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4 Reasons Why Your Croton Plant Is Leggy

The multicolored leaves of Croton are their main attraction. Leggy croton with tall stems and fewer leaves is neither visually appealing nor healthy.

So, in this article we shall learn, why is your croton leggy and how to fix the same.

Crotons generally turn leggy due to lack of pruning and unfavorable conditions. Reasons like low light, inadequate watering, overuse of fertilizers can lead to a leggy croton plant. You can provide the ideal growing conditions and trim the plant more often to fix leggy croton.

The answer to all questions like why is my croton leggy, how to fix it and make it healthy, and how to prevent Croton from being leggy is discussed in this article.

CrotonCodiaeum variegatum losing variegation

I have done my best to address all of your concerns in the article below. However, if you still have any questions or are confused about the article, you can receive personalized one-on-one assistance from me by leaving a comment below. I will respond to your comment within a few hours.

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Why is my Croton plant leggy?

Leggy croton will have tall, weak stems and branches with fewer leaves. 

Primarily a leggy plant is caused due to lack of good light.

Legginess is also caused when plant owners overuse fertilizers rich in nitrogen as nitrogen is the main compound promoting growth.

The other reasons, along with the ones mentioned above, are described briefly below.

Give a read, and find the cause why the croton plant you own has turned leggy.

Irregular pruning of Croton

Pruning croton can be done at any season.

Croton generally doesn’t hit its dormancy during the winters but doesn’t grow new leaves or branches.

You can prune during summer or spring when they are in their growing phase to promote new growth.

If you don’t prune Crotons regularly, it promotes lateral growth.

They become busier, and the extra unnecessary sparse growth gives a very untidy look.

Croton or any plant, in general, turns leggy primarily due to lack of regular trimming and weak stem.

The extra leaves utilize unnecessary energy, nutrients, and moisture from the soil, which could have strengthened the stem and roots for energy.

Thus, regular pruning is mandatory to keep the plant healthy and maintain lateral and apical growth. 

Low light conditions

CrotonCodiaeum variegatum plant leggy

Croton comes from a tropical region and develops its colors best when provided with bright light.

They can tolerate heat and direct sun rays also.

One of the leading causes of plants turning leggy is keeping them in an area with low light.

It happens because the croton plant is more focused on growing towards the light source than growing and developing evenly.

It is their natural response against low sunlight.

The Croton plant will adapt itself to grow towards the source of light.

In doing so, it will have sparse and leggy growth.

The growth will be scattered and uneven, as the plant is only growing in height to reach the light source.

Plants produce plant sugar to help them stretch towards light sources.

There is also a condition known as Phototropism among plants where they tend to grow towards the light.

It affects the growth of their leaves and makes them weak and leggy. 

Also read: What Kind Of Light Does A Croton Need? (Croton Light Requirements )

Excessive use of fertilizers rich in Nitrogen

fertilizer dosage

Fertilizers are crucial for indoor plants as they can’t meet their demand for nutrition from only the soil.

The ones rich in nitrogen are more effective.

Crotons are heavy feeding plants, so they need adequate fertilizer to nourish and enhance their leaves’ color.

Fertilizers with an NPK ratio of 3-1-2 are ideal for croton.

When fertilizers with high nitrogen are overused, they induce the excessive growth of the lateral stem.

Nitrogen is responsible for the stimulation of growth hormones in plants. 

Using a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen ratio than other compounds to feed plants will make the plant bushy.

Only the stem will grow taller and taller, reducing the number of leaves or growing too much.

The stem and roots are not mature enough to grow extra leaves. This makes them weak, sloppy, and leggy.

Whereas due to overuse of fertilizer, the salts and other strong chemicals present in it can also kill your plant.

Also read: What Fertilizer Is Good For Croton? (Best Fertilizer For Croton Plant)

Watering methods

CrotonCodiaeum variegatum plant watering

Croton loves to experience a good supply of moisture.

In their natural environment, they experience a good supply of moisture and humidity. 

If you don’t water the plant properly, it will not have sufficient energy and nutrients for growth.

Lack of nutrients will make the stems weak.

The leaves will start falling, and the plant will grow very uneven foliage.

Too much watering can also turn plants leggy.

When plants and pot soil hold too much moisture, it becomes prone to fungus and bacterial infections.

Bacterial infection in plants and other diseases associated with plants damages the cells, making them too weak to fight against them.

The stem becomes weak with the excess moisture present in them, making it sloppy and wilted. 

Also read: How Often To Water Croton Plant? (Watering Schedule+Watering Problems)

How to fix my leggy croton?

CrotonCodiaeum variegatum growing in a pot

Now that you have understood all the reasons that lead to a leggy Croton, it’s time to fix it.

The two most common reasons for turning your Croton leggy are irregular pruning practice and low, indirect light.

You should also avoid the overuse of fertilizers rich in nitrogen and phosphorus to prevent the plant’s excessive growth.

To keep your Croton healthy and prevent legginess:

  1. Provide it with all the favorable conditions it needs to grow, i.e., sufficient indirect or direct bright light, proper fertilization, moisture, and humidity.
  2. Just make sure not to overdo it.
  3. While the plant is actively growing, maintain a proper schedule for pruning it regularly. 

Crotons are famous for their leaves with dark red, yellow, orange, green, etc., and it will look very bizarre without them.

