Can You Grow a Croton From a Single Leaf?

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Yes, you can root a croton leaf … but it will never produce a plant. Photo: Gardening Upbeat, YouTube

Question: I have a question about a croton that I bought this summer. Following a blunder on my part, my plant died except for a leaf at the base which touched the soil and seems to have grown roots all on its own. Do I have a chance that it will ever grow into a new croton or will it be like a hoya and remain a single leaf until it dies?

Jojo

Answer: Unfortunately, no plant will ever be produced. 

It is easy enough to root a croton leaf (Codiaeum pictum): you can even do so in a glass of water. And the single leaf will develop a surprisingly robust root system. But to produce a new stem and, eventually, a complete plant, it would need an axillary bud. It is only from this bud that the plant can regenerate. Unfortunately, croton leaves don’t have the capacity to produce a bud from a leaf.

There is even a name for this phenomenon: a rooted cutting that never produces a plant is called a blind cutting.

Ficus leaves (here, Ficus lyrata) can also produce roots, but will never give a new plant. Photo: @ohiotropics

The croton is not the only plant in this situation. Ficus, hoyas and several other plants, especially tropical ones, can produce what are called adventitious roots (adventitious: that appears from an unexpected place) from a leaf, but will always remain blind.

If, on the other hand, just a small piece of the stem accompanies the leaf and this piece did bear a dormant axillary bud (and that sometimes happens when a hoya leaf is removed), the plant could regenerate from this bud, but this is unlikely with a croton (or a ficus) whose stems are woody and unyielding.

Echeveria leaves, each producing one new plant. Photo: leafandclay.co

Other plants (African violets, streptocarpus, crassulas, echeverias, snake plants, kalanchoes, sedums, etc.) do have the capacity to develop an adventitious bud directly from a leaf, even sometimes from just part of a leaf, so you can readily produce an entire plant from one leaf. But that capacity is a very rare trait and the croton simply doesn’t belong to this select group.

Don’t be surprised if your rooted croton leaf lives for years without further growth. I once kept a lucky heart hoya (Hoya kerrii) leaf alive 7 years before it finally died … without, of course, ever producing a plant.

2 thoughts on “Can You Grow a Croton From a Single Leaf?

  1. That is weird that they will not produce adventitious shoots. So many plants produce undifferentiated growth where the roots emerge, and the undifferentiated growth can produce adventitious shoots, like the African violets. Leaves sometimes fall from rhododendron cuttings in the flats, and develop roots, but that is all they ever do.

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