Caring for The Croton Mammy Plant (Codiaeum Mammy)
The Codiaeum Mammy, also known as Codiaeum variegatum in Latin, Croton Mammy, or if you like, Mammy Croton, is among the variants of the Croton plant and just like the rest, it is characterized by its colorful leaves which may twist and curl as they grow. Crotons are among some of the boldest houseplants because of their colorful foliage, characterized by their often bright yellow, orange, red, and even black leaves.
Being native to Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, and the Western Pacific Ocean Islands where it grows in open forests and scrubs, the Croton Mammy has over time morphed into a popular indoor and outdoor decorative shrub.
How Does The Radiant Croton Mammy Look Like?
The Codiaeum Mammy is an evergreen shrub growing to 3-8 feet tall and has large, thick, leathery, shiny evergreen leaves which are alternately arranged. Its leaves are broad, and depending on the variety, bright yellow, red, green, purple and brown colors. To add to its heavily veined colorful leaves, the Mammy Croton has tiny yellowish female flowers with no petals and white male flowers, which show off during Autumn.
How then, do you grow and care for the radiant Codiaeum Mammy?
Ultimate Guide For Planting the Codiaeum Mammy
The Croton Mammy, a perennial plant, thrives in a warm humid environment with temperatures ranging from 60-80℉.
Being a native of tropical climates, the Mammy Croton survives outdoors only if the temperatures do not drop below 50-60℉.
Exposure to extremely cold temperatures causes leaf loss. For colder climates, the Codiaeum Mammy is grown in greenhouses and indoors.
For a plant popularised by its multicolored leaves, the Codiaeum Mammy loves good lighting. However, this should not be mistaken for the need for it to be overexposed to the sun.
Mammy Croton leaves need bright but indirect light for them to properly show off their hues of color. Little or no light will turn the leaves green and dull while on the other end striking a good balance for the light exposure gives it an extremely different outcome.
For it to survive in a hot and dry environment, with exposure to harsh sun, the Croton Mammy can be cushioned against such extremes by placing it under a shade.
Soil & Fertilizer
Crotons can survive all types of soil but require a well-drained soil type. Codiaeum Mammy thrives in well-draining soils with the soil pH level ideally between 4.5-6.5 pH. Ph levels higher than this are highly discouraged, for instance in rock-soils, because they contain high levels of calcium. Ensure that your Mammy Croton grows with all the necessary nutrients by applying a quality granular fertilizer three times a year, in the soil at least once in spring, summer, and fall.
ALSO READ – 5 Best Potting Soil and How To Choose The Right Mix
For a plant that thrives in well-draining soils, it is important to grow the Croton Mammy in properly moist soil. This calls for regular but moderate watering, noting not to soak it in too much water, otherwise, you risk having wilted roots and leaves.
It is a commonly potted plant, so ensure that when watering your Croton Mammy, the water drains out of the pot as opposed to being held in the pot. So for the next round of watering, look out for the top inch of the soil and make sure it’s dry before watering your Mammy croton.
It is advisable to keep the leaves moist and in the state of their natural habitat by spraying the leaves of your Codiaeum Mammy plant, from time to time with calcium-free water.
How To Propagate Your Mammy Variety
The most common way to propagate your Croton Mammy is by cutting the stem and replanting it, but that’s not to mean you can’t try other methods such as propagation in water, or air layering.
Propagation by Stem Cuttings
The most standard way to grow the Codiaeum Mammy is from its stem cuttings. How do you do this?
- Cut a segment from a healthy stem with a minimum of three sets of leaves noting to remove the bottom leaves and maintaining an average of three to five leaves at the top.
- Place the cutting in a glass of water and set it in a warm, bright setting. Ensure that you change the water every couple of days for the best results. Within a couple of weeks, you should have roots cropping beneath the soil.
- Dip the end of the Croton Mammy cutting in a glass containing water or root hormone, and plant it in a soilless medium for instance coco coir or peat moss, sand, and vermiculite.
- Ensure that you cover your planted cutting with a humidity trapping cover, such as a plastic bag or a disposable plastic can, the roots should develop within a couple of weeks.
Similarly, you can place the properly trimmed Croton Mammy stems in a slightly perforated plastic can, with moist soil, and then cover it with a humidity trapping cover. After a few weeks, the roots will develop, which makes it more convenient for plant repotting.
Besides propagation by cuttings, you can use air layering to propagate the Codiaeum Mammy.
- Make a diagonal cut through one third to half of the diameter of a stem while it’s still attached to the main plant.
- Treat the resulting wound with some rooting hormone, and keep it open with a wooden matchstick or toothpick.
- Carefully place damp moss around the area, and wrap it in plastic wrap.
- Ensure to keep it moist – if the moss begins to turn tan in color, that is a sign for it to be remoistened. Over time, the wounded part will begin to form roots, once properly developed, unwrap the plastic wrap and trim the rest of it through the stem, and repot your new plant.