Thus, we should not neglect the health and early signs of croton damage. 

I have vivid descriptions of all the fixes to the causes mentioned above.

Fixing leggy croton not pruned properly

Regular pruning of stem and branches of a Croton encourages the growth of its vibrant leaves.

It also keeps the plant healthy and tidy.

It promotes healthy growth, as while pruning, damaged and dead leaves are removed, making space for new leaves to grow.

The more we trim out the buds of a plant, the more it becomes bushier. 

The ideal time to prune croton is during its growing season, i.e., summer and spring.

When trimmed off while actively growing, it doesn’t take much time for new leaves to show up.

It also reduces the chances of pests’ invasion and bacterial growth since the infected leaves are regularly pruned.

There is a process of pruning to ensure smooth and successful execution:

  • The equipment used to prune should be sterilized and sharp.
  • The cuts should be minor and not too deep to damage the plant.
  • Prune all the leggy stems.
  • Trim off the dominant bud that restricts the growth laterally. 

Fixing leggy croton due to lack of light

CrotonCodiaeum variegatum near bright light

While growing, a healthy croton plant needs bright light for consistent growth from all directions.

To cure a leggy croton plant caused due to insufficient light, you can keep the plant outdoors or in a bright place.

Consider keeping it near a window, balcony, terrace, or somewhere it can receive ample sunlight.

Rotate the plant to the side with fewer leaves or growth for an even spread of light.

But an overhead light source is always preferable.

Sometimes indoor plant owners don’t have bright light due to their dark indoor or gloomy weather.

In those days, artificial lights are a great alternative.

Artificial plant lights are readily available in nurseries, plant shops, or daily stores.

But Crotons are among those indoor plants which can still grow in as low light as our indoor bulbs.

So, to provide croton with continuous, overhead, direct light is very easy. 

Treating croton leggy due to overuse of fertilizer

Ideally, for croton, fertilizers rich in nitrogen are preferred.

Nitrogen is present in all the types of fertilizers used in plant growth.

It is an essential nutrient associated with the healthy growth of leaves.

If you use too much of those fertilizers, specifically when the croton is in its growing phase, it will only grow taller.

The enlargement of leaves can stop.

As nitrogen stimulates the growth hormone of plants, it focuses on the growth of its height.

In new plants, the root is not mature enough.

It is not strong enough to hold such a long stem and send water and nutrition to the farther ends of the plant.

To cure a plant, one step you should do is to prune all the extra leaves, damaged leaves, branches, and tips of the stem.

Cutting the tip of the stem will restrict its dominance over the lateral growth of the plant.

Don’t use any fertilizers till it completely recovers from the previous shock and stress.

To reduce the effect of previous fertilizers, change the soil.

Carefully make the roots free from the previous soil.

A soil transfer will be an excellent way to start all new. 

The best soil mix for croton will be regular houseplant soil mixed with organic compost, perlite, and peat moss.

Crotons enjoy rich soil.

After repotting, water it properly and take care. 

Treating croton legginess due to improper watering

CrotonCodiaeum variegatum

If you water your plant too little, the energy supply also reduces.

A plant usually turns leggy when it doesn’t get enough nutrients for producing energy.

The water requirement for croton generally depends on its surroundings’ size, maturity, and climate.

During summer, croton needs more water due to more humidity and since it is their growing time.

A plant that is quite mature also quenches for more moisture.

You can water weekly or daily as the soil should not stay dry for too long.

The ways to treat leggy croton are:

Firstly, prune the extra unnecessary branches, leaves, and also the apical bud of your croton plant. 

Then, the most critical step is to water it.

Drench the soil with water until it’s brown and soggy. 

Ensure that the pot comes with proper drainage holes to let the excess water out.

One can also use the pebble tray technique to provide a continuous and uninterrupted water supply.

Creating mist around the plant is also beneficial for maintaining good humidity (40-80% is the ideal range).

Take a spray bottle, pour water, and spray around the plant.

Humidifiers are also a good alternative to maintain humidity. 

To prevent croton from another leggy situation:

  1. Prune the extra parts often when they grow out.
  2. Before pruning croton for the first time, do thorough research. The knowledge will help you to execute a successful pruning.
  3. Keep your croton plant under an overhead source of light.

They can tolerate direct sun and specific temperatures.

So, don’t panic while you keep your indoor plant under the sun or directly plant it outdoors.

Just make sure it doesn’t get dry or sunburnt.

As crotons are heavy feeders, you might need to feed them more frequently.

But, twice or thrice during summer or spring is more than enough.

While fertilizing, make sure you have chosen the right one for your plant. 

The ratio should be 3:1:2

And also, don’t over-fertilize your plant. Just maintain a balance.

Why Is My Croton Leggy Possible CausesHow To Fix Simplify Plants

Reference: Sciencedirect, WikipediaWikipediaBritannica, CABI, AcademiaUniversity of South FloridaThe University of Georgia.

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  1. Sharon DiPiazza says:

    My crotons live outside in FL..they mainly get sun and a bit of shade during the day but are still leggy with leaves mainly at the top. What is the problem?

    • Richa says:

      Hi sharon,
      Legginess in crotons typically indicates insufficient light, despite being in a predominantly sunny location. To encourage bushier growth, try increasing their exposure to direct sunlight and consider pruning back the leggy stems. Regular feeding during the growing season can also promote fuller foliage.