Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum
Common Name: croton 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Native Range: Southern India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia
Zone: 11 to 12
Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Blooms insignificant
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen

Culture

Easily grown as an indoor houseplant or outdoor accent plant in well-drained, humusy soil. Winter hardy in Zones 11-12. Plants need bright light for best leaf color, with some direct sun. May lose lower leaves in too much shade. Plants also prefer high humidity. Consider standing plant on bed of wet pebbles to increase humidity when indoors. Water regularly to keep soils moist, but not wet, during the growing season. Does not require winter dormancy, but appreciates a resting period with reduced watering from fall to late winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Codiaeum variegatum var. pictum, commonly called croton or Joseph’s coat, is native to Malaysia, Pacific islands and northern Australia. It is a woody-based perennial that typically grows to 6’ tall. In the St. Louis area, it is grown as a 2-4’ tall houseplant or outdoor accent plant. It is noted for its bold, often strikingly foliage. Glossy, leathery, smoothed-edged leaves are in bright colors ranging from yellow, pink, orange, red, bronze, purple and green plus combinations thereof in patterns involving blotching and striping. Leaves are oval to lanceolate (to 18” long). Foliage color is distinctive, appearing somewhat gaudy at times.

Genus name comes from the Latinized version of the Ternate vernacular name, kodiho.

The specific epithet variegatum means variegated, in reference to the color of the foliage. The infraspecific epithet pictum means painted, and also refers to the colorful foliage.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for scale, spider mites and mealybugs.

Garden Uses

Use as a tropical accent in containers and border gardens. This plant is not hardy in the St. Louis area, so bring indoors before night temperatures reach 50°F or use as an annual. Can also be kept indoors year-round, with the best color and overall vigor being achieved with plenty of bright light and even moisture.