Sad Croton - help plz!!!

djliquidiceApril 29, 2014

I took my sad little Croton I got from Walmart, and finally put in it's safe new home where I can properly take care of it. Well, doesn't seem good so far. Within the first week in new soil, 3 leaves fell off, and the lighter green leaves seen in the picture are drooping and look like they will fall off any second.

I've read these plants get weird sometimes when you transplant them, is that all that's happening? My daughter picked this out, it would kill me if I kill it!

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Dil, Crotons are fussy plants...Very fussy.

There are many reasons Croton leaves drop.

When Crotons are re-potted, they need time to acclimate.
It could take days to weeks before adapting.

Leaf drop is common, 'especially w/Crotons,' when moved.
Most likely, Crotons originated in a warm climate/tropical green house, shipped to Walmart, then to your house.

Change in climate, 'light/humidity/fresh air,' to a dry, less than perfect atmosphere, causes leaves to yellow, brown and/or drop.

It's said to re-pot a week or two after bringing a plant home. Stress from moving shocks a plant.

How much larger is the pot than its previous container?
Light, room temp, humidity?? Toni

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 3:06PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Pls show the whole pot, I think it may be too big. I wonder if you haven't potted the plant too deeply, doesn't it have a stem, or trunk?

Also, sorry but I think that mix is too peaty, it needs to be much faster draining. Crotons are heavy drinkers, they need a soil that can handle that.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:32PM
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Crotons are not the easiest plant to grow indoors, but I have found that it can be done. My experience with crotons is that there are four big things you need to deal with to keep them going indoors:

1. High light - ideally it should be in front of a southern window.

2. Lots of humidity, but enough air movement so that the plant doesn't develop fungus problems. If you have a humidifer, you might want to try setting it up near the croton. I put my croton on the back of an aquarium to let it benefit from the humidity of the fish tank.

3. Frequent watering, but not so frequent that the soil stays constantly soggy and the roots rot. I agree with the person who said that this plant may be in too big of a pot and the soil looks too "heavy". A light, fast-draining soil mix will allow you to water frequently without rotting the roots, which is what crotons like.

(I am actually growing my croton in a hydroculture set up so it has constant access to moisture but I wouldn't suggest converting a plant as fussy as a croton to hydroculture when it might be sickly)

4. Be vigilant about fighting spider mites. A lot of crotons come home from the store with spider mites and you need to be aggressive about killing them for the plant to grow well.

Do you see any thin strands of spider webbing on your plant? That's often a sign of spider mites.
If your plant has mites, we can tell you how to battle them.

Where do you live? If it is warm enough, you could try putting the croton outdoors for the summer. They often do a lot better outside because of the light, warmth, and humidity (in humid areas at least).
The only thing to worry about with putting it outside is that when you bring it back inside for winter there is a good chance it will have picked up spider mites while it was outside, so you'd need to plan on spraying it down with Neem or some other product to kill spider mites then.

This post was edited by summersunshine on Wed, Apr 30, 14 at 9:44

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 9:38AM
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Ok, so yes, the pot may be to big, but at this point, would it shock the plant more by moving it again? It isn't planted too deeply, at least I don' think so. The picture is from today, looks even worse on the one stem coming out, the leaves on the other look fine. No sign of spider mites at all, so that's good.

So should I get some faster draining soil and get a smaller pot? Oh, and I'm in Wisconsin, and it's been overcast and rainy all week, so there hasn't been much sun at all. My living area is great otherwise with windows on all walls, and skylights.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 10:17AM
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Hi Karen and Summer...

Dj. When you asked about moving, did you mean re-potting or moving Croton to a different window?

I believe Pirate Girl was suggesting a photo of the entire plant and pot.

Sunshine gave great care advice.

I agree with plenty of light, but, since your Croton is new, medium light will do for the time being. After adaption, Croton can gradually be moved to a brighter location.

I also agree, Crotons love humidity and fresh, circulating air. Both are important.

Dj, I doubt your Croton has mites, but it never hurts to fact, inspecting is recommended.

Soil looks heavy. If you decide to re-pot, add tiny pebbles, perlite, or both.

It's been cloudy here, too. Ever consider lighting?
Any standard light bulb works, as long as leaves aren't hitting a hot bulb. Give it a try.
At night, I place a few small plants on end-table under a lamp.

Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 2:12PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

I grow a Croton in Wisconsin and here's what I'd suggest:

I'd repot it again in a smaller a mix with more perlite (half perlite, half what you have there). Those leaves look like your roots are too wet.
It is planted too deep unless you have roots right under those first set of leaves.
Keep it in a south window until it warms up...then ease it outside. That's where mine spends the winter with no extra light. Mine gets about 3 hours direct sun while outside.
Ease it back into lower light before bringing it in for winter to mitigate leaf drop.
I use 50-50 water and rubbing alcohol to fight mites.
I do nothing special about humidity in winter but I have hydronic heat so there isn't the blowing, drying furnace blasts that forced air has.

An older pic of my plant...

You see, they can be grown here.


Edit: BTW, mine is a pot in a pot but you can see pot size to top growth ratio.

This post was edited by tsugajunkie on Fri, May 2, 14 at 1:32

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 1:25AM
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Thanks for advice, Seems I have a little work to do! Will hopefully transplant again tomorrow. Last night the 3 wilted leaves on the one stem fell off. I did water with distilled water, so that is why the soil looks so wet. I haven't watered much since the 3 leaves became sad, but now since they are gone, what the heck!

We'll see what a smaller pot can do for this guy. Also wondering if I should just get some cactus mix soil as that is what I've used for my snake plants, and will offer more drainage? I could mix that with some regular potting soil if that is what might be best for the plant?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 11:40AM
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Even if you use cactus soil, still mix in about half perlite.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 7:04PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi DJ,

I'm still trying to see the size (height of that pot). It IS too tall (I suspect) & the plant potted too deeply as I suggested.

I'd go w/ C&S mix as you're suggesting but then add perlite, like 50% worth to make it faster draining. That's important, for both the Croton & your Sans which will like that combination as well (I grow Sans too). This will allow you to water the Croton as oftens as it wants w/out risking rot.

Also I'd add a humidity tray under the Croton (a saucer w/ pebbles) under the pot so that one waters to overflow & the pot sits ON TOP OF, not in the wet rocks. That will allow the plant extra humidity while reducing the risk of root rot.


What a gorgeous plant, nice pot too. Interesting point, & well made abt your plant-to-pot size ration. That's one of the happiest looking Crotons I've ever seen!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 7:40PM
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ok, transplant day! Found mites all over the plant when I got home from work, not happy. Went into action.

Was going to put into a smaller pot I bought, but when I took out the plant(s), there was hardly any roots to them, it still seemed like the smaller pot was overkill. So I decided to use the plastic pots I had from other small plants I've rescued from Walmart. Cactus mix mixed with half perilte.

As you can see, one of the stems has lost all it's leaves and is only a stem with roots now. Is it hopeless? The other seems ok, I'll see how it does in it's tiny home again. Perhaps eventually I can put them in the smaller pot I bought.

Also thought about buying some more smaller babies I saw at the store tonight, but I don't know how many stems I should plant together.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 9:13PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

The leafless stem may make it as long as it has roots and you don't over water. This is the time of year for growth. Make note of the heft of the pot after watering and then don't water again until its noticeably lighter. Those pots should do fine for the next year.

How, exactly, did you "find" the mites? They are not easy (if it's even possible) to see with the naked eye. Use the 50-50 water rubbing alcohol spray for the mites if ID'd properly.

I'd deal with these and get them up to speed before attempting more.


P.S. Thanks, pg.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 2:41AM
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