Jatrophes and their controversial reputation

There are quite a few exotic plants among succulents. But even against their background, the beautiful jatropha seems especially original. Also known as the Australian bottle tree or coral tree, this plant produces fig-like or carved foliage that does not hide the beauty of its thick, showy bottle-shaped trunk. Even the status of a succulent does not prevent the jatroph from combining spectacular leaves with an equally catchy flowering. Bright scarlet, albeit small flowers at the ends of long flowering stems are collected in original umbrellas. Their jatropha releases earlier than leaves, rewarding minimal care with a very long flowering period from March to October. Absolutely not capricious to temperature conditions, jatropha feels great in living rooms and will not cause trouble even for novice growers.

Jatropha podagrica (Jatropha podagrica). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com hemmets

The jatropha, also known as the “belly of the Buddha”, is not so common in our sale, which determines both a rather high price for this plant, and the status of a rare exotic, not available to everyone. But despite all the myths associated with the allegedly very difficult cultivation, this plant is by no means the most capricious and very grateful.

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Jatropha species

Despite the fact that the genus ятроф (jatropha) unites more than 175 plant species, in room culture they are represented by only two species. These amazing succulents belong to the Euphorbia family, although large leaves do not always allow you to guess at first glance. But the toxicity of all parts of plants is quite a typical feature for the cultures of this family. Jatropha are herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees that, like all euphorbiases, emit poisonous milky sap.

They are considered one of the most distinctive indoor exotics, combining seemingly incompatible characteristics. Tall bottle-shaped stems, very large lobed leaves on long stalks that fall off in the winter, and the coral umbrellas of flowers that appear in early spring seem to argue with each other in originality. Jatropha makes the same impression as indoor bonsai, always and everywhere attracting attention.

The undisputed leader among representatives of the genus in room culture is jatropha gouty (jatropha podagrica) Is a succulent that develops in the form of a deciduous shrub up to 70 cm high with a single, tuberous thickened, bottle-shaped trunk. Thick at the base, it gradually tapers upward, often bends unevenly. But the beauty of the jatropha is not limited to the interesting form of the trunk capable of storing moisture. Long, exceeding 20 cm, rather thick leafy cuttings are attached to the leaf blades not at the beginning, but almost in the middle.

Round, with deeply carved blades, very effective and really like fig leaves, not only reach a diameter of 20 cm, but also surprisingly effectively contrast with the barrel-bottle. The leaves are collected in a kind of whorl at the top of the shoot, but sometimes grow in the middle of the trunk. With age, the greens change their color: young leaves are very dark, shine brightly, but gradually they brighten and become dull. Only after reaching its maximum size, the foliage returns to its usual dark green color.

The stalk and the underside of the leaves are covered with a grayish coating and, as a rule, they are slightly lighter in color. A powerful flower brush rises from the point of growth of the leaves. As a rule, the inflorescences appear before the greens begin to grow. The complex umbrella at the beginning flaunts with modest, almost inconspicuous buds, which slowly develop along with the elongating peduncle. Only when the maximum height is reached, the buds acquire a coral-red color, gradually opening into non-fragrant star-shaped flowers reaching 1 cm in diameter.

Female flowers in an inflorescence last for a long time, male flowers open for only one day, but are almost constantly replaced by new buds. Each inflorescence is capable of blooming from 2 to 4 weeks, thanks to the release of more and more flower stalks, the flowering of jatropha can last up to six months.

Jatropha cathartica
Jatropha cathartica. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com billy liar

Jatropha dissected (jatropha multifida) – a plant much larger in height (up to 2-3 m) and with carved, very beautiful leaves. The base of the stem is almost completely hidden under the mask of beautiful, airy, carved leaves, reaching a diameter of 30 cm and dividing into 7-11 carved parts. A bluish-blue shade of green color, an almost white center and light streaks, as well as the lowered arrangement of leaf lobes in relation to the center, turn each leaf into an “umbrella”. The leaves are very effective immediately after blooming, gradually falling off, exposing the lower part of the succulent trunk.

This jatropha, especially at a young age, strongly resembles a palm tree and conquers with the perfection of carved greenery. The flowers of the plant are also collected in inflorescence umbrellas, blood-red, rise above the leaves on long stalks. The dissected jatropha is able to bloom in natural conditions throughout the year, and indoor – from early spring to mid-autumn. After flowering, yellow triangular fruits are tied.

Jatropha (Jatropha multifida)
Jatropha dissected (Jatropha multifida). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Don McClane

Much less common jatropha kurkas (jatropha curcas), or the Barbados nut is a very powerful shrub species with oval leaves with a beautiful pointed tip, the sizes of which vary from 6 to 40 cm on one plant.In contrast to the 2 most popular jatrophes, the leaves of this plant are colored light green, and the flowers – in bright yellow colors. Male flowers bloom one at a time, and female flowers are collected in umbrella inflorescences.

