Why Are My Croton Leaves Turning Yellow? (And How To Fix It)


Colorful indoor croton leaves turning yellow.

Croton (Cidiaeum variegatum) are beautiful colorful-leaved plants that give your apartment that exotic feel. Native to the tropical climates of Southeast Asia and Oceania, the Croton’s leathery green, orange, and scarlet leaves make it a great house plant. 

Croton is a fairly easy plant to grow at home and care for, but sometimes their leaves can turn yellow, stripping the plants of its natural exotic look. 

If you want your colorful green pet to revive you need to find out the causes of yellowing leaves. Then you can decide what actions you should take to fix it.

Why are my Croton leaves turning yellow? Croton leaves can turn yellow due to the following reasons:

  • Incorrect watering (overwatering or underwatering)
  • Insufficient light
  • Pest Infestation
  • Temperature fluctuations
  • Poor soil quality

But despair not, as I’ve said before the Croton is a fairly easy plant, and pretty resistant too, so there’s nothing a little TLC can’t cure.

Causes Of Croton Leaves Turning Yellow

Croton leaves are naturally colorful due to the presence of carotenoids and flavonoids. This chemical density varies with the season that’s why croton changes color.  

In addition, there are other reasons which can cause croton leaves turning yellow. Let know about and how to fix the problems. 

Incorrect watering (overwatering or underwatering)

One of the main reasons the plant’s leaves turn yellow is overwatering or underwatering. We all know that plants need water, and not enough water can harm your plant. But, yes, overwatering your croton can be harmful too! If you overwater your plants, it’s almost like you’re drowning them, and it can cause the roots to rot.

How to fix incorrect watering

In order to diagnose your plants, and figure out if it’s receiving too much or not enough water, press a finger about an inch into the plant’s soil. 

If the soil is completely dry, your plant is in desperate need of some elixir of life: water. Make sure your plant gets enough water by adjusting your watering schedule and watering it more often.

If when you press your finger into the plant’s soil you find that the soil feels damp, your plants could be getting enough, or too much water. 

To check for too much water, you’re going to have to smell your plant. Yes, you read that right! If you detect any mildewy smell, it could mean that your plant’s roots are rotting. 

In this case, switch your plant’s container to one with better drainage, and adjust your watering schedule. If you’re overwatering your Croton, let the soil dry out a little in between waterings.

Finally, if you live in a very dry environment and there’s no humidity in your home, mist around the leaves with a spray bottle filled with water once a week, that will help the leaves to keep their vibrant colors, as they like a humid environment.

Insufficient light

Crotons are native to exotic locations, where there’s an abundance of light and sun. If you keep it in a dark corner of your apartment, needless to say, the plant will not thrive.

It’s normal for Crotons to lose a little bit of their color in winter and low light conditions, so if your Croton’s leaves are looking a little yellow or faded, it could mean that they are simply not receiving enough light.

How to fix insufficient light

A simple way to fix the issue of not enough light is to move your plant somewhere it receives more light. If you live somewhere warm and sunny, bring your plant outside and let it soak up the warm sunshine.

This doesn’t mean that you simply dump your plant outside and all of your plant’s issues will be resolved. Croton’s can be a little temperamental and they don’t like to be moved. 

So harden your plants first, by moving it outside a few hours at a time. Put your plants in a shady area at first, and give your Croton time to adjust to outside conditions. Such as wind, brighter sun, and fluctuating temperature, before leaving it outside permanently.

Now, if you live in a colder climate, placing your Croton outside is not a great idea. Crotons cannot withstand temperatures lower than 30°F (-1°C).  

To keep your Croton happy and healthy inside your home, place it near your sunniest window, and watch its vibrant colors prosper.

In some cases, it could happen that your Croton’s leaves are turning yellow because of too much direct sunlight. In this case, the above solutions won’t work. 

If this is what’s happening to your Croton, try using sheer curtains to create a barrier between direct sunlight and your Croton, or move it to a location where it doesn’t receive as much direct sunlight.

