The Jatrophe are medium or small sized shrubs, originating in South America, now widespread in Asia and Africa. The species are about ten, all very similar: the foliage is large, dark green, palm trees, carried by long curved petioles; the flowers are grouped in small umbrellas, small in size, but of a bright and bright color, orange or red.
The plant has a short stem, scarcely ramified, at the apex of the branches come out the long petioles carrying the leaves; some species have a caudex, that is a swollen stem, which keeps the water in dry periods. These plants are cultivated by us as apartment plants, especially for the showy and pleasant foliage; the species cultivated in apartment are usually those of small size, which are kept below the meter of height.
Growing the Jatrophe
These plants have spread in the apartment thanks to the great facility of cultivation and to their great capacity of adaptation; their rooting apparatus is contained, and therefore allows to place the jatropas in very small containers, without fearing for the health of the whole plant.
Let’s choose therefore a not too big pot, also because, with a not too much quantity of soil, it seems that these plants tend to develop better; let’s position them in a well luminous place, even if directly exposed to the sun rays, let’s avoid the dark areas, also because we will hardly see the flowers of a jatropa cultivated in an area not suitably illuminated.
The jatrophe are used to living in places with a climate not too rainy and hot, can not therefore live outdoors in Italy, where they are kept in apartment throughout the cold season, during the warmer months we can however place them outdoors, so that they enjoy a climate more ventilated than in the house.
These plants need not too much regular watering, it is sufficient to moisten the soil when it is well dry; they bear without any problems the drought, even if very prolonged.
When in winter the climate is very dry and the hours of sunshine decrease, the jatropas tend to lose their foliage, or to keep a few leaves (in the very small specimens it often happens that in winter the jatropas have only one petiole, with a leaf or some flowers at the top); let’s not worry if this happens, only avoid watering the plant until the days get longer, in January-February; when we start watering again the plant will begin to produce new lush foliage.
- shrub or small succulent tree originating in Central America, the stem often develops in a wide caudex; the specimens grown in the ground can reach 2-3 metres high, the adult species are often grown in a wide caudex….
To grow them to the fullest
Even if the jatrophe pot is small, let’s try to fill it with the most suitable soil; let’s prepare a very porous and draining substratum, mixing a part of universal soil with half part of sand and a little crushed pumice stone. Let’s remember that periodically it is better to repot the plants cultivated in the house, changing all the soil contained in the pot. From March to September we supply some fertilizer for flowering plants, every 12-15 days, mixed with the water of the watering.
We avoid exhibiting our jatropha in the cold, but we try to keep it at temperatures above 15°C; if we put it in the house we avoid places subject to draughts or near windows or heat sources.
Jatropa – Jatropha: Some curiosities
For us it is an apartment plant, but in the places of origin the jatropas, especially those belonging to the species curcas, are grown for large oilseeds; with the oil of jatropha a very good biodiesel is produced. These plants have been cultivated for centuries also in Africa, where, being poisonous for the animals, they are utilized as fences of the cultivated fields.
In a large part of the world, the cultivation of jatropa to exploit its oil is spreading; since some years, they are trying to cultivate jatropa curcas also in Italy, in Sardinia.
- The Jatropha is native to South America and usually does not reach remarkable dimensions. It has a short stem and is
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