Jatropha whole-edge (Jatropha prejudice) Is an evergreen shrub that grows in nature up to 4 m in height with alternating oval leaves with a solid edge and star-shaped small flowers, collected not in umbrellas, but in a cluster of inflorescences. This species also sheds its leaves for the winter, but with careful care, it blooms throughout the year.

Jatrofa Berlandieri (jatropha berlandieri, today retrained to the form catarrh of the nucleus (jatropha cathartica)) flaunts the most spectacular thickened stem, the lower part of which can reach 20 cm in diameter. In nature, the thickening is hidden in the soil, but in a room culture it always rises above the substrate. This jatropha is characterized by very long 30 cm leaf petioles. The leaves are colored dark green with a gray-silvery effect and appear palm-like due to the division of the plates into 5 lobes. Inflorescences are very loose, pink or orange-red.

This plant has a reputation of a rare species, almost a greenhouse, collection plant, surprisingly combined with endurance and unpretentiousness. There is no need for the jatropha to create any atypical conditions, even the winter dormant period has almost no effect on the regime of detention. Thanks to fairly rare watering, it is very easy to care for it, and the fact that this culture feels great even in conditions of low air humidity indicates its extreme unpretentiousness. Jatropha can be grown even by novice growers. And don’t be afraid of her status as a rare star.

Jatropha cathartica
Jatropha cathartica. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Acorn
Ятрофа куркас (Jatropha curcas)
Jatropha curcas. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Soundarapandian S.
Jatropha integerrima
Jatropha whole-edged (Jatropha integerrima). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Carl Lewis

Jatropha care at home

Lighting for the jatropha

Jatropha is rightfully considered a typical exotic in terms of lighting preferences. They love a bright location, but they have one unpleasant surprise in store. Jatropha combines a love of bright lighting with an extreme fear of direct sunlight. Plants get sunburn not only if they are exposed to a sunny location, but also if the light level is increased dramatically.

For this plant, any changes in the maintenance regime must be carried out with gradual adaptation, slowly accustoming the jatropha to the changed environment. She will need such care with the change of seasons, and if it is just cloudy days. For jatropha of all kinds, places on the western and eastern windowsills are ideal. They will not give up the location in the interior near large windows and in bright places. Artificial supplementary lighting will not work; you need to create natural light lighting for the plant.

Under the condition of gradual adaptation, the plants can be tamed to partial shade, while the color of the leaves of the jatropha will change only slightly. The younger the plant is, the more shade-tolerant it can become.

Room temperature and ventilation

Jatropha is not as demanding to temperature regimes as most of flowering exotic plants. But they also have their preferences for strict temperature ranges. True, growing this plant greatly simplifies the fact that it adapts well to stable temperatures and can tolerate warmer conditions during wintering. The optimal regime for keeping jatropha is to ensure the air temperature from March to October in the range of 18 to 22 degrees Celsius, in winter – a decrease to 14 and 16 degrees Celsius.

The shedding of leaves serves as a signal of the need to lower the air temperature by at least 2-3 degrees. But if you do not have the opportunity to provide even such a minimal change in the regime of detention, do not rush to get upset. Jatrophes adapt well to normal room temperature in winter, and do not require significant maintenance correction. The only thing that will be affected by the violation of the optimal regime is the non-discarding of some of the leaves, a slight reduction in the duration of the flowering period and the number of inflorescences released by the plant per season.

Jatrophes do not like only cold drafts, they need to be protected when ventilated and should never be taken out into the fresh air.

Ятрофа куркас (Jatropha curcas)
Ятрофа куркас (Jatropha curcas). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Steve Jurvetson

Air humidity and irrigation

One of the main advantages of this plant is rightfully considered good tolerance to dry conditions of detention, unique ability to adapt to dry air in typical room conditions. This succulent does not need high levels of air humidity, moreover, a dry environment does not affect the attractiveness of very large leaves in any way. Spraying, and even more so the installation of air humidifiers in the jatrof is not needed. The only measure that should be taken care of is the regular removal of dust from the surface of the leaves, which is best done with a damp cloth or sponge.

Watering for this plant should be more than moderate. Like all succulents, jatropha, which is capable of accumulating moisture in its powerful curved stem, suffers from waterlogging and waterlogging of the substrate, even in a mild form. Procedures for jatropha should be moderate, restrained, and a more frequent watering strategy should be chosen, but overflow should be avoided using less water. It is worth watering the plants only by controlling the degree of drying of the upper layer of the substrate (allowing it to dry completely in the upper and middle layers between procedures).

Jatropha can suffer from rot even with moderate humidity, not to mention the increased moisture content of the substrate. Watering in winter compared to summer should be significantly limited. If the plant habitually drops its leaves in the fall or winter, then from that day on, they stop watering it completely and resume the procedure only when signs of new shoot growth appear. If the jatropha does not shed the foliage, then watering is done as rare as possible, scanty, carried out 2-3 days after the substrate is completely dry.

For jatropha, you need to monitor the quality of the water. As with most succulents, it should be firm and soft. Plants should never be watered with cold water.

