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GRAPTOPHYLLUM pictum

Image of Graptophyllum pictum

James Burghardt

Family

Acanthaceae

Botanical Name

GRAPTOPHYLLUM pictum

Plant Common Name

Caricature Plant, Jamaican Croton

General Description

Named for its artful look and mottled, variegated leaves, caricature plant is a lush, colorful tropical shrub. This tender evergreen it is believed to have originated from New Guinea but has become naturalized throughout Southeast Asia and parts of Oceania. It grows best in areas with ample warmth and tropical humidity but is otherwise very easy to grow.

The satiny leaves are thin and dark green with irregular variegated markings of white and yellow along the central vein. The stems are usually reddish and contrast nicely with the leaves. In late spring to summer each branch tip bears a flowerspike with small reddish purple flowers. The fruit is an inconspicuous capsule.

For best growth, grow caricature plant in partial sun and fertile, moist, well-drained soil. It is moderately drought tolerant but will quickly wilt during dry periods if it’s not well established or it’s planted in sandy soil. Pinch the branch tips back to promote fuller branching and a bushier plant. Where hardy, this is an alluring shrub for the mixed border, building foundations, hedgerows or patio containers. In colder climates, it can be grown in a sunroom or well-lit conservatory and brought outdoors in summer.

Cultivars are most enjoyed by gardeners, each having their own unique and intriguing foliage color combinations. Two exceptional selections are 'Tricolor', which has leaves of purple-green, light yellow and rose and the warm colored 'Chocolate', which is revered for its burgundy-bronze leaves with pink and cream.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H2, 24

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    5'-8' / 1.5m - 2.4m

  • Width

    3'-5' / 0.9m - 1.5m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Spring, Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    Southeastern Asia, Melanesia, Australia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Purple, Crimson, Dark Red

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    White, Green, Dark Green, Light Yellow

  • Foliage Color (Spring) Modifier

    Variegated, Spotted/Mottled

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    White, Dark Green, Light Yellow

  • Foliage Color (Summer) Modifier

    Variegated, Spotted/Mottled

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green, Light Yellow

  • Foliage Color (Fall) Modifier

    Variegated, Spotted/Mottled

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    White, Yellow, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter) Modifier

    Variegated, SpottedMottled

  • Bark Color

    Tan

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    No