Crotons come from the tropical regions of Indonesia, Malaysia, and western Pacific Island. The main attraction of Crotons that tempts most gardeners to have them is their lovely, variegated leaves. But these leaves start getting affected if pests infest your Crotons.
So, in this article, we shall discuss How do I get rid of bugs in my croton plant?
Pests suck the saps, feed on the leaves, and make the plant look weak and tired. It is necessary to remove the bugs soon to keep the plant alive.
To get rid of any bug on your croton, you can follow these steps:
- Reduce watering and move the plant to an isolated space away from other plants.
- Examine the plant and determine the bugs that are infesting your crotons.
- Now to get rid of bugs, start by showering the plant.
- Prune any heavily infested leaves and stems.
- Dab rubbing alcohol and apply it to the affected area.
- Mix some neem oil and spray the plant.
- Alternatively, you can also use dishwasher soap spray, insecticidal sprays, etc.
- If these natural ways don’t work for you, use chemical pesticides, and miticides as your last resort.
Check out your plant daily. Fixing a small infestation is easy. But once it increases, it becomes challenging to revive the plant. Don’t worry because we have shared some ways so that you can sort out pest issues at comfort.
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How do I get rid of bugs in my Croton plant?
Not many bugs are usually found on a Croton plant. In general, there are low chances of bug infestation indoors, but still, if conditions are ideal, they will seek shelter in your houseplants.
Though few bugs are found in a Croton indoors, they can seriously damage your plant if you don’t take action immediately. Along with this, they will also attack the other houseplants.
If infestation increases rapidly, removing them and reviving the plant becomes a tough job. The most common bugs in Crotons include:
- Plant scales
- Spider mites
Let’s see how we can remove them.
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Mealybugs are tiny bugs found in most plants. In Crotons, mealybugs are more visible the most than any other bugs. They are white and have a waxy coat on their body.
They look like puffs of cotton. This wax coating protects them from insecticides. You can mostly find Mealybugs at the undersides of leaves, the base of the petioles, and close to the nodes of the soft shoots.
These bugs create lesions in the new leaves. They suck all the sap from the plant and discharge honeydew, a sticky substance over the leaves.
You can determine the infestation by the plant’s withered look and sticky leaves. This stickiness further will cause sooty mold and invite ants.
How to keep mealybugs off the Croton plant?
Water-based products are not going to be much effective in treating mealybugs. You need other ways to solve the issue. Focus on targeting their shield first that protects them.
Below I shared a few steps to remove them:
- First of all, quarantine the plant. It prevents the spreading of the infestation.
- Next, prune off the damaged leaves and places of infestations.
- Dab rubbing alcohol. It can weaken the shield. Take a cotton ball, damp it with the isopropyl alcohol and dab it over the bugs. It will take two days to weaken their coating and kill them.
- Spray water, later on, to remove the dead bugs, eggs, and new larvae.
- You can use neem oil. It is one of the best natural methods to remove bugs. Mix six teaspoons of neem with 1 gallon of water and spray it. Concentrate more on the infested areas. Continue this once every two weeks until the plant is free of the bugs.
- Another method is insecticidal soap spray. The soap can weaken the armor of the mealybugs, due to which it becomes easy to remove them. However, it is not permanent. Mealybugs can come back to your plant to stay if conditions are made eligible for them.
- If the infestation is so massive that all the above methods fail, the last option is to use chemical pesticides and insecticidal sprays.
- Try not to overwater and over-fertilize the Crotons.
Scale is another irritating bug that weakens the plant. A different type of scale usually attacks crotons with soft shells called the Croton scale. Scales stay and feed on under the leaves, by the midribs.
The infected plant will have faded and dull leaves that will dry and wither.
There are two types of scales:
- One has a soft shell that releases a massive quantity of honeydew.
- The other has a hard shell, which is very difficult to remove.
How to keep Scales off the plant?
Here’s how you keep scales away from your Crotons.
- First of all, isolate the plant and trim off the affected parts.
- Spray neem oil to the plant. It is genuine and safe and guarantees the death of all scales in the plant.
- Neem oil helps kill the hard-shelled scales, the crawling, and younger scales. You need to coat the plant intensely by spraying neem oil. Only then will it show a practical effect.
- If you are not satisfied with it, at last, insecticides will ensure the death of the bugs. A brutal, neem-based insecticide called AzaMax will remove all the scales from your plant. It contains high amounts of azadirachtin, a slow poison that confirms the killing of the bugs.
- If the infestation is less, it can be fixed by pruning some leaves and spraying neem oil. But you still have to check the plant properly to watch out for eggs.
Thrips are nearly around 1/50 to 1/25 inches longer. Their damage can be identified by specific symptoms like brown streaks, silver specks, and white spots on the surface of the leaves.
You will know that thrips attacked your Croton plant when you observe stunted growth of the new leaves. They will attack the leaves and make them look dead.
Thrips also carry diseases along with them which can affect their health.
How to keep thrips off the Croton plant?
You must utilize the following steps to keep thrips off your Crotons.