Inflorescences of gouty jatropha
Inflorescences of gouty jatropha. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Rubem

Fertilizers for jatropha

Fertilizers for Australian coral are applied only in the active season, completely stopping them from September. From March to August, the plants are fed regularly, but rather moderately. The ideal strategy is to apply fertilizers at the dosage recommended by the manufacturer at a frequency of 1 time per month. It is strictly forbidden to feed the jatropha during the winter period.

Special complex fertilizers for cacti or other succulents are best suited for this crop.

Substrate, transplant and containers

It is very easy to find a substrate for jatropha. She feels comfortable in the same soil as cacti and other succulents. Usually, soil is prepared for it on the basis of leafy earth with the addition of half the doses of peat, turf and sand. A special substrate for succulents or cacti is perfect for jatropha. Jatropha loves impurities in the form of small chips of broken bricks, small stones, vermiculite or perlite, which increase the degree of water permeability of the substrate.

Plants won’t be a hassle with frequent or difficult replanting. Jatropha is moved to a new container only when it has completely mastered the earthen lump. Transplanting can only be carried out with the appearance of a sign of young leaf growth in early spring. Traditionally, the procedure is carried out in March. Since the plant does not develop very actively, as a rule, it is enough to transplant 1 time for 2-3 years. During the procedure, it is very important to try as little as possible to destroy the earthen lump directly at the rhizome of the plant and lay good drainage at the bottom of the pot with a height of about 1/3 of the container. This plant will not refuse from mulching the soil with stone chips, aquarium soil, expanded clay or pebbles.

Jatropha pots need to be selected carefully. A specific root system requires the selection of shallow but very wide containers. In classic pots, the height and diameter of which are equal, or taller, but not wide, it is necessary to lay a thick drainage layer (to compensate for changes in the shape of the pot).

Jatropha cathartica
Jatropha cathartica. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Nano Mouse

Jatropha pests and diseases

Jatropha can also please with excellent resistance to indoor pests and diseases, except for the risk of spreading rot. Any excessive watering, especially the stagnation of moisture in the pot, over a long period, the use of too much cold water or the wrong selection of a container with too much soil in the bottom of the pot with an insufficiently high drainage layer can lead to the fact that the jatropha not only the roots will begin to rot, but also the stem, the plant will gradually die. He can only be saved by an emergency transplant.

Of the pests, thrips and spider mites can be dangerous to the plant – typical insects that spread in the collection of indoor plants in dry air. But, as a rule, infection with a jatroph threatens only if it is adjacent to diseased plants. It is better to fight pests by washing, and to resort to the use of insecticides only in a neglected state of diseases.

Common Problems in Jatropha Growing:

  • falling and yellowing of leaves in too cold conditions;
  • growth retardation with too active feeding or the wrong choice of fertilizers;
  • discoloration and wilting of leaves when watered with cold water;
  • decay of roots, leaf fall or wilting of inflorescences with excessive moisture in the substrate.

Reproduction of jatropha

Jatropha is propagated at home both by seeds and cuttings.

True, the seed method is fraught with considerable difficulties in finding planting material. It is very difficult to find seeds on sale, and even if they can be found, it is almost impossible to get seedlings. The thing is that jatropha seeds quickly lose their germination and can be sown only immediately after collection, within 1-2 months. If you have a desire to get seeds on your own, then you need to artificially pollinate the flowers with a soft brush.

The original tricuspid fruits are also tied in room culture, hiding 2 or 3 long seeds. Full ripening is evidenced by the darkening of the shells of the fruit and the scattering of seeds. In order not to miss the moment, it is necessary to tie the fruits in a gauze bag. Seeds are sown superficially, do not cover with soil, in a nutritious high-quality substrate suitable for adult jatrophages. Plants will be able to germinate only at 25 degrees Celsius or in hotter conditions, under glass or plastic in a bright, sunny place. Germination usually takes no more than 2 weeks.

As the sprouts get stronger, it is necessary to plant them in an individual container. Young jatrophes develop surprisingly quickly and release large bunches of leaves so intensively that after a few months they can compete with old plants in foliage. In young jatrophes, the leaves are round, gradually becoming more wavy, and the famous blades are cut only from the second year. If you can wait for beautiful leaves pretty soon, then the formation of a thickened trunk takes much longer. It develops and gets fat as it grows, the characteristic bottle form does not appear immediately. But the jatropha obtained from seeds will be able to bloom already in the second year after sowing.

Jatropha berlandieri (Jatropha berlandieri, today classified as a species of Jatropha cathartica)
Jatropha berlandieri (Jatropha berlandieri, today classified as a species of Jatropha cathartica). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Laurin Lindsey

The vegetative method is also considered quite simple – rooting of lignified cuttings. After cutting from the mother plant, you need to dry the sections slightly until the translucent milky juice no longer stands out. After treatment with a growth stimulant, the cuttings can be planted in a substrate suitable for jatropha and rooted in greenhouse conditions at a temperature of at least 28 degrees. After rooting, which usually takes about 1 month, the plants must be immediately transplanted into individual small containers.

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Anna Evans

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