Graptophyllum pictum
Common Name: caricature plant 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Acanthaceae
Native Range: New Guinea
Zone: 10 to 11
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: Seasonal bloomer
Bloom Description: Red to purple-red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 10-11 (roots surviving in Zone 9b). Best grown in organically rich, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best foliage color usually occurs in full sun, but plants will also grow in close to full shade. Prune regularly to stimulate new foliage growth and promote bushiness. Container plants should be overwintered indoors in a bright sun room. Container plants may also be forced into dormancy by cutting back foliage and storing in a dark, cool but frost-free basement or garage for the winter.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Graptophyllum pictum, commonly called caricature plant, is most likely native to New Guinea. It is a tropical evergreen shrub that will grow to 6-9’ tall. Container plants in the St. Louis area typically grow as rounded 2-4’ tall plants. Caricature plant is primarily grown for its variegated foliage. Oval to elliptic leaves (to 6” long) are deep green varyingly blotched with cream along the midveins. Terminal clusters (3-4” long) of red to purple-red tubular flowers with protruding stamens bloom in summer. Flowers often do not appear on container plants, particularly if stems are regularly pinched to promote new foliage growth.

Genus name comes from the Greek words graptos meaning painted or marked with letters or to write and phyllon meaning a leaf from the variegated markings on the leaves.

Specific epithet means painted or brightly colored.


No serious insect or disease problems. Indoor plants are susceptible to spider mites, whiteflies and scale.


Container plant.