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Croton Leaf Drop — Causes & Treatment

Croton Leaf Drop — Causes & Treatment

Croton plants are brilliant and beautiful, prized for their colorful foliage.

Though these houseplants are relatively easy to care for, occasionally, there are issues that may cause you to panic as a gardener.

Croton leaf drop can be caused by numerous underlying issues, including insufficient sunlight, cold weather, over-or underwatering, or even diseases and pests. To fix it, you’ll need to address the underlying issue. The good news is that croton plants are tough and most will fully recover.


Causes of Croton Leaf Drop 

Croton leaf drop can be caused by a wide variety of factors. More often than not, your plant will begin dropping leaves because some sort of change has occurred.

This could be because you have just transplanted or repotted your plant or because the environment around your plant has changed. 

Something as simple as a wayward draft can cause your plant to drop leaves! 

However, if you haven’t changed the location of your plant recently, you may want to start examining other causes of croton leaf drop.

As tropical plants, croton plants thrive in warm, humid environments.

If the leaves start falling off, it could indicate that your plant has been exposed to extremes that are either too hot or too cold, like air ducts, open doors, or a draft coming in through an open window. 

Croton plants need temperatures to be consistently warm. Ideally, your plant should be kept at temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sudden fluctuations in temperature – or temperatures that are either too hot or too cold (too cold is worse!) – can cause your plant to drop its leaves out of stress. 

Too little sunlight can also cause your plant to drop leaves. Again, these tropical plants like a lot of sun – while there are more than 750 varieties of this plant, with some requiring more light than others, proper lighting is key.

The more variegated your plant is, the more light it needs to stay healthy. Consider growing it in a south-facing window.

Both overwatering and underwatering, two common issues with houseplants, can cause your croton plant to drop leaves, too.

Overwatering will damage the roots and lead to root rot, a condition that will cause your plant’s leaves to drop suddenly and without warning.

It can be tough to identify overwatering since both overwatering and underwatering make your plant look as though it’s wilting and to drop its leaves.

Rarely, too few nutrients could be the culprit – and simply applying fertilizer can help.

Finally, remember that diseases and pests can cause your plant to drop leaves, too.

While the causes listed above are far more common, things like aphids and fungal root rot can cause your plant to suffer. 


Treating Croton Leaf Drop 

Treating croton leaf drop begins with identifying whatever it is that might be ailing your plant in the first place. Then, you can take steps to rectify the situation.

If improper temperatures or humidity levels seem to be the culprit, try moving your plant to a new location where it won’t be subjected to blowing vents or other drafts.

You can mist your plant with distilled water or use a humidifier to help your plant feel more comfortable, too.

Most people grow croton plants indoors, but if you’re growing croton plants outdoors, you will need to take extra steps to protect them in the winter.

Water well before a cold snap and use a blanket or sheet to insulate the roots. If your plant is growing outdoors but in a pot, bring it indoors. 

Again, if sunlight seems to be the problem, try moving your plant to a more well-lit location.

While croton plants don’t require the supplemental light that would be provided by a grow light, adding a grow light even temporarily can be helpful in giving your plant the energy it needs to regrow its lost leaves. 

If overwatering seems to be the issue, the obvious fix is to stop watering your plants so much!

It can be tough to tell how much moisture your plants truly need, though, especially when you consider that overwatering creates issues that often mimic those of underwatering. 

To get the watering right, just water whenever the soil on the top feels dry and water until the overflow starts to pool in the tray below your plant. Pour off any excess water after 30 minutes so the roots aren’t left sitting in standing water. 

If you’re understanding and following the tips above for proper watering, you may want to transplant into a new container that has a moisture-retaining medium like peat moss.

Make sure you try all of these tips before deciding that a pest or disease is making your plant sick. If an infestation or infection turns out to be the cause of croton leaf drop, you will need to take pest- or disease-specific actions.

Inspect your plant regularly for pests or signs of disease and treat accordingly.


Your Croton Plant Will Recover

Croton leaf drop can be frustrating and stressful, especially for the novice gardener. The good news, though, is that plants almost always recover, especially if the plant is not completely defoliated. 

Even if the plant looks somewhat lifeless, you shouldn’t panic. You can tell how much life is left in your precious houseplant by using your fingernail to gently scratch the primary stem of the plant.

If the tissue beneath is still green and verdant, your plant is still alive! 

Follow the tips above to address croton leaf drop, and it will be looking as good as new in a matter of a few days or weeks.


Frequently Asked Questions About Croton Leaf Drop


Will croton leaves grow back?

Croton leaf drop is easily reversed and your plant should recover quickly as long as you take the appropriate steps. By providing for your plant’s environmental and watering needs, a croton plant will typically put on fresh new leaves in just a few weeks. 


Why are my croton leaves falling off in the winter?

Croton plants are tropical, native to places like Southeast Asia and Oceania. Because of this, cooler temperatures can signal to them to drop their leaves, even if you are growing your plants as houseplants.