Growing Croton Mammy: How To Care For Colorful Codiaeum Mammy

Codiaeum Mammy (koh-dih-EE-um) is also known as Croton Mammy (KROH-tun).

Other common names you may hear are:

  • Mammy Croton
  • Mamey Croton
  • Codiaeum variegatum (var-ee-GAY-tum)

This broadleaf evergreen is a member of the family Euphorbiaceae (yoo-for-bee-AY-see-ee).

Tropical croton plants are perennials, but in most USDA hardiness zones they must be kept as annuals or kept indoors during the winter months.

Colorful leaves of Croton Mammey

Codiaeum is a reasonably small genus containing about seventeen species of small evergreen trees and shrubs hailing from Northwestern Oceana and Southeast South East Asia.

There are many different croton varieties available for use in the landscape and as indoor plants such as petra croton.

They’re very popular because of their bright, colorful, and magnificent foliage.

Some of the other common croton varieties include:

The genus name ‘Codiaeum’ is derived from a Latinized version of the plant’s name in the Ternate vernacular, in which it is called kodiho.

Croton Mammy Plant Care

Size & Growth

Mami Crotons stand about 42” inches tall, making one of the smallest cultivars in the Codiaeum genus.

Typically, the plant has a spread of about 2’ feet.

Mammy has very distinctive shiny, leathery, large, thick leaves.

Individual leaves are about 8” inches long and an inch wide with an upright, twisting, curling, corkscrew growth habit.

The green leaves display a wide variety of bright colors such as yellow, pink, shades of red orange.

Colors are most intense if you grow croton plants outdoors in full sun.

Watch out for sun scorch.

If your plant seems to be suffering from the sun, move it to an area with afternoon shade.

Flowering & Fragrance

Mamey crotons as with all crotons produces small, insignificant blooms during its growing season.

Light & Temperature

Mammy does well in partial shade to full sun. For the best leaf color, some direct sun and bright light are essential.

An excessive amount of shade causes the leaves to drop on the lower portions of the plant.

When kept as a houseplant, a southern or western window is preferred for the most abundant light.

Be sure to provide some protection from the direct rays of the sun magnified through the glass as too much sun can cause leaf scorch.

Protect your Croton plant from temperature extremes. This plant is not frost resistant.

Excessive heat and sun can cause leaf scorch, and a sudden cold snap will cause leaf loss or death.

Croton Mammey is easy to grow indoors or outdoors in a warm, tropical setting.

This plant is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 11 through 12.

Watering & Feeding

As tropical plants, Croton Mammy prefers a high humidity setting so don’t allow the plant to dry out.

Growing as a  houseplant, set the pot on a pebble tray filled with water to improve humidity levels immediately around the plant.

The ideal humidity level is between 40% and 80%.

Regular watering is essential, do not overwater.

The soil should be kept moist, never soggy.

Water Mammy Croton regularly and never allow the soil to dry out completely.

If you notice the leaves browning along the edges, you’re using too much water. Cut back on watering.

This tropical plant does not go into dormancy, but it does experience a natural resting period during the colder months.

During this time, reduce watering and avoid fertilizing.

Fertilize seasonally in the spring, summer and in autumn. Do not fertilize in the winter.

Use a good quality granular fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer.

Soil & Transplanting

A Croton plant does well in the soil of any pH level but must have well-draining soil with plenty of humus to maintain the right amount of moisture around the roots.

Grooming & Maintenance

Prune Mammy to maintain an attractive shape and keep its size under control.

Cut the stems back at the base.

But overall it is low maintenance.

How To Propagate Codiaeum Variegatum

Propagate Croton plants from stem cuttings dipped in a plant rooting hormone.

  • Place the cuttings in a moist, well-draining mixture of potting soil and sand.
  • Cover with a plastic bag over the container and set it in a warm, humid location.
  • Check daily to make sure the soil is lightly moist. You should see new growth within a month.
  • Once the cutting has developed a root system, take off the plastic cover and put the plant in a warm, humid, shady location for another couple of months.

Following this, your new plant should be thriving and ready to be placed in its permanent location.

To propagate Croton in water:

  • Take a cutting about 6” inches to a foot long and remove all of the bottom leaves.
  • Place the leaf in a vase or jar of water and keep it in a shady location with a constant temperature of 68° – 77° degrees Fahrenheit (20° C – 25° C) until you begin to see roots forming.

Plant the cutting in its own pot and care for it as described above until you see it is fully rooted and ready to be placed in its permanent location.

No matter what method you choose to use, once roots develop, repot the cutting into an appropriate pot filled with light airy potting mix.

Mamey Croton Pests or Diseases

Outdoors Mammy Croton experiences few if any disease and insect problems.

Overwatering can cause rot as with any indoor plant – outdoor plants suffer as well.

Additionally, plants indoors may be subject to infestation by mealybugs (white bugs on plants), spider mites, and plant scale. Neem oil sprays are good treatment solution.

Is Mammy Plant Considered Toxic or Poisonous?

Croton plants are not recommended for homes or businesses where children and animals are present.

Every part of this Croton plant is highly toxic, and the seeds potentially fatal.

Ingestion of any other part of the plant can cause gastric distress, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and upset stomach.

Contact with the sap of Croton plants can cause allergic reactions and even eczema in some people.

Be sure to protect your hands with gloves and wear long sleeves and eye protection when pruning or handling this plant.

Is Mammy Considered Invasive?

This bright, compact, pretty plant is frequently used in the landscape in semitropical areas such as Florida and California, and it has naturalized in these states.

Croton plants are found growing naturally in the Pacific islands, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia.

Suggested Uses For Mammy Crotons

Crotons are pretty, easy to grow, and no matter if used indoors, outdoors as a container plant or as a landscape plant they make a brilliant statement.

These bright, colorful plants make beautiful additions to border gardens, container plants or as specimen plants to bring a tropical accent to your garden.

They are quite pretty when used as poolside plants, but remember direct contact with the sap will cause skin irritation.

Take care to keep them off the beaten track.

In areas where Croton plants are not winter hardy, use it as an annual.

Alternately, bring it indoors to use as a houseplant during the wintertime.

You may also wish to keep your Croton Mammy as a houseplant all year round.

To get the best vibrant color and keep your plant at its healthiest, be sure to provide it with plenty of light and the correct amount of moisture.

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