Caricature plants (Graptophyllum pictum) are evergreen perennials in the acanthus family (Acanthaceae). Their growth rate is moderate and they can reach a size of 6 to 9 feet tall when planted outdoors. When grown indoors or in planters, they typically grow 2 to 4 feet tall and wide.
The origin of Graptophyllum pictum is New Guinea. The Graptophyllum pictum common name refers to the creamy white leaf variegation along the midrib. It is said to sometimes resemble a caricature of the profile of a face.
In this article we will tell you all about how to grow and care for Graptophyllum pictum. We will also go over the varieties such as Graptophyllum pictum red and Graptophyllum pictum purple. Finally, we’ll cover some of the caricature plant’s uses.
Caricature Plant Care
Caricature plants are low-maintenance and easy to care for. The most important factors for growing a healthy plant are moisture and lighting.
These plants don’t have any major insect or disease issues. While you don’t have to fertilize them, they grow better when fertilized during the active growing season.
You should plant Graptophyllum pictum in a well-draining soil that has plenty of organic material. The ideal pH range is slightly acidic to neutral (6.1 to 7.0).
Caricature plants do not tolerate drought conditions. They require moderate amounts of water.
Make sure plants get about an inch of water per week when planted outdoors. Indoors, they should be watered whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry.
Graptophyllum pictum can be grown in full sun to partial shade. They grow best in bright indirect sunlight settings.
While caricature plants can be grown in low light conditions, the foliage won’t be as vibrant. For the best looking foliage make sure they receive plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.
Humidity & Temperature
The ideal temperature range for Graptophyllum pictum is 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
They grow well in normal indoor humidity ranges from 40 to 60 percent. However, they will tolerate higher humidity without any negative effects.
For optimal growth, fertilize caricature plants regularly in spring and summer. Use a diluted, liquid houseplant fertilizer with a balanced NPK ratio.
You can fertilize this plant every 1 to 2 months during the growing season.
Graptophyllum pictum propagation works best with stem cuttings. Using a sharp pair of sterile pruners, cut off a section of stem that has at least 4 to 6 leaves.
Remove 2 to 3 leaves on the cut end of your stem cutting to give you a leaf free section of stem that’s 2 to 3 inches long. You can then plant the cutting in fresh soil and water it thoroughly.
Make sure to keep the soil moist for 6 to 8 weeks while to ensure the roots are established. You can then start watering your new caricature plant normally.
Diseases & Pests
Caricature plants do not have any serious insect pests or disease issues. Like other indoor plants, it can become infested with scales, whiteflies, and spider mites.
To avoid insect pest issues, make sure you check any new plants you bring into the home for existing infestations. It’s best to quarantine new plants in a separate room for 2 to 4 weeks, keeping them away from other plants.
After 2 to 4 weeks, check for any signs of insects before moving them to areas with other plants.
Caricature plants are not toxic to humans or pets. It is safe to grow indoors around children, dogs, and cats.
Graptophyllum pictum can be grown outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 11.
Caricature Plant Flower
Graptophyllum pictum flowers are showy and burgundy to purplish in color. They emerge in clusters that are 2 to 4 inches long. Each flower is tubular in shape and 1 to 2 inches long.
Flowers emerge in summer when plants are grown outdoors. Plants grown in containers or indoors may not produce flowers.
Tricolor Caricature Plant
Graptophyllum pictum ‘Tricolor’ is the most colorful variety of caricature plant. It is also called Graptophyllum pictum ‘Waimea’.
The tricolor caricature plant’s foliage has a mixture of pink and cream colored variegation along the midrib. The margins are a deep green color that sometimes has a hint of purple.
Caricature Plant Varieties
Tricolor caricature plants aren’t the only variety available. There are several types of Graptophyllum pictum with different foliage colors. Below are three other varieties of caricature plant you can purchase and a brief description of each.
Graptophyllum pictum ‘Eldorado’: This variety has green variegation along the midrib of the leaf. The leaf margins are a bright, golden yellow color.
Graptophyllum pictum ‘Igneum’: Foliage has variegation along the mid-rib that is light to dark pink with hints of creamy white. The leaf margins are a medium green color.
Graptophyllum pictum ‘Lurido-sanguineum’: The leaves of this variety typically lack any variegation. The leaves are a dark greenish-purple color. Due to the foliage color, it is sometimes sold as Graptophyllum pictum ‘Red’ or ‘Purple’.
Graptophyllum pictum Uses
Caricature plants can be used as indoor houseplants or outdoor shrubs if you live in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 or 11. They have also been used medicinally for centuries.
It was historically thought to increase fertility. It has been used to treat wounds, swelling, abscesses, scabies, and ulcers. Caricature plants were also thought to help with conditions like arthritis, digestive issues, urinary tract infections, ear disease, and enlarged livers.
Researchers have now confirmed that Graptophyllum pictum has anti-inflammatory and anti-plaque agents. Recent studies have also confirmed that caricature plants have antidiabetic properties.
 Singh, P., Khosa, R. L., Mishra, G., & Jha, K. K. (2015). Pharmacognostical evaluation of aerial parts of Graptophyllum pictum (L.) Griff.(Syn: Justicia picta Linn.): A well-known folklore medicinal plant. Ancient Science of Life, 34(4), 223.