- Isolate the plant and remove the damaged leaves.
- Spray insecticidal soaps and neem oil. Coat the plant deeply, primarily concentrating more on the affected areas.
- You can also use diatomaceous earth under the leaves as thrips stay there most of the time.
- Thrips attack when the plant stays dry and dusty for a long time. Water them well and never keep the soil bone-dry.
- Clean the leaves regularly. It also helps them to absorb moisture and photosynthesize well.
Spider mites are common in all houseplants. Most of the time, when Crotons grow under full sun, and you don’t water them properly, they suffer underwatering.
The soil turns bone dry. That is when spider mites make their way towards these tropical plants. You will find white spots on the underside of the leaves. It isn’t easy to point them out in the variegated leaves.
Another symptom of spider mite infestation is web-like structures under the leaves, making way to the stems and at the tips and edges.
If not treated within time, the leaves will drop off the plant and give rise to other significant issues.
2 types of mites are found in Crotons:
- Broad mites or false spider mites are also called red spider mites.
- Two-spotted spider mites.
During the red spider mite infestation, the new leaves curl inwards and experience stunted growth.
In the beginning, you will find brown dots in the leaves that turn bronze or red later on. The leaves at the plant base get affected more. Their eggs are coated with tubercles resembling jeweled eggs.
In the two-spotted spider mites infestation, the leaves turn yellow. In the yellow Crotons, the discoloration is a bit different. The yellow color becomes more light and pale.
Their webs are sometimes confused with the dust under the leaves. Their eggs look round, pale yellow to red. Expect to see the eggs under the leaves.
How do I get rid of spider mites on my Croton plant?
Here are the steps of keeping spider mites away from the Croton plant.
- Firstly, of course, isolate the plant and remove the defective leaves.
- The red spider mites don’t like humidity whereas, Crotons like humidity. Use this advantage to remove the mites. Increase humidity by frequent misting.
- Spray neem oil or insecticidal soap very well on both sides of the leaves. You can also use the oil to clean the leaves. Focus more on the infested areas.
- Spider mites are not fans of cold water. Shower the plant thoroughly to remove them from the plant.
- Wipe all the sides of the leaves and plant with chilled water. Spider mites will leave your plant alone soon because of this cold water.
- Following these methods will not only remove pests but will also keep your plant visually interesting. At last, if everything fails, use chemical pesticides to remove them.
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Tips to keep Crotons healthy
Keeping the Crotons healthy in all ways can increase their lifespan and decrease the risks of bug infestation. Below I have mentioned some care tips which can guide you to keep the Crotons happy and away from bugs.
Light: Crotons require bright, full sun for 6 to 8 hours to thrive well. All the varieties don’t like full sun. Some of them enjoy dappled sunlight.
The variegated varieties are the ones to get the best results from full sun. It helps them maintain their color.
Water: Crotons will need to remain evenly moist all the time. Enough sunlight accompanied by bone-dry conditions for a long time increases the risks of thrips and spider mites.
Water them once with 1-inch water every week. You can change the amount and frequency depending on the climate conditions. Avoid overwatering.
Reduce watering in the winter. Damp conditions can attract mealybugs.
Soil: Use well-drained soil supplemented with organic ingredients like compost. It keeps the soil nutritious and improves drainage. The plant enjoys humus-rich and acidic soil (4.5-6.5).
Temperature: Maintain an average temperature ranging between 40-90°F. Though it doesn’t harm if the temperature rises and stays within 100 degrees, it must not drop below 40°F.
Crotons are frost-tender plants.
Humidity: Maintain a high humidity, around 40% to 80%. Increasing humidity by misting the Crotons frequently helps decrease the risk of red spider mite attack.
Other options include humidifier, pebble trays, placing in bathrooms, and grouping plants.
Fertilize: You can feed them with slow-release pellets or liquid fertilizer of NPK 3-1-2.
For slow-release, use 3 times – early spring, mid-summer, and early fall. To use liquid fertilizer, apply it every month during their growing season, from early March till September.
Stop during the winters. Make sure not to over-fertilize. Else the mealybugs will come to stay in your plant.
Don’t change the position of the Crotons frequently or suddenly. It can result in shock and leaf drops.
Final thoughts on Croton bug infestation
Bugs have always been a subject of nuisance and irritation. They only arrive at to damage both the health and look of the plant by sucking the sap and withering it.
Try observing the plant’s condition daily. Focus mainly on the leaves. The foliage will be the first to show signs like white spots, droopy leaves, falling leaves, etc.
Though not many bugs attack the Crotons, whatever it is, it holds the ability to destroy the whole plant in no time. If the infestation is small, treatment and recovery will be quick and easy.
But in case of a large infestation, it will take enough time. So, try to look out for the initial signs, identify the issue and fix it soon. Within a few weeks, your Croton will be flourishing.
Follow the care tips I shared in the article to prevent bug infestation.
Reference: Sciencedirect, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Britannica, CABI, Academia, University of South Florida, The University of Georgia.
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