How to Successfully Repot a Croton Plant at Home

In my experience, Croton plants only have an average growth rate, but they’ll eventually outgrow the original container and need repotting. I repot my Croton plants in the spring or summer when it is rootbound. Choose a plastic or glazed ceramic pot only ½ inch larger than the rootball. Moving up to a larger pot too soon will only slow the growth of the Croton and may cause it to shed some leaves. This guide will take you through everything you need to know about when and how to repot a Croton plant at home.

When and How to Repot a Croton Plant (Essential Guide)

Why Repotting Your Croton Plant Might be Necessary

Repotting Croton plants is a practice primarily done to encourage new growth and accommodate the growing size of the root ball. They may need a different container if the old one fails to drain properly. 

Repotting also helps if the Croton needs a drastically different soil mix, but you can use the same container. It may stress the plant rather than help it if the Croton isn’t rootbound and instead suffers from a disease or pest.

How Often Do Croton Plants Need Repotting?

In my experience, Croton plants will likely need repotting once a year for the first three or four years of growth if given the right care. After reaching their mature size, they’ll slow down in growth and only need repotting once every two to three years to refresh the soil instead. I wait to repot until you see the tips of roots coming out of the pot whenever possible.

Best Times of Year to Consider Repotting

I find that spring and summer are the best time to repot a Croton (also a good time for pruning and propagating Crotons), but they don’t need repotting every time these seasons roll around.

Moving the plant into a larger pot while it is actively growing ensures that the roots spread out quickly and establish well in the new soil. If a plant is repotted while it is dormant, it won’t necessarily hurt it either. Yet it won’t be able to take advantage of the new space and fresh soil until growth starts again.

The Best Soil Mix When Repotting

Croton plants like damp soil but can’t handle wetness, just like many other tropical houseplants. The best soil mix for potting them or repotting them has plenty of organic material to hold moisture. However, it’s a loose and well-draining mix as well with vermiculite, perlite, and other ingredients that prevent wet roots.

What Tools Will I Need When Repotting?

Croton plants can grow quite large, especially outdoors, where they can reach over 10 feet in height. Even indoors, a mature ‘Petra’ Croton can be five feet tall or more. If you’re working with large plants, you may want some lifting straps to help tip the vessel over safely without damaging it to slide the root ball out. 

Try gently wrapping the foliage in a sheet before tipping it on its side to reduce the number of leaves lost in the process. Smaller Crotons generally only need a dull knife or sharp flat trowel so you can loosen the soil around the edges before lifting the plant out of its old pot.

Size & Types of Potting Vessel Considerations

Glazed ceramic pots are a good choice for this plant due to their preferences for moisture. Terracotta will allow the soil to dry out too quickly. I find that plastic works well too. 

Ensure the container has plenty of drainage holes and no bottom ridge that can collect water and hold it for long periods. 

Hanging baskets are rarely a good fit for this type of plant, but stacked planters may work well if they’re deep enough for the plant’s root ball.

How to Repot Your Croton Plant

A person repotting a Croton plant in a black plant pot on a wooden table indoors

Wait to repot the Croton until you know it is reaching the limits of its current container. This is usually indicated by white root tips becoming visible in the holes of the container. Try lifting the plant out of its pot to see if the roots are all growing tightly together and pressing at the sides of the pot. If the Croton is ready to be repotted, select a container that is only 1 inch larger than the previous size for the process. Wearing gardening gloves or even just a pair of dish gloves while repotting will also protect your hands from the irritating sap released by the leaves and stems.

Start by tipping the plant gently on its side, which is easy for smaller plants but harder with larger Crotons. Using a carpeted area may make cleanup harder, but it can prevent damage to the foliage. Spreading out a small rug or comforter can help you do this process in the garage or outdoors. Gently twist the pot around the plant’s rootball, loosening it with a knife or trowel as needed. Remove the old container and set it aside.

If the Croton is surrounded by compacted soil, gently loosen it with a stream of water and your hands. There’s no need to loosen or tease apart tightly packed roots since they will expand on their own in the new container and soil. Check for signs of root rot and other problems at this time. If you see any darkened or softened roots, make sure you’re repotting into a better draining mix and try watering less.

Fill just the bottom of the new container with potting mix, then lift the plant and settle it into its new pot. Fill in around the sides by sifting the mix in and packing it down gently, so there are no voids or spaces. Since Croton plants prefer pots that are only 1 inch bigger on all sides, it’s a little time-consuming to do this step correctly. Take your time and check to make sure all the sides are filled to the top. 

You can always add a little extra potting mix if needed after a few weeks worth of watering causes settling. Water the Croton immediately after repotting so that the new and old soil mixes are evenly wet.

Post Repotting Care

A colorful green and speckled gold Croton plant being repotted into a new white plant pot

Crotons are easily shocked, so don’t be surprised if your plant wilts or even loses a few leaves, or displays signs of yellowing after the repotting process. The response is a big part of why it’s not recommended to repot the plant more than is necessary for its growth. 

Keep the Croton in a warm environment away from drafts, and watch out for giving it too much direct sun. Don’t be bothered by leaf drop of a few leaves from the bottom, but watch out for stunted or crispy growth at the top that indicates a lack of water from the new croton soil mix

Plants that were repotted due to poor soil mix or root rot may seem dormant for a few weeks until they regrow new root tips. After a month or so, you should see new growth appearing on the repotted Croton. 

Watch out for signs of common croton plant diseases or pests during that waiting period since the plant is particularly sensitive.

Repotting Croton Plants FAQs:

Should I soak my Croton Plant before repotting? 

Unlike some other plants, Croton does not require a soak before repotting. However, soaking the root ball can help it release if it is badly stuck, especially inside a ceramic or terracotta pot. Don’t soak for long, just long enough to loosen the soil and lift it free.

Should you water a Croton Plant immediately after repotting? 

Water the Croton as soon as you finish repotting it, running enough water through the soil that it flows generously out of the bottom holes. This not only ensures the whole rootball is moistened to help reduce shock, but it also helps settle any pockets in the soil so you can add more mix as needed.

Do Croton Plants like big pots? 

Croton plants don’t enjoy being potted in plants much larger than their root balls. Like most tropical houseplants that adapted to growing in the roots of bigger trees, they prefer a slightly crowded container or pot. Stick to a container just 1 inch bigger than the root ball each time you repot the plant.

Why is my Croton Plant limp after repotting? 

Most Croton varieties are pretty sensitive and go into “shock” after anything as invasive as repotting. If you watered it well and handled it gently during the process, the plant should perk back up in a day or two. A Croton that stays limp may need warmer temperatures or less direct light for a few days to recover.

Should I mist my Croton Plant after repotting? 

Avoid misting the Croton immediately after repotting since it won’t be actively growing. You don’t need to move it away from any other sources of humidity though, such as bathrooms or humidifiers.

Should I fertilize my Croton Plant after repotting? 

Wait at least two months after repotting being fertilizing a Croton.

Wrapping Up

The Croton grows steadily when given a new pot at just the right time. Wait until it’s straining at the bounds of its current container before repotting your Croton plant.

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