Croton is an extensive flowering plant genus in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. The plants of this genus were described and introduced to Europeans by Georg Eberhard Rumphius. The common names for this genus are rushfoil and croton, but the latter also refers to Codiaeum variegatum. The generic name comes from the Greek κρότος (krótos), which means “tick” and refers to the shape of the seeds of certain species.
Croton plants can grow up to ten feet high, but dwarf varieties exist that are much shorter. Customarily, the croton plant does not exceed three feet in height. The plant is usually very full, however, as the large leaves cluster together to create volume.
Croton plants are popular because of their stunning colors. Many assume that to add color outside of green to a garden, one must add flowers. But that’s not true. Croton plants offer a colorful, non-flower option that can be planted outdoors (if the conditions are right) or indoors to brighten up a room.
The croton plant originated in a tropical environment, so it favors a warm, humid environment. The soil in which the croton is planted should remain moist but not constantly wet during spring and summer when the plant is growing. Feel the soil and if it is dry to the touch, it may be time for watering. In a dry environment, the croton may require misting to maintain healthy leaf growth.
Much like with other plants, watering croton plants can be a delicate science. The croton plant requires frequent watering, but be sure not to over-water. Too much water can cause root rot, but too little water can dry the humidity-loving plant out. You can use new croton foliage as an indicator of water needs, as it will begin to wilt when thirsty.