Jatrophs and their controversial reputation
Among the succulents you can find many quite exotic plants. This plant, also known as the Australian bottle tree or coral tree, produces fig-like or carved foliage that by no means obscures the beauty of a thickened, spectacular bottle-shaped trunk. Even the status of a succulent does not prevent the jatropha from combining spectacular leaves with no less catchy flowering. Bright scarlet, albeit small flowers at the ends of long flower stems are collected in original umbrellas. Their jatropha releases earlier than the leaves, rewarding a very long flowering period from March to October for minimal care. Absolutely not whimsical to temperature conditions, the jatropha feels great in living rooms and will not cause trouble even for beginner growers.
Also known under the name “Buddha’s belly”, the jatropha is not so often found on our market, which causes a rather high price for this plant and the status of a rare, not accessible to all exotics. But despite all the myths associated with the allegedly very difficult cultivation, this plant is by no means the most capricious and very grateful.
Types of Jatropha
Despite the fact that the genus jatroph (jatropha) unites more than 175 species of plants, 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 us to guess at first glance. But the toxicity of all parts of plants is a typical characteristic for the cultures of this family. Jatrophs are herbaceous perennials, shrubs and trees that secrete, like all euphorbiaceae, poisonous milky sap.
They are considered one of the most original room exotics, combining seemingly incompatible characteristics. Tall bottle-shaped stems, very large lobed leaves on long stalks that fall in the winter, and coral flower umbrellas 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 gouty jatropha (jatropha podagrica) - succulent, developing in the form of deciduous shrubs up to 70 cm high with a single, tuberoid-thickened, bottle-shaped trunk. Thick at the base, it gradually tapers up, often bending unevenly. But the beauty of the jatropha is not exhausted only in an interesting form that can store moisture in the trunk. Long, exceeding 20 cm, sufficiently thick leaf cuttings are attached to the leaf blades not at the beginning, but almost in the middle.
Round, with deeply drawn blades, very spectacular and really similar to fig leaves, not only reach a diameter of 20 cm, but also surprisingly effectively contrast with the bottle barrel. The leaves are collected in a peculiar whorl at the top of the shoot, but sometimes grow in the middle of the trunk. With age, greens change color: young leaves are very dark, shine brightly, but gradually brighten and become dull. Only after reaching the maximum size, the foliage regains its usual dark green color again.
The cuttings and the underside of the leaves are covered with a grayish coating and, as a rule, they are slightly lighter. A powerful flower brush rises from the point of leaf growth. As a rule, inflorescences appear before the greens begin to grow. A complex umbrella in the beginning flaunts modest, almost inconspicuous buds that slowly develop along with an elongated peduncle. Only when reaching the maximum height do the buds acquire a coral red color and gradually open into fragrant asterisk flowers reaching 1 cm in diameter.
Female flowers in inflorescences last a long time, male flowers open only for one day, but are almost constantly replaced by new buds. Each inflorescence can bloom from 2 to 4 weeks, thanks to the release of all new peduncles, the flowering of jatropha can last up to six months.
Jatropha Dissected (jatropha multifida) - the plant is 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 divided into 7-11 carved parts. A bluish-blue shade of green color, an almost white center and light veins, as well as a 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 fall 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 umbrellas of inflorescences, blood-red, rise above the leaves on long pedicels. 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 in her.
It is much less common jatropha kurkas (jatropha curcas), or Barbados nut - a very powerful shrubby species with oval leaves with a beautiful pointed tip, the sizes of which vary from 6 to 40 cm on one plant. Unlike the 2 most popular jatrophs, the leaves of this plant are painted in light green, and the flowers - in bright yellow colors. Male flowers bloom one at a time, and female flowers are collected in inflorescences-umbrellas.
Jatropha whole (jatropha integerrima) - an evergreen shrub that grows in nature up to 4 m in height with alternately arranged oval leaves with a whole edge and star-shaped small flowers, collected not in umbrellas, but in inflorescences. This species also discards leaves for the winter, but with careful care it blooms throughout the year.
