Croton Watering Requirements And Other Tips

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The garden croton, also known as the croton plant, is known for its exotic appearance because of its gorgeous, vibrant leaves. Similar to the leafy fig, it’s notorious for being finicky and requiring a lot of maintenance, but if you know how to care for a croton plant, it’s really easy to grow and hard to kill. And when growing your own croton plant, water is a critical factor to consider.

In this guide, we’ll look at everything you need to know about croton plant care when it comes to watering and humidity. Although easy to care for, they can be a little fussy when it comes to Croton’s watering requirements. So, knowledge is definitely power in this regard!

What is a croton plant?

The croton, garden croton, or variegated laurel, is one of the few indoor plants you’ll find that has gorgeous or vibrant foliage. This eye-catching houseplant, which is native to Australia and Southeast Asia, stands out thanks to its broad, glossy green leaves speckled with black, cream, orange, pink, purple, red or yellow.

This plant has a few different species and many different cultivars and can grow between three and eight feet tall and three to six feet wide. To keep your croton plant’s leaves vibrant, you must find a position where it gets the right kind of sunlight. For a croton plant to maintain and grow its beautiful leaves, it needs six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Be careful about where you place your croton plants, as they are deadly to both humans and animals.

The Croton plant, as noted above, has a reputation for being hardy and high maintenance, mainly because it often makes a bad impression. This is particularly the case with the new owners of this plant. According to many plant parents online, Crotons can be fussy when moved to a new location, such as moving from nursery to home, and they will drop their leaves dramatically in protest. This is a very common behavior, but it can also be a sign of poor watering practices.

Petra crotons group grows with bright yellow leaves
Crotons can come in a wide range of colors, including the vibrant yellow and green pictured.

© / Somnath Mahata

Croton plant watering requirements

Through a process known as transpiration, croton plants lose a large amount of moisture from their huge, vibrant leaves. Many gardeners advise that they should be watered often but not excessively because they thrive in moist, moist conditions. Any time the soil looks dry, check the moisture content below the surface by probing the soil with your fingertips. In general, we recommend watering when a half inch of soil becomes dry. To keep water off the leaves, water the plant at the base, not the top. On leaves, excess moisture may cause fungus problems.

Since it is a tropical plant, Croton does not need to hibernate as many other plant species do. Instead, it blooms all year round. But reducing water consumption in the fall and winter will cause the plant to rest, which can extend its life. During the cooler months, keep the soil on the drier side; However, if there hasn’t been any rain for more than a week, watch for wilting and water the plants.

It should be noted that outdoor and indoor croton plants have different watering requirements and processes for success.

Croton outdoor watering requirements

Croton is a tropical plant that cannot survive in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and can only be grown outside in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. The majority of crotons require intense light to maintain their beautiful color. However, if planted in direct sunlight, they will become bland and pale in appearance. Crotons should be planted two to three feet apart in deep, fast-draining soil that will receive some shade. Avoid sandy or rocky soil that does not contain water, as this can hinder root health.

Croton plants grown in gardens should receive about an inch of water each week. Watch for signs of plant problems, such as slightly wilting on young leaves. If wilting occurs in warmer weather, increase watering, but first, check the soil moisture level. When the soil is too wet, wilting can sometimes occur. Withhold watering for a week to check if the plant has recovered if the soil seems soggy.

Indoor croton watering requirements

Water requirements for indoor croton plants are similar to those for outdoor plants, but you also need to take a few factors into consideration when comparing outdoor and indoor growing environments. The fact that the indoor environment is often dry and less humid than the outdoor environment can have an effect on plants with high transpiration rates, such as crotons. Increasing ambient humidity is essential because low humidity can lead to leaf loss. Croton is frequently grown on top of a tray of moist gravel because many gardeners believe this increases the moisture surrounding the leaves. However, we will talk more about humidity levels in the following sections of this tutorial.

Croton plants should be grown in a large container with drainage holes in the bottom. Use a rich potting soil amended with perlite to maintain moisture around the roots. Consider placing indoor croton plants near a slightly shaded window facing east, west, or north. Choose a location where the nighttime lows do not fall below 40°F and the daytime highs do not exceed 60°F. Keep crotons away from heating vents and electrical current, as both can dry out the foliage.

