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.

13 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.

  2. Adele Charness

    My beautiful curly boy croton is having its leaves dry out and fall, even from the new growths. How can I save it?

      • Adele Vicki Charness

        Thank you for your response. A bit more information for you before I soak my croton and then greenhouse it. I use packets in my fridge fruit and vegetable drawers to counteract the spoilage from the gas they emit. The product suggestion was, that after its use in the fridge, to add it to plant soil. I did this to my croton, as well as a beautiful cyclamen , that I had had for years. The cyclamen died and now my croton, which has been in the same place for 10 years , is doing poorly. Do you think I, unwittingly, poisoned the plants? Should I repot the croton in fresh soil before I greenhouse it? Adele Charness

      • If you send me the name of the product, I can do some research. I’ve never heard of this use before, so, honestly, I can’t really respond. That said, by literally leaching the soil (taking the pot to the sink and letting water pour through), that might help remove anything terribly toxic.

      • Adele Vicki Charness

        I appreciate your prompt response. I looked it up and the active ingredient is zeolite (clinoptilolite) which is used in fertilizers! Maybe it was a coincidence that both healthy plants were affected at the same time or they got an overdose?

        On Mon, Jan 4, 2021, 10:13 AM Laidback Gardener, wrote:

        > Laidback Gardener commented: “If you send me the name of the product, I > can do some research. I’ve never heard of this use before, so, honestly, I > can’t really respond. That said, by literally leaching the soil (taking the > pot to the sink and letting water pour through), that might he” >

      • Thanks. I’m finding lots of mentions about “trying it on a small scale”, but it doesn’t seem to something either particularly good for plants nor harmful. It’s probably not the problem.

      • Adele Vicki Charness

        Thanks again. Off we go to the sink. Hope it works. I live in Montreal and mine is the only Curley Boy croton any of us have ever seen.

        On Mon, Jan 4, 2021, 10:56 AM Laidback Gardener, wrote:

        > Laidback Gardener commented: “Thanks. I’m finding lots of mentions about > “trying it on a small scale”, but it doesn’t seem to something either > particularly good for plants nor harmful. It’s probably not the problem.” >

      • Adele Charness

        Hi,
        I’m back with 2 questions about my poor Curly Boy croton that is having leaves turn brown and fall off.
        It is quite a large plant. I leached it 2 days ago. Some water is still coming out.
        Question 1 Do I need to wait until there is absolutely no more water before sealing it in a plastic bag?
        Question 2 As the soil is quite wet, is there a danger of root rot in the bag?
        soil is quite wet,

      • Adele Charness

        Hi,
        I am back again with 2 questions about my poor Curly Boy croton whose leaves are turning brown and falling off.
        It is quite a large plant. I leached it 2 days ago and some water is still coming out.
        Question 1: Do I have to wait until absolutely no water is coming out before I put it in a plastic bag?
        Question 2: Because the soil is quite wet, do I have to worry about root rot once it is in the bag?
        Thank you for your help.

      • 1. Yes, it must be completely drained.
        2. Once the soil has drained, it will be only slightly moist, so live roots won’t have a problem with rot. However, if many of the roots are already dead, they might decompose slowly.

      • Adele Vicki Charness

        Thank you, once again

        On Wed, Jan 6, 2021, 11:47 AM Laidback Gardener, wrote:

        > Laidback Gardener commented: “1. Yes, it must be completely drained. 2. > Once the soil has drained, it will be only slightly moist, so live roots > won’t have a problem with rot. However, if many of the roots are already > dead, they might decompose slowly.” >

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