Codiaeum variegatum 'Tamara' is an award-winning cultivar of the croton plant. This plant is highly desirable for its striking foliage and extreme hardiness. Tolerant of a wide variety of growing conditions, croton tamara won the Floraholland award for the most promising new houseplant of 2009. This tropical plant is an excellent addition to any indoor location or tropical landscape.
Crotons are native to Malaysia, India and other parts of the southeast Asia, according to the University of Florida. They have been used in tropical outdoor landscaping for centuries. In the 1900s, they became popular as indoor plants, and florists started using their leaves, which are often very colorful, in flower arrangements. Tamara is a man-made hybrid of Codiaeum variegatum and several other crotons that was introduced in 2009.
Croton tamara has long, narrow leaves that end in a point. The leaves have wavy edges and are variegated in shades of cream, light green and dark green. The plant has a sturdy branching habit, creating a pleasing, full shape rather than the leggy appearance that tends to plague some tropical foliage plants. This variety of croton reaches a maximum height of over 4 feet when planted in tropical climates outdoors. As in indoor potted plant, it remains much smaller.
Croton tamara should be planted outdoors only in USDA growing zones 9B through 11. The plant will remain evergreen year-round in these tropical and subtropical areas. Tamara can be planted in full sunlight or partial shade, in any type of native soil that is well-draining. Crotons in general are very drought-tolerant, according to the University of Florida, and this one is no exception. One inch of water per week will allow this plant to fully thrive.
Grow croton tamara in a container that has drainage holes and contains a mixture of peat moss and sand (three parts peat moss to one part sand). This "soil-less" mixture will drain much better than commercial potting soils. It is important to place the indoor croton plant in a location where it will receive as much sun exposure as possible, according to Texas A&M University. Mist the plant daily to provide humidity, but water it only when the top few inches of the planting medium are dry to the touch. Water until the container drains freely. Empty the water catch-tray after the plant has drained for 30 minutes. Keep the plant in a location where it will be uniformly warm, but not too hot or cold.
This croton variety is very hardy, and croton plants in general are usually free of serious pests and diseases, according to the University of Florida. Still, these plants can be affected by common minor insect pests such as mealybugs, scales, and mites. Rinse these insects off the plant with a strong stream of water. This will also serve to wash the dust off the leaves of the croton, which will in turn improve the appearance of the plant.