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How to Root a Croton

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How to Root a Croton

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Overview

Crotons are tropical, perennial flowering shrubs. They grow between 3 and 6 feet tall and have bright colorful leaves. If you live in USDA hardiness zones 10 or 11 you can plant your croton outside; otherwise, put it in a pot and keep it indoors. This tropical shrub makes a great houseplant and it's easy to propagate. Find a croton you love and ask its owner for a small cutting, or pot up a cutting from your own plant and give it to your fellow plant enthusiasts.

Step 1

Take a 4- to 6-inch cutting from the end of a croton branch. This is called a leaf-tip cutting. Select a cutting that has 3 to 5 leaves on it.

Step 2

Place the cutting into a jar of water and place the jar in a warm, light area for two days. Avoid direct sunlight as it can burn and stress the plant. Filtered light is best.

Step 3

Strip the bark off of the lower 1 to 2 inches of your cutting. Use a sharp knife and cut away from yourself. Cut down to just below the green layer to where the wood is white.

Step 4

Roll the stripped end of the cutting in hormone rooting powder to stimulate new growth. Rooting powder can be found at most nurseries and garden stores.

Step 5

Fill a 3-inch planting pot with a mixture of peat moss, compost and topsoil. Choose a pot that has drainage holes in the bottom so that water does not build up around the developing root system.

Step 6

Stick the bottom end of the cutting into the planting pot and pat down the soil so that the cutting stands upright on its own. You can drive a small bamboo stake into the pot to support it.

Step 7

Water the cutting so that the soil is thoroughly and evenly damp. Water will begin to drain out of the bottom when the pot is sufficiently watered.

Step 8

Place a plastic bag over the top of the cutting and secure the open end around the rim of the pot using a rubber band or string. This will create a mini greenhouse to keep the cutting warm and evenly moist.

Step 9

Put the cutting in an area that gets filtered sunlight. The temperature needs to be between 70 and 80 degrees F for the cutting to root.

Step 10

Check the soil every three days. If the top of the soil feels dry and crumbly to the touch add water until the soil is evenly damp.

Step 11

Remove the plastic bag and transplant the cutting to a new pot or into the ground when new green growth emerges on the stem. This will take four to six weeks.

Tips and Warnings

  • All parts of the croton are poisonous when ingested. Keep cuttings away from children and pets that might accidentally ingest parts of the plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Jar
  • Knife
  • Hormone rooting powder
  • 3-inch planting pot
  • Peat moss
  • Compost
  • Topsoil
  • Small bamboo stake (optional)
  • Plastic bag
  • Rubber band or string

References

  • University of Missouri Extension: Home Propagation of House Plants
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Croton Use and Production
  • University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service: Codiaeum variegatum

Who Can Help

  • National Arboretum:USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: tropical shrubs, tropical house plants, rooting tropicals

About this Author

Olivia Parker has been a freelance writer with Demand Studios for the past year, writing for Garden Guides and eHow. She has studied herbal and alternative medicine and worked as a landscape artist and gardener. Parker is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Arts from Boston University Online.