Croton Watering Requirements And Other Tips

Written by Em Casalena
Updated: March 17, 2023
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The garden croton, also known as the croton plant, is well-known for its exotic look due to its striking and vivid leaf. Like the fiddle leaf fig, it has a reputation for being finicky and requiring a lot of upkeep. Still, if you know how to take care of your croton plant, it’s actually easy to cultivate and difficult to kill. And when developing your croton plant, water is a crucial factor to take into account.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know about caring for croton plants when it comes to watering and humidity. While they are easy to care for, they can be a bit finicky when it comes to croton watering requirements. So, knowledge is definitely power in this respect!

What is the Croton Plant?

The croton plant, garden croton, or variegated laurel, is one of the few indoor plants with extremely brilliant or vibrant foliage. This eye-catching houseplant, which is native to Australia and Southeast Asia, stands out thanks to its wide glossy green leaves that are speckled with black, cream, orange, pink, purple, red, or yellow.

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This plant has a few different species and varieties and can grow between three to eight feet tall and three to six feet wide. To keep your croton plant’s vibrant leaves, you should find a position where it will get the correct kind of sunshine. The croton plant needs six to eight hours of direct sunshine each day to sustain and grow its beautiful leaves. Be cautious about where you put your croton plants because they are lethal to both people and animals.

The croton plant, as we have previously indicated, has a reputation for being finicky and high maintenance, and this is because they frequently leave a poor first impression. This is particularly so with new owners of this plant. According to many plant parents online, the croton plant can be dramatic when moved to a new place, such as from a nursery to one’s home, and they will dramatically drop their leaves in protest. This is a very common behavior but can also be a sign of poor watering practices.

A group of Petra crotons growing together with bright yellow leaves
Crotons can come in a wide range of colors, including the vibrant yellow and green pictured.


Croton Plant Watering Requirements

Through a process known as transpiration, croton plants lose a significant amount of moisture from their huge, vibrant leaves. Many horticulturists advise that they should be irrigated often but not excessively because they thrive in damp, humid conditions. Anytime the soil appears dry, check the moisture content under the surface by probing the soil with your fingertip. Generally, we advise watering when the top half-inch of soil feels dry. To keep the water off the leaves, water the plant from the base rather than from above. On the leaves, too much moisture might cause fungus issues.

Since it is a tropical plant, croton doesn’t need to hibernate as many other plant species do. Instead, it flourishes all year round. But cutting down on the water in the fall and winter will let the plant rest, which may increase its lifetime. During the cooler months, keep the soil on the drier side; if there hasn’t been any rain for more than a week, keep an eye out for wilting and water the plants.

It’s worth noting that outdoor and indoor croton plants have different watering requirements and processes for success.

Outdoor Croton Watering Requirements

The croton is a tropical plant that cannot live in temperatures below 50 degrees F and can only be grown outside in USDA plant hardiness zones nine to 11. The majority of croton types require intense light to preserve their beautiful color. However, they will become bland and pale if planted in direct sunshine. Croton should be planted two to three feet apart in deep, quick-draining soil that receives some shade. Avoid sandy or rocky soil that doesn’t hold water because this can hinder the health of the roots.

Croton plants cultivated in gardens should receive one inch of water each week. Keep an eye out for the plant’s signs of problems, such as a bit of wilting in the younger leaves. If the wilting occurs in warmer weather, increase watering, but first, check the soil’s moisture level. When the soil is overly damp, wilting can occasionally happen. Withhold watering for a week to check if the plant recovers if the soil seems damp.

Indoor Croton Watering Requirements

The water requirements of indoor croton plants are comparable to those of outdoor plants. Still, you need also to take a few factors into account when comparing outdoor and interior growth environments. The fact that indoor surroundings are often dryer and less humid than outside ones can have an impact on plants with high transpiration rates, such as crotons. Increasing the ambient humidity is essential since low humidity might result in leaf loss. Croton is frequently grown on top of a tray of wet pebbles since many horticulturists believe this increases the humidity surrounding the leaves. However, we’ll talk more about humidity levels in the subsequent sections of this tutorial.

Croton plants should be grown in a large container with drainage holes at the bottom. Use perlite-amended rich potting soil to keep moisture around the roots. Consider placing indoor croton plants close to a slightly shaded window that faces east, west, or north. Choose a place where nighttime lows do not fall below 40 degrees F and daytime highs do not exceed 60 degrees F. Keep croton plants away from heater vents and drafts since both might dry up the foliage.

When the top half-inch of the soil feels dry, water deeply, adding water until the surplus drips from the pot’s base. The water will remove extra salt from the soil, preserving the health of the roots. Make careful to get rid of extra water instead of letting it pool in the saucer at the plant’s base.

