batch of red and orange codiaeum

Codiaeum Variegatum – Growing & Care Guide

Scientific name: Codiaeum Variegatum | Common name: Croton; Garden Croton

馃憤Likes: Humid temperatures; dappled light | 馃憥 Hates: Cold temperatures; animals, humans

Interested in investing in a different kind of house plant? The croton (Codiaeum Variegatum) may be the one for you. In this grow and care guide, you will find everything you need to know about the Codiaeum Variegatum and how to get the best results from it, hassle-free.

In this care guide, we will explore the following:


Table of Contents

    1.    Identification

    There are several features that are significant for the Codiaeum Variegatum as to why it is such a popular house plant. Here, we will break down each identification feature and how you can easily spot one when you purchase one.

    路       Leaves

    The leaves can grow between two and twelve inches, but these can vary across the plant, and the various colours may change during the plant鈥檚 lifecycle.

    路       Formation

    Codiaeum Variegatum originates from tropical parts of Asia and the western Pacific areas. Therefore, they are used to warm, tropical temperatures to thrive and are commonly used as landscape shrubs due to their dramatic appearance.

    路       Height

    They can grow up to 10 feet tall in tropical environments, but when in a household habitat, they usually grow more diminutive than the average wild plant. The croton鈥檚 leaves alone can grow between two and twelve inches long, although these can vary across the whole plant.

    When it is grown as a household plant, it will rarely flower, so it is worth planting indoors to get more growth out of it, and additional space.

    路       Spread

    The Codiaeum Variegatum鈥檚 spread entirely depends on the climate it grows in. On the one hand, the croton prefers being grown outdoors in humid environments that mimic their original tropical home and having an excellent access to enough light and water. In general, it can spread across 75cm.

    When grown outdoors, the croton can reach at least eight feet tall, but as a household plant will be much smaller. As a result, their standard growing process will be relatively slow and usually only grows under a foot of length per season.

    If grown indoors, the Codiaeum Variegatum will begin losing its leaves if it is too cold, although this may not be the case in a greenhouse if it is warm enough. What makes the croton suitable to be a household plant, however, is the vast explosion of colours the plant has to offer which will help cleanse the air and add more humidity to its given space.

    路       Flowers

    Whilst it will rarely flower if grown indoors, the Codiaeum Variegatum will also struggle to bloom if planted in the spring, and its flowers will be widely insignificant in long axillary. Therefore, for its best results, the croton is better grown in warm conditions.

    The white male flowers contain at least five small petals with around twenty to thirty stamens, emitting a starburst effect. This will be separately produced inflorescences unlike the more yellow, petal-less female counterpart.

    The female flowers will pollinate and produce fruit in small tripartite pods, roughly a third of an inch in diameter, which will hold three seeds.

    路       Identifying features

    The most conspicuous features of the Codiaeum Variegatum are its bold, striking foliage and the length it can grow to. It is an evergreen perennial, shrub, and small tree, that can branch out across ten feet. They can also be fussy due to the conditions of their natural habitat, so they should usually be found in warm environments with plenty of light, water, and humidity.

    Batch of Codiaeum Variegatum

    2.    When to Plant

    If night-time temperatures in your area are below fifty degrees Fahrenheit / 10掳C, it will be better suited to be potted indoors.

    As well as this, it is best planted between March and September, when temperatures are at least twenty to twenty-five degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature it will tolerate in the colder months, between October and February, is at least fifteen degrees Celsius.

    3.    Where to Plant

    Codiaeum Variegatum needs access to plenty of light, so if it is potted indoors, place it preferably by a south windowsill, so that it can have plenty of bright, indirect light. Depending on the variant, some crotons do not like unfiltered, direct sunlight but can tolerate dappled light. The leaves will turn green if it is not getting enough sunlight.

    4.    How to Pot

    Your soil will need to be structurally stable, with peat-free compost, although adding extras like expanded clay and lava rock granules will massively improve the growth of its permeability.

    To have a stress-free procedure, you should consider doing the following:

    • First, add drainage inside the new pot above a suitable water outflow constructed from clay, such as shards and expanded clay.
    • Include an air and water-permeable fleece to prevent the drainage from becoming muddy.
    • Whilst filling the first layer of soil, place the seeded root ball in the middle of the pot.
    • Press the soil repeatedly during the filling process to prevent cavities from forming.
    • Remove any disused soil after potting and cut any dead root strands from the root ball.

    The best soil for Codiaeum Variegatum [i]

    5. Propagating Codiaeum Variegatum

    • During the growth rest process, cut the headlets at a length of 10-15cm.
    • Let the cuttings bleed by placing them in a glass of water for 1-2 days.
    • After two days, place the cuttings into individual pots, mixing cactus soil and sand with it.
    • This procedure should be done if you want to raise the new-born plants to have the same characteristics as the mother plant it rooted from.

    6.    Growing and Care Tips

    Pests: Whilst the Codiaeum Variegatum can be poisonous for humans and animals, it鈥檚 milky sap does not prevent it from attracting pests. Any leaves that are crippled can leave to it being vulnerable to aphids, mealybugs, and woolly aphids, to name a few. The croton should immediately be removed from other household plants to prevent a spread and be showered with high-pressure water to wash away the pests.

    Mealybugs and woolly aphids, on the other hand, can be more stubborn than being combated with simply water and soft soap. Instead, use an alcohol-soaked cloth to wipe away the pests, and then place the croton in an airtight plastic bag for 3-4 days to suffocate the pests.

    Fertilizer: The Codiaeum Variegatum should be fed slow-release pellets three times during each growing season, these being the beginning of spring, midsummer, and start of autumn. Alternatively, you may use a liquid fertilizer between early March and the end of September, alternating between each month. Make sure to read the manufacturing instructions on the feed.

    Corner shot of Codiaeum Variegatum

    Pruning: You can get good results from the Codiaeum Variegatum after pruning or trimming. If the plant becomes leggy, prune it back hard during the beginning of its growing season. If you want the plant to maintain a good shape, then remove unnecessary or unhealthy leaves and branches, but only remove a third of the stem.

    Winter: As crotons are very sensitive to cold weather, you should provide extra protection to keep them warm. This includes adding two inches of mulch at the base of the plant to help insulate the roots. In addition, gardener鈥檚 blankets will help to keep away frost, as well as stakes which will keep the blankets from adding too much weight onto the leaves and branches, which leaves them viable to bending or breaking and unable to absorb heat and light.

    Follow the growing code for a good Codiaeum

    Growing, caring, and keeping a healthy Codiaeum Variegatum can be a tricky skill to master, depending on where you live. As they are used to humid surroundings, growing them in the UK may be trickier than usual plants, but they will be worth it once they flower and truly explode their range of colours in your garden or home. After all, growing fussy plants can be more rewarding once they bloom, as it shows that the hard work has paid off, and it will not get any more rewarding than growing your Codiaeum Variegatum, and your house guests will appreciate it too.

    Fancy another growing challenge? Follow our Monstera Adansonii guide for more.



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