Skip to Content

25 Incredible and Easy Plant Care Tips for Graptophyllum Pictum

25 Incredible and Easy Plant Care Tips for Graptophyllum Pictum

Let's grow together!

Graptophyllum Pictum is quite popular among plant collectors because of its distinctive appearance and feel. It’s a tropical and easy-to-care-for houseplant.

This guide will provide tips and tricks for keeping your Graptophyllum Pictum healthy and happy. Are you looking to bring one home? Continue reading to find out where you can get this plant!

What Is Graptophyllum Pictum?

The Graptophyllum Pictum is also known by its botanical name, Caricature Plant. It’s also a synonym for Justicia Picta. It sometimes goes by the name Joseph’s Coat; however, very few use it. Whatever common name you choose, this perennial remains well-known for its vibrant and variegated foliage. This tropical plant from the Acanthaceae family has chocolate-purple foliage with creamy pink oblong-shaped ones.

This plant is used in Southeast Asia and India for cuts and specific skin issues. An infusion from this plant is taken as a remedy for constipation while the sap is dripped into the ear for earache.

While the rest of this article focuses on indoor growth, this Graptophyllum can be grown outdoors in hardiness zones 10-11.

Origin And Family

The Caricature Plant belongs to the Graptophyllum genus in the Acanthaceae family. It comes from the forests of New Guinea. This plant has become known in recent years, thriving in most households with moderate humidity.

William Griffith reclassified the Caricature Plant in 1854. It produces small pink, purple, maroon, or reddish-brown flowers during summer.

Where To Buy

Graptophyllum Pictum is available at a nursery or a big box home improvement store in your area. It’s usually better to buy one on Etsy, though, where you’ll find more reasonable prices (plus, they have the best packaging!). Etsy also allows us to buy straight from plant lovers who grow this variety in their homes.

The Graptophyllum Pictum’s reasonably affordable price range is from $20 for smaller plants to $30 for larger varieties. I must warn you, though, that this plant is in high demand and is in short supply these days.

Graptophyllum Pictum Plant Size

On average, the Graptophyllum Pictum grows up to 2-3 feet tall and 2-3 feet in indoor spaces. It usually grows at a fast pace, especially when it’s positioned near a south-facing window or west and east window.

Graptophyllum Pictum Care Needs

Though Graptophyllum Pictum is not a complex plant to care for, growing it to its maximum requires certain conditions. The Graptophyllum Pictum, with its vibrant and variegated foliage, loves humidity and needs relatively moist soil to thrive.

Water your Graptophyllum when the top inch of the soil is dry. To properly hydrate the soil, make sure your pot has good drainage. Do not be afraid to drench the soil during watering schedules thoroughly. As for the light requirements, this versatile plant can tolerate full sun to partial shade.

Learn about your plant’s more specific and in-depth care needs below!

Care Difficulty

The Justicia Picta is considered easy to care for because of its light, water, and humidity requirements. To grow this plant properly, you must be precise about the amount of light and well-drained soil.

Growth Rate

When grown indoors, the Joseph’s Coat plant grows to 2-3 feet. It develops the fastest during early spring and summer.

Most Graptophyllum species, including the Pictum, have a fast-growing speed.

Potting

This potted plant wants good drainage and can look good in various pot sizes. A large-sized plastic, terracotta, or clay pot works fine.

Drainage holes are a must for Caricature Plant because it needs to be watered when the top inch of the soil is dry.

Repotting

Graptophyllum Pictum typically needs to be repotted once a year or when you see its roots pushing out of drainage holes. When this happens, carefully remove the plant from its pot but be careful not to disrupt the leading root ball. You can then transfer the plant into a larger pot. Use the same substrate on the new plants’ pot so it can adapt quicker.

Soil

The Justicia Picta is an easy-to-care-for plant that needs standard commercial potting soil to stay healthy. If you plan to prepare your soil mix, we recommend adding peat, perlite or sand, turf soil, or humus.

