Croton petra [KROH-tun, pet-RAH] is a broadleaved evergreen perennial from the family Euphorbiaceae.
Petra has attractive and interesting leaves. It is one of several croton plant varieties available on the market.
The Croton hails from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, southern India, and southeast Asia.
We’ve shared care details on other popular varieties of croton plants:
- Mammy Croton
- Gold Dust Crotons
- Croton Magnificent
Croton Petra Care
Size & Growth
In nature, these woody-based perennials may grow to be 6’ feet tall. When kept as a houseplant, they are unlikely to grow taller than 4’ feet tall.
It has lance-shaped or oval leaf shapes and may grow to be 18” inches long.
Colorful croton leaves are smooth-edged, leathery and glossy. They are available in a wide range of color combinations and patterns including:
- Yellow Orange
- Red Orange
The plants’ blossoms are a creamy white but small and insignificant.
When appearing during the growing season, trim them back to enhance the appearance of the plant.
Light & Temperature
The garden croton likes indirect bright light. They grow in full sun all over south Florida
It’s important to hit a happy medium with these plants. They need a great deal of light to maximize leaf color. But, they need protection from direct high light.
Harsh, full sun will scorch the leaves.
Petra croton needs four and six hours of bright, indirect sunlight daily.
Excessive shade will cause plain green leaves.
Croton plants are winter hardy outdoors in USDA hardiness zone 11-12.
In other hardiness zones, grown petra as a houseplant.
The garden croton does best at consistent temperatures ranging between 60° – 70° degrees Fahrenheit (16° C – 21° C).
They can tolerate temperatures up to 85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C).
If you live in a cooler area, bring your plant in for the winter when the nighttime temperatures drop to 50° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C).
As an indoor plant, keep your plant away from both cold and hot drafts.
Watering & Feeding
Croton like high humidity.
Low humidity indoors makes crotons particularly susceptible to spider mites.
Daily misting is a good idea. Keeping your potted plant on a tray of wet pebbles will increase the ambient humidity.
When watering completely saturate the potting soil.
Excessive watering leads to root rot.
They will drop leaves if you keep the potting soil dry.
Check the soil regularly. Keep the soil moist at all times but never soggy.
When the top inch becomes dry, water the plant completely until the excess runs out the drainage holes.
Do not water again until the top inch of the potting mix is once again dry.
The croton does not go dormant in winter. But, you should cut back somewhat on watering to allow it a period of rest.
In the autumn and the winter months, water when the top 2” – 3” inches of soil are dry.
Crotons are not heavy feeders.
Use a general houseplant fertilizer, preferably slow-release, throughout the growing season.
Do not fertilize during late autumn or throughout the winter.
In early spring, provide a feeding then again in early summer and again in late summer.
Soil & Transplanting
Soil should be well draining with some loam mixed in for water retention.
Indoors, any good quality potting mix will do well.
Add a layer of pebbles or Styrofoam peanuts in the bottom of the pot for good drainage.
Outdoors be sure to choose a location providing good drainage.
Soil should be humus-rich.
Avoid transplanting. These plants are very sensitive to disruption and shock easily.
Grooming & Maintenance
Petra croton needs little grooming and maintenance.
Prune to control size and shape.
Use sharp pruning shears or scissors, and keep them very clean.
Remove damaged leaves.
How To Propagate Croton Plants
- Propagate new croton petra from tip or stem cuttings or air-layering.
- Choose 6″ inches cutting with new growth on it.
- Remove the lower leaves
- Dip the cutting base in a rooting powder to help the croton root quicker.
- Plant cuttings in pots with well drained slightly moist potting mix of 1 part peat moss and 1 part perlite.
- Place pots in a warm location with bright, indirect sunlight.
- Roots should develop in six weeks or less.
NOTE: A mini greenhouse – pot covered with plastic – will help speed up rooting of stem cuttings.
Petra Crotons Pests Or Diseases
Your Petra croton may lose leaves when you bring it home.
Like its cousins, petra croton needs to adjust to its new home.
Don’t be too alarmed. Your plant is going through an acclimation period.
Take care to choose the right setting. Don’t move the plant around once you get it home.
Provide consistent temperature, light, and water, and your plant will soon recover.
Improper watering can cause many problems for Crotons.
Croton leaves wilt if overwatered. Resist your instinct to give your plant more water if you see wilted leaves.
Inspect the soil. If the soil is wet, move the plant to improve air circulation. Adding a small fan set on low and turned away from the plant will help excessive moisture in the soil to evaporate.
Remember overwatering will also cause root rot.
Leaves of the croton turn brown and become crispy.
This is due to low humidity and too little water.
A lack of humidity may also cause leaf spot disease.
Leaves marred by brown spots with yellow edges, is an sign of too much salt built up in the soil.
Flush the soil with water (rainwater is best) to remove salt buildup.
Repotting may require fresh soil.
If you overwater, plants may develop symptoms of fungal or bacterial infection.
Prune away infected leaves. Take great care when watering not to allow any water to come in contact with the foliage.
Increase air circulation around your plants.
Excessive watering and lack of good air circulation may cause your croton to become susceptible to attacks by:
- Fungus gnats
- Shore flies
- Scale Bugs
- Spider mites
Check out our article on Diseases of Croton Plants
Is The Plant Croton Toxic Or Poisonous?
Codiaeum variegatum ‘Petra’ is somewhat toxic to people and pets.
Keep the croton out of reach of children and animals. Ingestion causes gastric distress, diarrhea, vomiting, and a burning sensation in the mouth.
When you prune your plant, be sure to wear gloves and wash up afterward as the sap may cause skin irritation.
Is Petra Croton Invasive?
While Croton may naturalize in USDA hardiness zone 11-12, it is not considered invasive in these areas.
Suggested Uses For Croton Petra
In USDA hardiness zones 11 and 12, the croton can do well as understory plants under trees providing partial shade.
Crotons of all sorts are an excellent choice as an indoor plant as long as 4-6 hours daily of bright, indirect natural or artificial light is available.