Apartment plants

Croton - Codiaeum variegatum

Croton - Codiaeum variegatum

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The Croton

To the genus codiaeum belong some species of evergreen shrubs, originating in Asia; croton is a small or medium-sized shrub, native to the Pacific islands. It has large leaves, conspicuously variegated of various colors, yellow, orange, red or pink; there are numerous varieties, with leaves of various sizes, oval or elongated, even lobed. Plant much appreciated for its decorative foliage, in summer the Codiaeum variegatum also produces small flowers, gathered in long arched panicles. Specimens of the species reach 90-100 cm in height, but there are dwarf varieties, with small leaves, which remain within 30-40 cm.

Croton features

The houseplant commonly known as Croton actually belongs to the genus Codiaeum and to the large family of Euphorbiaceae.
The genus includes 14 or 15 species from the temperate climate regions of southern Asia (particularly Malaysia) and northern Oceania. These are small to medium sized shrubs (from 30 to 80 cm at maturity) very appreciated above all for the beauty of their leaves, large and variously colored. The specimens, depending on the species and the different types of farming, can be single or multiple stems. The most common have alternate leaves, very consistent, from oval to variously carved or wavy, up to 30 cm long. They are available in a large number of shades: white, orange, yellow, red, brown and almost black. The different colors can be present on the same lamina distributed in spots, or in strips, only on the margins or only in the center, along the ribs.
Flowering is not very interesting (and in cultivation it is discouraged because it steals energy when new leaves are released). It consists of ears where there are many male flowers and only one female, from which, in nature, the only fruit develops.


Codiaeum variegatum plants prefer bright positions, but they do not like the direct rays of the sun; avoid placing the plants in a place subject to air blows or temperature changes; in winter they are grown indoors, with minimum temperatures above 15 ° C.
They are plants of tropical origin that, for this reason, love to grow in areas with constant temperatures, the ideal one should be around 25 ° C; for this reason they are plants to be cultivated indoors.


For a good development of the Codiaeum variegatum specimens it is essential to water regularly, but avoiding the formation of water stagnations that can be very harmful; the soil must be kept slightly damp.
Every 20-25 days add some fertilizer for green plants to the water of the watering, in half the dosage compared to that suggested on the package. In very dry weather, spray the foliage often with demineralised water to maintain a good degree of environmental humidity, a fundamental factor for the health of the plant.


Crotons prefer very well-drained soils, rich in organic and soft matter; every 2-3 years repot the plants, possibly in spring; repotting should be performed when the root system is too compact and compressed. The ideal soil for the cultivation of this type of plant must be an acid component.


The multiplication of these plants generally occurs by cuttings, in spring or late summer.
The cuttings should be placed in containers with a mixture of peat and sand, to be kept in a protected place and with a constant temperature, around 20 ° C. Keep the soil moist but not too wet to allow the development of new seedlings. When the shoots appear, the containers must be moved to a brighter area.


An excessively dry climate, a sudden change in temperature or exposure to air blasts can cause the leaves of the Codiaeum variegatum to fall; crotons are often attacked by aphids, mites and cochineal. To eliminate scale insulators, if their presence is limited, it is possible to use a wad with alcohol, intervening manually. If the attack is widespread, it is good to use a good pesticide. To eliminate the mites it is good to intensify the nebulisations that increase the environmental humidity and are an excellent remedy against these parasites.

Croton variety

The enormous interest aroused by this shrub since the middle of the '800s, shortly after its arrival in Europe, has pushed the horticulturalists to the selection and the hybridization, in search of leaves with always new and more vivacious forms and colors. The subjects most used in these experiments were the Codiaeum pictum and the Codiaeum variegatum, from whose hybridization derives most of the cultivars that we can find today on the market.
Here is a brief description of species and varieties.
Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum
Originally from Malaysia, Ceylon and India; medium-sized (in the apartment rarely exceeds 60 cm, but in tropical gardens or in constantly heated greenhouses can become almost a tree). The leaves are alternate and arranged on a single stem, very polymorphic both in shape and coloring. In general they have a bright green base with yellow shades; over time then red tones are added which create a very interesting contrast.
Here are some cultivars that can be commonly found on the market:
Benoit Compteleaves with golden streaks that turn dark red as they age
Blush on Fire very contained and branched. The leaves are a beautiful bright green that, over time, turn orange
Good boy lobed leaves with golden ribs, very ornamental.
Disraeli very elongated leaves with bright green and cream spots
Gold Dust Whole dark green leaves with yellow spots
Golden Bell narrow and long leaves; the young have golden yellow spots. Beautiful color contrast and very bright effect
Norma green lobed leaves from young then bordeaux
Ondulatum very particular leaves due to their undulating behavior on the entire lamina; the base is dark green, but has light spots that tend to go pink on aging.
Petra large leaves colored pink, red or yellow
Punctatum aureum thin leaves with cream-colored spots
The codiaeum warrenii It is less widespread from the horticultural point of view, but it is interesting for some of its characteristics and is now used to obtain new varieties. Under the right conditions (warm climate all year round) it can become very impressive. The appearance of the leaves varies with time: initially they are green with a golden center, then they darken becoming almost black and the veins light up in the vermilion.