Your Graptophyllum will appreciate the soil being kept relatively moist at all times. Nonetheless, drainage and aeration are essential requirements for all soil types.

Here are some potting mixes we recommend:

Photo Title Price Buy
Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting...image Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt., Grows beautiful Houseplants, 2-Pack $12.96
Burpee, 9 Quarts...image Burpee, 9 Quarts | Premium Organic Potting Natural Soil Mix Food Ideal for Container Garden-Vegetable, Flower & Herb Use for Indoor Outdoor Plant $12.99
Sun Gro Horticulture...image Sun Gro Horticulture Black Gold 1310102 8-Quart All Purpose Potting Soil With Control, Brown/A $18.06
Miracle-Gro Potting Mix Miracle-Gro Potting Mix $16.99
FoxFarm Ocean Forest...image FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants | Plant Fertilizer | 12 Quart + THCity Stake $19.99

pH

You’ll need a soil pH of roughly 6.5-7.5, which is slightly alkaline to slightly acidic, for Joseph’s Coat. If you are concerned about acidity in your soil, you may test it with a simple pH testing equipment that is available online.

If you suspect that the pH is too high, you can reduce it by adding sulfur or aluminum sulfate.

Meanwhile, if your soil’s pH is too low, you may add baking soda, calcitic or dolomitic lime, or wood ash.

Water

Proper watering is essential for Caricature Plant. Overwatering heightens the risk of illnesses such as root rot. Watering too little might cause your plant’s roots to dry out, especially on hot days. In general, Caricature Plant should have a growing medium that is relatively moist.

There is a simple method to confirm if your plant needs to be watered. Pierce a wooden skewer or a pencil into the container to inspect whether any moist, muddy dirt stays. Alternatively, you may feel with your finger for dampness. When the top inch of soil has dried, it’s time to water your plant.

The survival of your new plant depends heavily on a porous pot with drainage holes and an aerated, chunky soil mix to help eliminate excess moisture.

Light

The light condition for this versatile plant differ. It can tolerate full sun to partial shade for 6-8 hours daily. In most cases, depending on the season, you can place this plant in front of a sunny window, near a brightly lit area, and south, west, or east window.

You’ll notice your Graptophyllum Pictum produces more rich and darker-colored foliage when exposed to bright light, which is not a terrible thing for this beauty. It doesn’t necessarily mean that this tropical plant needs more light when you get denser leaf growth.

Fertilizer

A slow-release fertilizer is ideal for the Graptophyllum varieties.Covington Plant Food & Fertilizer Liquid Concentrate , for example, would work. Other cheaper fertilizers contain heavy salts, so we recommend getting one from our trusted affiliates. In spring and summer, feed your plant every three months.

In the winter months, growth naturally slows down, so you don’t need to fertilize.

Avoid supplying fertilizers to your Caricature Plant, as it may severely damage or even kill it.

Propagating Graptophyllum Pictum

There are different ways to propagate a Graptophyllum Pictum. Follow the instructions outlined below for each approach to increase your chances of success.

Stem Cuttings In Soil

Cutting and planting is the most efficient way to propagate a Caricature Plant. Seeds are sometimes available but might be challenging to find and start. Spring is the best time to reproduce your plant.

1. Cut. Find a healthy stem section with new growth and at least one node. Cut this section using clean gardening shears.

2. Plant. Directly plant the cutting into sterile soil.

3. Maintain. Maintain moist soil and keep the air temperature to approximately 70°F.

4. Cover. Enclose your plant in a plastic bag to confine humidity and encourage faster rooting.

5. Rotate. For leveled growth on all sides, rotate the pot now and then and place it in its ideal location. Given plenty of time to grow, you’ll soon see a new Graptophyllum sprout.

Stem Cuttings In Water

A Justicia Picta can be propagated in water with six simple steps.