Pest Infestations

Croton is relatively sturdy plants, and generally disease and pest free. But unfortunately, they are not immune to common houseplant pests, such as mealybugs and spider mites.

How To Diagnose And Treat Pest Infestations

Invisible to the naked eye, spider mites and mealybugs are virtually impossible to see, but what you can see is the effect they have on your plants.

Take a closer look at your plant, and if you see tiny holes on your Croton’s leaves, chances are you are dealing with spider mites. But if you see a cotton-like, white wax on your plant, mealybugs are likely to be your villain.

How to Combat Spider mite

To combat spider mites, first, wash off the affected plant with running water from a hose or a faucet. Wash as much of the plant as possible, and repeat the washing several times until it’s effective. 

You can also introduce natural predators, like ladybugs, a visit to your local nurseries will get you some great recommendations on predatory species. 

A different solution is to use chemical control, neem oil, insecticidal oil or miticides to have proven effective in killing spider mites.

How to Combat Mealybug

To fight off mealybugs, your most economic option is to remove and destroy the affected parts of your plant. Another option is to visit your local garden store and get some pesticide. 

If you want to go the no-chemicals route, an option is to get a predator, such as ladybird beetles or green lacewing, but make sure to consult with an expert to get the right kind of predators that are effective for your variety of mealybugs.

Temperature Fluctuations

Croton is native to warm and humid climates, and for this reason, it’s the climate they thrive in. Tropical plants are not a fan of cold, drafty environments and they will suffer under these conditions. 

Temperature can affect the way your plant looks, and croton that is exposed to cold, drafty climates tend to lose their vibrancy and cause their leaves to turn yellow.

How To Fix Temperature Fluctuation

Make sure to keep your croton in a climate that makes it happy: warm and humid. Check your window to make sure that a draft is not coming in from the outside and blowing on your plant. If that’s the case, move your plant to a better location.

It may be warm and sunny outside, but if you keep your croton inside while your A/C is blasting, it might be too cold inside for your plant. 

Gently move it outside for a few hours at a time, until your croton is used to outside conditions, then move it outside permanently. 

Now, if it’s not warm outside, and you just enjoy a chilly home, try to move your croton to a room where there’s no AC, and keep it by the window so it can get all that much-needed sunshine.

Poor Soil Quality

Your croton leaves turning yellow can also be due to poor soil quality. Just like watering, this can mean over-fertilizing, under-fertilizing your plant’s soil.

A lack of nutrients can interfere with photosynthesis and result in yellow leaves.

How to fix poor soil quality

Just like us humans, plants need nutrients to survive, and an important nutrient for plants is nitrogen. 

Nitrogen deficiency can cause your plant’s leaves to turn yellow and new leaves to be a very light green color.

If that’s the case for your plant, look for plant-soil fertilizer that contains nitrogen. This will help your plant recover its vivid colors.

Another tip is to use a balanced slow-release fertilizer two or three times a year, this will reinvigorate your plant and keep it healthy. 

However, avoid over-fertilizing your plant, especially during the winter where your plant grows a little slower. Over-fertilizing your Croton, or any other plant, will not make it grow faster. 

It will instead result in creating a toxic environment for your plant, which burns the leaves, causing them to turn yellow. So make sure to fertilize at the recommended rate.

These are some of the most common causes of Croton leaves turning yellow, but there’s nothing that some love and tender care can’t fix. 

After trying any of these solutions, be patient, and give your Croton time to recover and adjust to new conditions. 

Do you have any other tips and tricks for keeping your Croton vibrant and thriving? Let me know in the comments!

Arifur Rahman

I'm the owner of gardenforindoor.com. After completing my bachelor of science in agriculture, I'm serving as a civil service officer at the Department of Agricultural Extension, Bangladesh. I started Garden For Indoor to make your indoor gardening journey easy and enjoyable.

Recent Content