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The Croton Plant, or Codiaeum variegatum, is a vibrantly colored, eye-catching plant that almost looks like it's native to an alien planet! But it's actually originally from Southeast Asia (specifically India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia) and parts of Australia, where it enjoys the warm temperature and sunshine.
It’s considered one of the great dividers of the houseplant community– some people love it and some people hate it.
This plant was first described in 1753, and belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family, which also includes other favorite houseplants: the Poinsettia, the African milk tree and the Candelabra spurge
Crotons get their name from the Greek 'krótos', meaning 'tick', due to the tick-shaped seeds that some varieties show.
Crotons are easily recognizable due to their beautiful leaves, but they're also well-known for being a bit fussy at times. They can take a little bit of adjustment time to settle into a new environment, but once they become accustomed to their surroundings they can do quite well in an indoor environment.
Place it in a spot with plenty of bright light but, if possible, shelter it a bit from intense sun during the hottest summer days.
Plenty of sunlight ensures the brightest possible colors will develop in your Croton's foliage: try to make sure yours gets around 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. Just make sure it has been allowed to adjust to the bright light so you don't risk scorching it. Signs that it is not getting enough light are etiolated growth, sparse leaves and lack of coloring.
What makes the Crotons most finicky is their sensitivity to watering issues. They highly dislike both being overwatered and being exposed to drought. The best way to solve this is to make sure they are potted in a high quality soil mix with excellent draining properties. Adding perlite, vermiculite and pumice to your potting soil is a great way to make your soil more Croton friendly.
Also reflective of their tropical home, Crotons appreciate warmth and humidity, so try boosting the moisture by misting, using a pebble tray, or even a humidifier.
It's additionally a good idea to keep your Croton away from anywhere that it might be exposed to drafts, as they are sensitive to temperature change and can react negatively to cold drafts. This can happen when you first bring your Croton home too, leading to leaf loss as your plant reacts to being moved. Don't panic if this does happen, and keep an eye on it to make sure the loss of leaves doesn't become too significant. Other than that, just leave it to settle and try and keep it in one place once you've found an ideal spot for it to live in your home.
Croton seeds have been previously used to create 'detoxing' medicines that are intended to help with cleansing the stomach and intestines. However, today we know that these seeds may actually be harmful, especially for pregnant women, and Crotons are in fact toxic to humans and animals, so you should absolutely not ingest any part of this plant.