A baby croton plant growing in a pot
Potted crotons (pictured) require similar watering practices as outdoor crotons.


How to Water Outdoor Crotons

During the active growth season, water the croton plant only when the amount of precipitation is less than one inch over seven days. Use a garden hose to spray one inch of water onto the ground, soaking the soil for six inches. Under the plant’s canopy and 12 inches beyond its outer edge, soak the ground. Avoid watering plants excessively to the point where the soil gets moist or accumulates standing water.

Avoid splashing the vegetation as much as possible when watering the ground. Water the plant in the morning so that the wet leaves have time to dry before dusk. Never let leaves sit in water overnight, as this will promote the growth of fungi that cause leaf spots and powdery mildew.

When the croton’s growth slows in the late fall and winter, reduce watering. Water the plant when the top one to two inches of soil gets dry. As previously, apply one inch of water.

How to Water Indoor Crotons

When the top half-inch to one-inch of soil becomes dry, water crotons in pots whether they are indoors or outside. Using a watering can or other vessel, fill the pot with water. Watch for the drainage holes in the pot to empty any extra water. A second watering will be necessary to guarantee uniform soil hydration. Watch the water leave the bottom of the saucepan. Never let the pot stand in water that is still or standing. Keep the ground from getting moist.

Put marbles, rocks, or an upside-down plate in a drainage tray. Placing it in the middle of the tray, place the potted croton on top of the filler. Fill the drainage pan halfway to three-quarters filled with water. Keep the water below the bottom of the pot to prevent standing water from collecting. As the water in the tray evaporates, replenish it to maintain a constant level of humidity around the plant.

When the development of the potted croton slows, generally in the fall and winter, reduce watering. When the top two inches of soil get dry, water the pot. Never allow the soil ball entirely dry out in between waterings.

Croton Plant Humidity and Temperature Requirements

As we already noted, croton plants are native to the tropical regions of Malaysia, India, and a few South Pacific islands, where they are grown as vibrant houseplants. This indicates that they are used to somewhat warm temperatures and high levels of humidity. They often only flourish outdoors in places like Florida, Southern California, and Hawaii with comparable circumstances. Because of this, indoor growing of most types is much more prevalent than outside growing. If you don’t mind increasing the average humidity surrounding the plant, it’s pretty simple to recreate the conditions of these tropical regions within your house.

Make sure to place your potted croton in a space with high humidity, such as your bathroom, where the relative humidity ranges from 40% to 80%. Because the croton prefers humidity, it will flourish if you can spray it frequently, keep it close to a humidifier, or use a pebble tray. The ideal temperature range for your croton plant is between 60 degrees F and 70 degrees F. Never let the temperature drop below 60 degrees F since doing so might result in the plant losing its leaves or perhaps dying. Any temperature below 50 degrees F will definitely destroy your croton plant. Keep in mind that they enjoy warm, humid surroundings!

Does My Croton Need More or Less Water?

Examining the soil is the best method to determine whether your croton plants require watering. You should water your plant when the top two inches of soil are dry, assuming you’re using the right type of soil mix. You should water your indoor croton plants roughly once per week as a general guideline. Naturally, this will change based on a number of variables, but we’ll discuss them below. Although watering your plants once a week is a good start, you should constantly inspect the soil before you water.

The frequency with which you should water your croton depends on a number of environmental conditions. Plants dry up more quickly as a result of higher temperatures causing them to discharge more water. As a result, plants in warm climates will need more water than those in cold climates. How frequently you need to water your plant is also influenced by humidity. In humid settings, plants transpire less water than in dry ones. As a result, if the air is dry, you should water your plant more frequently. A plant’s water requirements will depend on how much sunshine it receives. Sunlight will speed up photosynthesis in addition to causing the soil to dry up more quickly.

Watering crotons and providing them with the right amount of humidity can be challenging for some households and offices. However, once you find a happy balance and the ideal long-term conditions to keep your houseplant in, you will be able to enjoy your lovely croton houseplant for quite a long time!

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

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About the Author

I'm a lover of all things sustainability, from urban farming to not killing houseplants. I love carnivorous plants, indigenous crops, and air-cleansing indoor plants. My area of expertise lies in urban farming and conscious living. A proud Southwest Institute of Healing Arts graduate and certified Urban Farming instructor.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

How often should I water my croton plant?

Croton plants require moist soil. As a result, you may have to water your croton every day or once a week, depending on the humidity in your home.

How do you tell if a croton needs water?

If the soil is dry and the leaves of the croton plant seem to be drooping, it likely needs to be watered more often.

How long can croton plants survive without water?

Crotons aren’t very hardy and can be quite delicate, so they cannot survive very long without water.

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