Mammy Croton or Codiaeum variegatum, is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family. The most popular among gardeners is not the scientific name Codiaeum variegatum, translated from Greek meaning “head”.

There is an opinion that this name comes from the name of a city located in southern Italy, where Pythagoras at one time founded his school, or maybe in one of the dialects this word is translated as “shrub”…

Mammy Croton or Codiaeum variegatum

This plant comes from the islands of the Pacific Ocean and North Australia, and also from Southeast Asia and India. According to information taken from various sources, this genus includes from 17 to 1200 species, however, only variegated Mammy Croton, as well as its hybrids, are grown at home. 

The Mammy Croton is the most beautiful of all decorative foliage houseplants; it can become the main decoration of any room, and due to its compactness, it does not take up much space. In some countries, such a home flower is the guardian of the hearth, while it protects the home from bad energy.

Brief Description of Mammy Croton

colorful Mammy Croton
  • Bloom . Mammy Croton is an ornamental foliage plant.
  • Illumination . Before noon, the bush should be provided with bright sunlight, while after that there should be slight shading or diffused bright light.
  • Temperature . In summer, from 20 to 22 degrees, and in winter – at least 16 degrees.
  • Watering . Watering should be done regularly and moderately.
  • Air humidity . It should be elevated. The bush needs to be regularly moistened with a sprayer and the foliage washed, and it needs to be given a shower 1 or 2 times a month.
Mammy Croton or Codiaeum variegatum in pots
  • Fertilizer . From April to November, the bush must be fertilized with complex mineral fertilizer for decorative deciduous plants, this is done once every 2 weeks. The rest of the time, feeding is carried out once every 4 weeks.
  • Rest period . In winter time.
  • Transplant . Young bushes – twice a year, and adult specimens – once every couple of years.
  • Reproduction . By seed and stem and leaf cuttings.
  • Harmful insects . Mealybugs, scale insects, nematodes, spider mites.
  • Diseases . Gray rot and sooty fungus.
  • Properties . This culture has poisonous juice.

Features of Mammy Croton

The Mammy Croton plant, grown at home, is a bush with leathery leaf blades, the shape of which can be very different: oblong-lanceolate, asymmetrical, pointed or blunt-pointed, three-lobed, broadly ovate, entire, notched, etc.

Young leaves are usually colored a paler greenish-yellow color, after a while the color becomes brighter burgundy and green, due to this, such a plant looks like an elegant tree in the autumn. 

For all types and varieties, a common feature of the leaf blades is clearly defined venation. Mammy Croton’s blooms are not very impressive. So, during flowering, it forms axillary pendulous racemes consisting of inconspicuous cream-colored flowers.

Mammy Croton Care at Home

green Mammy Croton

The Mammy Croton houseplant is one of the most capricious flowers that are quite difficult to care for. Features of care for Mammy Croton:

  • The juice of this plant contains a strong poison that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or contact dermatitis. In this regard, it is imperative to wear gloves when working with the bush.
  • Mammy Croton needs high air humidity. That is why you need to systematically moisten the bush with a spray bottle, and in addition, wipe the leaf plates with a dampened soft rag or sponge. In the summer, the bush needs to be provided with a regular warm shower, which is carried out once every 4 weeks.
  • This plant reacts extremely negatively to drafts, as well as to cold water used for irrigation.
  • In some cases, at the beginning of the growing season, it was noticed that the foliage of the bush took on a variety of unusual shapes. Scientists today cannot give an exact answer as to what this is connected with. However, it should be borne in mind that this plant is characterized by a very high degree of mutation, which is why breeders were able to develop so many different hybrid forms and varieties that differ from each other only in the appearance of the leaf blades.
  • Mammy Croton flowering is unattractive, but it takes a lot of energy from the bush. If you are not going to collect seeds, then pick off flower buds or flower stalks immediately after they form.


red Mammy Croton

Mammy Croton needs bright sunlight, but direct sunlight will not harm it only in the morning or evening. Concerning this, in summer it is recommended to place a pot with a bush on a north-facing window, while in winter a southern window sill is suitable. Experts recommend, if possible, to move the bush outside in the summer, choosing a place with bright, diffused light.


In the warm season, Mammy Croton feels best at an air temperature of 20 to 22 degrees, and in winter it should not fall below 16 degrees.

