Opting for a jewel-toned plant like the croton makes sense if you’re going for a bushier, more densely packed one.
A leggy, lean Croton can be transformed into a thickly grown marvel in a surprisingly short amount of time.
Your croton will be a bushy spectacle of golds, oranges, and greens in no time if you prune wisely and provide consistent care.
To make your croton plant bushier, identify the leggy branches and prune them to the desired height. Remember to save a third of the branch after cutting it. Make a 45-degree angle cut above a leaf bud and apply cinnamon to treat the wound and prevent fungal infection.
How do I make my Croton Bushy?
It’s best to keep croton from becoming a sprawling, leggy mess by regularly pruning the plant. In addition, you can encourage the growth of new, thicker branches and leaves by removing branches that are only lightly covered in foliage.
Crotons shed their leaves as they grow older. Therefore, an overly large plant with sparsely covered branches can result from leaving out-of-tune branches. Those long, poorly covered limbs will need to be cut back to avoid this.
The best time to prune is in the early spring. If you want to see a spectacular display of rainbow-colored leaves this summer, you should prune your croton in the springtime.
How to Prune your Croton:
- Clean shears or garden scissors.
- A sterilizing agent such as rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
- Balanced liquid fertilizer
- Old newspaper or tarpaulin (optional)
Step 1: Identify the Branch to Prune
Before cutting any branches, decide which ones should be left in place. Again, it’s critical to consider the plant’s shape and how you want the result to look. In the end, you can’t undo a branch’s cutting!
To make space for new growth, you should cut back old leaves and branches too long and bare. Also, trim away any browning or damaged leaves.
Step 2: Get the Equipments Ready
You should wear gloves and any other protective gear that you feel necessary. The milky juice that oozes out of cut crotons is irritating to the skin and eyes.
For those with larger crotches, wearing eye protection is also a smart move. Finally, put a sheet of newspaper or a tarpaulin under the croton to keep sap from running onto counters and floors while pruning your houseplants outside.
Clean your shears or scissors thoroughly with your sterilizing agent. This will keep the croton from becoming infected from the new wounds.
Step 3: Remove the Identified Branch
Snip away the necessary branches starting from the tips in. Then, cut them back to the nodes or buds at the base of each branch or shoot.
These look like small swellings or protrusions, and they are frequently found at the intersection of two or more branches. It’s crucial to leave nodes in place because they are responsible for producing new foliage.
Remove no more than one-third of the plant’s leaves and branches as you work your way in from the outside in.
Step 4: Feed Your Croton with Fertilizer
Once you’ve pruned the croton, apply a well-balanced liquid fertilizer to keep it healthy. (You can see Amazon’s prices here) The recovery process will be aided, and new growth will be encouraged.
Waiting is all that’s left now. After pruning crotons, the plant should grow thickly clustered leaves throughout the summer.
Step 5: Pinching Is the Way to Keep the Bushy Shape
Now that you’ve shaped and sized the croton to your liking, it’s time to keep it that way.
The simplest way to do this is to remove stray leaves as they appear. Pinching is a term for this procedure, in which a young plant’s benign growth can be snipped off between the thumb and forefinger rather than cut with shears.
Pinch off young growth at the top of the plant to keep it from sprouting. You can also pinch further down and toward the middle of the plant to encourage dense growth.
The sap from croton trees is irritating, so gloves are a good idea when working on any plant part.
Keep Your Croton Healthy and Strong
A well-fed and well-cared-for Croton is a healthy and robust creature. Sickly plants aren’t expected to produce a display of vibrant colors in their leaves. Stress can cause the leaves to fall, reducing the amount of foliage the plant has.
Let’s look at what you’ll need to maintain your croton.
Provide the Right Amount Of Sunlight
Crotons need plenty of bright indirect light to produce a dense canopy of leaves. So instead, they will stretch their branches out towards whatever light source they can find, becoming leggy.
The color of the leaves can also be affected by a lack of light. They lose their vibrant reds and golds and turn a drab dark green instead. A Croton that is dark and leggy requires more light.
You run the risk of scorching a plant with too much sun. Crotons are not well adapted to prolonged exposure to direct sunlight.
A plant with a lot of golden or bright green leaves is more susceptible to sunburn than one with fewer leaves.
Once the plant has been stressed, and its leaves have been burned, it is only a matter of time before the leaves begin to fall.
Crotons require 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day. This encourages the growth of leaves, not stems, and will also help maintain their flamboyant leaves. They don’t mind a little early morning sun, so a window facing east is ideal. (Source: University of Florida.)
Crotons have a reputation for being finicky about their water supply. They prefer soil that is consistently moist but not soggy or saturated. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get it just right.
Crotons require more water than most indoor plants and other factors such as local humidity and time of year influence how much and how often you’ll need to water.
Crotons may need watering as often as twice or three times per week in warm weather, but they may only need it once or twice per month in the winter. A plant in a bright room will require more than one in a shadier corner.
Don’t water your plants until the top half-inch of the growing medium has dried. For more information on adequately watering your croton, see this article.
Provide Consistent Warmth
Southeast Asia and Australia are home to the croton. Therefore, they must be kept consistently warm to grow to their full potential.
To maintain a healthy growing environment, maintain a temperature range of 60-85°F (15-29°C), and make sure that it is as consistent as possible.
They also struggle with change. But, even within that range, sudden drops or spikes in temperature can cause the leaves to droop or even fall off.
You should move a Croton during the hottest part of the day if you have to. Then, they’ll have plenty of time to get used to their surroundings before the evening air cools things down.
Maintain Good Humidity
For Crotons, humidity is the magic ingredient that is often overlooked when growing tropical plants indoors. These jungle experts require at least 40% atmospheric humidity but prefer up to 80%.
This is a difficult target for most homes and offices, where humidity levels typically range between 30 and 50%. It could be even lower in buildings with aggressive climate control.
A Croton growing in low humidity will be susceptible to dehydration. It will lose water from its leaves incredibly, drying them out from the tip to the base. Over time, this can cause the plant to shed its leaves at an alarming rate.
When it comes to keeping my Crotons humid, I never hesitate to use an electric humidifier placed nearby. These provide robust and consistent humidity even during the driest months of the year. (You can see Amazon’s prices here)
When too many plants are crammed into a small space, poor airflow creates an environment conducive to fungal disease and root rot. It also prevents the croton from getting much light while providing a veritable buffet for insects.
When setting up your croton, leave plenty of space for stretching! Each plant should have enough room for air to circulate between them. In addition, I look to see that the pots don’t touch each other and that there is adequate space between them.
Will Croton Leaves Grow Back?
It’s unlikely that croton will sprout new leaves in the same spot after it sheds its old ones.
It is terrific to trim sick or dying leaves or cut back stems that have shed their leaves. Well-cared-for croton will soon burst forth with a display of their trademark brightly colored foliage.
Diligent Care Brings The Best Results
However, the croton is a rewarding plant that responds to diligent care with a flourish of spectacular color despite its reputation as a fussy tropical diva.
Taking care of them correctly will result in thick, lush foliage that you’ll be able to enjoy for many years to come.