Croton Leaves Turning Brown And 10 Other Problems

Written by Em Casalena
Updated: March 17, 2023
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One of the most common plants for residences, workplaces, and gardens is the croton plant. Croton plants, or Codiaeum variegatum as they are commonly known, are perennial evergreens native to Malaysia, Indonesia, and India. They are known for their vivid, multicolored leaves, quite hefty size, and fast growth rate.

As tropical plants, they can add some serious vibrancy and color to any indoor space. Unfortunately, they can be a bit finicky and can fall victim to several problems that can affect their leaves, roots, and more.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common problems that croton plants might have, from browning leaves to yellowing to drooping. Just as well we’ll explore some common remedies for these problems, so you can get your croton plant back into shape.

1. Browning Leaves

The most frequent causes of browning and crispy-feeling croton leaves are incorrect watering practices and a lack of humidity. However, your plant may have a leaf spot disease if you notice little brown spots that are bordered by yellow.

Watering your plant is best done by completely flushing it until water freely flows from the drainage hole. You are also rinsing away any salt buildup in your pot that may have resulted from using too much fertilizer by doing so. You can also install a humidifier or just spritz your plants to improve the humidity in your house. Similar plants can be grouped together to generate a microclimate that naturally has greater humidity.

Remove the affected leaves, prevent soaking the foliage while watering the plant’s soil, and improve air circulation if it’s a fungal illness. Usually, the fungal condition is treated by these changes.

We advise always removing the damaged portion of a leaf or, if it is completely brown, the entire leaf. The plant recovers and looks its best by pruning the dead leaf or damaged parts. Pruning shears or extremely sharp scissors are required. With clean shears, remove any brown leaf tips or patches. To prevent harming the plant’s remaining good leaves, merely remove the damaged tips or areas, leaving a very little margin of brown. Remove individual leaves at their bases if the entire leaf has become brown. Gently tug the leaf; it could fall off on its own. Gently lifting the leaf should cause it to detach; if not, use clean shears to cut through the stem.

An individual with gloves pruning a plant with brown, dead leaves

Brown leaves (pictured) have many potential causes, and pruning is the only way to remove the damage.

©Iryna Imago/

2. Yellowing Leaves or Color Loss

The typical causes of a yellowing or pale croton plant include way-to-cold weather, overwatering, or underwatering. Temperatures lower than 50 degrees F cause the croton plant to wither and lose its leaves. Humidity that is far too low for tropical plants and improper watering might cause the leaves to yellow, shrivel up, and drop off.

Croton leaves, in most cases, will turn yellow and drop off as a result of overwatering. To keep water from pooling around the roots and drowning them, plant your croton in a pot with adequate drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Simply place plates or trays below the pots to catch any excess water. The leaves of crotons may scorch (turn brown) or lose color if they receive too much direct or bright sunlight. The color of the variegated leaves might also be diminished by low sun exposure.

Crotons can be revived by placing the plant in direct, bright light, making ensuring the soil is consistently moist but well-draining, and misting the leaves often to produce a humid, wet miniature climate that is similar to the humidity of the croton’s natural tropical environment. The plant can recover if you always keep the croton in a warm place, ideally between 65 and 85 degrees F.

3. Drooping or Wilting Leaves

Any time a croton plant is under stress or out of equilibrium, leaf drop is to be expected. Crotons do not like change, so if you move or transplant them, they will likely be shocked and lose some leaves.

Give your croton plant some love and be patient to solve this problem! You’ll often have young, fragile leaves that will fully grow in three or four weeks. The good news is that crotons are resilient. Even if your croton has lost all of its leaves and is brown, your beautiful plant is not necessarily extinct. Scratch the primary stem lightly. Your plant is alive and may recover if the tissue beneath it is still green.

You should be aware that crotons are delicate to overwatering. If you find your croton’s leaves drooping, you may water it too much. Normally, wilting plant leaves indicate a need for more water. You are not watering the plant enough if the bottom leaves dry out and fall off.

Check on your plant regularly during the spring and summer when it is actively developing and water it thoroughly anytime the top inch of soil becomes dry. Water the area well, allowing the water to permeate the soil. Wait to rewater until 25% to 50% of the soil volume has dried out.

4. Mites

The primary insect that can harm croton plants is the spider mite. Because they are a little too small to be seen clearly by the human eye, these mites don’t resemble spiders very much. Instead, the name refers to the webs they frequently leave down the undersides of plant leaves and across the soil. The croton plant may also be in danger from bright red mites, commonly referred to as false spider mites, and two-spotted mites.

Even though croton plants are tiny, heavy infestations can soon destroy them. They require weekly treatments of horticultural soap or a pesticide spray, followed by a thorough cleaning. Separating indoor plants is also essential for the treatment and management of the majority of mite species since they spread swiftly. Mites can also be treated with a cotton pad soaking in isopropyl alcohol at the base of the plant and its leaves, though this can often be a bit too harsh for younger plants.

