The Gold Dust Croton, or Codiaeum variegatum ‘Gold Dust’ is a stunning tropical evergreen bush! True to its name, the Gold Dust Croton has waxy, bright green leaves with a dusting of gold flecked across the entire leaves’ surfaces. It is a beautiful plant to brighten up your home. This post will lay out every important aspect of Gold Dust Croton care so you can keep yours golden!
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You can recognize a croton plant by its glossy, multi-colored leaves. These evergreen shrubs can be splotched in a variety of colors, such as beige, yellow, orange, pink, or even black. With this in mind, the Gold Dust Croton is aptly named for its vibrant, green leaves, which are “dusted” in specks of gold.
Native to the tropical region of Southeast Asia, an interesting Gold Dust Croton fact is that it has been observed to grow up to ten feet tall in the wild. On the other hand, specimens that are grown indoors or in a garden are expected to reach a maximum height of just two feet tall. Don’t let that deter you, though. With each almond-shaped leaf sporting a generous splash of its namesake golden hue, even the smallest Gold Dust Croton can leave a visual impact.
- Common Name: Gold Dust Croton
- Scientific Name: Codiaeum variegatum ‘Gold Dust
- Mature Size: up to 2 feet tall indoors
- Sunlight: up to 3 hours direct sun daily; bright, indirect light
- Water: when top inch of soil is dry
- Soil: well-draining, slightly acidic
- Temperature: 60°F-85°F
- Propagation: stem cuttings and offsets
- Toxicity: toxic to humans and pets
Growth Pattern and Habits
The key to a healthy, happy croton is to mimic its natural environment. Like most tropical plants, to provide the best Gold Dust Croton care, it needs consistent temperatures year-round. For this reason, most people opt to keep their Gold Dust Croton plant indoors. If you decide to go this route, make sure to select a pot with several drainage holes.
Those living in USDA planting zones 9-11 may be able to grow their Gold Dust Croton outdoors. Specimens grown outdoors are more likely to grow taller than their indoor counterparts. If you have the resources, you can also raise your Gold Dust Croton in a greenhouse. Unlike potted crotons, which are only expected to grow to two feet, greenhouse-raised crotons can grow up to eight feet tall.
With enough care and attention, this plant will grow bushy and thick, making it easier to appear unkempt. To maintain a groomed appearance and showcase the foliage in the best light, regularly prune uneven branches and leaves. Once a year, repot your Gold Dust Croton plant in a container that’s a few inches larger than the original to keep it looking its best.
The Gold Dust Croton light requirements are a minimum of three hours of direct sunlight per day. This is what provides energy for the plant to produce its colorful foliage. If you’re keeping your plant indoors, place it by the window that gets the most light in your house, such as a south, east or west-facing window. Outdoors, your Gold Dust Croton will do best in an area with partial shade.
When it doesn’t receive enough sunlight, the Gold Dust Croton will produce leaves that are all green with no gold markings. On the other hand, too much sunlight can scorch the plant’s leaves and cause them to die off. As long as you choose a location that’s shaded for part of the day, your plant will likely be safe from scorching.
Expert Tip – To ensure your Gold Dust Croton grows evenly on all sides, rotate it every few days to expose all sides to full sunlight. This will also produce an even distribution of gold markings on the plant. The more light your plant receives, the brighter it will look.
Due to its tropical origins, the Gold Dust Croton needs a lot of moisture. An underwatered croton will eventually start dropping leaves, which defeats the purpose of this eye-catching plant.
Perfect Gold Dust Croton watering takes a bit of practice. To keep the foliage lush, you should be watering your Gold Dust Croton plant often enough to keep the soil saturated, but not soggy. Wait until the top inch of your plant’s soil feels dry before watering your plant.
When adding water, pour until water flows from the bottom of the pot. Then, discard the excess water. Most indoor croton-keepers find that their plant needs to be watered once or twice a week, depending on the season.
The Gold Dust Croton grows best in slightly acidic soil with an ideal pH range of 5.0-7.5. You may be able to find a pre-mixed soil in the target pH range at a nursery or online. You can also customize a general potting mix with compost, peat moss or a store bought acidifier.
The best soil for a Gold Dust Croton is one with a mixture of organic potting soil, sphagnum moss and perlite. These three ingredients combine to create a medium that provides adequate nutrients and drainage capability.
More importantly, the soil must be well-draining. Along with a pot with drainage holes, the right soil will help prevent root rot and promote air circulation. Mixing in perlite, pumice, coconut coir, or sand will increase drainage.
Temperature and Humidity
The best temperature for raising a Gold Dust Croton is between 60 and 85°F. It’s best to keep this temperature as steady as possible. When you choose a location for your indoor croton plant, make sure there are no air vents nearby, which can be a source of hot or cold drafts. Temperatures below 50°F should be avoided, so any patio plants will need to be brought indoors during the cooler months.
The Gold Dust Croton also enjoys above-average humidity of 40-50%. To provide enough humidity, place a pebble tray or humidity near your potted Gold Dust Croton. You can also give it a light misting every other day.
You only need to fertilize your Gold Dust Croton plant during the spring and summer, which is the active growing season for this plant. If you’re using slow-release pellets, apply them once at the beginning of spring, beginning of summer, and mid-summer, for a total of three applications. If you’re using liquid fertilizer, dilute it to half-strength and apply it every other month during the growing season.
