‘Picasso’s Paintbrush’ croton

Story and Photos by Kenny Coogan

‘Picasso’s Paintbrush’ croton is a slow-growing plant that is relatively new on the scene. It was a huge focal point at a recent plant show I attended, with many people walking out the gate with them. Small 4-inch plants were selling for around $10, while taller plants in 1-gallon plants were selling for $45. You know a plant is hot when people will spend that much on a 1-gallon plant!

This cultivar has long, very narrow leaves that resemble paintbrushes dipped in various colors of paint – colors and hues including green, orange, yellow, red, and even purple can be found on older growth.

As other crotons, ‘Picasso’s Paintbrush’ does best in well-drained soil, full sun to partial sun, and hot and humid areas. In areas with low light it will lose its color. Crotons, members of the Euphorbiaceae family, do exude a milky sap that can irritate some people’s skin and should be handled carefully. 

‘Picasso’s Paintbrush’ is frequently grown as a houseplant in areas where it is not hardy. They make excellent accent plants as well as added to mixed shrub plantings. They look their best if planted where they will not require much, if any, pruning. This plant is dense and compact when young and becomes more rounded and leggy as it matures. 

Happy painting! 

Quick Facts and Keys to Success
Common Name: ‘Picasso’s Paintbrush’ croton
Botanical Name: Codiaeum variegatum ‘Picasso’s Paintbrush’
USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 9-11
Foliage: Variegated, striped/striated, spotted/mottled, almost a corkscrew appearance
Foliage Color: Combinations and hues of yellow, orange, green, gold, pink, red, copper, bronze 
Growth Rate: Slow
Habit: Oval/rounded
Height: 12-48 inches
Width: 1-5 feet
Seasonal Interest: Year round
Soil Type: Well drained, loam, sand
Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun
In the Landscape: Containers, edging, specimen plant, ground cover, houseplant, mixed borders.

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