1. Cut. Cut a section from the stem with new growth and at least one node.

2. Submerge. You can place the cutting in a transparent container or a glass of water to monitor root growth.

3. Maintain. Next is to store the cutting in a bright, shaded area with good airflow.

4. Refill. Replace the water every 3-5 days to avoid bacterial infection.

5. Transplant. After two weeks, check for progress; then plant the cutting into a sterile potting mix if the roots are about an inch or longer.

6. Wait. Your new plant may look wilted at first, but this is normal because the roots need to adjust to the soil. At this point, avoid applying fertilizer or any treatments until your plant has gotten the chance to stabilize. A new foliage growth will soon follow.

Humidity And Aeration

This Graptophyllum is an exciting plant that prefers moderate humidity.

If your Graptophyllum Pictum has curling or crispy leaves with brown edges, you might need to get a humidifier. This device is designed to continuously emit steam and considerably increase the humidity in a room.

Temperature

Like most Graptophyllum plants, your Joseph’s Coat will do best in a cool-to-temperate location. Keep the temperature between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Houseplants can be sensitive to extreme temperatures, so ensure you keep your Joseph’s Coat away from heat sources such as vents, hand dryers, furnaces, and other appliances. In the same way, don’t expose your plant to chilly drafts and frost spells during the winter, as it may suffer cold damage.

Flowers

If you’re lucky, you might be able to witness your Caricature Plant blooming with a little pink, purple, maroon, or reddish-brown terminal clusters of flowers during the summer months. However, this doesn’t typically happen in an indoor growing location.

Non-Toxic

The Justicia Picta is not hazardous to children or pets. According to the ASPCA, it will not harm dogs or cats if swallowed since the plant does not contain hazardous substances.

Toxic To Pets? Care Specifics
Botanical Name Graptophyllum Pictum
Common Name Caricature Plant, Justicia Picta, Joseph’s Coat
Plant Family Acanthaceae
Origin New Guinea
Plant Type perennial
Leaf Shape oblong
Leaf Color chocolate-purple leaves with creamy pink center
Recommended Home Placement near a south-facing window or west and east window
Growth Rate fast
Light full sun to partial shade
Soil standard commercial potting soil
When To Water Water when the top inch of the soil is dry.
When To Fertilize every three months during growing season
Preferred pH 6.5-7.5
Humidity Range ?MISSING?
Toxic To Pets? No
Common Pests & Diseases spider mites, brown tips, white flied, scale insects, yellow leabes, root rot, mealy bugs, drooping leaves

Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems

Overall, I would say that the Graptophyllum Pictum is a disease and pest-resistant plant. Here are some quick tips for curing common ailments and general suggestions to keep this plant healthy.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are common pests, particularly among Joseph’s Coat plants. Initially, spider mite damage will appear as small, brown, or yellow patches on your plant’s leaves. You might also observe your plant’s slowed growth.

To eliminate spider mites, begin by washing off your Joseph’s Coat with a garden hose, sink nozzle, or a pressure sprayer. In addition, you can spray neem oil or insecticidal soap on the plant leaves, but make sure that you cover all surfaces, including the underside of the leaves!

Of course, another option is to introduce natural predators of spider mites such as ladybugs, lacewings, and Stethorus picipes beetles (dubbed as the “Spider Mite Destroyer”). The cool thing about these bugs is that they feed on spider mites while not harming your plant!

White Flies

Whiteflies are tiny airborne insects that immediately fly around when a plant is moved. They are particularly attracted to the Caricature Plant. They feed on leaves but rarely cause the death of plants.

If you like the taste and smell of herbs, keeping them near your pest-ridden plant has an added benefit! The aroma of mint, parsley, and cilantro are known to repel whiteflies.

Managing a heavy infestation necessitates the use of a pesticide. Here are several popular Amazon products we recommend against whiteflies:

Scale Insects

Scale insects seem like lumps on the stems or leaves of your Graptophyllum Pictum. These tiny bugs can be green, gray, brown, or black and usually remain sedentary once they’ve latched onto a plant.

If the infestation isn’t extensive, you can discourage scale insects from attacking your plant by mixing in four glasses of water and a teaspoon of neem. Vigorously spray the plant with a spray bottle.

