How to Grown a Croton Plant

Overview

Growing crotons is a low-maintenance way to add leafy, bright color to your tropical landscape. This perennial shrub grows up to 10 feet tall. According to the Florida's Croton Society, this shrub will attain the best leaf color if it is planted in an area that gets "shifting sun." The croton is a tropical shrub native to India and Malaysia. A true tropical, the croton is not frost hardy and will survive outside only in U.S. Department of Agriculture planting zones 9b to 11.

Step 1

Dig up and turn over the soil at the planting site. Add two to three shovels of well-seasoned compost and peat moss to improve the nutrient levels and drainage of the soil.

Step 2

Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball of your croton plant. If you are planting more than one croton, space the planting holes at least 4 feet apart to give the plant room to grow and develop.

Step 3

Place the croton into the prepared hole and fill in the soil around the root ball; add water as you go to eliminate air holes and to make sure all the roots are damp. The base of the stem should be level with the surrounding soil. Water the area until it is damp to a depth of at least 3 inches around the root ball.

Step 4

Water your croton once a week or when the new leaves start to wilt slightly. According to the University of Florida, crotons need about 1 inch of water per week.

Step 5

Feed your croton once a month using 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer. Check the instructions on the package for appropriate dilution and application for the size of your plant. Crotons like soil with a pH of 4.5 to 6.5; the University of Florida recommends adjusting the soil pH with either dolomite (to increase pH) or sulfur (to decrease pH) to achieve the right balance.

Step 6

Prune in the spring when the weather is still cool. Crotons can be heavily pruned to encourage foliage to grow from the lower areas of the shrub. Without pruning, crotons can get leggy with most of the foliage growing from the top of the plant. Take off up to 1/3 of the foliage at each yearly pruning, according to Florida's Croton Society.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Peat moss
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning Shears

References

  • The Croton Society: Information
  • University of Florida IFAS: Croton Production and Use
  • Texas A&M University: Colorful Crotons

Who Can Help

  • National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: tropical shrubs, caring for tropicals, leafy shrubs, color landscape shrubs, perennial shrubs

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.