Jatropha is an evergreen small 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 the 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 it is essential that the plant is planted in 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 reached a height of about 10 to 12 feet it can also be used as a foundation planting.
How to plant Jatropha?
When digging 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 grow well in the sandy soil, it is advisable to add the composted material to the soil and mix well before using them to fill the hole. When closing the hole first half fill the hole 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 has the ability to grow till a height of about 15 feet in the wild. But in the 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 multi-stemmed shrub and the other is single-stemmed small tree. Since jatropha has the capacity to 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 is 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 to be conducted with extra care.