Jatropha Berlandieri (jatropha berlandieri, today retrained to kind jatropha cathartica (jatropha cathartica)) flaunts with the most spectacular thickened stem, the lower part of which in diameter can reach 20 cm. In nature, the thickening is hidden in the soil, but in room culture it always rises above the substrate. This jatropha is characterized by very long 30-centimeter petioles of leaves. The leaves are painted dark green with a bluish-silver effect and appear palm-shaped due to the division of the plates into 5 lobes. Inflorescences are very loose, pink or orange-red.
This plant has a reputation for a rare species, almost an orangery, collection plant, surprisingly combined with endurance and unpretentiousness. There is no need for jatrophs to create any atypical conditions; even the winter dormancy period, it almost does not affect the maintenance regime. Thanks to rather rare watering, it is very easy to take care of it, and the fact that this culture feels great even in conditions of low humidity indicates its extreme unpretentiousness. Jatropha can be grown even by beginner growers. And do not be afraid of her rare star status.
Jatropha care at home
Jatrophs are rightfully considered a typical exotic in terms of lighting preferences. They love a bright location, but at the same time they have one unpleasant surprise. 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 solar location, but also if the level of illumination is dramatically increased.
For this plant, any changes in the maintenance regime should be carried out with gradual adaptation, slowly accustoming the jatropha to a changing environment. She will need such care with the change of seasons, and if there are just cloudy days. For jatrophs of all kinds, places on the western and eastern windowsills are ideal. They will not give up location in the interior of large windows and in bright places. Artificial illumination is not suitable, for the plant you need to create natural light lighting.
Under the condition of gradual adaptation, plants can be tamed to partial shade, while the jatropha will only slightly change the color of the leaves. The younger the plant, the more shade-tolerant it can become.
Temperature and ventilation
By temperature conditions, jatrophs are not as demanding as most flowering exotics. But they also have their own preferences for strict temperature ranges. True, the cultivation of this plant greatly simplifies the fact that it adapts well to stable temperatures and can tolerate warmer conditions during wintering. The optimal content mode for the jatropha is to ensure that from March to October air temperature in the range from 18 to 22 degrees Celsius, in winter - a decrease to 14 and 16 degrees Celsius.
The signal about the need to lower the air temperature by at least 2-3 degrees is the dropping of leaves. But if you do not have the opportunity to ensure even such a minimum change in the regime of detention, do not rush to be upset. Jatrophs adapt well in winter to normal room temperature, while not requiring significant correction of care. The only thing affected by the violation of the optimal regime is the non-dropping of part of the leaves, a slight reduction in the duration of the flowering period and the number of inflorescences released by the plant during the season.
Jatrophs do not like only cold drafts, they need to be protected during ventilation and should never be taken out to fresh air.
Humidity and watering
One of the main advantages of this plant is rightfully considered to be the good tolerance of dry conditions, unique ability to adapt to the dry air of typical room conditions. This succulent does not need high levels of humidity, moreover, a dry environment does not affect the attractiveness of very large leaves. Spraying, and even more so the installation of humidifiers jatropha is not needed. The only measure that should be taken care of is regular dust removal from the leaf surface, which is best done with a damp cloth or sponge.
Watering for this plant should be more than moderate. Like all succulents, the jatropha, which is able to accumulate 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, you need to choose a strategy for more frequent watering, but avoid overfilling, 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 completely dry in the upper and middle layer between the procedures).
Jatropha can suffer from rot even at medium humidity, not to mention the increased moisture content in the substrate. Winter watering compared to summer should be significantly limited. If a plant habitually drops leaves in the fall or winter, then from that day they stop watering it at all and resume the procedure only when there are signs of new shoot growth. If the jatropha does not discard the foliage, then watering is made as sparse as possible, scarce, carried out 2-3 days after the substrate is completely dry.
For jatropha, you need to monitor the quality of water. As with most succulents, it must be settled and soft. In no case should plants be watered with cold water.