Temperatures and ambient humidity for the croton

Croton comes from the rainforests of tropical climates. Theoretically he lives best where it is possible to maintain almost the same climatic conditions both in summer and in winter, therefore in specially prepared greenhouses.
In our apartments we keep in mind that we have an optimal development with temperatures around 18-21 ° C. The plant easily tolerates a slightly colder environment (especially in winter with less intense light), around 15-16 ° C. If we do not want it to suffer damage, we must not expose it to less than 13 ° C, especially for long periods. It is also very sensitive to temperature changes and cold currents: they can cause extensive leaf drop.
Heat (above 25 ° C) can be another cause of problems, especially if combined with a very dry environment. If, in summer, we do not have the possibility of using an air conditioner, let us remember that a constant increase in atmospheric humidity is essential when the temperature rises. We should therefore not skimp on leaf vaporization with demineralized water and the use of special humidifiers.


Family, genus, species

Euphorbiaceae, Codiaeum Variegatum
Type of plant Shrub with decorative foliage
Height From 30 cm to 1 m
Width From 40 to 80 cm
Growth Average fast
Water needs Medium-high
Exposure Very bright (even full sun in spring and autumn)
Ideal temperature 18-21 ° C
Winter temperature 15-16 ° C
Minimum temperature 13 ° C for short periods
Ground Peat + ground of leaves (in equal parts) + sand
soil pH From subacid to acid
Propagation Talea; layering and seed (only for specialists)
Parasites Cotoniglia cotonosa, cochineal with shield, red spider, leaf drop
Use Houseplant


Vegetative growth

All year (with 20 ° C) or from spring to autumn
Flowering (rare in indoor plants) From November to February
Pruning March April May
repotting April, May, June
Fertilizing young plants All year (with 20 ° C) every 20 days, differently only from March to November
Fertilizing adult plants All year (with 20 ° C) every 7 days, differently only from March to November

Light and exposure

This shrub, in order to grow at its best, must be placed in an extremely illuminated area, ie a room with windows facing South or East. This will guarantee a fast growth and the maintenance of the bright nuances that characterize the leaves (especially the red ones, in the shade, they tend to return to a uniform green).
Almost all of them actually have no problem tolerating the direct sun. This should be avoided only in the hottest months (from mid-June to mid-September), with a little more attention for those living in the southern regions or in the coastal areas.

Croton irrigation and watering

The croton always needs a slightly damp soil. The irrigations must therefore be frequent: to regulate ourselves, insert a finger in the soil, about 5 cm deep: if we feel it dry we will have to immediately proceed with the administration of liquids. If in our rooms the temperature is always around 20 ° C we will maintain this behavior throughout the year. Otherwise, in winter, with a climate of around 15-16 ° C, we will reduce the irrigation a little, making sure only that the ground bread never gets completely dry.
For all operations we always prefer demineralized water (such as the one sold for irons) or we collect rainwater. A high concentration of salts (in particular calcium) can, over time, cause the advent of important physiopathies.

Soil and repotting croton

The ideal soil is to be composed of forest soil mixed equally with peat soil for acidophilic plants. It can also be useful to lighten up by adding a few handfuls of river sand.
Repotting, given its rather vigorous growth, can also be done every year, in the middle of spring.

Croton fertilization

The croton needs fairly frequent fertilizations. We choose a balanced product, suitable for indoor plants. Liquid formulations are the most suitable. In general, young subjects grow best with one administration every twenty days, while adults instead require a weekly frequency. Very important is to first wet the substrate well: the roots are in fact very sensitive and direct contact with a high dose of nitrogen could cause major damage.

Pruning of the croton

It is not strictly necessary. We can decide to do this if the plant has grown distorted or spun due to an incorrect positioning with respect to the light. We will intervene at the end of winter by eliminating almost completely the stems. From the cuts will come out a liquid ("latex") characteristic of this family: for this it is recommended to always use gloves as it could irritate the skin. The lacerations of the plant must be dusted with charcoal or a little cinnamon: this will speed up the healing process.

Parasites and croton adversity

The most frequent parasites are the cochineal and the red spider mite. The first ones can be fought with mineral oil and, in case of serious infestations, with systemic insecticides to be administered by irrigation (or with the special pot tablets). The second is prevented with frequent vaporizations.

Croton - Codiaeum variegatum: Propagation

The only method available to everyone is the cutting:
- Proceed in mid-spring by taking a tip from 5 to 10 cm long. We eliminate the leaves at the base and leave only two (possibly cut in half) to reduce transpiration
- We dust the base with a product based on rooting hormones
- We insert the segments in a mix of soil and sand in equal parts
- We cover with clear plastic and keep warm, vaporizing often. Generally within a few weeks the new shoots are born.
- We await perfect rooting and transfer to larger pots with soil suitable for adult plants.
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  • Croton

    The Croton is an evergreen plant, used to decorate the apartments; and is native to Asia. In particular, these

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    not easy choice for you

  2. Burt

    The idea is amazing, I support it.

  3. Carthage

    Brilliant thought

  4. Baghel

    This is a very valuable message

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