There are over 100 croton types available. The foliage comes in a range of colors and shapes, including yellow, red, orange, copper, green, ivory, pink, and brown. These colors will spread over the entire leaf to create a very pretty plant. Most require very brightly lit locations and moist soil to do well, but they’re a generally maintenance-free plant that will add a splash of color to your room.
Croton Types – Quick Facts
The Croton genus has dozens of flowering plants, including a range of shrubs, herbs, and trees. They come from the Euphorbiaceae family, and this family grows best in their native tropical climates in Central America and Indo-Malayan regions. People adore these plants due to the radiant, bright foliage they produce, and they have a host of tropical colors and color combinations.
Most croton types are toxic if you should eat them, so it’s best to be on the cautious side and keep them away from children and pets. This is especially true for growing them indoors. However, these plants work wonderfully as natural air purifiers that strip harmful toxins out of the air.
Croton Types Care Guide
Just like any other non-tropical houseplant, croton types require proper maintenance and care to do well. This is an easy houseplant to keep alive, but it has a reputation for being overly fussy. However, getting the growing conditions correct from the start will turn this specimen into a houseplant that is hard to kill. The quick care guide to croton types is as follows:
- Fertilizer – Fertilize your croton type once a month to encourage healthy growth
- Humidity – If you live in a dry area, mist your plant once a week. They do best in a 60% humidity range all year-round.
- Sunlight – This plant thieves in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.
- Temperature – Grow this plant in warmer temperature ranges of 65°F and 85°F
- Watering – Water using moderation
1. Andrew Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Andrew’)
Unlike many croton types that feature yellow, green, burgundy, or red coloring, the dominant colors on this cultivar are cream and green. The cream-colored streaks this plant showcases run along the edges of the leaves are what makes them stand out from other croton types. Although it’s not as attractive or bright as other crotons, they can enhance how your home or room looks when you place them in matching containers in strategic locations.
With good care, this croton type will get up to five feet tall. Putting them in darker spots in your home will affect how the foliage looks and the color brightness, and it can start to look drab. If the sunlight level is inadequate for your indoor plant, use artificial light. If you grow them outside, keep an eye out for pest infestations so you can combat them early enough to stop them from wreaking havoc.
2. Banana Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Banana’)
The banana croton type is a very petite plant that works well in small spaces. It has bright green coloring on oblong leaves with yellow splashes and dots. Plant your croton in a very loose, well-draining potting soil mix and water the plant only when the first inch or two of soil dries out. Keep the temperature range between 60°F and 85°F, and make sure the humidity levels around the plant are moderate to high. It needs a minimum of five hours of bright but indirect sunlight each day. I
In zones 10 to 12, you can grow the banana croton plant outside. You can grow it inside as long as it’s in a bright area. This is a very slow-growing plant that reaches six feet tall, but it usually only gets between one and two feet tall inside.
3. Bush on Fire Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Bush on Fire’)
The true beauty of this croton type won’t be evident until it reaches the fully grown and mature stage. When you tend to it properly, this croton type looks like a bush with fire on the narrow and long foliage. The mass of colors it produces when you nurture it makes it a great choice for a more ornate home design.
You can place this croton type in attractive but plain pots and ensure you keep them in a spot where they complement your home’s aesthetic design. This plant does require regular watering and misting. On days when you don’t have to water because the soil is damp, misting the leaves by spraying them with a small amount of water will help the roots take in moisture. Keep it away from air current or drafts because they can eventually weaken and damage the plant’s stem. The ideal temperature for this croton to thrive in is between 70°F and 80°F.
Bush on Fire by Forest and Kim Starr / CC BY 2.0
4. Croton Magnificent (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Magnificent’)
The wide green leaves covered in big, bright patches of pink, yellow, orange, and more make sure it lives up to the name. If you plant it outside, this croton type prefers morning sun or dappled shade. Try to keep the temperatures between 60°F and 90°F with a higher humidity level. Use a well-draining potting mix or soil and water it when the top two inches of soil dry out. You can grow it outside in an area that gets indirect but bright sunlight, and it has to be in zones 9 to 11. It can reach between four and six feet high when it’s fully grown.
5. Eleanor Roosevelt Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Eleanor Roosevelt)
Better known as the messy painter croton, this croton type has oblong leaves in a green color with yellow splotches dotted over the surface. It needs six to eight hours of indirect but bright sunlight each day with high humidity levels to thrive. Use a well-draining soil and water it when the top inch of soil dries out to the touch. You can grow it inside virtually anywhere or outside in zones 10 to 12. They can get up to six feet tall.
