This article was last updated by on

San Francisco Plant: Ultimate Grow & Care Guide 2024

Do you know the San Francisco plant or Garden Croton is the canvas board of the plant kingdom due to its vibrant foliage? But they quickly lose them when they feel short of regular care!

Generally, the San Francisco plant needs 5-8 hours of dappled sunlight, weekly or biweekly watering, and fertilizer application every 2 weeks in spring and summer, 55-85°F temperature, 40-80% ambient humidity, porous acidic soil, annual pruning and repotting every 2-3 years in spring.

If you want to learn more about the propagation means, problems of care shortage, and the growth nature of Garden Crotons, follow the article to the end!

San Francisco Plant [Croton Overview]

The Garden Croton or San Francisco plant (Codiaeum variegatum) hails from the plant family Euphorbiaceae.

As a native of Malesia and the Southwest Pacific, Garden Croton is an evergreen perennial shrub that prefers to grow in a wet tropical to subtropical habitat.

Garden Croton is known as the San Francisco plant because it was first introduced in San Francisco during the early 1800s.

Thanks to its myriadly colorful foliage, Croton quickly became a popular ornamental household name in gardening.

Since then, many Croton varieties have been available for home gardening with diverse foliar shades resulting from selective breeding.
Image illustrates the flowers of Croton plant
Garden Croton has star-like white to yellow flowers.

Growth Rate & Flowering Habit Of Garden Crotons

In their native habitat, Garden Crotons can grow about 8-12 feet tall, but in cooler USDA zones, they only take a height of 3-6 feet.

Further, Garden Crotons grow about 12-24 inches a year, displaying a slow to moderate growth rate, with spring and summer being their peak growing seasons.

The plant goes dormant during fall and winter, slows down its growth, and prepares for winter sleep.

Also, the trademark of the San Francisco plant is its variegated, diversely shaped leaves that organize alternately along a woody stem.

The plant bears terminal clusters of white to yellow starry blooms along the flowering stem during spring and summer, lasting for 1-2 weeks straight.

However, each Croton plant can take around 10 years to grow and beget its first blooms.  

Complete Care Guide To Grow San Francisco Plant

San Francisco plant loves wet tropical to sub-tropical habitats but can easily thrive in the USDA zones 9-12.

However, Garden Crotons needs a full set of tropical conditions for a year-round prosperous foliage flush.

  • Light: 5-8 hours of bright indirect sunlight daily (from an open east-facing window)
  • Temperature: 55-85°F (favorable temperature: 65-75°F)
  • Watering: Weekly (spring & summer) or Biweekly (fall & winter)
  • Humidity: 40-80% (ambient moisture)
Image illustrates sunlight, temperature & watering care for San Francisco plant
Crotons have special tropical care requirements.

Along with the cultural care, you must also protect Garden Crotons from pest and disease attacks.

Some of the common pests include Thrips, Mealybugs, Scales, and Spider Mites.

Additionally, Anthracnose, Crown Gall, Root Rot, and Powdery Mildew are some common diseases that can invade your Croton bush.

You can easily evade the pests and pathogens from the plant by following ways.

  • Cut all the spent and disease-infected blooms foliage using sterilized pruning tools and burn them for safe disposal.
  • Wipe out the nasty pests using cotton swabs drenched in horticultural neem oil.
  • Spray isopropyl alcohol or neem oil when the infestation is visible in your plant.
  • Locate the diseased plant in a safe spot to keep the infection in check.

Excessive or low fertilizer use can lead to fertilizer burns or yellow leaves in Croton plants.

Hence, flush out the salt accumulation with distilled water monthly to prevent excessive salt accumulation or avoid fertilizer use in fall and winter.

Toxicity Of San Francisco Plant

The San Francisco plant has many medicinal benefits with numerous pharmacological and traditional uses

However, the San Francisco plant is toxic to cats, dogs, and humans due to its milky sap.

This milky sap causes dermatitis upon contact with the bare skin, leading to severe allergic reactions.

Furthermore, all the parts of the plant are toxic, including flowers, roots, stems, leaves, and seeds.

Consuming the plant parts can also be dangerous as the plant has many toxic compounds (viz. diterpenes).

If there is any health issue due to the consumption or abrasion of plant parts, call any of the following helpline numbers.

Image illustrates leaf shapes of Garden Croton plant
Different varieties of Garden Croton plants have bizarre leaf shapes.

Garden Croton Plant Propagation

You can propagate Garden Crotons using 4 different ways during early spring when the plant shows a speedy growth rate.

  • Stem propagation requires 4-6 inches-long stem sections with root/ growth nodules after you remove the lower leaves. It can take a month for it to root.
  • However, for air layering, you can puncture a vertical slit along the stem length and wrap a handful of sphagnum moss, which may take a few weeks for the roots to grow.
  • You can also take leaves with petioles, trim their ends to expose the cut, and dip them in water. It can take 4 weeks for the new roots to develop from the wound.
  • Additionally, you can use the seeds to propagate Crotons, but the extracted seeds lose viability quickly and show less chance of germination.

Learn the ways to propagate Croton leaves in soil from the video!

Things To Take Care While Croton Propagation

There are certain things to take care of while propagating Garden Crotons.

  • Always cut the stem at 45° so that the roots have a wider surface area.
  • Water propagation can induce faster root growth, but the roots are weak.
  • Use fresh seeds, as storing them can reduce their germination viability.
  • You can apply rooting hormone to cut ends for speedy root growth.

Garden Croton Plant For Sale

Crotons are available in online stores, selling at an affordable outlay.

Shops/ SitesShipping/ Delivery Period
AmazonWithin 4-5 days after placing an order
Garden Goods DirectWithin 5-7 days after placing an order
Peters Crotons & CordylinesWithin 1-2 days after placing an order
EtsyWithin 1-3 days after placing an order

From Editorial Team

Croton Symbolism & Meaning!

A blooming San Francisco plant represents the strong desire to progress despite the failures.

Undoubtedly, Crotons can be the best gift for students who aspire to succeed in their lives.