Crotons (Codiaeum variegatum) are colorful shrubs that can grow to 6 feet in height and grow outdoors only in warm areas. They thrive indoors as a potted houseplant in a sunny, warm location. The best time to fertilize croton is in the spring, before the plant puts forth new growth.
Fertilize Croton in the Garden
Rake back any mulch in the croton bed, then rake to loosen the top inch of soil.
Sprinkle the fertilizer on the soil around the croton plants, at the rate suggested on the package. Use the rake to lightly spread the fertilizer out about 1 foot from the plants.
Water the croton bed until the soil is saturated. This will help to activate the fertilizer and help it work its way to the croton’s roots.
Fertilize Croton in Pots
Remove any mulch in the pot. Use the hand cultivator to scratch the surface of the soil to loosen it.
Sprinkle the fertilizer, according to the rate suggested on the package, onto the soil and use the cultivator to rake it into the top inch of soil.
Water the croton until water runs from the bottom of the pot.
Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch off the ends of new growth on the croton plant throughout the year. This encourages new side branches to develop from the pinched branches, thereby forming a dense and lush appearance.
Trim the croton plant back once a year in the spring using pruning shears. Grab a branch and visually identify the 1/3 mark from the end of the branch.
Cut the plant at the point you identified. Make the cut right after the branch node or eye where a croton leaf grows. New branches will form from this node.
Croton houseplants are tropical, tender perennials native to climates that rarely experience mild frost. Outdoor plantings are restricted to USDA zones 10 and 11, which don't experience hard frost or extended freezing periods.
Cut off the top third of the croton plant. This will force new foliage to grow on the bottom of the stem.
Cut off another third of the plant when new foliage appears after the first pruning.
Pinch the tips of new growth to encourage the croton to produce new branches for a fuller appearance.
Cut off any dead, damaged or diseased foliage with the pruning shears at the base of the croton and dispose of it. Spray the cloth with bleach and wipe down the shears after each cut as to not spread any plant diseases.
Cut back 1/3 of the branches of the croton plant at the base of the plant. Remove most of the growth from the top of the plant, cutting back the heavily leafed branches by about ½ of their original size. This allows new growth to come up from the bottom.
Remove any over reaching branches and shape the croton plant how you desire.
Water croton plants that are grown directly in the ground with a fourth of an inch of water once every two days, or as needed in your local climate. Croton plants thrive on little water. Use the plant's foliage as an indicator; slight wilting means you should water more often.
Increase waterings to once a day for croton plants that are grown in pots, as the pots' contained environment is not capable of retaining water as well as a soil bed.
Water the croton's foliage if it's grown indoors. Croton plants require a relatively high amount of air humidity. Combat dry indoor air by misting all of the plant's foliage with a water spray bottle once a day.