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March 8th, 2023

Jatropha – Little Red Beauty

by R.S. Walsh

Jatropha integerrima is a welcome addition for a sunny spot in any size South Florida landscape. Jatropha is a genus of flowering plants in the Euphorbiaceae family. Butterflies love this plant, which can be both a flowering shrub or grown as a standard or tree form. Jatropha has dark green leaves and regular splashes of a pinkish-red to deep red clusters of blooms all through the foliage. One of the best examples of where to place this beauty is by using a standard Jatropha as the focal point in a butterfly garden or small flower garden. You might also see these as a small tree form in the roadway medians as they can be especially drought tolerant once established. They also make a good anchor plant on the corner of the house, patio or deck. The Jatropha will grow full and lush and with regular trimming of the branches, you can maintain a nice rounded shape.

There are variations of this plant, including one that blooms pink in the sun or partial shade. However, the red variety seems to do the best for a nice flowering shrub or small tree. These plants like well-drained soil and are moderately fast growers. Adding some organic compost or good soil to our sandy variety will help this plant get off to an even better start. To keep it blooming and healthy, fertilize three times a year at regular intervals with good, basic fertilizer. They like the warmth and will bloom all year round and you can easily keep this plant at 5-6’ even in a tree form, making it an easy choice for a small area.

If you like an easy to care for plant that brightens up your home with its little red blossoms, the Jatropha is just the plant for you.

This column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, Sanibel’s local garden center located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Rd, Sanibel Island, Florida.

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