Codiaeum propagation

  • Air layer the stems or take cuttings from side shoots.

Codiaeum varieties to grow

  • Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum, sometimes called ‘Joseph’s Coat’. Corkscrew shape, shiny green leaves with prominent red or yellow ribs and pink, orange, red, or yellow variegation..

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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