Gold Dust Croton Care: How To Grow Codiaeum Variegatum

Gold Dust Crotons or Codiaeum variegatum [koh-dih-EE-u, koh-dih-EE-u] is a subtropical, evergreen shrub, naturally occurring in Indonesia, southern Asia, and Eastern Pacific Islands.

A part of the Euphorbiaceae family, Croton plants are known for their showy, shiny bright leaves. Having a reputation for being high maintenance, this healthy houseplant is well worth the extra effort.  

Attractive leaves of the Gold Dust CrotonPin
Gold dust growing in partial shade.

The colorful foliage of this plant has developed a dedicated following of gardening enthusiasts.

They add an explosion of color, and this croton variety is known by the common names of:

  • Croton Gold Dust
  • Sun-Spot Croton

The names are based on the appearance of the leaves.

Gold Dust Croton Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Codiaeum variegatum
  • Common Name(s): Gold Dust Croton
  • Synonyms: Croton variegatum, Croton pictum
  • Family & Origin: Euphorbiaceae family, native to Indonesia, Southern Asia and the Pacific Islands
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 10-11
  • Size: Grows up to 4-10′ feet tall
  • Flowering: Produces small, insignificant flowers
  • Light: Needs bright, indirect light
  • Humidity: Prefers high humidity
  • Temperature: Thrives in temperatures between 60-85°F
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Water when the top inch of soil is dry, but do not overwater
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize every 2-3 months with a balanced fertilizer
  • Pests & Diseases: Susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. May also be prone to leaf drop if exposed to cold drafts or sudden temperature changes.
  • Propagation: Propagated through stem cuttings
  • Plant Uses: Used as a decorative indoor plant, adds color and texture to any room.

Gold Dust Croton Care

Size and Growth Rate

In its native habitat, the gold dust plant grows at a medium pace up to 10’ feet in height.

Cultivated species grow at a slower rate and are smaller in size at around 24” inches.

Meanwhile, greenhouse species may reach a height between 4’ – 10’ feet tall.

Flowering and Fragrance

Even though the leaves of croton plants are its biggest attraction, it does bloom.

The flowers are insignificant and easy to miss as they hang in long clusters between large leaves.

The long racemes are 3” – 12” inches long with tiny male and female flowers on separate inflorescences.

The male flowers have five small white petals, while the female flowers are yellow with no petals.

Light Requirements and Temperature

Bright light causes the Croton gold dust plant to produce brightly colored leaves.

When planted outdoors, they enjoy partial shade for several hours during the day.

Direct sunlight from the full midday sun can damage the plant.

Being subtropical plants, Gold Dust Crotons require higher humidity levels. Mist the plants frequently, especially when potted and used indoors.

Variegated yellow and green croton plant.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @naturecare_08

Or plant the crotons outdoors near a body of water for optimal growing conditions.

The croton plant is hardy to USDA Zones 10 and 11 and prefers temperatures between 60° – 85° degrees Fahrenheit (15° – 29° C).

When temperatures start dipping below 50° degrees Fahrenheit (10° C), moving the croton gold dust indoors is best.

Watering and Feeding

During the growing season, watering should be regular to keep the soil moist.

Avoid overwatering, as the plant does not respond well to standing water. When growing in pots, always use a container with drainage holes.

Feeding should also be regular during this period.

Weekly fertilization with a balanced formula fertilizer is sufficient. 

Related: More tips on Croton fertilizer.

Occasional feeding with an acidic formula fertilizer designed for azaleas may also benefit the plant.

Cut back both watering and feeding when winter rolls around.

If the soil becomes too soggy or rich, it may affect the plants negatively.

Related: Tips on Watering Croton Plants

Soil and Transplanting

  • Constant moisture in the soil is necessary for a Gold Dust Croton to grow lush. This is why having it planted in an organically rich, well-drained, and slightly acidic soil is necessary.
  • It not only retains the necessary levels of moisture but also prevents root rot from standing water, which may be a problem in poorly-drained soils.
  • Gold Dust Crotons prefer slightly acidic, well-draining soil. A standard potting mix with gravel additions will perfectly suit this subtropical shrub.
  • Similarly, consistently dry soil is not good.
  • Use a layer of organic mulch around the stem to help keep the soil moist while cooling the roots.
  • Repot the plants in the spring, if needed.
  • Use a planter one size larger than the current one – layer 1” – 2” inches of damp, peat-based soil.
  • Gently lift the plant from the old container and slide it into the new one.
  • Fill the area around the roots with potting soil and water the plant.

Related: What Soil Do Croton Plants Grow Best In?

Grooming and Maintenance

Codiaeum variegatum responds to trimming favorably, especially if the growth has become leggy.

When the growing season starts, prune the plant back hard and move it outside under the sun.

Do not shy away from bright sunlight.

Also, maintain good levels of humidity if you’re keeping the plants indoors.

Overwintering may be a problem.

For this, you need to move the plants inside a greenhouse for some warmth.

Even when left outdoors, a cold night may result in drooping leaves.

Other varieties of Crotons at the garden center:

Related: More on Croton Plant Care here.

Variegated leaves of a potted plant.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @plants.opt

How To Propagate Croton Plants

The most common method of propagation used for these plants is through stem cuttings. When taking a cutting from a Gold Dust Croton, it is important that the specimen you are using is healthy and undamaged.  

Crotons are one of the easiest plants to propagate. Stem cuttings are easy to obtain and maintain.

This method is the only way to get a replica of the parent plant in terms of the pattern and coloring of the leaves.

The plant also produces shoots, which are dug out and potted individually.

However, these are completely different from the parent plant. This way, you will have a variety of Crotons.

Propagating with seeds is possible but not suggested as the plant is not stable.

Also, the offspring won’t resemble the parent plant.

Sun-Spot Croton Pests or Disease Problems

Growing the plant indoors is difficult.

Low levels of humidity make crotons susceptible to spider mites.

The lack of direct bright sunlight also affects the plants, making the color of the leaves not as bright.

Mealybugs on Crotons may cause an occasional problem.

If you notice woolly patches on the leaves, remove them with a cotton bud loaded with diluted methylated spirit.

If the infestation persists, use a non-toxic insecticide like neem oil.

Also, keep an eye out for scale bugs and aphid attacks, and diseases, such as root rot and leaf spots.

Variegated houseplant with yellow and green leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @plant_muggle

Related: Learn details on Diseases in Croton Plants

Known Toxicity

Being a part of the Euphorbiaceae family means the Gold Dust Croton has some toxicity.

Contact with the sap from the leaves may cause skin eczema for some people.

All parts of the Croton plant are poisonous, including leaves, roots, latex, and bark.

If ingested in large quantities, toxins like 5-deoxy ingenol may cause irritation and burning of the mouth.

The plant also contains oil, which has purgative qualities.

It is suspected of being a carcinogen.

Also, the consumption of seeds is potentially fatal for children.

All of this calls for being careful when handling croton plants.

Wear gloves and keep them out of children’s reach.

Related: Details on Cats and Croton Toxicity (Poisonous)

Suggested Uses For Croton Gold Dust

The Gold Dust Croton is a spectacular addition to hedges or as a potted patio plant.

Use it to add a tropical element to your home or garden.

The striking foliage of the plant looks amazing when positioned with other tropical species.

Croton plants are often potted and used as lovely houseplants. Place Gold Dust in your family room or kitchen for a pop of color. It will do well when placed in bedrooms if proper care is followed.  

However, being native to tropical climates, the plant is hard to keep healthy indoors.

It needs a high amount of humidity.

Plenty of sunlight and moisture in the soil is also key to having thriving Gold Dust Crotons.

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