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Home » Codiaeum Variegatum – Variegated Croton

Codiaeum Variegatum – Variegated Croton

by Elyssa Goins
This article was fact checked.
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Codiaeum variegatum is the scientific name for the plant also named variegated croton, garden croton and Joseph’s coat. This species is grown for it’s foliage, although it does flower.

This plant and other plants from the Codiaeum genus do demand quite a lot of care and attention, which makes them not the easiest to grow.


Grown in it’s natural habitat and outdoors this evergreen shrub can grow up to 3 metres tall, so in gardens they look great planted around borders like bushes or hedges. Indoors if your able to provide the correct temperatures and humidity levels they’re an interesting container plant that adds a touch of color to a room. The room will need to be bright and have sunlight, though.

How it looks: As mentioned – the variegated croton is primarily grown for it’s foliage and not the flowers (because they are not attractive and insignificant enough). The leathery type leaves can vary in color and size depending on which variety it is, however, a grower is guaranteed interesting colors appearing – which turn from green to a deep purple quite often. These leaves display prominent veins.

Flowering: The flowers bloom in white and yellow small clusters along a stem at various times of the year in it’s natural habitat, but they’re less likely to flower indoors.

Displaying: The croton is grown quite often inside a greenhouse or conservatory, because of it’s need for bright light and it’s size. It can also grow anywhere in your home if you provide the correct conditions, such as plenty of water, placed near an east or west facing windowsill, a place to grow without cold drafts and high humidity levels.

Poisonous: 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 diarrhoea. The sap can also cause skin irritation, so when handling the plant it’s advisable to wear gloves.


Origin:South India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Western Pacific Islands.
Names:Croton, Joseph’s coat (common). — Codiaeum variegatum, [syn.] Croton variegatum (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx):Height 3 ft.
Poisonous for pets:Toxic to cats and dogs.

Plant Care

Temperature:Temperatures between 65-80ºF (18-27ºC) are ideal, and no lower than 60ºF (15ºC). Avoid cold drafts from near windows and doors.
Light:As mentioned the croton must have plenty of light to remain healthy in appearance.
Watering:Keep the soil moist using tepid water from spring until the end of summer. You will need to water much less during winter.
Soil:A peat (2 parts) based potting mixture with perlite or sand (1 part) added works well, or other well draining types.
Fertilizer:A diluted fertilizer used every 2 weeks is ideal to feed this plant with during the growing season ( spring – fall).
Re-Potting:Re-pot once every 2 -3 years. Only change the pot to one size larger once the plant has outgrown its pot, although it does like it’s roots to be crowded.
Humidity:The croton plant enjoys high humidity levels – so where possible improve the humidity of a room with a humidifier or place the plant on a tray of pebbles and water.
Propagation:These are fairly easy to propagate during spring with stem cuttings. Use rooting hormone on the tips of the stems, place in potting soil and provide heat at the bottom of the pots, if possible.
Pruning:These plants tend to grow quite large and too bushy for some rooms indoors. You can cut stems back to a suitable size – during spring.

Common Problems

  • Leaves losing color: Most common cause is not enough light which is probably the biggest problem for croton owners.
  • Brown leaf tips or edges: The air is possibly too dry or the soil is dry if the tips are turning brown and your losing some of the lower leaves. If the edges are turning brown the temperature might be too low.
  • Insects: Mealy bugs and scale are known to cause croton plants a problem.

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