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Almanac Planting Mammy Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) 6" Potted Houseplant Side View
Almanac Planting Mammy Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) 6" Potted Houseplant Top Foliage View
Almanac Planting Mammy Croton (Codiaeum variegatum) 6" Potted Houseplant Side View
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Mammy Croton

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Codiaeum variegatum 'Mammy'

Overview

Uses: Houseplant, patio plant, or outdoor plant (in approved tropical zones)

Benefits: Air purifier: removes toxins from the air. Unique and beautiful growth patterns, colors, and foliage. Easy to take care of. 

Zones: 10 - 11 

Sun: Bright indirect to partial shade. Avoid strong, full sun. A minimum 6 hours of bright indirect sun daily is suggested.

Life Cycle: Perennial

Mature Height: 36"

Mature Width: 18"

Summary

The Mammy Croton is one of the more popular cultivars within the popular Euphorbiaceae family of plants.

It's best known for and identified by the unique corkscrewing, multicolored, variegated foliage with hues of yellow, red, orange, purple, and green.

Often used as a houseplant since it is unable to withstand prolonged temperatures under 50°F, the Codiaeum variegatum 'Mammy' does best in areas where it gets lots of bright, indirect sunlight and has enough room to grow to its typical size of 3' high and 18" wide. 

Care

Codiaeum variegatum Care

How to Water Mammy Croton

We suggest watering an indoor Codiaeum variegatum approximately every 3-5 days during periods of growth, doing your best to ensure that its soil stays moist but not wet.

Crotons often enter a stage of moderate dormancy over the winter months, and need less water than usual during this time. During these stages of dormancy, we suggest allowing the top 1"-3" of this plants soil to dry prior to giving the plant more water.

Avoid overwatering and not allow this houseplant to rest in standing water.

Like many other plants, too much watering will result in the yellowing of stems and leaves, eventually followed by root rot should the wet conditions persist.

This plant is considered to be drought resistant once established outdoors; however, too little water given to an indoor plant will result in the browning of branches and leaves, eventually followed by death if the plant is not given water.

What is the Best Humidity for Mammy Crotons?

Codiaeum variegatum is known to be a versatile and tolerant plant that is capable of thriving in a variety of environments.

Although they can be grown in drier areas, crotons are tropical and do best in environments with humidity between 50% and 70% RH.

Mammy Croton does well with daily misting, but misting too often may cause problems with fungus and disease.

Humidifiers and pebble trays may be used to supplement humidity. 

How Much Sun Does Mammy Croton Like?

Avoid placing Codiaeum variegatum in areas that receive extended periods of direct sunlight. 

The best lighting is provided by bright indirect light as direct light could cause leaf burn. 

They are also known to grow well in areas of medium light; however, too little light will likely cause a lack of variegation, gangly growth, and possibly death.

What is the Best Temperature for a Mammy Croton?

Codiaeum variegatum 'Mammy' prefers warmer temperatures and will likely die if kept in 50°F or cooler for extended periods of time.

It's best to keep this plant in temperatures above 55°F to ensure its beauty and the integrity of its growth; however the optimal temperature range of this houseplant is between 65°F and 85°F.

Crotons typically thrive outdoors year round in USDA zones 10-11, and will likely not survive living outdoors over winter in USDA zone 9 or lower.

What is the Best Soil for a Mammy Croton?

Codiaeum variegatum thrives in a variety of soils, but does best in soils that are both nutrient rich, and moderately well draining.

It's important to not use soil that will allow water to hang around the roots of this plant for too long as it is susceptible to root rot.

Our potting soil is a great soil option for those potting a Mammy Croton. 

How to Fertilize a Mammy Croton

Codiaeum variegatum should be fertilized on a regular basis between early spring and early fall.

Fertilization should be given on a very light to nonexistent basis between fall and spring.  

We suggest using a liquid fertilizer high in nitrogen and potassium. Our slow release fertilizer is another great fertilization option for your Mammy Croton.

As always, be careful not to overfertilize. 

How to Trim and Maintain a Mammy Croton

Codiaeum variegatum may be trimmed to maintain a certain plant size or shape, or to remove dead and unsightly growth.

Stems may be cut as close to 6" from the soil when trimming is required, although we suggest to not remove more than 1/3 of the stem height at one time. When taking a cutting/trimming, it's suggested to make the cut just above a node. 

A bushy plant can be grown by trimming or pinching new growth from the tips of the stems, which will signal the plant to sprout lower growth. Bushiness can also be encouraged by pruning stems by 1/3 of their length and allowing them to regrow. 

All pruning should be done using a sharp and clean set of pruning shears to ensure a clean cut and to mitigate the spread of disease. 

We suggest lightly fertilizing after any extensive pruning. 

How to Repot a Mammy Croton

Codiaeum variegatum do not like being rootbound so it's suggested that you repot your plant if its roots are crowding its pot.

You can repot your plant by placing the entire root ball into a larger pot then softly breaking up its root structure around the edges of its root ball prior to surrounding it with a lightly packed, medium porosity potting mix. It's advised to increase the pot size by 1"-2" when repotting. 

In situations of root bounding without the desire for a larger pot and/or plant, it's advised to remove your Codiaeum variegatum from its pot and to trim away the side/lower roots and to replace their space with new potting soil. Use caution as this method will likely put your Mammy Croton into a state of shock causing leaf loss at a minimum. 

How to Propagate a Mammy Croton

The propagation of Codiaeum variegatum is easily accomplished by placing a 4" cutting with 3-4 leaves on it into a pot of lightly moistened soil, possibly with a slight amount of liquid fertilizer and/or rooting hormone (although neither are necessary).

It's best to provide propagation cuttings with ample light, but to keep them out of strong, direct sun.

It's also advisable that the cutting be freshly snipped at a slight angle just below the lowest node, kept in temperatures above 70°F, and provided with an environment that offers humidity greater than 50% RH.

Root/bottom heating methods aid propagation, which typically takes 2-3 weeks.  

Size

How Big are Mammy Crotons Sold On This Site?

The Codiaeum variegatum that we sell on our site will ship in a 6" grow pot (unless otherwise specified). 

They will be a minimum of 10" higher than the soil they are planted in, ensuring they are appropriately sized for their pot.

How Large Do Mammy Crotons Grow?

The size of the Codiaeum variegatum 'Mammy' at maturity is very dependent on its situation.

Indoors, this plant can easily be kept to no more than a 18" in height with the use of a smaller pot and periodic trimmings.

If desired, the plant can easily grow heights of 3+ feet and widths of 18+ inches through the use of large pots or outdoor planting in appropriate climates. 

Additional Information

Common Names of Codiaeum variegatum 'Mammy'

  • Mammy Croton

  • Variegated Croton

  • Indoor Croton

  • Croton Mammy

  • Croton Mami

  • Mami Croton

Toxicity and Risks of Mammy Croton

Codiaeum variegatum is known for its toxicity to both people and to pets.

Excessive salivation, abdominal pain, blistering and swelling of the mouth, violent vomiting, severe diarrhea, and/or death can occur after the ingestion of this plant—which contains the toxic and potentially carcinogenic chemical compound 5-deoxyingenol (a diterpene). 

Allergic dermatitis (skin inflammation), swelling of the skin, and eczema can occur after repeated skin exposure to this plant, especially its sap.