Graptophyllum–commonly called caricature plant–is an erect evergreen tropical shrub commonly grown as a foliage houseplant in temperate regions. It grows to several feet tall in its native habitat Australasia and Southwest Pacific. Only one species is grown as a houseplant.
Graptophyllum has glossy green leaves spotted, mottle, or banded with various colors, often yellow. Indoors it is best grown in full light or bright filtered light. In warm-winter regions, Graptophyllum can be planted to brighten shady borders outdoors.
Graptophyllum is a genus of 10 species of evergreen shrubs. Only Graptophyllum pictum is grown as a houseplant.
Get to Know Graptophyllum
- Plant type: Evergreen shrub
- Growing zones and range: Zones 13-15
- Hardiness: Tender
- Growing temperature: Where temperatures fall below 55°F (13°C) grow in a warm greenhouse or as a housplant.
- Height and width: 3 to 6 feet (1-2m) tall and 24 to 36 inches (60-90cm) wide
- Flowers: Crimson to purple tubular 2-lipped flowers in raemes or panicles at the end of shoots.
- Bloom time: Summer
- Uses: Houseplant, tropical shrub
- Common name: Caricature plant
- Botanical name: Graptophyllum
- Family name: Acanthaceae
- Origin: Australasia and Southwest Pacific
Where to Plant Graptophyllum
- Light: Semi-shade outdoors; bright light indoors,
- Soil: Fertile, moist but well-drained soil outdoors; peat-based soilless mix indoors.
When to Plant Graptophyllum
- Set Graptophyllum outdoors any time of the year in tropical and subtropical regions.
Planting and Spacing Graptophyllum
- Space Graptophyllum 24 to 36 inches (60-90cm) apart.
How to Water and Feed Graptophyllum
- Water: Graptophyllum wants an evenly moist potting medium.
- Feeding: Fertilize Graptophyllum once a month during spring and summer.
- Water Graptophyllum sparingly in winter.
Growing Graptophyllum as a Houseplant
- Give Graptophyllum bright light, high humidity, a warm temperature, and evenly moist potting soil.
- Fertilize Graptophyllum once a month during spring and summer.
Graptophyllum Pests and Diseases
- Graptophyllum is vulnerable to mealybugs and spider mites.
- Propagate Graptophyllum from stem cuttings and repot in a peat-based soilless mix.
Graptophyllum Varieties to Grow
- Graptophyllum pictum, caricature plant. Grows to 3 to 6 feet tall outdoors, indoors to about 30 inches tall; glossy green leaves variegated with yellow are oval, pointed at the ends and grow to 6 inches long. Cultivar ‘Tricolor’ has oval, purplish green leaves, mottled yellow and rose-pink with red talks and midribs.