Croton Light Requirements and Other Tips

Written by Em Casalena
Updated: March 17, 2023
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Crotons are very beautiful and wild plants that may reach enormous sizes, both indoors and outdoors. The beautiful leaves of this plant come in all different shapes and sizes. The vibrant Codiaeum variegatum is indigenous to warmer climates and can thrive outside in those warmer climates. But what if you wish to take care of these plants even if you reside in a region with less sunlight during the winter?

In this guide, you will learn all you need to know about caring for these tropical, sun-loving plants and croton light requirements. Believe it or not, you can still have these lovely plants in your home even if you don’t live somewhere with a warm temperature all year round. Crotons are, fortunately, relatively simple plants, and by using the advice in this article, you can maintain their health and grow them for years to come.

Croton Light Requirements

A person in a white shirt holding a croton plant in a white pot

Even though it’s difficult to duplicate the exact amount of sunlight needed, croton plants tend to be a little less fussy about the amount of light they receive.

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The most difficult thing to get properly for indoor plants is sunlight. Even though it’s difficult to duplicate the exact amount of sunlight needed, croton plants tend to be a little less fussy about the amount of light they receive. Still, by giving your houseplants the ideal amount of light, you will notice brighter colors and greater foliage development. This is important for crotons, as they are known for their vibrant, visual foliage. Nobody wants a dull croton!

At least 2000 lumens, or 1000-foot candles, of bright light, are preferred by croton plants. They require light for at least five to six hours daily, although they prefer to avoid direct sunlight since it might burn their leaves. If an artificial illumination bulb has a full spectrum and provides adequate lumens, it is acceptable.

If you’re not quite sure what “bright light” means, it might be helpful to explain that. A plant requires approximately as much light as you can give it when it requires bright light. These plants specifically require between 2000 and 3000 lumens per square foot to flourish. This includes many indoor plants like succulents and the majority of outdoor plants that are started indoors before being transplanted into the garden. Instead, if measured in foot candles, that is comparable to 1000 FTC and above. Croton plants often fall into this lighting category, but as long as it’s bright enough, they don’t need direct illumination.

Croton Light Requirements: Tips

That being said, crotons can do well in both direct and indirect sunlight. Direct, bright light directly exposes the plant’s leaves and provides an intensity of more than 2000 lumens, or 1000-foot candles. The sun’s direct light via a window or artificial light from a special plant bulb is both examples of this. Despite needing intense light levels, many plants can tolerate indirect light or even prefer it to direct sunshine. For crotons, excessive direct sunlight exposure can result in sunburn or sunscald. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with direct and indirect light to see what your specific croton prefers and adjust accordingly.

It’s worth noting that some croton varieties prefer filtered light over bright, direct, or indirect sunlight. When sunlight brightness levels fall below 2000 lumens but continue to exceed 500 to 750 lumens, it would be considered filtered sunlight. Most of the time, this also calls for an indirect light source, albeit weaker plant lights won’t require special filtering. In the higher end of mixed light, some dark-colored croton types that lack colorful parts may flourish well.

To summarize: Crotons prefer bright sunlight and can be grown with an appropriate grow light if there is an absence of sunlight where your croton will be kept. They do well in both direct and indirect light, depending on the plant, so experimenting with placements is usually the best way to find out what your croton prefers. Just as well, some deeper-hued crotons enjoy filtered or mixed light, though most crotons do not. Low light is not considered acceptable for croton plants.

Two garden crotons or Codiaeum variegatum plants growing side by side

Adequate sunlight can cause the colors of croton (pictured) to become much more vibrant.

©iStock.com/Hanna Yohanna

Croton Temperature Requirements

High humidity and somewhat warm temperatures are necessary for croton plants. Keep them between 55 and 85 degrees F, with 60 to 75 degrees F being the ideal range. Between 50% to 80% is their preferred range for humidity, with greater numbers being better for vibrant colors.

The majority of croton types can tolerate lower amounts of 60% to 70% without any problems. But even brief reductions to as low as 40% can be damaging. The typical ambient humidity in a home is 40%. This means you’ll need to work to maintain moisture in the air around the houseplant. Don’t allow the plant’s leaves to get too wet from misting, as this might cause infections, especially fungal ones.

Croton plants are comparable to the majority of other tropical houseplants when it comes to their light and temperature needs. They must always be kept above 55 degrees F to avoid leaf loss and discoloration. When exposed to chilly temperatures, the stems will also get softer.

