How to Grow and Care for Codiaeum variegatum ‘Oakleaf’

Codiaeum variegatum 'Oakleaf'

The Codiaeum variegatum ‘Oakleaf’ (or oakleaf croton) is a tree-like plant that is noted for its oak shaped leaves with red and green colors. These thick and leathery leaves can grow yellow, green, orange, or red. This plant is a beautiful and unique variation of the normal croton plant and is commonly known as the oakleaf croton. It even grows both male and female flowers on the same plant. The oakleaf croton will make a fantastic addition to your indoor garden collection and when taken care of correctly it will grow up to 60 inches (1,5 meters) tall. Here’s a full Codiaeum variegatum ‘Oakleaf’ care guide, including how to water the plant, best soil to use, where to plant it, and how to propagate it.

Codiaeum variegatum 'Oakleaf' pinterest


  • Light: Bright indirect sunlight
  • Water: Water regularly, soil should be moist at all times but not soaked
  • Soil: Well draining potting soil
  • Size: The plant grows up to 24″ (0.6 m) tall
  • Size: The plant grows up to 20″ (0.5 m) wide
  • Zone: 10b (minimum 35 °F | 1.7 °C)
  • Cold hardy: Not cold hardy
  • Propagation: by stem cuttings and air layering
  • Toxicity: Toxic to humans and pets

General Care for Codiaeum variegatum ‘Oakleaf’ (Oakleaf Croton)

The oakleaf croton is a great plant that is easy to care for. With a little bit of love and the right amount of water and light, this plant will reward you with big and colorful leaves.


With the Codiaeum variegatum, you want to make sure that the soil is always a little bit moist, not soaked. Best is to check the soil twice a week and stick your finger 1″ (2,5 cm) deep into the soil to feel if it’s dry or moist. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to give the plant some water.

As a rule of thumb, you want to water the oakleaf croton once a week. It’s better to give small amounts of water more often than a lot of water at once.

Where to Plant

The oakleaf croton is not cold hardy, so if you live in a zone that gets colder than 30 °F (-1.1), it’s best to place this plant in a container that can be brought indoors as the temperatures go down in the winter months.

Plant in an area that gets a lot of bright light, but avoid direct sunlight.

Codiaeum variegatum 'Oakleaf' leaf

How to Propagate Codiaeum variegatum ‘Oakleaf’ (Oakleaf Croton)

Propagating Codiaeum variegatum ‘Oakleaf’ can easily be done by stem cuttings or air layering. It can also be done by seeds but this is unstable and the offspring won’t resemble the mother plant.

Stem cutting

If the oakleaf croton is big enough, you can use stem cutting to propagate it. First, you want to pick a healthy stem and cut it 6 inches (15cm) from the top, while making sure you have at least 3 sets of leaves on the cut.

Then trim the piece of stem you just cut off. Remove the bottom set of leaves, this will create a wound, from which new roots will grow. Next, dip the stem in rooting hormone if you want and put the stem with the cut pointing downwards in a pot with moist light well-draining potting soil.

Lastly, you want to put a zip bag over the pot with the cutting and provide a moist environment for the plant to grow in (mini-greenhouse). Place the pot in a place where it receives bright indirect sunlight.

After a month you can remove the zip bag and enjoy your new plant!

Air layering

This is the more challenging way to propagate the Codiaeum variegatum, but it’s possible! First, you want to pick a healthy stem again and make a 1″ (2,5 cm) diagonal cut in the middle of the stem. A wound is created in which you want to stick a toothpick or a matchstick. This way the wound is open at all times.

Next, take some damp sphagnum moss and pack it around the wound with a plastic bag and some rubber bands. Keep the sphagnum moss damp and place the plant in a spot where it gets lots of bright indirect sunlight. When the stem grows roots, you can cut the stem and plant it in lightweight potting soil (with perlite, sand, and peat moss).