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How To Propagate A Croton Plant

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Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) is a popular shrub grown both outdoors and indoors. The foliage is colorful and stunning. Many want to learn how to propagate a croton plant. So they can have more and share with others.

Sometimes called variegated laurel, croton is prized for its large green leaves, which are variegated with yellow, orange, and red. Some Croton varieties also feature white, pink, or purple.

It’s easy to see why you’d want your home or garden laden with “Joseph’s coat.” And the most affordable and rewarding way to get more of a plant you love? Propagation!

What Is Propagation?

Propagation is the term for growing an entirely new plant from a portion of an existing plant.

So why propagate plants?

Some plants are quite challenging to grow from seed. Not to mention, propagating is a far quicker way than planting seeds to obtain a new plant.

It also costs more to buy a new plant than to propagate one you already have.

Additionally, plants can become leggy in time, and starting their growth via propagation can give you better-looking plants.

Fortunately, croton plant propagation is very easy!

How To Propagate A Croton?

Croton may be propagated from the following:

  • Stem cuttings
  • Air layering
  • Single leaves

Growing A Croton Stem Cutting In Soil

You’ll likely find planting a stem cutting in the soil the easiest method of propagating croton. 

You should see an excellent success rate and hearty new roots when done properly.

Here’s how to do it:

  • First, select a healthy stem to propagate. 
  • Then, cut 3″ to 5″ inches from the top of the stem using a sharp, sterilized blade.
  • Let the cutting rest in a dry place from the sun for 24 hours. This helps the cut scab over, making it less vulnerable to infection when planted in the soil.
  • You may dip it into some rooting hormone when your cutting is ready. This is an optional step, but it can help your roots grow faster and stronger.
  • Next, insert the stem into a sterile potting mix. Sterile potting mix is available at any gardening store.
  • You may also sterilize the soil yourself with boiling water.
  • Simply add the soil to a well-draining pot you want to home your new croton plant in, boil some water, and pour it into the soil.

Of course, it must cool off before you add your croton!

Humidity is good for encouraging a new cutting to root in the soil.

You can do the following steps:

  • Cover your newly planted stem cutting with a humidity dome.
  • You may also poke some air holes into a clear plastic bag and place it over your new plant.
  • Check every day or so to see if the soil needs water.

You don’t want to drown it, but a new cutting is more vulnerable than your established plant, and it can’t get too dry.

Rooting A Croton Stem Cutting In Water

Many people like propagating plants in water, as this way you watch the progress your cuttings are making.

When propagating croton in water, do the following:

  • Begin with a healthy stem cutting of at least 6″ inches.
  • Then, remove all the leaves except 2 or 3 at the very top of the stem.
  • Put the stem cutting into a container of water.

Any vessel that’s clean and holds water will work. This is a great opportunity to get creative and recycle old containers!

Ideally, the container you use should not be clear, as you don’t want sunlight on the roots, encouraging algae growth.

However, you could certainly paint a clear container or find another creative way to make it more opaque.

Fresh rainwater or distilled water is best for growing new roots from cuttings. Dump out the water and refill with fresh water each week.

When roots have formed on your cutting, plant them in the soil.

Air Layering Croton

Air layering is when you make a plant grow new roots for propagating while it is still attached to the original plant.

To air layer a croton plant, do the following:

  • Get a sharp and sterilized knife. 
  • Next, select a healthy stem to propagate.
  • Roughly 6″ inches down from the top of the stem, scrape the bark off all the way around. Be careful not to make the cut too deep. Your goal is to reveal a hint of fresh green underneath the brown bark surface of the stem.
  • Dampen a bit of sphagnum peat moss, and wrap it around the ring you’ve scraped around the stem.
  • Finally, secure the peat moss in a layer of plastic wrap.

As with all methods of propagating croton, your next step is to be patient!

It will be at least 4 weeks before you should expect to find new root growth along the croton’s stem.

When you have some sturdy new roots forming, it’s time to cut the stem from the original plant below its new roots. Then, go ahead and plant your new croton in the soil.

Propagating Croton From A Single Leaf

Finally, croton may also be propagated with a single leaf.

Although bear in mind that it will not be the same results as propagating a ZZ plant from a leaf.

A ZZ leaf will yield a new shoot from the soil in time.

A croton leaf can certainly root, but it will not grow any new stems or leaves.

Crotons require some amount of a stem or a bud for a cutting to produce a new plant.

While you can’t get a proper new plant from a croton leaf, you may enjoy rescuing a fallen leaf or using the leaves you culled from rooting a stem cutting in water.

Propagating a leaf may also help reduce the look of legginess in your croton.

Tips On How To Propagate Croton

Here are some of the tips to remember when propagating croton plants:

  • Wear gardening gloves or dishwashing gloves to protect your hands when you work with croton plants. They release sap from their roots and stems, irritating the skin.
  • Patience is a virtue! Croton does not propagate quickly.
  • Propagate in the spring and summer when the plant is likely to grow the most.
  • Water your original plant the day before taking cuttings to reduce stress on the plant.

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