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How to Grow Graptophyllum

Graptophyllum pictum
Caricature plant, Graptophyllum pictum

 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
Caricature plan, Graptophyllum pictum 'Tricolor'
Caricature plan, Graptophyllum pictum ‘Tricolor’

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. 

Graptophyllum Care  

  • 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. 

Graptophyllum Propagation  

  • 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.

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