Fertilizers for jatropha
Fertilizers for Australian coral are introduced only in the active season, completely stopping them already in September. From March to August, plants are fed regularly, but moderately enough. The ideal strategy is to apply fertilizers in the dosage recommended by the manufacturer with 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 select a substrate for jatropha. She feels comfortable in the same ground as cacti and other succulents. Usually, soil is prepared for it on the basis of sheet land with the addition of half smaller doses of peat, turf land and sand. A special substrate for succulents or cacti is perfect for jatropha. Jatropha loves impurities in the form of small crumbs of broken bricks, small stones, vermiculite or perlite, which increase the degree of water permeability of the substrate.
Plants will not cause trouble with frequent or complex transplants. Jatropha is moved to a new container only when it has fully mastered the earthen coma. Transplantation can only be carried out with the appearance of a sign of growth of young leaves 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 for it to transplant 1 time 2-3 years. During the procedure, it is very important to try as little as possible to destroy the earthen lump directly at the root of the plant and lay a good drainage about 1/3 of the height at the bottom of the pot. This plant will not refuse from mulching the soil with stone chips, aquarium soil, expanded clay or pebbles.
Pots for jatropha need to be selected carefully. A specific root system requires a choice of shallow but very wide containers. In classic pots, the height and diameter of which are equal, or higher, but not wide, a powerful drainage layer must be laid (to compensate for changes in the shape of the pot).
Pests and diseases of the jatropha
Jatropha can please and excellent resistance to indoor pests and diseases, except for the risk of the spread of rot. Any excess watering, especially the stagnation of moisture in the pot over a long period, the use of cold water in too much or the wrong selection of a tank with too much soil in the lower part of the pot with an insufficiently high drainage layer, can lead to the jatropha not only the roots, but also the stem will begin to rot; the plant will gradually perish. It can be saved only by emergency transplant.
Of the pests to the plant, thrips and spider mites can be dangerous - typical insects that spread in the collection of indoor plants in dry air. But, as a rule, infection with the jatropha threatens only in the case of proximity to diseased plants. It is better to fight pests by washing, and resort to the use of insecticides only in the neglected state of the disease.
Common problems in growing jatropha:
- falling and yellowing of leaves in too cold conditions;
- growth retardation with too active top dressing or the wrong choice of fertilizers;
- discoloration and wilting of leaves when irrigated with cold water;
- rotting of the roots, falling of leaves or wilting of inflorescences with excessive moisture of the substrate.
Jatropha is propagated at home with both seeds and cuttings.
True, the seed method is fraught with considerable difficulties in the search for planting material. It is very difficult to find seeds for sale, and even if you manage to find them, it is almost impossible to get seedlings. The thing is that jatropha seeds quickly lose their germination capacity and can only be sown immediately after harvest, for 1-2 months.If you have a desire to get the seeds yourself, then you need to conduct artificial pollination of flowers with a soft brush.
The original tricuspid fruits are tied in room culture, hiding 2 or 3 long seeds. Full maturation is indicated by the darkening of the fetal membranes and the spread 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 quality substrate suitable for adult jatrophs. Plants can germinate only at 25 degrees Celsius or in hotter conditions, under glass or film in a bright sunny place. Usually germination takes no more than 2 weeks.
As the sprouts grow stronger, it is necessary to seed them in an individual container. Young jatrophs develop surprisingly quickly and release large bunches of leaves so intensely that in a few months they can compete with old plants for foliage. In young jatrophs, the leaves are round, gradually becoming more wavy, and the famous lobes are cut only from the second year. If you can wait for beautiful leaves quite soon, then the formation of a thickened trunk takes much longer. It develops and gets thicker as it grows, a characteristic bottle shape does not appear immediately. But the jatropha obtained from seeds will be able to bloom in the second year after sowing.
The vegetative method is also considered quite simple - the rooting of lignified cuttings. After cutting from the mother plant, you need to slightly dry the slices until the translucent milky juice ceases to stand out. After treatment with a growth stimulant, 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 planted in individual small containers