Indoor plants

Jatropha

Jatrophas origins and characteristics

Jatropha is a shrub plant native to South America, Africa and Asia. In total there are about ten different species, although there are not many differences between one and the other. It has very large, glossy, dark green leaves, while the flowers are grouped in small, umbrella-shaped clusters. These inflorescences are very showy because, despite being small, they are very bright shades, ranging from orange to intense red. The jatropha has a very short basal stem with few branches, on the top of which the petioles grow from which the leaves will then originate. Some species, on the other hand, have a more stocky and thicker stem which acts as a water reserve in periods of aridity. Usually the plants grown in our latitudes never exceed one meter in height, therefore they are well suited as indoor plants,

Jatropha cultivation


The ease of cultivation of jatropha meant that this shrubby plant spread very quickly as an indoor plant: it adapts very well to any type of environment and does not have very bulky roots, so it can also be placed in not too large pots. Among other things, the jatropha develops better if it has a small amount of soil, therefore it is advisable to choose pots of modest size. It must be in bright places, it can also be exposed directly to sunlight since the latter do not damage the foliage; the important thing is that it does not stay in the shade, otherwise it will not produce flowers. This species, however, fears the cold, so in winter it must necessarily be kept indoors, while in summer it is better to stay outside, in a more airy place than a room.

Jatropha cures


The jatropha must never be watered excessively, the irrigations must be sporadic, only when the substrate appears dry: it must be remembered that this is a plant that tolerates drought, to which it is used in its areas of origin, where the climate is in fact very hot and dry. In winter, however, if the climate is excessively dry, this plant can lose all or part of its leaves and remain with only a stalk on the top of the branches. This event, however, does not denote the decay of the plant but is a normal phenomenon. Nothing needs to be done, on the contrary, it is better not to give water during this period, until the end of winter. At that point we could water it normally and our jatropha will produce new green shoots, which will then prepare for spring flowering.

Jatropha maintaining


The jatropha does not need a large amount of earth but in any case the substrate must have certain characteristics: first of all it must be well drained, therefore it must consist of a good universal soil mixed with sand. Then you have to remember to change the soil from time to time, without necessarily changing the pot as well, since the roots do not expand as they do for other species. From the beginning of spring until the first colds it is good to provide our specimen with fertilizer for flowering plants, once every two weeks, to be administered dissolved in the watering water. There is a very interesting curiosity about jatropha: in the places of origin it is cultivated mainly because it produces very large and oily seeds. The oil obtained from these seeds is used to produce biodiesel; in Africa, on the other hand, this plant was grown on the borders of cultivated fields to keep animals away, since for them it is a toxic plant. Today also in Italy there are jatropha plantations that have the purpose of producing the precious fuel.

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