Croton gold dust (Codiaeum Variegatum) is a lovely houseplant that boasts unique, speckled foliage. This plant is also called the “sloppy painter plant,” and for good reason! It looks as though an artist with bright yellow paint decorated the leaves while completely disregarding any sort of symmetrical patterns.
This houseplant is not difficult to care for. And, with proper care, it will reward you with new growth that never fails to spark conversation when friends or family visit.
For some reason, Crotons have a reputation of being finicky and difficult to care for. I would say they fall into the same category of calatheas in terms of “dislike amongst houseplant parents.” Despite this, I have had nothing but success with this houseplant and with very minimal effort.
The key is to provide this plant with the best conditions so that it can thrive. Some people are even lucky enough to live in a climate where they can keep these as outdoor plants. For those of us looking to keep them as indoor accents, this is the ultimate care guide for your Croton gold dust plant.
Croton gold dust light requirements
This plant needs a lot of light to thrive. There is no way you can group this with your low-light houseplants on the North side of your house and expect good things to happen. Without enough light, you’ll notice this plant losing its beautiful specks of gold.
Bright, indirect sunlight is best to keep this indoor plant happy and healthy. If you don’t have adequate light, you can utilize a grow light to meet its needs.
Croton gold dust water requirements
When it comes to watering, these plants tend to be on the thirsty side, especially during the active growing season. With all that light and foliage growth, they need a decent amount of water as well. I find myself watering my croton gold dust more frequently than my other houseplants.
So, how much water does this plant need exactly? That depends on the size of your plant, as well as the current conditions it is living in. There is no right answer, and nobody can say “this plant needs exactly 1 cup of water per week.” When it comes to watering houseplants, there are lots of factors to consider. Do not let this plant dry out! If you do, it will begin to droop and lose it’s leaves.
Get into the habit of lifting your houseplant and assessing the weight before and after watering. Soon enough, you will be able to tell when it needs a good and thorough drink of water. If the top couple inches of soil are dry, give your plant a nice soaking of water.
The most important thing is to ensure your planter pot has drainage holes. This will prevent overwatering and root rot from excess water.
Croton gold dust humidity requirements
If you’re wondering whether this plant needs supplemental humidification or where to place your humidifier, check out this guide to humidification. While this plant does appreciate a boost of high humidity, I do not find it to be as fussy as calatheas or begonias.
We aim to keep our humidity levels around 45% in the winter months and our plants are happy with this. In the summer, we don’t run the humidifier at all. It all depends on your natural climate and where the plants are situated. Be sure to keep this plant away from cold drafts as well.
Remember, when you purchase a plant at a local nursery it is likely situated in a very humid environment with warm temperatures that mimic the native climate. After bringing our new plant home, it will take some time to acclimate.
Tip: Avoid using a pebble tray for humidification. It can attract pests and does not work well to provide tropical plants with humidity.
How often to fertilize croton gold dust
I suggest fertilizing this plant every watering in the growing season with Dyna Grow Foliage Pro. In the winter months, you can cut back to once a month. You can also mix some earthworm castings into the soil for a slow release feed that will keep this plant very happy!
Remember, if you’re purchasing this plant from a store or nursery, it is likely situated in a good quality potting mix. So, you can hold off on fertilizing for a couple months after bringing it home. While I prefer a liquid fertilizer, you can also use your favorite granular fertilizer of choice.
The best soil for croton gold dust
As with most houseplants, you’ll want to situate this plant in a well-draining soil mixture. Because this plant likes to be kept evenly moist (similar to Begonia maculata), I actually prefer to use a denser soil mixture that will not dry out as quickly. So, something not too airy or rocky.
Any indoor houseplant soil mix should work, but here are some custom recipes if you feel like getting crafty:
- Indoor potting mix (70%) with perlite (30%) for added drainage and aeration
- 50% potting mix, along with equal parts perlite (25%) and orchid bark (25%)
- Equal parts peat moss (50%) and perlite (50%)
- Equal parts perlite and coco coir, plus worm castings for nutrients
Common pests and problems
While this plant is not necessarily low-maintenance, it is not particularly problematic either. I’m not sure where crotons got their bad reputation from! However, there are a few issues that can creep up with this plant.
- Spider mites – This plant is prone to spider mites. Be sure to check the leaves on a regular basis and spray with an insecticidal soap if you notice any activity. Separate and quarantine the plant if it has any sign of a pest infestation.
- Leaf drop – This plant is also known to drop its leaves when it’s unhappy or stressed. While this can be alarming at first, it is typically easily resolved. Be sure you are not letting the plant dry out too much between waterings, and give the plant plenty of bright light. Croton leaves will typically droop before they fall off when they are thirsty. If they appear to be “rotting” and falling off, the plant may be overwatered.
- Crispy leaves – If the leaves of your Croton are getting crispy, it may be very dehydrated or it may be getting too much sunlight. This can happen if the plant is situated too close to a heating vent.
If you’re interested in keeping this plant indoors, go for it! But, be sure to keep them away from furry friends as they are considered toxic.
Overall, this is a wonderful houseplant that is relatively easy to find. I have seen them for sale at my local Home Depot, as well as Trader Joe’s and various nurseries. Ignore their finicky reputation – this is a wonderful houseplant that adds a lovely aesthetic and is well worth a little extra effort.