As a tropical plant with distinctive fleshy leaves, the Croton Mammy or Codiaeum Mammy is a small-growing perennial that in USDA hardiness zones behaves as an annual.
The plant is recognizable after its colorful and unusually shaped leaves that grow in a twisted, curling or corkscrew pattern.
The coloration of the leaves is determined by the level of sun exposure, featuring shades of red, orange, pink and yellow.
As you will learn from my care recommendations below, the Croton Mammy isn’t difficult to grow if you understand the needs of tropical plants.
Size & Growth
The plant grows wider than taller, reaching a height of around 42 inches, but spreads to around 3 to 6 feet. In its natural habitat the plant can grow taller.
It’s a slow growing plant that will not grow more than 10-12 inches per season, so don’t expect an impressive growth, especially when it comes to plants grown indoors.
The amount of light the plant receives will determine the colors of the croton mammy. More abundant light will cause more intense colors of the leaves changing them to a red orange shade.
The plant does well in full sun to partial shade. Sun scorching can happen if the plant is exposed to very strong direct light for most of the day during excessive heat.
Indoors, a southern or western exposure is preferable. The plant will grow in bright indirect light as well, but the leaves will not be as colorful.
If you’re moving an indoor Croton Mammy outdoors, make sure to acclimate the plant first to light conditions outdoors to avoid burnt leaves.
Slightly moist soil is what this tropical plant enjoys the best. However, the soil should not be allowed to become constantly wet or soggy.
To avoid overwatering this plant you must focus on allowing the soil to slightly dry, without drying it completely, but also use a potting mix that drains very fast.
You also need to adjust the watering schedule depending on changes in humidity levels or seasonal changes.
You’ll need to water the Croton mammy in low humidity environments more often, while in colder seasons you need to cut back on watering.
Poke a finger into the potting mix before you water the plant, so assess moisture levels and see if you need to hold off on watering.
A good thing about the Croton Mammy is that it’s not fussy about the soil’s pH level. It will happily grow in acidic, neutral or alkaline soil all the same.
What you do need to watch out for is how well the soil drains. A soil that locks in too much moisture will eventually cause rotting around the roots, while a soil that drains fast and retains a bit of moisture is exactly what this plant needs.
Potting mixes that contain perlite, sphagnum peat moss, coconut coir, compost and or other well draining formulations will be suitable for the Croton Mammy as well.
Temperature & Humidity
The croton’s temperature range is most comfortable with between 55 F and 80 F. Grown in temperatures outside this range, the plant will either suffer from exposure to too much cold or excessive heat.
Temperature is usually not an issue indoors, because the average temperatures we enjoy indoors will work for the croton too.
But there are other challenges indoors such as cold drafts, excessive heat given off by radiators or heating vents. So, make sure to avoid placing your plant close to appliances that give off heat or cold.
While the plant enjoys high humidity, average humidity levels will work fine. If the air is dry in your home, there are a few things you can try like placing the pot on a tray of pebbles with water or simply getting a humidifier for the room where you keep your Croton Mammy.
Occasional fertilizing can be beneficial to this tropical plant, helping it grow healthier and larger leaves.
Feed the plant with a good quality liquid or granular fertilizer (go for organic formulations) in spring, summer and fall, and withhold any feeding during the winter.
Potting & Repotting
Repot whenever the plant grows too big for its pot, but don’t oversize the pot. Pick only a size bigger.
When pots are oversized, the plant tends to grow roots much faster, but not leaves, and you want things to be the other way around.
Repotting can also become necessary when the roots become crammed or simply as a way to refresh the soil of the plant a bit.
Because you’re dealing with a slow-growing plant, repotting is not something you will need to do every year.
How to Propagate?
The most straightforward way to propagate the Croton Mammy is by harvesting stem cuttings and rooting them in water or soil.
Cutting should be at least 6 inches long and should have a couple of leaves left on the stem. Bottom leaves should be removed, and the cut end of the stem can be dabbed in a bit of rooting hormone.
If you want to root in potting mix, use a well draining mix and keep it moist. Move the cutting in a warm and humid location.
If you’re rooting in water, make sure that no leaves touch the water and that you replace the water often. Keep the rooting jar out of direct sunlight.
Regardless of the rooting method, roots should start to form in about 4 weeks. When roots are about an inch long, you can transplant the cutting to a new pot.
The Croton Mammy is a unique looking foliage plant that doesn’t need constant care or attention. Its requirements are simple and straightforward — warmth, light, moderate watering, and occasional feeding.
If you can manage to find a good watering balance, your Croton Mammy will reward you with twisting, curling foliage in a splendor of colors.
Avoid full shade, extreme temperatures and provide adequate humidity levels. If you can successfully grow other tropical plants, the Croton Mammy will not be a challenge to you.