If you are looking for a fun plant to add some interest to your indoor or outdoor garden, the Croton Mammy is a great choice.
It is easy to care for and is low maintenance.
Croton mammy offers attractive colorful leaves that twist and turn into eye-catching shapes. The leaves are shiny and evergreen, giving you color through the year. In Autumn it has tiny yellow and white flowers.
Croton Mammy grows naturally in open forests and is native to Australia and the Western Pacific Islands.
I have my Croton Mammy indoors, where it is happy in warmer temperatures. If you want to grow yours outdoors, it may be useful to keep it in a pot and move it inside during cold winter months.
If you enjoy names, this plant is also known as Mammy Croton, Mammy Croton, Croton Mammy and has the Latin name Codiaeum variegatum.
Read on for a detailed guide on how to grow your Croton Mammy.
Croton Mammy Plant Care
Croton mammy wants all-purpose, well-draining soil that is kept moist but not waterlogged. Place in a spot with bright light but not direct sun. Fertilize with a granular fertilizer once in spring, summer, and fall. Best temperatures are 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C). It is not frost-tolerant.
Croton Mammy enjoys all-purpose potting soil that is well-draining. Water must not accumulate at the roots as this will cause rootrot. It can survive in most soil types but does best in slightly acidic soil. You can enhance the soil with a granular fertilizer and by adding humus around the roots.
Croton mammy is not overly fussy about soil and can survive in most soil types.
It will do best in rich organic potting soil that remains moderately moist. Your soil must be well-draining, so heavy clay-type soils will possibly need to be modified by adding in peat or perlite to allow for better drainage.
Well-draining soil means that water will run out after drenching. Water must not be allowed to pool up at the base of your pot. This will cause the roots to rot and your plant may eventually die.
One important thing to check is that the drainage holes at the base of your pot are not blocked. To prevent this, place small pebbles or layers of crushed granite in your pot before filling with soil.
Croton mammy does best in slightly acidic soil, although this is not a vital requirement. If you purchase a small home-testing PH kit, you can check that the reading is around 4.5 to 6.5. A reading of 7.0 indicates neutral soil. Readings above 7.0 are alkaline and will contain too much calcium for your plant to grow at its best.
Croton mammy enjoys lots of bright light. This will allow it to properly show off the colors in the leaves. Do not expose your plant to too much direct sunlight. West and south-facing rooms are ideal. North facing rooms will not get enough light and the leaves will turn green or dull white.
Croton mammy performs best when it gets loads of bright light. This allows the different colors of the leaves to show their full potential.
Many new gardeners confuse bright light with direct sunlight. This can be a problem! Direct sunlight is not good for your plant as it will scorch the leaves.
If your plant is indoors, a south or west-facing room is best. Do not stand the plant directly on a window sill. Stand your plant away from the window so that it benefits from the indirect light.
In west-facing gardens ensure that your plant is protected from the hot afternoon sun by shading it with a screen if possible.
Croton mammy enjoys well-draining soil that remains moderately moist. It should not be allowed to dry out completely. Water must run out of the pot and not accumulate at the base of your pot as this will damage the roots. Water whenever the top few inches of the soil feels dry to the touch.
Croton mammy grows naturally in forests where the soil is moist but not waterlogged. To create the same conditions, you need to ensure that your soil is well-draining and remains moist.
If your soil dries out completely, the plant will start to drop its leaves. Too much water can cause leaves to turn brown around the edges.
So, how do you get the perfect watering routine?
I like to test the top one inch to two inches (2.5cm to 5cm) of the soil in the pot by using my finger. If it is dry, then it is time to water. In summer, this should be about once a week. In winter, it will probably be less.
After watering, check that the water runs out of the drainage holes at the base of your pot. If the water does not, then your holes are probably blocked. This will cause the roots to rot and your plant will eventually die.
When watering indoor plants, try to use water that is at room temperature. Icy cold or hot water can shock your plant. If you can collect rainwater, this is ideal. Tap water contains chemicals that remain in the soil and can be detrimental to plants in the long term.