When 1/2 inch of soil becomes dry, water deeply, adding water until the excess drips from the base of the pot. The water will remove excess salt from the soil and keep the roots healthy. Take care to squeeze out the excess water, rather than letting it collect in the saucer at the base of the plant.

A small croton plant growing in a pot
Potted crotons (pictured) require similar watering practices as outdoor crotons.

© / Wirestock

How to water crotons outdoors

During the active growing season, water your croton plant only when the amount of rain is less than 1 inch over seven days. Use a garden hose to spray one inch of water onto the ground, soaking the soil for six inches. Soak the ground under the plant’s canopy and about 12 inches from its outer edge. Avoid watering plants so excessively that the soil becomes soggy or accumulates standing water.

Avoid spraying plants as much as possible when watering the ground. Water the plant in the morning so that the wet leaves dry before dusk. Don’t let the leaves sit in the water overnight as this will promote the growth of the fungus that causes leaf spot and powdery mildew.

When croton growth slows in late fall and winter, reduce watering. When the top 1 to 2 inches of soil is dry, water the plant. Ditto, apply 1 inch of water.

How to water indoor crotons

When 1/2 inch to 1 inch of soil becomes dry, water crotons in pots whether they are indoors or outdoors. Using a watering can or other container, fill the pot with water. Watch the drain holes in the bowl to drain out any extra water. A second watering will be necessary to ensure that the soil is evenly moistened. Watch the water leave the bottom of the pot. Do not let the pot stand in still or standing water. Keep the floor from getting wet.

Place marbles, rocks, or an upside-down plate in a draining tray. Place it in the middle of the tray, place the potted croutons on top of the filling. Fill the drain pan halfway to three-quarters full with water. Keep the water level below the bottom of the pot to prevent standing water from collecting in the pot. When the water in the tray evaporates, replenish it to maintain a constant level of humidity around the plant.

When potted croton growth slows, generally in fall and winter, reduce watering. When the top two inches of soil are dry, water the pot. Don’t let the soil ball dry out completely between waterings.

Moisture and temperature requirements of the Croton plant

As noted above, crotons are native to the tropics of Malaysia, India, and some South Pacific islands, where they are grown as vibrant houseplants. This indicates that they are used to fairly warm temperatures and high levels of humidity. It often only thrives when grown outdoors in places like Florida, Southern California, and Hawaii that have similar conditions. Because of this, the internal growth of most species is more extensive than the external growth. If you don’t mind increasing the average humidity around the plant, it’s very easy to recreate the conditions of these tropics inside your home.

Be sure to place your potted croton in a place with high humidity, such as your bathroom, where the relative humidity ranges from 40% to 80%. Since Croton prefers moisture, it will thrive if you can mist it frequently, keep it close to a humidifier, or use a pebble tray. The ideal temperature for a croton plant is between 60°F and 70°F. Any temperature below 50 degrees Fahrenheit will surely destroy your croton plant. Keep in mind that they enjoy warm, moist surroundings!

Do crotons need more or less water?

Examining the soil is the best way to determine if croton plants require watering. You should water your plant when the top two inches of soil are dry, assuming you’re using the right type of soil mix. You should water your indoor croton plants about once a week as a general guideline. Naturally, this will change based on a number of variables, but we’ll discuss them below. Although watering your plants once a week is a good start, you should check the soil frequently before you water it.

The frequency with which you should water your croton depends on a number of environmental conditions. Plants dry out more quickly as a result of higher temperatures, which leads to more water being drained off. As a result, plants in warm climates will need more water than those in cooler climates. How often you need to water your plant is also affected by humidity. In humid locations, plants filter less water than in dry locations. As a result, if the air is dry, you should water your plant more frequently. A plant’s water requirements will depend on how much sunlight it receives. The sunlight will speed up photosynthesis as well as cause the soil to dry out more quickly.

Watering crotons and providing them with the right amount of moisture can be a challenge for some homes and offices. However, once you find a happy balance and ideal long-term conditions to keep your houseplant, you will be able to enjoy your wonderful Croton houseplant for a very long time!

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