Hello, I would be so grateful for your help. I have a croton plant which is about 23 years old and is very dear to me. For the first 10 years we had this lovely plant, it was placed in a south-facing place in our apartment, so it was bathed in lots of sunlight during the day. For the next 13 years, from 2006 to present, we have lived in apartment where there is no direct sunlight. There is a patch of sun which comes through a sunlight for a brief time during certain months, and in the late spring through summer, it shines directly on our croton. When it had sunlight directly from the south, it was fine, but since we moved in 2006, our plant has lost leaves from the bottom. The top is fine, it grows a bud of flowers every so often, and looks fine, other than the lost bottom leaves. About 3 weeks ago, my husband with well-intentions gave it Miracle-grow. He put it directly on the soil and watered it. Ever since then, the leaves have totally drooped. We removed it from its pot, gave it a gently water bath to cleanse the roots, still leaving some soil attached, and gave it fresh soil. After 2 weeks it has not improved. It was recommended to me today to try Parkwood repotting product to nourish its roots, as they are probably burned. I don’t know what to do. I truly love my plant and don’t want it to die. I would be so happy if you can help me.
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your question concerning your beloved croton plant.
The croton is a particularly vivid, broadleaf plant which displays a wide spectrum of red, yellow, orange and green vein and leaf (both ovate and linear) hues and patterns. It is a member of the family Euphorbiaceae, native to the western Pacific Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. As a native plant, croton is often grown as a shrub. The croton plant is known to be a heavy feeder, both of nutrient-rich, richly composted soil, and daily 8-hour doses of good sunlight, and regular moisture with good drainage.
You never mentioned what type of fertilizer was used. Did you read the instructions on the package for proper dilution? If you think that you have burned the roots then carefully flushing out extra fertilizer and repotting into fresh soil is the correct thing to do.
The loss of the lower leaves could be due to a combination of the lower light levels and outgrowing its original habitat. Have you repotted your plant into a larger pot recently? It could be that your plant outgrew its habitat and likely beginning to abandon their older, lower leaves for the sake of the survival of the fittest.
If you still do not see any improvement you might want to take take 4″ cuttings of the newer, more herbaceous stems, and, with the help of a dunk in powdered root hormone, propagate them in new growing medium, or take all the good cuttings you can, and then also re-pot the original, pruned back, mother plant. Plenty of light, a rich nutrient diet, a steady 19º-25º C. air temperature, spray for humidity, and sufficient (once a week) water.
Good Luck with your croton plant.