6. Garden Croton Plant (Codiaeum variegatum)
The oval-shaped and large leaves make this croton type very popular and desirable. The foliage can be a host of colors from green and yellow to red and pink. The veins on this plant are usually marked with bright yellow stripes. It grows best in a well-draining organic soil mix, and you can grow them both indoors and outdoors. If you grow them inside, they get as tall and large as the outdoor-grown cultivars.
When you grow them inside, you have to put it in a spot where it can get indirect but bright sunlight. If natural light isn’t enough to support growth, you want to get artificial lighting in the form of bulbs or lamps. It does best in a temperature range between 55°F and 80°F. Additionally, this hardy croton type does well with shock that can come from repotting or transplanting it. You may notice a leaf or two fall off, but it will recover very quickly.
7. Gold Dust Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Gold Dust’)
As the name suggests, this croton type comes with deep green leaves with flecks of gold splattered across it. The brighter the location you plant it, the more vibrant the yellow will be. This croton loves at least six hours of indirect but bright sunlight each day. When you grow it outside, you want it to get morning sun but afternoon shade to prevent scorching. Keep the temperatures between 60°F and 85°F to keep the plant happy, and maintain a moderate to high humidity level. Water it only when the top two inches of soil dry out.
In zones 10 to 12, you can grow this croton type outside. It also makes a fantastic houseplant with enough light. When you grow it outside in warmer environments, it will grow at a moderate rate before maxing out at 10 feet tall. It’s a much slower grower inside with a maximum height of three feet.
8. Gold Star Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Gold Star’)
This croton type comes with thin, long green leaves with tiny yellow spots on them. You’ll want to keep them in slightly warmer temperatures, indirect but bright sunlight, and high humidity levels. You can grow it outside if you live in zones 9 to 12. It will max out at eight feet tall outside and two or three feet tall inside.
9. Lauren’s Rainbow Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Lauren’s Rainbow’)
You’ll get very thin leaves that all sit atop of stems with this croton type. The leaves usually have a single color at the base and another color that runs up the middle. LIke many croton varieties, this one likes indirect but bright sunlight with partial shade. To keep it happy and thriving, you’ll keep the humidity levels high around the plant and water it when the top two inches of soil dry out. The air temperature should ideally stay between 55°F and 85°F.
You can grow this plant inside in virtually any space as long as you can give it enough humidity and light, like in a bathroom with lots of windows. It can grow outside in zones 10 to 12, and it’ll reach up to five feet tall and five feet wide under the best growth conditions.
10. Mammy Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Mammy’)
The Mammy Croton plant is very similar to another croton type we talked about earlier, the Bush Fire Croton. The biggest difference is that this plant has curly edges on the leaves, and the leaves tend to grow straighter and wider. The foliage coloring can be pink or red to green and yellow. Some of them come with a combination of different colored splotches and lines on them. The ideal humidity level for this plant ranges between 40% and 80%. You can improve the relative humidity level by misting the leaves regularly, growing it in a damp area like in the bathroom, or using a humidifier.
Ensure that you put this croton type in an area where it can get bright but indirect light, and you should prune this plant regularly to allow the nutrients to spread throughout the plant evenly. Get rid of pest infestations by spraying them with water and using a natural insecticide. Before you prune your plant, sterilize each piece of equipment to ensure no bugs move around. Adequate watering, well-drilled pots, indirect but bright light, and a balanced fertilizer are all required to keep this croton type happy.
Croton ‘Mammy’ by Javier Alejandro / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
11. Mother and Daughter Croton
Mother and Daughter Crotons have leaves that are unmistakable, and this is where the name originates. The oblong leaves look like a small leaf attached to a larger leaf. However, one leaf actually attaches to the midrib. Give this plant five to eight hours of indirect but bright sunlight each day, and try to keep the temperature between 60°F and 80°F. The humidity level should be high, and only water when the top inch or two of soil dries out. You can grow it inside in a pot or outside in zones 10 to 12. Indoors, this plant only reaches a foot or two tall, but it can get four feet tall outside.
