Croton – Codiaeum variegatum

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Croton – Codiaeum variegatum

Common Name: Croton, Variegated Laurel

Botanical Name: Codiaeum variegatum, ko-dee-AY-um va-ree-a-GAH-tum

Decorative Life: Many months and sometimes for years if light levels are adequate.


Harvest Instructions:

Healthy cuttings can be shipped or stored in the dark at 60-80F for 10 days without any quality loss but if stored/shipped in light, quality decreases.

Family Roots:
  • Member of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family).
  • Native to Malaya, Sir Lanka and Pacific Islands.
  • Common relatives include poinsettia, crown-of-thorns, rubber tree and castor-oil-plant.
  • It is classed as a dicotyledon, leaves not parallel veined.
  • Leaves are glossy, leathery, variable in form.
  • Leaves are also often multi-colored such as green, yellow, red, pink, purple and/or bronze.
Storage Specifics:

Chill sensitive, store above 55F. However, garden types can acclimate themselves to withstand temperatures as low as 40F. Foliage tends to turn red when exposed to low temperatures, especially ‘Norma’. Does well if transported in 14 days or less at 65F.

  • The specific epithet name variegatum means variegated, in reference to the leaves. Other Croton species have been shown to cause dermatitis related problems with some individuals. Also, red stem juices can stain clothing.
  • Codiaeum: probably from Greek for head, the leaves being used for wreaths. Also from a native Teratean name, kodiho.
  • In addition to the many ornamental species in this family, others yield rubber, edible fruits and roots and have valuable medicinal properties.
  • Known for their colorful foliage. This foliage can fall off easily if plants are suddenly exposed to low temperatures and/or bright light.
  • Can adapt somewhat to low light levels, levels lower than enough to read a newspaper in comfort. However, plant quality will not be as good.
Recent Research Findings:

Poole and Conover (1993) stored this species at 36-46F from 1-4 days and subsequently noted total or partial leaf death of the lower foliage within a few days.