How to Water Mammy Croton Correctly

It is necessary to choose such a regime for watering this flower so that the lump of earth in the pot is always a little damp, and water should not be allowed to stagnate in the root system, because this can cause rot to appear on it. Water should be well settled, but better filtered, and it should not be cold.

Air humidity

Codiaeum variegatum in pot

For Mammy Croton to grow and develop normally, it needs high air humidity. In this regard, it must be systematically moistened with a sprayer or wiped with a damp sponge. In the summer, it will need regular warm showers, but during this procedure, care must be taken to ensure that water does not get into the container with the substrate.

Top dressing

From April to November, fertilizing is carried out once every 2 weeks; this is done on a pre-moistened substrate, using a solution of complex mineral fertilizer. In winter, fertilize the flower only once every 4 weeks.


Mammy Croton or Codiaeum variegatum leaf

For the Mammy Croton crown to be neat and impressive, young bushes must be regularly pinched, and adults must be pruned. The first pinching is carried out after the height of the bush reaches 15 centimeters, and the subsequent ones – each time the stems grow by 20 centimeters. 

If an adult bush has been pruned, then all cut areas should be sprinkled with Sulfur powder or crushed Charcoal. Flower buds or young peduncles, immediately after they form, should be cut off, because the flowers of this plant do not represent any decorative value, however, the flowering process itself takes away its strength and negatively affects the leaf blades, as well as its health.

Mammy Croton Transplant

transplant Mammy Croton or Codiaeum variegatum

While the bushes are young, they will need to be replanted once every six months; adult specimens are replanted less frequently, namely, once every 2 years. When choosing a new pot for replanting, you should take into account that it should be only 20 mm larger in diameter than the old one. 

Once the bush is planted in a pot reaching 25 centimeters in diameter, it no longer needs to be replanted; instead, the top layer of the substrate will need to be replaced regularly once a year with a new one.

For replanting and planting, you need to use a soil mixture that consists of river sand, as well as peat, turf, and leaf soil. It is recommended to carry out transplantation using the transshipment method: 

  • To do this, carefully remove the flower from the old container along with a lump of earth and place it in a new pot. 
  • At the same time, try to maintain the integrity of the earthen clod. 
  • Do not forget to provide good drainage in the new pot, which should occupy at least ¼ of the container.


watering Mammy Croton or Codiaeum variegatum

With the onset of autumn, the plant is transferred from a north-facing window to a south-facing window sill. You also need to reduce watering, but still, the substrate in the pot should always be slightly damp. In the cold season, you also need to moisten the foliage from the sprayer and wipe it with a damp soft cloth or sponge, but the number of these procedures must be reduced. 

This plant does not need a shower in winter. Feeding at this time of year is carried out once every 4 weeks, but some experienced gardeners are confident that in winter Mammy Croton can do without it at all.

Reproduction methods

Growing Mammy Croton from seeds

transplant Mammy Croton

When growing Mammy Croton indoors, seeds are used to propagate it, but only if we are talking about hybrids. For sowing, it is necessary to use only freshly harvested seed; the fact is that it loses its viability very quickly. 

If you decide to use this method of propagating such a plant, then you must remember that the process of growing Mammy Croton from seeds is very long and that the grown plants, as a rule, will not be able to retain varietal characteristics.

The seeds of this flower are quite large. They need pre-sowing preparation; for this, they are kept in hot water (about 60 degrees) for 30 minutes and then left for 24 hours to swell. The seeds should be buried 10 mm into the substrate; after sowing, the container is removed to a warm place (about 22 degrees). 

Until the first seedlings appear, the substrate in the container should be moistened exclusively by bottom watering. After the third leaf plate has formed on the seedlings, they should be picked into individual pots up to 70 mm in diameter. Seedlings need to be cared for in the same way as adult bushes.

Mammy Croton Propagation by cuttings

This flower can also be propagated by cuttings. The apical cutting takes root most easily and quickly, the length of which should be from 60 to 100 mm. 

In the case when you need to get several cuttings at once, the shoot is divided into several parts, taking into account that each resulting cutting must have one healthy leaf plate, as well as at least one internode. 

Semi-lignified or woody cuttings produce roots most quickly. The cut areas must be washed with running water to remove the milky juice that is released from them, which is poisonous. After this, the cuttings are left for 3 hours in the open air, during which time the cut areas will have time to dry.