Croton by Eric Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
12. Mrs. Iceton Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Mrs. Iceton’)
This croton type comes with pointed tips on larger leaves. The leaves have a green as the base color and purple, orange, or red appear to be dusted lightly over the top. You’ll give this plant between six and eight hours of indirect but bright light a day to encourage the colors to pop. Try to keep the temperature range between 55°F and 85°F, and move any potted plants inside when the temperature falls below 55°F.
You’ll get a fantastic houseplant out of this croton type, or you can grow it outside in zones 9 to 12. It can reach up to five feet tall when you plant it outside, and it gets between one and three feet tall inside.
Croton 2 by Renee / CC BY-NC 2.0
13. Oakleaf Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Oakleaf’)
The Oakleaf Croton type comes with yellow veined lines and an unusual shape. This is a multicolored plant that offers colors ranging from yellow and green to burgundy. They like to grow wide and long leaves, so the container should be wide enough to accommodate one to two years of growth at a time. This helps reduce the number of times you have to change the containers since they’re not a fan of frequent repotting.
Move this plant as little as you have to as they don’t respond very well to shock, and you may notice growth rate changes if you do. Most times, they respond to shock by dropping leaves, and this isn’t good for the plant, especially if you want a more bushy appearance. During the winter months, cut back on watering and move your croton type to an indoor location as it won’t do well in extreme weather conditions.
Oakleaf Croton by Javier Alejandro / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
14. Petra Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Petra’)
The Petra Croton offers oval green leaves with a light covering of bright red, orange, or yellow mottling. It’s a native plant to the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, and this croton type prefers at least five hours of indirect but bright light each day. Keep the temperatures between 60°F and 85°F, and keep the humidity levels moderate. When the top two inches of soil dry out, you want to water it. Fertilize it once a month with a diluted houseplant fertilizer.
You can grow this croton indoors in any location, and it can also do very well planted outside in zones 9B to 12. When you grow it outside, it can get up to eight feet tall, and the size indoors will be limited to the environment and container size. With the proper care, this plant can top out at six feet inside.
Petra Croton by lezumbalaberenjena / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
15. Picasso’s Paintbrush Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Picasso’s Paintbrush)
This croton type offers thin, long leaves that look a little like a paintbrush with bright color splatters. You should plant it in a space that gets indirect but bright morning light. Keep the humidity levels around the plant high, and the temperature should stay between 60°F and 85°F. Make sure to use soil that drains very well, and water it when the top few inches of soil dry out. You can grow it indoors or outdoors in zones 9 to 11, and it can get up to six feet tall and five feet wide outside. Inside, it’ll keep a slightly more compact growth habit.
Picasso’s Paintbrush by Tumwijuke Mutambuka / CC BY-NC 2.0
16. Red Iceton Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Red Iceton’)
As the name of this croton type suggests, the colors are all red, pink, or burgundy in this wide variegated plant. It doesn’t have the regular veined patterns like virtually all other croton types, and it has a unique pink vein pattern. It also produces long and wide leaves that can grow into a very bushy plant when you tend to it, and this is what most croton growers prefer.
You want to use wider containers for this croton type and ensure you drill a lot of holes to allow the water to drain easily. Since this is a very colorful plant, you want to watch and make sure you don’t under water, over water, give it too much or too little sunlight, fertilize it too much, or leave a pest infestation untreated as this can lead to dull coloring. If you take the correct preventative steps, you can avoid all of these things and get a healthy plant.
17. Sunny Star Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Sunny Star’)
The Sunny Star Croton type comes with oblong deep green leaves with scattered specks of yellow. The brighter the location you plant it, the more yellow the plant shows. It likes a minimum of five hours of sun each day that is indirect but bright, and the temperatures should stay between 60°F and 85°F. You need moderate to high humidity levels, and you should water when the first two inches of soil dry out. You can fertilize it a few times a year to keep it thriving.
This plant will grow beautifully inside in a sunny location. You can also plant it outside in zones 9 to 11, and it will get up to 10 feet tall. Inside, this plant can grow anywhere from one to five feet high.
Sunny Star Croton by Jim / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
18. Superstar Croton Plant (Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum)
This easy to propagate croton type really stands out due to the wide and bright yellow coloring on the leaves. Some parts of this plant will be pure yellow while others are a mixture of green and yellow, but yellow is always the dominant color on this plant, no matter the sunlight exposure.
When you put it in containers or pots, they work well as inside and outside specimens. Since this plant tends to draw the eye due to the bright foliage and position, you want to put it in a space where it stands out instead of being hidden. You should pick a spot that gets indirect but bright light, but they need to have shade from the direct light as this can easily dry out or scorch their leaves.