Croton mammy enjoys warmer temperatures of between 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C). Do not allow the temperature to drop below 50°F 0 60°F (10°C to 15°C) in winter. In USDA hardiness zones 1`1 to 12, it may be grown outdoors. It is not frost-tolerant and is not tolerant of excessive heat and direct sun.
The warm forests of the Western Pacific Islands offer the perfect climate for Croton mammy. You will have to try to recreate these conditions for your plant.
If you live in USDA hardiness zones 11 through12, your plant will be happy outdoors and indoors.
The best temperatures range is between 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C). Do not allow the temperature to drop below 50°F to 60°F (10°C to 15°C) in winter.
Many gardeners plant outdoor Croton mammy into pots. In winter, this allows you to move the plant indoors to prevent it from freezing. Sudden cold snaps can cause major leaf loss or even death.
If you live in a very cold climate, consider a heating device for your indoor plants. But, do not allow them to stand in a draught, either hot or cold.
This plant is not tolerant of frost.
Croton mammy enjoys warm climates that are slightly higher in humidity. Your average home of 40% to 50% should be fine, and you can increase the humidity by mist-spraying or using water pebble trays. Installing a small humidifier will make it easier to control the humidity indoors.
Croton mammy will do best in conditions that are more humid than average. That being said, it will survive in average home humidity that ranges from around 40% to 50%.
By increasing your humidity, your plant will be that much happier.
Mist-spraying is an easy way to keep leaves damp and simulate a more humid environment. You can also use pebble trays filled with water. As the water evaporates, it increases the humidity in the air around your plants. There are many available at nurseries and online and they add a lovely look to any indoor garden.
If your air is very dry, you can also increase watering, Use a watering can with fine holes and allow the water to run down over the leaves and into the soil. You may want to do this over a basin to avoid drenching your carpets or shelves.
Fertilize your Croton mammy three times a year, once in spring, once in summer, and once in fall. Do not fertilize in winter. Use a balanced granular fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer with an NPK ratio that is higher in Nitrogen and Potassium. Do not overfeed as this can damage the roots.
Croton mammy does not require heavy or extensive fertilizing. You can plan to fertilize it once in spring, once in summer, and once in fall. Do not fertilize in winter as the plant needs to rest.
My expert at the nursery suggested using a granular fertilizer. This type of fertilizer is made of small granules that contain all the nutrients a plant needs. Apart from nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, they also contain calcium, magnesium, and sulphur.
Scatter the fertilizer onto the soil and then water very well to allow the nutrients to be absorbed.
Croton mammy prefers a fertilizer that is higher in nitrogen and potassium. Look for NPK numbers like 20-3-19 to 17-5-17. This indicates a lower middle number, which relates to the phosphorus component.
Croton mammy grows to heights of 42 inches (106cm) and can spread up to 2 feet (0.6m). They grow as a small bush with glossy evergreen leaves. The leaves twist and turn and display beautiful colors of pink, yellow, red, and orange. Small yellow and white flowers appear in autumn.
Croton mammy attracts the eye with its broad glossy leaves that grow in a twisting, corkscrew shape. They are dark green and are tinged with bold colors in red, pink, yellow, and orange. The leaves grow straight out from the stems and give the plant a lush, dense look.
The leaves are evergreen, ensuring that your plant never looks bare in the winter.
It grows as a small bush, reaching heights of 42 inches (106cm) and a spread of up to 2 feet (0.6m). Indoor plants can be trimmed to keep the shape compact.
The more bright light your plant gets, the brighter the colors of the leaves will be. In autumn the plant offers small insignificant yellow and white flowers.
Croton mammy is ideal to grow as an indoor plant in a decorative pot. It can also be used in gardens in beds and borders. Place your pots into the beds. This allows you to bring them inside when the weather turns cold.
The plant has a fairly slow growth habit and will grow less than 12 inches (30cm) in a growing season.
Plant your Croton mammy into all-purpose potting soil that is well-draining. You can add additional peat, perlite, and organic compost. Do not choose a pot that is too big and this encourages root growth rather than plant growth. Water well and place in a spot with bright light out of direct sun.
Croton mammy is easy to plant. Choose a decorative pot and place a layer of pebbles of crushed granite at the base. This will prevent the drainage holes from becoming blocked.
