Codiaeum variegatum is an ornamental, evergreen shrub growing up to 6 to 8 feet and width of 3 to 6 feet and has large, thick, leathery, shiny evergreen leaves, alternately arranged, 2 – 12 inches long and 0.5–8 cm broad. The inflorescences are long racemes 3 – 12 inches long, with male and female blossoms on separate inflorescences; the male blooms are white with five small petals and 20–30 stamens, the female blossoms yellowish, with no petals. The fruit is a capsule 9 mm diameter, containing three 6 mm seeds. The stems contain a milky sap that bleeds from cut stems. The milky sap on this plant is toxic. If children, dogs or cats ingest parts of this plant various symptoms can be caused including, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The sap can also cause skin irritation, so when handling the plant it’s advisable to wear gloves.
Scientific Name: Codiaeum variegatum
Synonyms: Croton variegatum L.
Common Name: Garden croton or Variegated croton.
How to grow and maintain Codiaeum variegatum:
It requires growing in bright light to full sun. Bright light with at least two or three hours of direct sunlight daily is necessary for good coloration. The too much direct sun causes phototoridation, a condition that makes Croton leaves gray and dull looking.
It requires humus-rich, moist, but well-drained soil. The soil pH level range from 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
It prefers the perfect temperature between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit / 21 to 27 degrees Celsius) during the daytime, and 65 degrees Fahrenheit / 18 degrees Celsius at night time and no lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit / 15 degrees Celsius.
Water thoroughly, during the growing season. Keep the soil evenly moist but never allow the plant to stand in water. Reduce watering in winter, but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Fertilize your plant every two weeks during the growing season (from early spring through summer) with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half or use slow-release pellets.
Codiaeum variegatum can be easily propagated by tip cuttings in spring. Take stem cuttings in spring and dip in rooting hormone before inserting in a half-half mix of sand and peat moss. Variegated croton can also propagate by air layering or by seeds.
Prune the stem tips of your garden croton to encourage new growth and keep the plant bushy and full. Prune your Variegated croton plant during spring.
Re-pot your garden croton plant once every two to three years. Just change the pot to one size bigger once the plant has outgrown its pot, although it does like it’s rooted to be crowded.
Pests and Diseases:
Codiaeum variegatum plants are susceptible to the mealy bug, scale, spider mites, and caterpillars. To get rid of small pests such as these, you can wash your plants with a gentle soap and water blend, and then flush the plants to remove the soap.