Can I Keep a Croton alive? My Plant Adoption Story

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My Question

Can I keep a Croton alive in my condo, is a burning question I have. There is one lone plant sitting on my fireplace hearth that has survived many moves and two year in my condo. To say my condo isn’t ideal for plants is an understatement. Because of privacy issues and heating and cooling thriftiness I keep my blinds closed most of the time. My plants respond by dying.

Not that I really try to keep plants alive. I have always had an, if it lives it lives, and if it dies, that poor plant wasn’t meant to be kind of attitude. Surprisingly, I have been relatively successfully with plants, just not here.

Recently I decided to adopt a new plant. My last purchase was a peace lily that just never did anything, no new leaves, no blooms. It lasted a year than faded slowly away.

Are Crotons for Me?

I ask myself, “are crotons for me?” They are found in tropical climates, growing wild in Indonesia and Malaysia. And yet, they can grow in Texas with a little extra care in the form of misting.

They are resilient.
They can be an indoor plant.
They are a perennial evergreen shrub.

I can say yes to all of that, but I want some more help on how to care for a croton. I would like to be successful. So, I googled how to care for crotons and I found this:

To be colorful crotons need light. Check the light requirements on the labels.
They need to be misted or placed in a pebble tray.
Water them only when they really need it.
The soil should be dry to touch.
Water them until the water flows out of the bottom.
They need proper drainage.
Keep them away from a draft.
If you plant crotons outdoors you need to bring them in when it is cold.
For that reason, planting them in a container is important.
Crotons may go into shock when moved and lose all their leaves.
Continue to care for them and they will spring back.

These are all very helpful tips. And I realize I will have to make some adjustments in my plant care protocol. My quests to bring home a new plant is beginning to feel like I am getting a new pet. Maybe I should get a succulent instead?

Mist or Pebble Tray?

I find a great article on a very informative website. Humidity Hack: How to Make a Pebble Tray and Why You Should, can be found on Pistils Nursery’s Blog. They explain that a pebble tray is simply a tray or shallow dish filled with pebbles or small rocks and water. The idea is to place your potted plant on top of the pebble tray filled with water. The pebbles prevent the plant from getting its feet too wet.

Drainage Holes

I realize most of my nice pots that I would want in my house don’t have drainage holes, do I need them? Again, the Pistils Nursery’s Blog says I do need drainage holes. However, I can use rocks and stones at bottom or activated charcoal to keep the roots away from the water that settles at the bottom of the pot. And I will need to make sure I don’t over water. If I do, I am instructed to tip the pot and pour the excess water out.

The pot I want to use is nice, but has no drainage holes. I think this is one of the problems I have have with all my plants. The pot in question I used to hold my Ficus tree. Which I had for years, until I moved and there was no good place in my last house to keep it. It got sickly and died slowly over a period of years. A sad familiar story.

My Decision

Here we go. I said yes to the croton and made a plan to purchase one that does better in low light. Here is what I found at my local garden center, an indoor croton. I have no idea if it is low light. The tag doesn’t say, but I have committed to opening my blinds for it every day. My other plants will thank me.

After thinking it over I decide to get a pot with drainage holes to go inside my pot without drainage holes. My larger pot would become a pebble tray of sorts. I like pots without drainage, because I don’t have to worry about the pot leaking on to a table or the carpet.

Along with my new croton I purchase an inner pot with holes, a jar of river rocks and a philodendron, a house plant that is hard to kill. The croton was on sale. Now I have three plants on my hearth which is probably the best place for them, near the balcony windows. I promise to open my blinds and let the sunlight in. And for fun I will to use my water sprayer that I use when I watercolor to mist them every once in a while when I paint.


This story started off to be about plant care. However, I realized mid-week while attending a Zoom meeting on self-care that by bringing home a plant and learning how to care for it I was participating in a form of self-care. When I was down on my knees putting my hands in the soil as the sun light streamed through the yellow autumn leaves, I felt great pleasure in this simple task I learned to do as a child. And it brought joy.

Biz News

I enjoy painting crotons. That is why I was interested in adopting one. I have been working on several this month and hope to have the watercolor art and prints available in my shop this week.

WIP Croton
WIP Croton
Reference Photo

The Holiday Shop at Ruthieonart

The Holiday Shop at Ruthieonart is here. And as promised I wanted to introduce you to the creative people who said yes. For more information please check out the shop! And as always, Be Inspired!

Poinsettia Watercolor Art Prints are now available in the shop.

Pink Poinsettia
Red Ponsettia
White Ponsettia

My Research Links for this Article

All About Crotons

Caring for Crotons

My Crotons are Losing Their Color

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