Crotons (Codiaeum variegatum) are valued for their colorful, sturdy foliage. Leaves display various combinations of yellow, red, pink, orange and green, and have shapes varying from narrow and linear to broad and lobed. There are hundreds of named varieties. The variety "Sunny Star" has large, elliptical, mostly green leaves with a bold splash of yellow near the base of each leaf. The plant lends sparkle to interiors, and leaves and stems add vibrancy to flower arrangements.
How to Care for Your Sunny Star Croton
Light: In their native habitats in tropical jungles of India, Malaysia and South Pacific Islands, crotons grow in dappled sunlight. For variegated crotons like "Sunny Star," partial sun helps develop brighter yellow color. When the plant grows in lower light, leaves get larger and greener and the yellow less intense. If the plant is getting too much sun, leaf color bleaches out. A spot where "Sunny Star" gets morning sunlight and bright, indirect light for the rest of the day, or dappled sunlight all day, gives good growth.
Temperature: Crotons can't tolerate temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, so will live in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 9b through 11. They do well as houseplants anywhere. As houseplants, they need a warm area. Cold damage results when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In cold-winter areas, you can move container plants outside for the summer as long as temperatures stay in between 60 and 85 F. In frost-free climates, you can grow crotons outdoors.
Water & Humidity: Crotons have high water needs because of their high transpiration rate. For routine care, keep the soil moist but not soggy. If the plants are actively growing and temperatures are high, "Sunny Star" may need daily watering. Like other tropical houseplants, "Sunny Star" benefits from raised humidity. Grouping plants, misting them or putting them on a pebble tray provides more moisture in the air surrounding plants. Water should be neutral in pH. Hard water will leave water spots on leaves, diminishing their beauty.
Soil: Soil mixes need to be well-draining and high in organic matter. Commercially available houseplant mixes, such as those sold for African violets, work well for crotons. Or prepare your own mix using 2 parts perlite or pumice, 3 parts of peat moss, and 2 parts of leaf mold. Another recipe uses 6 parts peat moss, 3 parts pine bark, and 1 part sand. If you're planting outside in a frost-free area, sandy soils with good drainage is best. Enrich the soil with peat moss, aged compost or composted manure.
Fertilizer: Because variegated crotons such as "Sunny Star" do not have fast growth, regular fertilizing is needed mainly when a larger plant is actively growing. Feed with a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer weekly. For young plants, provide half-strength water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks.
Pruning: "Sunny Star" needs pruning infrequently, primarily to shape the plant and to keep it to the size you want. Tip-pinch branches to make the plant more bushy and to encourage new brightly colored growth. The sap and plant parts are poisonous if eaten and sap can stain skin and clothing. Pruned stems and leaves add interest to floral arrangements.
Toxicity: The croton house plant is toxic for plants and people, but only if it's digested. If any part of the croton is ingested, it would cause vomiting and/or diarrhea, and in large doses could be fatal. It is also a good idea to wear gloves when pruning, and wash your hands after touching the plant.
Arrives in a nursery grow pot. Pot sold separately.
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