5. Powdery Mildew

Another typical croton plant ailment is powdery mildew. The croton’s leaves are covered on both sides by a thin coating of grey or white dust that mimics mildew. Over time, the powder’s circumstances lead to restricted leaf development. It is much more than just an eyesore because of the mildew.

Croton plants may enjoy the dampness, but the powdery mildew fungus also enjoys it. To dry the fungus out, avoid getting the leaves moist and lower the surrounding humidity. To eliminate this mildew, you may also use potassium bicarbonate or neem oil.

6. Scale

Scale insects, one of the most cunning pests that endanger the health of a croton plant, may resemble raised dots on the leaf rather than actual insects. However, the brown or green mass that appeared the next day is really sucking the sap from the leaf, weakening the plant. Hand removal of scale insects is required, and they must then be monitored regularly. Using the correct oils may help keep pests away in the first place, as spraying with pesticides is not a very efficient technique to treat them.

7. Leaf Loss

Many factors might cause croton plants to lose leaves. Usually, some kind of stress causes this plant to lose its leaves. This stress may be from relocating the plant from the outside to the indoors or vice versa, or an imbalance in vital nutrients may cause it. Give the plant some time if it’s simply adjusting to its new surroundings. It will calm down and restart growing after a few weeks. If you haven’t recently relocated your plant, leaf loss may be caused by exposure to high or low temperatures, a lack of light, poor watering, illness, or pests.

A person watering a young croton plant with a metal watering can

Poor watering practices can cause leaf loss, especially in young crotons (pictured).

© Burganova

8. Whiteflies

All kinds of whiteflies are a serious problem for croton plants. Even a specific species of whitefly was discovered to target croton plants specifically. These parasites flit around plants like moths, but their small green or white larvae really cause the greatest harm. Whiteflies may be challenging to eradicate if they manage to infest indoor houseplants.

While isolating any infected or damaged croton plants, search the entire house for indications of adult flies or their eggs. Most states have insecticides that are safe to use inside and will kill off adult and larval whiteflies when they attempt to eat.

9. Mealybugs

Mealybugs are quite small but distinctively fluffy, making them easier to spot than many other pests that harm crotons. However, they will first evade your examinations, leaving behind damage to the stems and undersides of leaves.

The likelihood of success will rise if the plant is treated while only a few insects are attached. If the infestation is bad enough, even chemical insecticides will be ineffective. If mealybugs and their gummy residue are abundant on the leaves, your only choice could be to destroy the plant and start over. Mealybugs are no joke!

10. Aphids

Aphids cause withering, weak, and discolored leaves that do not improve with watering. This issue is difficult to see, but if you use a hand magnifying glass and look along the leaf spines, you might be able to see them. As long as aphids are found early on, they may be naturally controlled by washing off the pests with horticultural soap and applying oil to the plant.


Aphids (pictured) can quickly cause damage to crotons as well as other indoor potted plants.


11. General Appearance of Death

There are a number of ways to revive a croton plant, depending on the cause of the stress on your plant. Try transferring your plant to a location that receives at least four to five hours of sunshine each day if it is not already in a well-lit region. Ensure your croton plant isn’t situated in an area that receives chilly or hot air. 

If neither of these issues is the cause of your croton plant’s poor performance or generally dead or dying appearance, check to see if its soil is either too wet or too dry. Both overwatering and underwatering have the potential to harm the croton plant. To get rid of any bugs that could still be hiding around your plant, you might also want to take extra care to clean or spray the leaves.

These common diseases, issues, problems, and pests that affect the croton plant can all be fixed with a bit of TLC. If the issue has progressed to the point of no return, you might have to try your luck on a new plant. However, in most cases, it is perfectly fixable!

Want to learn more about the incredible croton plant? Take a look at our complete guide to everything croton-related!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © K Brewer

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About the Author

Em Casalena is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on plants, gardening, and sustainability. Em has been writing and researching about plants for nearly a decade and is a proud Southwest Institute of Healing Arts graduate and certified Urban Farming instructor. Em is a resident of Arizona and enjoys learning about eco-conscious living, thrifting at local shops, and caring for their Siamese cat Vladimir.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Does overwatering cause croton plants to brown?

Overwatering tends to cause croton plants to turn yellow or pale, rather than turn brown.

Can too much sun cause my croton's leaves to turn brown?

Crotons prefer bright indirect sunlight, and too much sunlight can cause the leaves to burn and appear brown.

How can I save a croton plant with burnt leaves?

Brown leaves cannot be cured. Simply prune your plant of its brown leaves and reevaluate your care routine to fix whatever the problem might be.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.