Picture-perfect Picasso’s paintbrush

Just, a really neato croton. 

Paint me like one of your… Spanish girls? Oceanic girls?

  • Binomial name: Codiaeum variegatum ‘Picasso’s paintbrush’
  • Given name: Rahikainen
  • Native to: Oceania, in open forests and scrub
  • Bought: June 23, 2021 at House of Plants
  • Original pot (current): 4 inch plastic

Field notes — June 25, 2021

  • Soil: 2 (dry)
  • Signs of pests: two tiny snails. Removed. Ran pointy cotton swab dipped in chlorhexidine (because both were nearby for dog paw care) around lip of pot in case of eggs.

Field notes — July 8, 2021

  • Signs of pests:
    • I saw a couple little white crawlers and a couple thin web lines. Treated for spider mites with Safer’s insecticidal soap. Haven’t seen any since, but will treat again 10 days from first treatment.
    • Saw a couple bumps that might be scale. Stabbed with alcohol.
    • Moved plant to isolation in living room window.
  • Signs of care issues: leaves dropping every now and then, perhaps due to acclimation process to my house.

Field notes — July 16, 2021

  • Signs of pests: none, but will re-treat July 18 for spider mites.
  • Signs of care issues: several leaves now dropping each day, perhaps due to proximity of vent, lack of humidity, or underwatering
    • Moved plant to dining room window, where vent is blocked and humidity is increased. Trying to maintain some isolation from nearby oxalis plants by 2 feet of distance. I hope it’s enough.

Research notes


  • Light: direct sun (brighter foliage); 5 hours or more
  • Humidity: 60%
  • Temperature: 15 to 27 degrees Celsius; avoid drafts


  • Preference: slightly moist, but underwatering is better

Soil, fertilization, and pots

  • Soil type: well-draining potting mix with sand, such as a mix of peat moss, perlite, and sand
  • Fertilization: every 4 weeks, half-strength liquid fertilizer
  • Repotting:
    • When rootbound, in spring or summer
    • Go up 1 or 2 inches in pot size with drainahe
    • If roots are in a tight ball, score with tip of knife
    • Don’t pack in soil too tightly to prevent airflow
    • Water after


  • Grow style: fast
  • Mature size: 3 to 5 feet wide shrubs in 2 to 3 years; mature height up to 6 feet; mature width up to 5 feet
  • Common problems:
    • Spider mites (clean leaves regularly during warm weather)
  • Pruning: as desired

Research sources: Garden Goods Direct, Planterina, SFGATE, Wikipedia