How to Grow and Care for your Croton Petra

What's not to like about the colorful leaf palette of the Croton Petra? It's bright red, yellow, orange and green leaves brighten any corner of your home, office, garden, or beloved green space.

By: Lively Root
August 6, 2020
How to Grow and Care for your Croton Petra
Share this post:

What is a Croton 'Petra' Plant?

What's not to like about the colorful leaf palette of the Croton Petra? It's bright red, yellow, orange, and green leaves brighten the corner of any home.  New green growth will start coloring up as it matures when it is situated in an eastern, southern, or western window to gain lots of bright, indirect light. The more sun it gets, the more rainbow shades will appear in its unique variegated foliage. Stripes or red, pink, and yellow will contrast beautifully with the darker green foliage. 

Give it room to grow over time as it can reach 3-8 feet tall and 3-6 feet wide, adding tropical vibes to any room. The Croton Petra plant is full of vibrant, beautiful colors. A rainbow marvel, care for it and it will bring color and warmth to any room! In some parts of the world, it even can be grown as a full outdoor shrub or tree (mainly in Zones 9, 10, and 11).

Toxicity Level

If eaten, this indoor plant will induce oral and gastrointestinal sickness of cats, dogs, and humans. Drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea may occur. When working with the plant or trimming, wear gloves as the sap can cause skin irritation.

Get a Personalized Plant Recommendation

Take the Quiz

Air Cleaner

Croton house plants encourage deep breaths! Your Croton Petra plant is rated by a NASA study as removing VOCs. Not only can it add freshness and moisture to your air, but it looks good doing it! Enjoy the pure, clean air anywhere you place this indoor plant.

Great for People:

  • Who love bright, warm colors
  • Who like wild, full, and vibrant tropical plants.
  • Who love the vibe of tropical jungles
  • Who has a bright bathroom with space for plants

Great for Spaces:

  • With a high humidity environment or climate
  • With brighter, longer natural lighting
  • With lots of space, height, and bright light for the perfect plant home


How to Care for a Croton 'Petra' Plant

Light preference

The Croton 'Petra' plant will produce multicolored leaves in moderate to bright, indirect sunlight. It can tolerate lower light, but its leaves will stay green like its new growth. It needs 4-6 hours of indirect sunlight a day to keep it colorful and vibrant.

If grown outside in Zones 10b-12, make sure it has some afternoon and evening shade to avoid burnt leaves. If moving this plant from one spot (indoors to outside), it may drop leaves. Continue to care for it, and it should recover over time.

Water & Humidity

The Croton 'Petra' plant is a medium maintenance plant. Check the top 1-2" of soil, and if it sticks to your finger, it doesn't need watering. The leaves will also droop if they're thirsty but will bounce back afterward. Use lukewarm, filtered, or bottled water, and flush the plant. Let the water drain completely before placing it back in a decorative pot (if it's in a grower pot). Repeat this watering schedule when the Croton's topsoil gets dry again. Back off on watering in the winter as growth decreases.

This indoor plant comes from the humid tropics of Southeast Asia, Southern India, and Australia, hence its preference for places like its native environment with humid conditions. Add humidity through spritzing, a humidifier, or a pebble tray to keep this plant moist and happy.

Ideal Temps

Croton Petra plants love warmer vibes similar to its natural environment, so it prefers temperatures between 15°C-27°C/ 60°F-80°F. Keep this houseplant away from cold air or drafts in the winter, around your air conditioning units, and around windows that may leak cold air. The cooler air can stunt growth, or in the worst case damage your plant.

Plant Food/Fertilizer

Fertilize with our organic fertilizer once per month for optimum growth and Croton Petra care in the spring and summer months. Discontinue fertilizing in the fall and winter months during its resting period. While feeding your plants may seem intimidating, it is easy once you get started!

Repotting Frequency

Repot when you start seeing the roots emerge through the drainage holes. During the early spring, repot in a container that is 2" wider in size. Use a well-drained container soil to prevent any waterlogged roots. If the soil already has fertilizers mixed in, wait for 3-6 months before adding again. At that time, top dress the soil with fertilizer by tilling it in a little, and as you water, it will release nutrients to the plant.

After repotting the Croton 'Petra' plant may protest by losing some of its leaves. This shock reaction can be typical of this plant as it's sensitive to changes in its environment. Give it TLC, and it should recover with new green growth.


Keep your Croton 'Petra' plant dust-free by carefully cleaning the leaves with a moist cloth. Gently take the cloth and wipe down the leaves front and back, taking care to not damage them. Never use spray leaf shine; this may obstruct the stomata's (cell structure for the exchange of carbon dioxide and water in the air). You can spray the leaves with just water for humidity and cleaning purposes, however!

Pruning & Propagation 

To create bushier growth, pinch back the stems to promote branching. This can help the plant direct energy towards the main stems. Without regular pruning, the plant will become tall and leggy. Don’t worry, these trimmings can be propagated! Take the stem trimming, propagate with the 3-4 inch stem from the top. Root them in water or consistently moist soil for 3-6 weeks for rootlets to emerge. Rooting hormone can help this process, and it usually is advised to keep it in a humid area to encourage the process. Some people even put plastic bags over the plants!



Common Issues of the Croton 'Petra' Plant

    • Overwatering can kill this plant. Keep the roots from sitting in water to try and prevent any damage. Use a good draining soil and pot with adequate sized drain holes. Before watering, always check to make sure the top two inches of soil are completely dry!
    • If your Croton's leaves aren't colorful, move it to a brighter spot near a window with indirect light to promote better coloration and growth.
    • Mealybugs and spider mites can attach this plant if it is under stress. Remove these insects by using neem oil or horticulture dormant oil.
    • It doesn't like a change of scenery, so keep it in one place and avoid playing musical chairs with it! Crotons tend to lose their leaves in protest. If this happens, continue to care for it, and it will likely recover from the shock of a new environment and put on new growth.

Complimentary Plants with your Croton 'Petra' plant

If you want to add a complimentary color to the Croton 'Petra' plant, try the Flamingo Flower. Its colorful blooms of red will heighten the hues in the Croton. It also has the same watering and humidity schedule, making them compatible playmates!

Add more color and blooms to the plant palette with our Kalanchoe Collection. Their care level is easy for beginners taking very little time to maintain. Place near your Croton 'Petra' and Flamingo Flower to get the bright, indirect light they're all craving!

For more information on caring for your new Croton indoor plant, check out our comprehensive care guide here.