Propagation by Roots
One might wonder what to do with the old and mature Croton Mammy shrubs. This can be used to propagate new plants, by simply separating the Codiaeum variegatum at the root, and replanting a cutting, especially if the plant has outgrown its prior container.
This can be challenging because the Mammy Croton does not like to be moved around, as such both your original plant and the new cutting may suffer wilting and or leaf-loss.
Whichever method you use to propagate the Codiaeum Mammy cutting, the once the roots develop, repot the new plant into an appropriate, well-draining pot and position it strategically, to maximize on the light, humidity, and temperature for healthy growth.
Repotting Codiaeum Mammy
You have successfully propagated the Croton Mammy plant or even bought a grown one from a vendor, and would now like to place it in your preferred pot. So here’s the quick guide:
- Select a pot that is 1-3 inches bigger than the original pot so that your plant grows adequately and with no near need for repotting.
- Remember the Mammy Croton is sensitive to movement and as such, limit your need to re-pot it to once every 2 to 3 years and preferably, during spring. Your preferred pot or container should have a proper drainage hole(s) or in the event, it does not drill holes for drainage at the bottom.
- Put some soil at the bottom of the pot and let it settle. Then gently remove your Croton Mammy from its old pot or pack. If they are in a pack, gently separate the individual plants, by holding it at the base and carefully massaging the roots to detangle them. If the roots are completely entangled, you may have to use a potting knife gently to detangle.
- Make sure that there is enough soil at the bottom of the new pot before planting, it should be slightly over an inch of the pot’s top.
- Then, make a small hole in the soil slightly bigger than the root of the Mammy Croton and once settled in, cover the top with more soil.
- Thereafter, adequately water the newly potted Croton Mammy, so that the soil completely settles in.
Pruning Your Codiaeum Mammy Plant
Being a potted plant, the Codiaeum Mammy will require pruning from time to time for the general aesthetic and natural beauty.
You may also need to resize it if the growing pot is medium-sized a get nd rid of the dead leaves. Pruning will help tame the length of the roots because the plant is centrally placed in a pot and will equally encourage budding of new nodes and leaves.
Prune the dead leaves and branches to the main body of the plant. On the other hand, diseased branches ought to be cut off at least six inches outside of the sick or wounded part. While overgrown branches should also be cut back just above a leaf or node on the stem to maintain the plant’s shape.
Avoid cutting more than a third of a branch’s length off at any given time unless the part is dead or diseased, so you don’t stress the plant which allows it to form a new leaf growth before pruning it again.
How to take care of Codiaeum Mammy
Other than regularly ensuring that the Croton Mammy grows within its optimum soil, light, temperature, and water conditions and pruning, it cannot be classified as a high maintenance plant. Ensure to look out for and understand the following worrisome signs and how to remedy them accordingly;
Green Leaves: Croton Mammy is known for its range of colors, so this is a sign of a deficit of light exposure. Remedy this by placing your plant in a properly lit and partially shaded spot.
Burned Leaves: This is a sign that your Croton Mammy is extremely exposed to light and high temperatures and manifests itself by spotting grey leaves This can be rectified by relocating your potted plant or creating a proper partial shade.
Dull Leaves: Naturally the Codiaeum Mammy has thick shiny leaves, dull leaves can be easily remedied by ensuring that you from time to time moisturize your leaves by spraying calcium-free water or add a drop or two of neem oil to the water. You can equally wipe off the leaves using a damp paper towel from time to time. The neem oil not only gives a polished shine to the leaves but helps get rid of pests and insects.
Leaf Loss and Leaf Drop: As stated earlier Mammy Crotons are very sensitive to excess water and movement. Should you choose to have one as an indoor plant, strategically choose a spot for your pot that will not require excess movement, otherwise, your plant will experience leaf drop. Similarly, too much water will cause the leaves to wilt.
Dealing With Pests
Like any other plant, the Codiaeum Mammy is susceptible to attracting pests and insects. House Crotons highly attract spider mites which cause their leaves to turn yellow. They can easily be rid of using neem oil or other available pesticides.
Occasionally, mealy bugs may infest your Croton Mammy in small or large colonies depending on the severity, home remedies like dubbing an alcohol-infused cotton bud on the affected areas will help rid the smaller colonies, but if the infestation is severe, you can use available pesticides.
Although commonly used for indoor and outdoor ornaments, the Codiaeum Mammy has a very highly toxic plant sap. Consequently, its leaves, backs, stems, and roots are poisonous and kids and pets should be prevented from ingesting them. Its milky sap causes skin irritation and one should wear disposable gloves whenever planting or even pruning this beautiful plant.
Final Thoughts: Landscaping and Ornamental use of the Codiaeum Mammy
Not only is the Croton Mammy beautiful but it is quite a versatile plant. Its multi-colored foliage gives it a beautiful edge when used as a hedge or even as a stand-alone shrub in the outdoors. Not to mention how its brilliant eye-catching colors light up rooms and bringing a tropical and transformative edge to the indoors.