Croton Temperature Best Practices

Croton plants, however, also dislike severely hot weather. They can tolerate temperatures up to roughly 85 degrees F, especially when exposed to lots of sunshine. The finest color and the healthiest foliage may be achieved by maintaining a constant temperature of about 75 degrees F. Crotons thrived when placed near windows with south or west orientation. However, avoid placing the plants too close to the glass.

You might need a device that can detect temperature and humidity. Over time, this will help you determine the exact conditions your croton houseplant is subjected to daily. A combination thermometer and hygrometer device with memory capabilities is the best option. This allows you to alter settings more accurately. These can be found at pet stores and nurseries for fairly cheap.

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

Humidity can be controlled by misting or by watering your croton (pictured).

©iStock.com/Regina Burganova

Why are Light and Temperature So Important for Crotons?

Most plants cannot make energy in the absence of light. While plants may absorb water and nutrients from their roots, the only source of sugar is chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is exclusively found in the cells of the leaves and stems. These types of photosynthesizing plants include croton plants. When plants get weakened, they lose their color. In addition, they might flop over as if they are withering in the absence of the proper amount of light. But having too much might sometimes be detrimental. Low light requirements are necessary for plants that thrive in protected and shaded areas since excessive light would burn them. As a result, the leaves become brittle and fall off.

As we mentioned earlier in this guide, light is particularly important for crotons. They need it to grow their brightly-colored leaves which they are known for. Having dull croton in your home doesn’t make much sense, so sunlight is necessary.

Croton Light Requirements: Signs of Too Much or Too Little Sun for Crotons

Croton plants often like more light than less light. Even yet, they may still receive too much light, particularly if a south or east-facing window lets in full sunshine. If too much light is provided, croton leaves that are brightly colored or dark green may start to fade and lose their luster while still being healthy and robust.

To decrease direct exposure, move the croton slightly out of the light and check to see if the color returns. Before blaming too much light, consider other care issues like excessive croton plant watering, an unsuitable soil mix, or freezing weather that can all result in similar troubles. If your croton plant exhibits symptoms of being rootbound, you might also want to think about feeding it or repotting and trimming it. Croton plants that have just been propagated should be treated with extra caution since they are particularly sensitive to excessive light exposure.

Remember that a croton is far more likely to receive insufficient light than too much light. Lack of light causes croton plants to initially lose their color, turning a pale green rather than a dark green or a vibrant hue. Without enough light, the leaves red and yellow colors will deteriorate, turning a dark brown, and you could even see some leaf drop.

Croton variants with stronger, lighter colors require more direct light than types with darker colors. More light is also required for healthier croton if there is little or no new growth or if just the most recent growth is pale in color.

Croton Light Requirements: Heat and Humidity for Crotons

Lack of humidity does not cause croton plants to wilt the way that insufficient watering would. Instead, the margins of older leaves will lose their color and turn crunchy and brown. Additionally, fresh leaves may appear with slightly curled or dried edges. Only a lack of ambient humidity will result in dry and crispy edges on the croton plant, while several circumstances might cause the color to fade.

When exposed to unsuitable temperatures, the croton typically loses its lower leaves and delays the development of new foliage. This can occur as a result of both chilly gusts and sudden heat waves. The key to preserving a constant temperature around the croton is to keep it out of direct sunlight and away from heating or cooling vents. A croton plant that has recently had a temperature shock shouldn’t be overwatered since the roots will be more vulnerable to decay.

Protecting Crotons in the Winter

In the winter, sunlight exposure and temperatures will drop. So how can one protect their crotons from poor lighting and heating conditions? Thankfully, croton plants go dormant or “hibernate” slightly over the winter. It is okay to let their temperatures dip to 55 degrees F at night, but you don’t need to make many adjustments to make up for it. They don’t require a lot of additional heating as long as the temperature is kept between 60 and 70 degrees F during the day since too much heat might dry them out. As we’ve mentioned earlier, just do your best to keep your crotons from being exposed to temperatures under 50 degrees F.

While croton plants do need pretty specific lighting and humidity requirements, replicating such an environment in your own home isn’t too difficult. By following the advice in this guide, you can enjoy your crotons and keep them healthy for a very long time.

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 © iStock.com/Malcolm


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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) 

What type of light do croton plants need?

Crotons need bright, indirect (though some prefer direct) light to thrive. They can tolerate medium light, but they may not end up as colorful.

How many hours of light does a croton plant need?

Croton plants need around eight hours of sunlight each day.

Can crotons tolerate shade?

Crotons can handle partial shade. Some varieties even prefer it.

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