The Jatropha genus includes a wide variety of plants native to warmer regions all over the world. From tropical to semi-arid subtropical plants, the Jatropha genus resembles succulents in growth patterns and care needs. Different types of this plant are popular in different regions. For example, in the United States, one of the most popular plants from this genus is Jatropha integerrima, cultivated mostly for its breathtaking red flowers.
Jatropha– Dangerous Beauty
Jatrophas are evergreen plants, with woody base and leaves that can vary in shape and color. These somewhat succulents bloom with flowers in colors from yellow to deep red. The plant can grow up to 10 feet (3m) tall. These wonderful plants are easy to take care of. Their tree-like or shrub-like appearance and beautiful flowers make them highly desirable and widely popular. However, like many species of Euphorbiaceae family, these plants are very toxic. They shouldn’t be placed in the areas which curious kids or pets can reach.
Traditionally, Jatropha species have been used in basket making, tanning, and dye production. In the 2000s, one species, Jatropha curcas, become very interesting as an oil crop for biodiesel production and medicinal importance when it`s used as lamp oil.
Grow and Care Tips
Light needs of Jatrophas depend on specific species. Some of them love bright light and direct sun. On the contrary, other species will thrive in partial shade. Many of popular Jatropha species make excellent bonsai-like decorations for sunny corners. Just keep them pruned regularly to prevent them to overgrow the space too quickly.
On the other hand, the whole genus has pretty much similar water needs. Jatrophas need regular watering during the growing season. In the winter, you need to reduce water to just a few drops from time to time. Some species are very drought tolerant. In order to successfully grow Jatropha, you need to find a balance between moisture and drainage. Most species won’t tolerate you to soak them and will develop root rot pretty quickly. When it comes to soil, Jatrophas need well-draining soil. You can’t be wrong with rich typical potting mix and some coarse drainage material.
Jatrophas are very sensitive to pests. Mealybugs, aphids, whitefly, and scale can all damage this plant beyond recover. Keep an eye for the infections and try to treat them with the least toxic options.
You can propagate Jatrophas from the seeds or by stem cuttings. Just plant stem cuttings in a small pot, with some rooting hormone and seedling starting soil. When you ensure everything is packed, place the pot in a bright place and wait for the new growth.