If there’s one thing that Croton Plants are loved and known for is their incredible unique colourful leaves. In fact, every Croton Plant is unique as they are genetically unstable so their colour and patterns are different for each and every plant. Croton Plant’s incredible foliage just makes brown leaves that little bit more frustrating and it’s important that you diagnose the issue and get to fixing it straight away before the problem gets more severe.
In this post, we will be outlining the different reasons why Croton Plant’s develop brown leaves, as well as how to fix the issue and prevent it from happening in future
Brown leaves can indicate underwatering
If your Croton Plant’s leaves have become brown as well as dry and crispy (beginning from the tips inwards) it may be because you have underwatered your plant over the past few weeks.
Too little water can cause quite a bit of damage to your Croton Plant (not only brown leaves) so it’s important you keep a close eye on how much moisture is in the soil. Make sure to regularly water your Croton Plant, a little and often approach can ensure the soil is always slightly damp and will prevent the roots from shrivelling up. Croton Plants don’t like to be swimming in water, but they don’t like to have dry soil for too long either so it’s a fine balance to strike.
Luckily underwatering won’t instantly kill your Croton Plant so if you spot a few dry brown patches on the leaves, adjusting your watering schedule should fix this issue pretty quickly. Trim away the brown parts and any new growth should hopefully be healthy and colourful!
Overwatering can also cause brown leaves
Too much water can also cause your Croton Plant to develop brown leaves (you want to avoid extremes when it comes to watering your plant). But instead of the leaves being light brown and crispy as they would be when underwatered, they are soft to touch and darker brown in colour. You might also see yellowing on the leaves of your Croton Plant as well if it has been overwatered. Check your Croton Plant’s soil straight away to see if it is waterlogged. If it is, then replace it with fresh potting mix to allow the roots to recover.
To avoid any more brown leaves on your Croton Plant, make sure you are checking the moisture levels in the soil before you water. You can do this by putting a finger into the top two centimetres of the soil to see how damp it is. Another method is to lift up your Croton Plant before and after watering. After a few weeks, you should get a feel for how heavy your plant is when it needs water.
Top tip: It’s always a good habit to get into to check back half an hour after watering your Croton Plant to see if there is any water left in the sauces or at the bottom of the planter. If there is, pour it away so that your plant isn’t sitting in water. 30 minutes is usually enough for the plant to soak up as much water as it needs.
Brown leaves can be caused by drainage issues
Sometimes it may not be your watering schedule that is causing your Croton Plant’s leaves to turn brown but the poor water drainage of the soil and pot. This can be quite an easy issue to fix though as you can easily increase the amount of drainage in the pot by mixing in a small amount of perlite. This makes it easier for the water to flow through and out of the drainage holes of your pots (you should also check to make sure your pots have drainage holes). Another easy step to avoid waterlogged soil causing brown leaves is to add a few small stones or pebbles to the bottom of your pots, this helps in making sure that the drainage holes don’t get blocked by soil or any loose debris.
Although clay or terracotta pots can be a little bit more expensive and are breakable compared to plastic pots, their upsides are much more than just the good look. The clay they’re made of is permeable which means that some of the water in your soil can evaporate through the sides of the pot. This isn’t the case for the plastic pots that our plants often come in, which instead hold in every drop of moisture. So sometimes it is worth investing a little more to make sure that the roots of your Croton Plant are not sitting in too much moisture as this can very quickly cause brown leaves.
Low temperatures are another factor to consider
Hotspots or cold drafts can also cause your Croton Plant to develop brown leaves so it’s important to monitor this throughout the year. It can also cause your Croton Plant to lose leaves so you want to solve this one before it gets that extreme. Hotspots can occur when your plant is too close to the window and is receiving a lot of direct light or if it’s near a radiator/ heating vent. It can be difficult to notice hotspots because the heat disperses around the room and it’ll feel like a normal temperature to you. Make sure you are ventilating the room well and avoid putting your Croton Plant within 1 metre of any radiators.
Cold drafts are also your Croton Plant’s worst enemy and can quickly lead to brown drooping leaves. A consistent stream of cold air coming in from outside through cracks in doors and windows can be quite harmful to your plant. This is especially dangerous during winter when temperatures can really drop. Make sure you draft proof any doors or windows that any of your houseplants are close to. (Draft proofing will also save you on heating bills so it’s a win-win!!)
Brown leaves can mean low humidity levels
Humidity is often forgotten when it comes to caring for your plants but it can be the number 1 cause of dry brown leaves. The problem tends to be worse during winter as the heating and lack of ventilation really dries out the air. However, there are some really easy ways you can up the humidity in your home:
Mist the leaves
One of the easiest methods for increasing humidity and preventing more brown leaves is misting your Croton Plant with a spray bottle. We recommend you get into the habit of doing this a couple of times a week. Misting also gets rid of dust on the leaves which is an added bonus.
Our top tip when it comes to misting is to never do it in the evenings. This doesn’t leave enough time for the water to evaporate before it gets dark and the cold nighttime temperatures leave damp leaves susceptible to rotting and they’ll turn very dark brown and soggy.
Use a pebble tray
This one requires a little bit more set-up work but is a great method for preventing brown leaves. Fill a tray with small stones and fill it two-thirds of the way up with water. Make sure the top of the stones are dry. Then place your Croton Plant on top and the water will evaporate around it over the course of the day.
One thing you must be careful of is that the roots and the pot are not touching the water in the tray as this will cause waterlogged soil and probably root rot.
Give your plant a wash down
Another way to instantly raise the humidity for your Croton Plant and prevent any more brown leaf edges and tips is to give it a wash down. Just pop your Croton Plant in the shower or sink and give the leaves a good soaking. You want to keep the water lukewarm so you don’t shock or damage the leaves. We also recommend keeping the water pressure fairly low so you don’t break any of the leaves or stems
Showering your plant is also a great way to get rid of any pests that might be secretly living on your Croton Plant. So it’s a great thing to do every once in a while, brown leaves or not.
Invest in a humidifier
Humidifiers are a real game-changer when it comes to increasing the humidity for your plants and avoiding brown leaves. They are portable and affordable devices that keep a consistent humidity level in your home. We recommend this humidifier from Amazon. We’ve been using it for a few years now and all of our houseplants love it!
Pests are a worrying cause of brown Corton Plant leaves
A less common but more serious reason why your Croton Plant’s leaves are turning brown is a pest infestation. It can happen that pests such as mealybugs, spider mites and scale insects start to call your plant home. They suck on the nutrients which is what causes the leaves to turn brown, die and eventually fall off.
If you find pests on your lant there are a few steps you need to take immediately. Firstly, isolate the infected plant away from all of your other houseplants to stop the pests from spreading to your other beloved plants. Then you need to check over your other plants to see if any others are showing signs of a pest infestation.
To treat the pests on your Croton Plant, and prevent more brown leaves, we recommend giving the whole plant a shower. They have quite hardy leaves so can withstand the shower better than some other more delicate plants. Make sure the shower isn’t on full pressure and you should be fine. You should also treat your plant with an organic insecticide to fight the infestation.
Those are the top reasons why Croton Plants develop brown leaves and we recommend going through each of them one by one whilst inspecting your plant, your care routine and its environment to figure out which factor is the cause of the brown leaves. If there are no other signs other than a few brown leaves, you should have caught the issue early which makes bringing your plant back to full health a little easier.
Check out our full Croton Plant care guide for more information about spotting and treating common problems as well as propagation advice and general top tips.
Written by Joanna Turner