Last Updated on October 19, 2023 by Plant Mom Care
Croton Petra (Codiaeum Variegatum pictum Petra) is a perennial evergreen plant classified as a broadleaf shrub or plant native to South and Southeast Asia.
It is known for its effervescent foliage featuring large, variegated leaves with colored veins of orange, yellow, red, purple, and pink. It can attain a height of almost 4 feet tall with a width of about 18 inches. The leaves can grow almost 18 inches long and are oval in shape.
While they are grown mainly for their colorful variegated leaves, small creamy-white colored flowers do bloom at times and are usually considered to be uninteresting and pruned off to keep the focus on the plant’s foliage.
They need consistent regular care although they are rather low-maintenance plants, with the ability to purify the air and remove any toxins. This brilliant plant is a lovely addition for gardeners and plant lovers, with its effervescent variegated colors adding colorful charm to your home.
Needs about four hours of light every daylighting must be bright and indirect. Not enough light will make the leaves lose their variegation and revert to green and direct sun will cause leaf burn. The ideal lighting requirement is an average setting between bright and indirect light.
When grown outdoors, the plant does well in 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. It is important to note that indoor plants when moved outside, should be given some time to acclimatize under shade otherwise they will suffer from leaf burn when exposed to direct sunlight.
Water deeply and thoroughly, keeping the soil moist but not water-logged. Wait until the topsoil becomes dry before watering the plant again, ideally once a week. It will require monitoring and more frequent watering if it grows in bright light. Limit watering in winter when the growing period naturally slows down.
Make sure to follow your watering schedule consistently as these colorful plants can be affected by too much or not enough water, including long breaks before watering, leading to the development of root rot affecting the plant or leaf drop.
This plant thrives best in high humidity so daily misting is necessary to maintain humidity levels. Placing the plant on a pebble tray or better yet, in a kitchen or bathroom due to the typical high humidity in these areas and provided that it gets enough light. It might be necessary to get a humidifier if humidity levels are constantly low.
Constant temperatures of between 60 – 80℉ are ideal growing conditions for the plant, although they can withstand temperatures as high as 85℉. Avoid letting the temperature drop to 50℉ or below and shield the plant from warm or cold drafts.
The plant does best in humus-rich, moist yet well-draining soil. Proper drainage is important and adding a layer of pebbles/gravel first before filling the pot with soil will help ensure good drainage.
Are superb indoor plants but have to be grown in well-draining pots. They are also sensitive to handling, suffering from transplant shock easily, and should not be repotted unless absolutely needed. Repotting, if necessary, is usually done once every other year in spring.
Prep the roots the day before by thoroughly watering the plant before repotting.
Repot only when roots start emerging from drainage holes, using a pot 2 inches bigger. Fill the pot with an inch or two of gravel/pebbles first and topping off with well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging.
The plant might stage a “protest” after repotting by dropping a few of its leaves. This is typical behavior for this plant but it will recover with some care and produce new growth.
It is usually propagated from cuttings, although this won’t be easy. Take about a 4-inch cutting and insert into water or moist soil, waiting for roots to appear usually after 3 weeks. Dust the end with rooting powder to help boost the chances of success, and keep it in a humid area to boost the process.
Feed the plant once every fortnight during the warmer months with a balanced liquid fertilizer, with half the suggested dose. This plant is generally not known to be a heavy feeder but enjoys the boost.
Pruning is necessary to control growth and to help keep the plant to the desired size. Remove damaged or dead leaves as needed. Pinch off the tips of stems to help make the plant become bushier and encourage branching. The plant will become tall and gangly without pruning it regularly.
Keep the plant free from dust by cleaning the leaves carefully with a cloth, while inspecting the leaves for any problems. Spraying or misting the leaves with water will also help clean the leaves as well as helping with humidity levels.
Croton Petra Common Problems
These plants are normally not prone to diseases, however, pests such as mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites might attack the plant, particularly in low humid conditions. These insects can be removed with neem oil.
Root rot, the most common disease to affect the plant, is a result of over-watering and this is irreversible in some cases, often killing the plant. These plants are also susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections, requiring drastic pruning of all infected areas to control them.
If the leaves start to lose variegation, this is due to the plant growing under insufficient lighting conditions and makes the leaves look dull and revert to green. Moving the plant to where it will get bright yet indirect light for at least 4 hours a day will resolve this issue.
The plant doesn’t like being moved often and will start to drop leaves. If this is unavoidable, simply continue taking care of it, and it will slowly recover and grow new leaves.