Clusia rosea is an ornamental leafy houseplant that is remarkably sturdy and easy to care for. Its stiff, leathery leaves are a dark olive green in colour and are said to be so tough, you could carve your name into them – hence the popular name 'Autograph Tree'. The paddle-like leaves are also noted for their air filtering properties.
Full sun is best, but it can tolerate partial shade as well. When it is grown indoors as a houseplant, it will cope with medium light levels and some degree of shade.
A sandy, soft and loose well-draining soil is best. It should be rich in organic matter, fertile, and mixed with a small amount of soil for orchids. The heavy foliage is salt tolerant; this species can be grown in exposed positions near the ocean coastline.
The autograph tree should be watered regularly for the first year or so until the plant is fully established. You can scale back its water after that, although regular watering will help it grow more fully. This species is fairly drought-tolerant, but you should never let the soil get completely dry.
This plant thrives in warm, tropical conditions. It prefers average to warm household temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This plant will not tolerate cooler temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Clusia rosea prefers high humidity. If you have an indoor container plant, you can place it on a shallow gravel tray filled with water and mist regularly.
Fertilize three times per year in the spring, summer, and fall. Use organic, granular fertilizer. Or, you can fertilize more frequently but must use an evenly balanced diluted liquid fertilizer.
Toxicity of the Autograph Tree
According to the Food and Drug Administration database of poisonous plants, Clusia rosea made the list. Birds eat the seeds and are a main propagator of this tree species, but the green fruits are mildly poisonous, as are the leaves. Both fruit and sap will cause severe stomach and intestinal irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea if ingested. Keep pets and children away from this plant, as the fruits may tempt them. The sap may also cause skin allergies in some people; it is a good idea to wear gloves when handling the plant.
Potting and Repotting
Due to its quick growth, C. rosea can often overgrow its container. Lift the root ball out as a whole and replace it in a larger container that can accommodate the root system. As the plant matures, it may become too large to be kept in containers at all unless it is well-pruned. If so, it can be moved outside and used as an ornamental tree or hedge.