Scroll down for growth update below!
Typically I stay away from house plants such as the croton. Their rainbow foliage acts like a beacon to my plant sensibilities, but I have learned that bright leaves mean that heartbreak is a few months, maybe days away. In order to maintain the color, you have to have an abundance of light. How much light? I’m not exactly sure, but I do know that it’s many candela.
However, when I saw this croton on the neglected and rejected shelf at Lowes, I thought it was worth the fifty cents. On the surface, this little croton looks pretty healthy. It’ss lacking those bright croton colors, but nothing some bright light can’t remedy.
With any plant rescue, first step is to check out the foliage, next you need to access the roots for damage or rot. After removing the plant from its plastic pot I can see that it’s a little root bound. As I clear away the top soil looking for bugs I find…a stub. The clear reason for the markdown is that this plant is missing half of itself. I am guessing damage from shipping or unpacking maybe? Their error is my reward. I have to say I am relieved because this croton looks perfectly healthy otherwise.
Following the root assessment, I potted this plant in a gray terracotta pot one size up from the pot it came in. Terracotta is great for drainage and keeping roots from being to wet for too long. Crotons don’t like to be to wet and the don’t like to dry out either. So picky!
In fact, they are so picky that that after potting, a croton can be known to drop all of its leaves while in shock. I decide to try and minimize the plants “pain” and set it in a bowl of water. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I feel like watering from the bottom up is a little less intrusive to a newly potted plant.
Check back in a month or so for updates on how my fifty cent plant is fairing and for more plant rescue tales check out this one regarding a sad Jade nursed back to health. For daily updates on my growing plant collection, follow @suburbansill on Instagram.
- Bright light, sunny windowsill
- Water when top couple inches of soil is dry. Do not over water.
- Fertilize in spring during growing season
- Propagate with stem cuttings containing a few leaves
- Croton stems contain a sticky sap. Wear gloves when pruning and avoid contact
I was just about to give up on this picky Croton. After almost a 9 months with no new growth I figured it was a loss cause and moved it outside for some extra light and a little closer to the trash can. The new direct sun light started to bleach out the color in the leaves making it’s demand for water hard to keep up with.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere, the little green top that hadn’t budged in 9 months, the same incubation period of a human baby, finally opened up. I couldn’t believe it.