Fill the pot with all-purpose potting soil. If you want to enhance your soil, you can add peat and perlite. Make a hole in the middle of the soil to hold the plant. To help the soil retain moisture, I like to add a layer of mulch at the bottom of the hole.
Gently remove your plant from the nursery packaging and shake off excess soil. Check for any dead or damaged roots and snip them off.
Place your Croton mammy into the hole and fill it up with more soil. Water very well and allow to it drain.
Stand your pot in a spot that gets loads of bright light but is not in direct sunlight.
Croton mammy plants are fairly slow growers and do not require extensive pruning. Trim off any dead or damaged stems or leaves. Do not cut down more than one-third of the plant as this may send it into shock.
Your Croton mammy plant is not a fast grower and will not require extensive pruning.
You can look out for damaged or diseased stems and leaves and snip them off. Always use a sterilized tool so as not to transfer any disease to other plants in your collection.
Do not cut your plant down by more than one-third. This can put the plant into shock and it may die.
Croton mammy in-depth propagation guide
By taking stem cuttings from your plant, you can propagate it and have a lovely gift to offer to green-fingered friends!
Propagate Croton mammy by stem cuttings
- Plan to do your propagating in spring
- Prepare a clean workspace
- Sterilize a small cutting tool
- Prepare a pot with moist potting soil
- Snip off a stem just below a leaf joint
- Make it about 5 to 6 inches (12cm to 15cm) long
- Remove the lower leaves by using your fingers to pull them off
- Dip the end of the stem into a growing hormone mix
- Push the stem into the soil so that it stands firmly
- Cover the container with a plastic bag
- Open the bag every few days to water well
- Roots should appear with 4 weeks
- Once you have roots, replant into a new container
- Place in a semi-shady spot for 8 to 10 weeks
- After that, you can move the pot into its permanent home
Common problems with Croton mammy
Croton plants are susceptible to crown gall. This is a disease caused by bacteria that inhabit the soil. It results in abnormal growths, known as galls, that can be seen on the roots and leaves.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for this. You need to cut away any infected parts of the plant and destroy them. The disease spreads quickly, so do your best to save your plant!
Leaves do not offer color
This could be a sign of too little bright light. Croton mammy will produce green or dull white leaves if it does not get enough light. Move your plant into a spot with bright light. Do not place it in direct sunlight as this is not good for your plant.
Leaves have brown edges
Too much water can cause leaves to turn brown around the edges. Your soil should be moderately moist but not soaking wet. Reduce your watering and check that the water is draining out of the pot after watering.
Plant drops leaves
If your soil dries out completely, the plant will start to drop its leaves. Ensure that your soil never dries out. Water at least once a week to keep it moist.
Leaves are dull and not glossy
A healthy Croton mammy has thick glossy leaves. If yours are dull, you can try mist-spraying to increase the humidity. Use distilled water with no calcium and add a drop of neem oil.
Tips to grow Croton mammy problem-free
- Plant in all-purpose potting soil that is well-draining
- Stand it in a bright spot with no direct sunlight
- Water weekly and check that the soil stays moderately damp
- Ensure higher humidity with mist-spraying or open water pebble containers
- Fertilize once in spring, once in summer,l and once in fall with a granular fertilizer
- Do not fertilize in winter
- Protect from hot afternoon sun if it is growing outdoors
Frequently asked questions about Croton mammy
Is Croton mammy toxic?
Unfortunately, this common house plant is highly toxic. If you have children or pets in your home, perhaps you should choose a different plant.
Handling the sap of the plant can irritate the skin, eyes and mouth. Ingesting it will cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Is it easy to care for Croton mammy?
Yes, it is easy to care for and requires minimum maintenance. Ensure a warm spot with bright light. Water well and make sure that the soil remains moist. You can mist spray to increase humidity.
How far apart should I space outdoor Croton mammy plants?
When planting outdoors, allow for 1 to 2 feet (30cm to 60cm) between plants. This will give the roots space to grow to their full potential.
I am loving my Croton mammy and have had some great compliments from the family! I am planning on pairing it up with other Croton varieties like the Petra, Red Iceton, or Oakleaf Croton.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.