Jatropha is a small evergreen tree native to West Indies. Later it spread to southern parts of the US, where it became popular. The plant blooms most of the year with bright red flowers and dark green leaves. The plant is found to bloom throughout the year when it is planted in tropical and subtropical areas.
Where to plant Jatropha?
Jatropha can be planted in a well-drained location. Jatropha is not too particular when it comes to the soil and location. But the plant must be planted in an area where there is partial/full sunlight. The plant can be grown as a mixed shrub or as a hedge. Since the fully grown Jatropha reaches a height of about 10 to 12 feet, it can also be used as a foundation planting.
How to plant Jatropha?
When digging a hole for Jatropha, care should be taken that hole is twice bigger as the root ball and is deep enough for the plant to sit. The plant can be planted lower than the surrounding soil. This will allow the plant to collect water at the base. Though Jatropha grows well in the sandy soil, it is advisable to add the composted material to the ground and mix well before using them to fill the hole. When closing the gap, first half fill the void and add water to it to remove the air pockets surrounding the roots and then add the remaining soil to the hole and then water it again.
Jatropha, the evergreen shrub, can grow to a height of about 15 feet in the wild. But in cultivation, it can grow to a height of about 10 feet. And it is 10 feet wide. Jatropha can be pruned in two ways. One is a multi-stemmed shrub, and the other is a single-stemmed small tree. Since Jatropha can bloom throughout the year, pruning can be done at any time without damaging the flowers.
After planting the plant, you should water it daily for the first week. Then you can decrease the watering time to the alternative days. After two weeks, you can water the plant when you see the soil surface dry. This is possible since Jatropha is a drought-tolerant plant.
When the frost season starts, Jatropha can be covered with the blanket since they are frost-tender. Even if the plant is affected by the frost, nothing is lost; only the leaves will wilt and drop away. The plant will bounce back nicely once the spring returns.
Jatropha can be pruned at any time. They can be pruned as a single trunk for tree growth, or tip pruned for internal branching. Tip pruning will give the appearance of a shrub giving the plant a round shape.
The stems of the Jatropha will produce a milky sap when they are cut. This milky sap is irritating to sensitive skin. And most importantly, all the parts of the Jatropha are toxic. So planting Jatropha in areas accessible to children and pets needs extra care.