Neem oil and horticultural oils will not eradicate the bugs, but they will surely harm them. Many pesticide sprays for scales are deemed safe for use inside.

Mealybugs

Your tropical houseplant can fall victim to a Mealybug infestation. They feed on the plant’s sap using their sucking tubes and will weaken your Joseph’s Coat.

As a prevention against many diseases, I recommend a monthly application of neem oil on your houseplants. Remember to dilute the neem and spray only during cool weather.

In the case of an infestation, take a cup of rubbing alcohol and combine it with a teaspoon of fragrance-free dish soap and water in a spray bottle. Spray that on Joseph’s Coat twice a week until the mealybugs are gone.

Brown Leaf Tips

The edges of your Caricature Plant’s leaves may turn brown if it’s not getting enough amount of moisture that it needs from the air and its roots. Water your plant on time and inspect if the humidity level in its place is consistent with its needs.

You may also need to consider the amount and frequency of applying fertilizers. Overfeeding can burn the houseplants’ foliage, typically manifesting as browning edges on their leaves.

Drooping Leaves

The leaves of your Graptophyllum Pictum might start to droop if it’s not getting the proper amount of moisture and light it needs. Check out or Water and Light portions above to learn about the recommended care practices for your plant.

Low humidity can potentially cause drooping leaves, so monitor the humidity levels in your location and make sure they meet your plant’s demands.

Yellow Leaves

A variety of factors might induce yellowing leaves on Justicia Picta. For starters, a lack of light might deplete your plant of nutrients and cause its leaves to become yellow. Alternatively, there might be a problem with underwatering, overwatering, an irregular watering schedule, or too much shady location.

Take out yellowing leaves so the plant can focus its energy on growing new green leaves instead.

Root Rot

The overabundance of water, which leads to root rot, is often fatal for Joseph’s Coat. Once decay starts, it is difficult to control. Your safest choice is to fully remove the root system and restart your plant as if you were propagating a cutting.

Of course, you can always take preventative measures to avoid root rot. First, provide your plant with a fast-draining, well-aerated soil mix. Chunky materials can be added to create air spaces and allow the roots to breathe.

Second, make sure you choose a pot for functionality, not just for aesthetics. The essential requirement for houseplants is drainage. If there are no drainage holes in your chosen pot, don’t be afraid to drill some holes!

Do not water your plant until you are certain that the soil is no longer damp after your last watering. To check for moisture, stick your finger into the soil or use the old-fashioned wooden skewer approach.

Similar Plants

Love Caricature Plant? Here are some other container plants you should try if you are looking for ornamental plants to spruce up your indoor garden:

Money Tree; – This uniquely beautiful plant, with its colorful origin story(ies), is an ornamental plant that is believed to lead good fortune to whoever grows it. With its perfectly shaped, vibrant foliage and iconic braided trunk, this plant is sure to bring not only luck but admirers of its majestic beauty.

Alocasia Polly; – Stunning. Jaw-dropping. Squeal-worthy. These are just some of the adulations used by plant lovers when describing this plant. And I agree 100%. Thick, rippled, green, glossy leaves adorn this plant, making it truly unique. What’s more, there’s a dwarf version of this beauty. So it’s a perfect choice for all space sizes.

Hoya Carnosa; – Did anyone ask for an ornamental plant? Here’s Hoya Carnosa for you. This ethereal-looking plant looks perfect, draping over hanging baskets indoors. Its long, slender vines are covered with deep-green leathery leaves flecked with porcelain-looking flowers. It’s the queen of ornamental plants and looks excellent as a colorful accent.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for excellent houseplants with some wow factor, the Graptophyllum Pictum is a perfect choice. Follow the recommendations we’ve provided above, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your plant’s full potential!

Can’t get enough of Graptophyllum plant guides? Check out these other options from Two Peas In A Condo!

Help us grow! This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something recommended. All opinions, however, are our own, and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.

Let's grow together!