Crotons require special pruning in order to grow into bushy plants. Although crotons are known for their colorful foliage, they sometimes grow spindly branches with few leaves. These undergrown branches should be trimmed down. New, thicker branches will grow in their place. Then when those branches bud, pinch off the budding leaves. Once again, new and thicker leaves will grow in their place leading to a fuller, bushy look for your croton.
3 Tips to Make a Bushier Croton Plant
Leggy crotons can be transformed into bushier plants through a combination of growing conditions and pruning techniques. If your croton is looking sparse, follow these tips to transform it into a vibrant, full-leaved plant.
Provide Sufficient Light, Water, and Fertilizer
If your croton isn’t bushy enough, it is most likely because one or more of its basic needs aren’t being met. Check to make sure your croton is getting enough sunlight, regular watering, and the correct fertilizer. Direct sunlight is best for crotons, but a potted plant grown indoors isn’t likely to get much direct sun exposure. Instead, make sure to provide 6-8 hours of indirect light daily to meet your croton’s needs. This is the ideal amount to produce colorful leaves and healthy growth.
- Make sure your croton gets 6–8 hours of indirect sunlight every day.
- Provide 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water every week to keep soil moist.
- Use 3-1-2 or 8-2-10 fertilizer to provide a growth boost.
Crotons require roughly 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water every week. They prefer their soil moist but not wet, so check soil moisture every three days for dryness. Additionally, crotons need well-draining soil. The container should have a sizable drainage hole to avoid water buildup. You can also use a spray bottle for better control of soil moisture. As for fertilizer, the croton plant prefers an N-P-K ratio of 3-1-2 or 8-2-10. Use this liquid fertilizer to provide the right nutrients for your croton and help keep your soil moist.
Prune Leggy Branches
Leggy branches are branches with dead or sparse leaves. Trim dead branches back to their origin. This light pruning will result in more stems growing from the trimmed area. This thicker growth will help result in a bushier appearance if you have a healthy plant.
- Trim leggy branches down to the stem to spur new growth.
- If your branches do not grow back thicker, check for disease and pests.
If your plant is not healthy, regrowth may not occur after pruning. It may be infected with root rot or bacterial disease. Yellow, wilted leaves are a common sign of root rot. This is caused by excess soil moisture. To save your plant, reduce watering so that soil is kept moist but not soggy. Consider repotting your croton in a new pot with larger drainage holes and fresh potting soil.
Pinch Off Budding Leaves
It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s a great idea to pinch off new, budding leaves on a leggy croton plant. When you remove budding leaves, your croton will compensate with aggressive growth. Often 2-3 new leaves will grow where a bud was pinched off. This results in thicker foliage.
- Pinch off budding leaves to spur thicker leaf growth.
- The simplest way to pinch off leaf buds is by hand.
- Locate the tiny leaf buds growing at the end of existing branches and remove them early.
- Only pinch off leaf buds if there is only 1 present. Branches with 2–3 leaf buds at the tip have already been treated with this process.
When looking for leaf buds, inspect the ends of the croton branches. In between the leaves at the end of the branch, you will see a small, green bud. If there is only present, remove it by simply plucking it off with your thumb and finger. After you do this, 2–3 new leaf buds will form at the end of that branch. Make sure to only pinch off leaf buds if there is 1 present at the end of the branch. Any location where 2–3 buds are present should be allowed to develop into new leaves. In a short while, you’ll double or triple your croton’s leaf production.
How Do You Make Crotons Grow Faster?
The best ways to speed up croton growth are by meeting their basic needs. All plants have the same basic needs: light, climate, water, nutrients, and so on. Here are the key features that factor into croton growth:
- A warm environment.
- A bright spot with plenty of sun.
- A watering schedule that provides consistently moist—but not wet—soil.
- Providing good, balanced fertilizer for crotons.
- Acidic soil.
Focusing on these essentials will result in the best plant health. Croton plant care should center on getting these moisture-loving plants their basic nutrients and light needs. A balanced fertilizer for crotons will be the best way to speed up growth if all other needs are being met.
Should Crotons Be Trimmed?
Crotons should only be trimmed to remove unhealthy or undergrown parts of the plant. Trimming off the undergrown parts will help with growth but trimming a healthy plant will hurt it. Removing healthy and fully grown plant parts can send your croton into shock. This would hamper future growth. It’s best to play it safe and trim as little as possible. Remove only dead, wilted, or sparse leaves.
How Do You Make Crotons Thrive?
Croton plants need what all plants need to thrive: proper humidity, bright sunlight, constant temperature, and the right soil conditions. Meeting your plant’s basic needs will go a long way to cultivating a healthy plant with a lovely bushy look. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind in helping your crotons thrive:
- Meet your croton plant’s growth needs (provide indirect sunlight, sufficient water, and fertilizer).
- Trim undergrown branches down to spur new growth.
- Pinch off budding leaves to encourage new, thicker growth.
- Avoid trimming a healthy croton plant that is well grown.
Once you have the basics of croton care down, you can cause your plant to produce new buds by trimming off dead or damaged leaves. From there, pinching off single buds will make double or triple buds form. This bud removal results in a beautiful croton that will brighten up your home.