Growing them mixed in with other plants will help give them shade. Before you water them, check the soil to figure out how much water you need to give them. Never allow the soil to dry out 100% between watering sessions as this plant isn’t tolerant of drought. It needs organic soil, balanced fertilizer, and drilled containers to do well.
Superstar Croton by fishafoto / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
19. Victoria Gold Bell (Croton Codiaeum variegatum ‘Victoria Gold Bell’)
The oval-shaped and long leaves make this a very distinct croton type. The leaves are slightly longer than any other croton variety, and you will easily recognize this cultivar due to the unique foliage design and coloring. It gets marked with very thick pink lines at the center of the leaf and an oval-shaped, narrow growth habit. You may see splotches of yellow or green too.
This plant thrives in moist, rich, organic soil, but they are very sensitive to overwatering and the leaves will start to fall. This is an indicator that the root system is now impacted. You can reduce how much you water it if there hasn’t been a huge amount of damage and save your plant. The best time to plant this croton is in March, and you can grow it inside or outside. If they are not mature, you want to keep them inside until they do so.
Victoria Gold Bell by Forest and Kim Starr / CC BY 2.0
20. Zanzibar Croton (Codiaeum variegatum ‘Zanzibar’)
Finally, this plant will give you thin, long leaves with a combination of yellow, green, orange, and red coloring. This plant can easily resemble decorative grass due to the long leaves, and it loves to be in partially shaded locations outside and indirect lighting inside. The temperature range should stay between 60°F and 85°F, and it needs moderate to high humidity. Let the top few inches of soil dry out between watering, and feed it an all-purpose fertilizer once or twice a year.
You can grow this croton type all year-round in zones 11 and 12, and it’s possible to keep it outside in the warmer seasons before bringing it in before the first frost hits. It makes a nice houseplant, and it can get up to five feet wide and six feet tall when you grow it outside.
Common Croton Plant Problems
Even though most croton types aren’t as fussy as many people believe them to be, they are prone to having issues with certain diseases, and overwatering is a huge issue too. This pretty houseplant is easy to care for, and it’ll produce pretty flowers with the proper care. However, below are the main problems you want to watch out for with this plant:
|Pests like mealybugs, caterpillars, and spider mites can cause damage.||Get rid of the pests by washing the plant with soap and water before rinsing it well.|
|Overwatering can cause leaf wilt.||If you notice that you’re watering your plant too much, put it in bright but indirect light and cut back on the water.|
|Powdery mildew causes white or gray dust to form on the top and bottom of the plant.||Potassium bicarbonate and neem oil can help you get rid of it.|
|Fungi and disease vulnerability.||Cutting down affected areas and transplanting it to anew pot with disease-free roots can save it.|
Croton Types – FAQs
Even though this plant has a reputation for being demanding, it’s really now. However, this has led to several common questions, including:
1. How do you make the croton plant more bushy?
You don’t have to prune your croton plants to make sure they fill out. Growing them in a container allows you to keep them a small bush shrub, and you have to pinch it back frequently or snip off branches. Snipping of the growing tips on each stem forces the plant to grow in a bushier habit and keep the leaves smaller.
2. What is the croton plant’s average lifespan?
Indoors, this plant will live between two and four years, but if you get the care conditions right, it can live longer. The average lifespan does go over two years, but you need to keep it in perfect zones and conditions.
3. Are croton types hard to keep alive?
This plant hates to be moved around, and this is where they get their reputation for being fussy. Moving crotons can easily put them into shock and make the leaves drop. But, with maintenance, your plant will keep the vivid coloring all year round.
4. Are croton plants high-maintenance?
This plant isn’t exactly high maintenance, but they’re not low-maintenance either. They can be very sensitive to environmental changes, and they can drop leaves if you move them. So, they’re more fussy while not being high-maintenance. You can prune the plant to keep it your desired size.
5. Do croton plants usually grow fast?
No, croton types are very slow-growing plants, and they can grow less than a foot per growing season. Although they do have a reputation for being moderate growers due the the coarse, dense leaves, it only grows a foot or less per year.
These 20 croton plant types can help you add a touch of the tropics and a splash of vivid coloring to your room. They’re not as fussy as some plants as long as you don’t move them around much, and they’ll reward you with bright colors.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.