The leaf blades of the apical cuttings in its upper part should be shortened by half parallel to the veins, while all the foliage should be torn off from the lower part. The lower cut is treated with Kornevin, after which it is placed in a vessel with water, which should be heated all the time to 23–30 degrees (to prevent the development of rot). 

yellow Mammy Croton

Place the container with the cutting under bright, diffused light and wait until its roots grow. After the length of the regrown roots is 20 mm, the plant must be planted in a new pot filled with soil mixture for Mammy Croton. 

After planting the cuttings, during the first ten days, it is necessary to maintain high air humidity near the bush; for this purpose, the plant is frequently moistened with a spray bottle. When the cuttings are accepted, their leaf blades will restore turgor.

Mammy Croton Pests and Diseases


Nematodes, spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects can settle on Mammy Croton. However, most often it suffers from spider mites, and experts cannot say for sure why this happens and why this flower is so attractive to this pest. 

In some cases, having tried all the methods to combat mites and failed, the gardener decides to get rid of the diseased plant. However, do not forget that if you follow all the rules of care, then pests will not settle on your flower. The most common reasons for the appearance of mites on a plant are irregular watering, insufficiently high air humidity, as well as unsystematic wiping of leaf blades. 

Mammy Croton or Codiaeum variegatum pests

To get rid of mealybugs, spider mites, or scale insects, use a tobacco solution to which soap is added; it is used to wipe the above-ground parts of the bush. After 60–90 min. After treatment, the composition must be carefully washed off the plant, but it must not get into the soil mixture.

Possible problems

If you make mistakes in caring for Mammy Croton, various problems can arise, for example:

The leaves of the bush have fallen

Mammy Croton or Codiaeum variegatum disease

If the Mammy Croton’s leaf plates have drooped, this indicates that it cannot absorb moisture. This happens because the root system is in the cold. 

Such a bush must be moved to a well-lit and warm place; water it only after the top layer of the soil mixture has dried several centimeters deep; fertilizing should be stopped for a while. After the foliage is well moistened from the sprayer, you need to put a transparent cap or bag on the bush.

The bush is drying up 

If only the lower leaf plates of a flower dry out, then this is a completely natural process, as a result of which the lower part of the stem is exposed. If the air humidity is not high enough, then the tips of the leaves of Mammy Croton dry out; it should be taken into account that the optimal humidity level for it is about 70 percent. 

disease Mammy Croton

If brown spots form on the foliage and drying of its edges is observed, this means that the room is cold and the bush is freezing. Drying and flying of leaves is associated with excessively infrequent or scanty watering.

Flying leaves 

It was already mentioned above that the falling of leaf blades may be due to improper watering or excessively low air humidity. A bush can also shed its leaves if the room is very cold, it is exposed to a draft, or due to sudden temperature changes. 

flying leaves of Mammy Croton or Codiaeum variegatum

What to do if the bush begins to shed its leaves? Remember the rules for caring for such a plant understand where you made a mistake, and then try to correct it.

Types of Mammy Croton With Photos and Names

Variegated Mammy Croton is distinguished by the fact that it can change the color and shape of the foliage depending on the conditions in which it grows. Thanks to this, this particular species is most often used by breeders for their work, as a result of which a large number of hybrids, types, and varieties were born.

Croton motley

Variegatum – in the wild, it can be found in China and Pakistan. The height of the bush is about 3 m, it is decorated with brownish-green leaf blades with short petioles. This species has several forms that differ in the outline of the leaf blades: adventitious, lobed, flat-leaved, and decorated, thanks to which many varieties were born:

Mrs Eyeston

large Mammy Croton or Codiaeum variegatum

This large bush or tree is decorated with rich dark burgundy foliage with bright pink spots. There is a variety of golden foliage with almost black spots, and also a variety of pink and yellow tones.


In the wild, it grows up to 4 m in height. Such a highly branched bush is decorated with spectacular foliage, which can be lobed, oval, or pointed; it is painted dark green and has a rich yellow border and speckles and veins of the same shade.

Black Prince

The flat, broadly oval leaf blades have a greenish-black color and a large number of red, yellow, and orange spots.


Mammy Croton or Codiaeum variegatum indoor

The lobed foliage in the upper part is green with yellow veins, and in the lower part, it is brick-brown.


home growing of Mammy Croton or Codiaeum variegatum

The foliage has a shape similar to oak leaves, in the upper part it is greenish-yellow, and in the lower part, it is burgundy-red.