With colorful foliage on large, upright stems, it’s hard not to notice when a Croton is in the room. These houseplants are slowly growing in popularity, with many cultivars to choose from to suit every need. In this article, we’ll discuss typical Croton plant growth expectations and lifespan, helping you know what to expect when growing and caring for one of these beautiful plants.
- Croton Plant Growth Expectations and Lifespan – The Essentials
- About Crotons
- Growth Expectations
- Average Lifespan Of A Croton
- Tips To Make Your Croton Grow Faster & Live Longer
- Wrapping Up
Croton Plant Growth Expectations and Lifespan – The Essentials
Crotons are moderate to slow growers, adding about 12 inches in height per year until they reach their maximum indoor height of around 4 feet. They can live for many years with the proper care, but generally, only last about 4-5 years when kept indoors and in containers.
Although Croton is technically the name of the genus of plants, what you may commonly find labelled Croton is actually a specific species – Croton variegatum. Found in tropical forests in Southeast Asia, Croton variegatum has stunning colorful leaves in various shapes and sizes thanks to the many cultivars available on the market.
This genus is part of the Euphorbiaceae family. This family is also known as the Euphoria family – the name of one of the main genera within this family. It is related to many common garden plants, hence its use around the world outdoors more often than as a houseplant.
This species has many cultivars to choose from, from the spotted Gold Dust to the bright and captivating Yellow Iceton. Each has a slightly different leaf shape and size, but they all have bright colors in common. Even in those with largely green leaves, there are always pops of color to look forward to.
Croton variegatum is considered a slow to moderate grower, especially when planted in a pot and kept indoors. They are taller than many other houseplants – they are technically shrubs – but they don’t grow nearly as large as they do outdoors.
These warmth lovers do most of their growth in spring and summer, slowing down when temperatures cool. In this period, they will produce new leaves and extend their branches, potentially dropping some of the older leaves simultaneously. These leaves often change color as they develop, creating continual interest indoors.
Indoors Vs. Outdoors
Crotons are generally grown outdoors in tropical climates, in USDA Zones 10-12. In their natural habitats, these large shrubs can reach an impressive 15 feet tall, with a spread of a few feet too. The leaf growth remains dense and bright even as the plant ages.
Indoors, the situation is slightly different. As the light and temperature conditions are not optimal, they are restricted in size. The constraints of a pot also limit their growth, leaving them at a compact 3-4 feet in height.
In the perfect positions, they can grow taller than that. However, in most environments, they won’t grow much taller than you. This makes them great medium-sized plants for pot stands, filling corners with the bright and captivating foliage.
How Fast Do Crotons Grow?
Crotons are not fast-growing plants. However, they don’t grow incredibly slowly either, given the right conditions. They are usually considered moderate growers, adding a noticeable amount of height each year but not overdoing it.
In the right lighting and given the proper care, your Croton should grow about 12 inches each year, with most of the growth occurring in late spring and summer when temperatures are higher. Smaller cultivars will remain shorter, with less growth each year.
Environmental conditions can impact this speed of growth. Crotons placed in moderate to low light areas will grow far slower than those in the optimal bright indirect light. Temperature and humidity also play a role – if the temperatures are too cold or the humidity too low, the plant will generally stop growing and may display signs of yellowing or wilting.
Nutrients also have an impact. Once the nutrients in the soil have been used up, the plant will stop growing if they are not replenished. Regular fertilizing will improve nutrient levels to maintain the highest levels of growth possible.
How Long Does It Take To Reach Full Size?
The full size of your plant will depend on the type you choose and the conditions it’s in. For example, pot size will restrict how large the plant can grow, meaning it will only reach full size when given more space to grow through repotting your croton plant. Cultivar also has an impact, influencing how large the plant grows and how quickly it reaches that size.
In general, your Croton variegatum should reach full size in around 2-4 years. If conditions are right, this growth can continue, but it will slow dramatically once the plant reaches around 4 feet in height.
While adequate care is one way to speed up growth and make your plant larger, you can also choose to buy a more established Croton. They are pricier but already come with the larger-than-life presence many are looking for.
Average Lifespan Of A Croton
While Crotons can grow quite successfully indoors, they are not as well-suited to it as other houseplants. They can theoretically live for many years without trouble with the right care. However, circumstances indoors generally aren’t ideal, shortening the lifespan of these colorful beauties.
Most diligent houseplant parents can manage to keep a Croton around for about four years before the end of its life. Many factors can shorten this lifespan, such as incorrect environments or inadequate care, but most will last at least a couple of years before they need to be discarded.
Luckily, this doesn’t have to mean the end of your Croton growing journey. Crotons have a simple propagation process that can yield even more plants among their many benefits. These cuttings grow slowly and take a while to develop, so make sure you get started early to replace your existing plant when it comes to the end of its life.
Tips To Make Your Croton Grow Faster & Live Longer
Keeping your Croton thriving and alive for as long as possible is the right environment and care. Rather than doing the bare minimum to keep them alive, focus on replicating their natural habitats as much as possible.
Avoid Low Light
Crotons are not at all suitable for low-light areas in your home. Even moderate light is not enough to maintain their growth each year. These colorful plants need a full day of bright indirect light to grow successfully. They can even handle an hour or two of the gentle direct morning sun, especially in cooler regions where sunlight is not as intense.
Their thick stems and waxy leaves may make you think these plants don’t require watering very often. However, due to their rainforest environments, they thrive best when the soil is consistently moist – but never waterlogged. Water when the top two inches of soil have dried out to keep up nutrient absorption and photosynthesis, ultimately improving growth.
Repot With The Right Soil
If your Croton’s growth is stunted or if you notice roots growing through the drainage holes or circling the bottom of the pot, you’ll need to give the plant some extra space and a soil top-up. Try to match the new soil type to the original texture as much as possible to limit shock and ensure they will continue to grow happily without any soil issues. Croton plants can be toxic, so remember to wear gloves when handling the plant.
Don’t Forget To Feed
Once your plant has been in the same pot for a year or two, it will have likely used up most of the available nutrients in the soil. In order to speed up growth and extend their life, replenishing these nutrients is essential. Feed your Crotons with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during spring and summer to make sure they grow to their full potential.
Prune Damaged Or Diseased Leaves And Stems
Tidying up the plant regularly will direct its energy toward new growth rather than maintaining dying and damaged growth. Pruning away diseased leaves also prevents the problem from spreading, avoiding the early demise of your plants. Ensure the shears are clean and disinfected before you start to ensure that wounds heal quicker.
Check For Pests
Common croton plant pests and diseases are another issue that can lead to the early demise of your plant if not controlled immediately. Frequently check for signs of problems caused by aphids, thrips, mealybugs, whitefly, and many other common houseplant pests. Remove them with neem oil or insecticidal soap as soon as they are spotted, and repeat until the bugs are completely gone.
Although not the fastest growers, Crotons are rewarding plants to grow for any aspiring or existing plant parent. They may not live the longest either, but they will surely fill your home with color while they are around.
Madison is a writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. She writes and photographs for various online and print publications in the gardening sphere and is the author of the book The Next-Generation Gardener.