Don’t fertilize the plant during the fall and winter when it goes dormant. For best results, choose ammonium or sulfur-based fertilizer with acidifying properties.
Expert Tip – The ideal fertilizer type is one with less phosphorus than nitrogen and potassium, such as 3-1-2 or 8-2-10 fertilizer.
Gold Dust Croton propagation is easy and can be done using two different methods. The first way to propagate a Gold Dust Croton is by using healthy stem cuttings from a mature plant. The second is to propagate using new offshoots. Gold Dust Croton propagation is most successful during the spring and summer months but can be achieved any month of the year.
Expert Tip – Remember to save all of the cuttings when pruning your Gold Dust Croton as these are perfect for propagation!
Propagation by Stem Cuttings
The Gold Dust Croton is relatively easy to propagate from cuttings and as the plant matures and becomes bushier, you will always have an abundance of stems to choose from!
- Starting with a healthy, mature plant, choose a stem with at least three leaves attached and measuring at least four inches.
- Use a pair of sterile shears to make a 45-degree angle cut in the stem and dip the severed end in a rooting hormone. If you don’t have rooting hormone available, you can still propagate without it, but be aware it may take longer for your cutting to form roots.
- Once you have your cutting, plant it about 1-1.5 inches deep in a pot of well-draining soil. Give it enough water to moisten the soil and cover it with a large plastic bag to retain humidity.
- Remove the bag after one week but continue watering to keep the soil damp. With the right care and attention, your cutting should be fully rooted and begin producing new growth in about four weeks.
Propagation by Division
Sometimes, a Gold Dust Croton plant may produce offshoots, which sprout up from under the soil. These offshoots can be divided out when the stem feels about as thick as a pencil eraser and measures at least four inches tall.
- Carefully uproot and sever the new growth using a sterile knife, making sure to keep as many roots attached as possible.
- Replant in fresh soil and treat it like a normal plant in a container. Provide proper indoor Gold Croton care using well-draining soil and keeping the soil moist until it’s fully established.
If the offset has deep or tangled roots, you may need to remove the entire plant from the pot to divide it. To prevent any unnecessary damage to the plant, tip the pot sideways over a flat surface covered in a layer of newspaper. Then, ease the entire plant out of the pot and clear away any attached soil to expose the roots. Divide plants by their roots using a sterile knife and transfer them to new containers prepared with well-draining soil.
Expert Tip – Don’t water your newly planted offsets for a week! Their roots will be in shock and need time to settle!
In spite of its water-loving nature, the Gold Dust Croton is highly susceptible to root rot. This can stem from poor drainage, overwatering, or a combination of both. Symptoms of root rot include wilting, pale leaves, and soggy soil.
If your plant shows signs of root rot, stop watering until its condition improves. If drainage is an issue, consider transferring it to a pot with more drainage holes filled with fresh, well-draining soil. To decrease the risk of root rot, always test the dryness of the soil before adding more water to your plant.
Leaves Turning Brown
Leaves turning brown can be a sign of sun scorch or not enough humidity. If you notice this on your plant, take measures to increase the humidity by incorporating a humidifier, pebble tray, or misting schedule. If too much sun is to blame, consider moving the plant or providing a form of shade.
Spider mites, mealybugs, scale, and aphids are common pests that love infesting houseplants, and the Gold Dust Croton plant is no exception. Sometimes, you may be able to see these pests moving around on your plant with the naked eye. If not, you can usually tell you have an infestation when your plant starts developing unexplained lesions on its leaves. These brown or yellowish spots are from insects sucking the sap out of your plant.
Expert Tip – To provide your indoor Gold Dust Croton with the best care, make sure to closely examine your plant every two weeks for signs of pests!
If your Gold Dust Croton is infested with pests, make sure to quarantine it away from any other houseplants to keep the pests from spreading. Then, clean the affected areas every day with a cotton ball dipped in alcohol and apply a solution of neem oil until the infestation subsides. Try to save chemical pesticides as a last resort for severe cases that don’t respond to natural remedies.
The Gold Dust Croton is toxic to humans and animals due to the presence of 5-deoxyingenol, which is found in all parts of the plant. This chemical can cause symptoms similar to an extreme allergic reaction when it’s ingested or makes contact with the skin. Skin contact can trigger eczema-like symptoms, blisters, or swelling. Meanwhile, ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and discomfort in all parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
Because the Gold Dust Croton is toxic, be sure to keep your indoor potted plants in a place where curious pets or kids cannot reach it. Likewise, in the garden, plant in an area where it won’t receive regular “visitors”.
If your child or pet makes contact with your Gold Dust Croton plant and begins to show symptoms of poisoning, first remove all traces of the plant and rinse the exposed areas as much as possible. If they tried to eat the plant, a cold drink or an ice cube can help relieve some of the pain.
Croton poisoning is serious but temporary in most cases. Regardless, always contact the appropriate emergency services if ingestion or a reaction is suspected!
Expert Tip – When handling the Gold Dust Croton plant, wear gloves to prevent the sap from irritating your skin.
I love how unique the Gold Dust Croton is and the fairly easy care it requires. We’ve discussed numerous facts about the Gold Dust Croton and the specific light, water, temperature and soil requirements. This plant is a great option indoors or out!