The Madness Of Difficult Houseplants

By Laura Miller | February 20, 2022
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by Laura Miller
February 20, 2022

Is it just me? Or does it seem like some of the most beautiful plants are also the most finicky? Case in point, both orchids and roses have the most gorgeous flowers, but I don’t grow either due to their difficult nature. And when it comes to houseplants that are hard to grow, it’s always the ones with eye-catching leaves.

One of the Most Difficult Houseplants  

Every once in a while, I’ll find myself the recipient of a Gold Dust croton plant. Also called Sun-Spot croton (Codiaeum variegatum), these attractive houseplants have dark green leaves with a splattering of bright yellow dots. 

Although these plants can be purchased singly at most any greenhouse, they are commonly found in live-plant gift baskets. You know, the ones that show up at funerals or from well-meaning friends on your birthday. 

While the Gold Dust croton plant is quite lovely, I find they can be one of the most difficult houseplants to keep looking nice. It seems that just about any injustice one could do to a houseplant causes Gold Dust croton to shed its leaves. Luckily, these plants are quite resilient.

Gold Dust Croton Care

Native to Asia, the Gold Dust croton plant is a tropical species which is only hardy outdoors in USDA zones 10 and 11. The rest of us typically grow this prima donna as a houseplant. And that’s where the problems begin.

Gold Dust croton requires constant moisture in the soil, a consistent ambient temperature and a humid environment. Notice I said “requires.” Their inability to adapt to different environmental conditions is exactly what makes Gold Dust croton care so difficult.

So whenever one of these little beauties shows up in my life, I do my best to provide it with the best Gold Dust croton care that I can manage. Yet, the same sad story keeps repeating itself. 

I find a spot where this plant looks happy and I coddle the croton until its foliage is thick and bright. Then, I get distracted by life’s little ups and downs. The next thing I know, I have an overly dry Gold Dust croton plant with droopy and fallen leaves. 

With proper watering, misting and a bit more coddling, I can usually bring these difficult houseplants back to their former glory. Yet, there is one reason I really don’t enjoy caring for any houseplants that are hard to grow. 

Albert Einstein said it best when he defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. To me, growing difficult houseplants is an exercise in insanity. Although I try, I’m simply not the plant coddling type.

Accepting that I’m not a plant coddler allows me to focus my attention on houseplants which thrive on neglect, like cacti and succulents. These plants are better suited to my personality. And if I want to enjoy the beautiful foliage of difficult houseplants like the Gold Dust croton, I know I can always admire them at the local nursery or indoor arboretum.

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