Getting a croton plant added a burst of color and variety to my houseplants. However, I immediately realized that they are not easy to take care of.
My plant started dropping leaves like crazy, consuming most of my waking thoughts. So I made a lot of research and trial and error with some failures, but I succeeded in the end.
Now I am going to share what I have learned with you so that you can relieve your plant of its discomfort and bring it back to its best in no time.
Reasons Why Your Croton Leaves Are Falling
It can be quite a scare to see leaves falling off your plant. While it’s normal for a plant to lose its leaves, sometimes it is due to some underlying cause.
Here are some issues that might be causing the leaf drop in your croton plant.
Houseplants don’t like change. When you take your new croton home from the nursery or you move it from one place to another in your house, it will need to acclimate itself to its new location.
This move can cause the leaves on your plant to shed its leaves.
How to Fix Location Change: If you have already made the location change and see your plant’s leaves falling, give it time. It will recover, and all the leaves will grow back if taken care of diligently.
Crotons are tropical plants, so they are expected to thrive in humid conditions. Any extreme situation, like too much humidity or not enough, would cause the plant to drop its leaves.
If your croton’s leaves are falling off, it could be that humidity is at play here. A minimum of 40% relative humidity is required for a croton plant, but even this can be too low sometimes.
How to Fix The Humidity: If you find out that the humidity around your croton plant is too low, there are a few options for you to try.
- Misting around your plant several times a day with distilled water.
- You can use a pebble tray, a shallow water tray filled with pebbles.
- Grouping your houseplants can help to increase the humidity in that area, creating a microclimate around your croton.
- You can use a humidifier to help your plant faster.
Aim for a humidity level between 40% to 70%.
Not Enough Sunlight
This tropical plant likes light, which significantly affects how much they grow. Crotons require at least six hours of indirect, bright sunshine every day.
They cannot cope with dim light, and they show several signs of stress when they do not have access to enough light.
The leaves would lose their beautiful and vibrant red, orange and yellow colors and then start to drop.
Less common is the issue of too much direct light. Although crotons love light, they cannot handle the whole light.
Excessive direct sunlight will burn crotons grown as houseplants. The leaves will turn brown and crispy, eventually falling off the plant.
How to Supply Adequate Light: If your croton plant is dropping leaves because of a lack of light, I suggest you move it to a brighter, sunnier place in your home. Do this slowly so your plant can get accustomed to the new light levels.
If your plant gets burned by direct sunlight, you should change its location to maybe behind a sheer curtain, in front of a window, or gradually expose your plant to a place with low light levels.
Based on what you already know about the croton plant, it is easy to see how your plant would lose its leaves when placed somewhere with low temperatures
Extreme temperatures can harm your plant, causing it to lose more leaves. And although the temperature in the room may be perfect, the draft coming from outside may be colder and can harm your plant’s health.
How to Fix Temperature Issues: The ideal temperature for the croton plant is 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping your plant in a room above 65 degrees Fahrenheit would help.
You can try taking a digital thermometer to every room in your house so that you know the best locations to put your plant. Any temperature changes should be minor.
Mastering the amount of water to give your houseplants can be pretty tricky. If not done correctly, you can be overwatering or underwatering, and any of these two could cause trouble for your plant.
Overwatering is one of the most common and most damaging houseplant problems. Crotons like to sit in moist soil but cannot handle excess water for long periods.
When too much moisture is in the soil, the roots cannot absorb nutrients and water. Waterlogged potting soil can also cause root rot. These would lead to leaf drop.
Symptoms of overwatered croton include yellowing and swollen leaves, stunted growth, mold, or fungal growth on the leaves or stems.
Underwatering can also cause leaf loss in crotons. When subjected to long periods of dehydration, they get stressed and try to conserve moisture by dropping excess leaves, primarily the lower ones.
This leaf dropping may continue if left unchanged, leading to the death of the plant. Signs of an underwatered plant include curling and wilting of the leaves.
How to Fix Overwatering or Underwatering:
You can try repotting the plant if you have an overwatered croton plant. The reason is that the fungus that causes the root rot may live in the soil and continue to wreak havoc even if you change your watering habit.
Cut away any damaged leaves, stems, and roots. Water only when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry.
Bottom watering may be the best way to fix an underwatered croton. Fill the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot to the brim with water.
To prevent root rot, use a pebbled tray or throw away the pooled water after 30 minutes. Water your plant frequently, like every week or every other week.
Pests and Diseases
If you check every box for environmental reasons, your plant may be losing leaves, and there is still no change, then it is time for you to check for any pests or diseases.
Croton plants are not very susceptible, but it doesn’t mean they are not affected by common house pests and diseases.
Common offenders are mealybugs, spider mites, thrips, and scale insects. Insect infestation can make the plant lose its vibrancy, drop leaves or even die.
Check the undersides of the leaves for these bugs, their eggs, and larvae or any signs of a bacterial infection like crown gall or fungal infection like Anthracnose.
How to Get Rid of Pests and Diseases: You can use alcohol-soaked cotton wool to rub your infected croton plant. This is the best, non-toxic method of getting rid of pests.
You can also use pesticides like Neem oil or insecticidal soap, which may harm your plant.
To get rid of infections, you’ll want to
- Dispose of any fallen leaves and dead plant parts.
- Separate the infected plant from others to improve its circulation and prevent the fungal infection from spreading.
- Make use of a suitable fungicide.
Lack of Nutrients
Crotons are not big feeders, but if your plant lacks the necessary nutrients, it will suffer.
If your plant has been in one pot over the years, it has most probably exhausted its supply of nourishment, and without this, it cannot keep up with maintenance, causing the leaves to fall off.
How to Fix This: Regular fertilizing would help to bring your plant back to health. However, when applying fertilizer to your plant, do this moderately.
Excess fertilizer can burn the roots of your croton plant, making the leaves fall off, so never add more than recommended.
If you have over-fertilized, flush the soil thoroughly with water until it runs clear. Then do not fertilize again until the plant recovers.
Crotons are tough, so even if your plant looks leafless and lifeless, there is hardly any need for panic. Gently scratch the stem; if it is still green underneath, it will most likely recover.
Continue to care for your plant and provide it with all it needs, and you will see new leaves in a few weeks. Be patient.