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Thread: Jatropha podagrica questions

  1. #1
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I've had this wonderful plant called Jatropha podagrica (goutyspot, nettlespurge, tartogo, Austrailian bottle plant) for about two years. It's gone to seed a few times (none successfully sprouted) and grown like crazy since I first got it. They seem to be fairly obscure and pretty much all I know about them is that they have explosive seed pods and need a short dormancy period.
    Recently mine has become much too tall for its pot, and is in danger of tipping. I want to air layer it or otherwise clone the top before I chop it, as my attempts at propogation by seed have been dismal. I have read that cutting the green part of the stem will induce branching, but the stem is only green near the top and I think I need to cut much lower than that to keep it from getting topheavy.
    Does anyone know about propogating succulents by cutting/air layering? How should I root my cutting? This plant is in the Euphorbiaceae, if that helps.
    Does anyone know how J. podagrica responds to cutting the non-green stem (or bark or skin or whatever?) Mine has a big scar where the top was removed at the nursery, and I was wondering if I could cut just beneath it and get it to branch from that cut.
    Thanks in advance.
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    Your J.podangrica dosn't send up seedlings?
    I am constantly finding little plants in the sphagnum of nearby plants. Cutting is fine, but I'm not sure if it will induce branching. Advice on getting seedlings: Don't do anything, soon the tiny hoards of caudiciforms will come. They will grow up to a foot in their first year.

  3. #3
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    Oh hooray!!! Thank you so much, I'll try sphagnum for germination as soon as I get seeds! NOONE knows about this wonderful plant! I didn't know until recently that it wasn't a desert succulent, so I'd been trying to germinate in sand and cactus mix and grit, with no luck. I was beginning to think they weren't self-fertile. You've done me a great service!
    Thanks again,
    ~Joe

    PS - Ah, I'm so excited, I forgot to ask, how low can I cut? The stalk is about 15" long before it joins the original trunk (which was topped by the nursery) and caudex. Only the top 3" or so are green. But, if seed will work, I think I'll just let it start flowering again. Any recommendations as far as fertilizer goes? I've found my plant often aborts it's seed pods for unknown reasons.
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    J.podangrica shares its habitat with mexican pings. It is not a desert species, but rather a seasonal rain species. It likes a lot of water in the spring and summer to when it goes dormant and defoliates in the fall. It likes a dry dormancy. To germinate seed, I'd put seeds in moist, high quality potting or succulent soil. I would keep them in a sunny warm environment to germinate faster. The plants develop a conspicuous thickened stem in several weeks. They are very fast growers and given lots of light and water they will grow a foot(and start flowering) in the first year. A small amount of fertilizer should be given in the growing season. When they defoliate in the fall they are going dormant and want to be kept dry, but a bit of water durming dormancy is fine. The plants branch as they get old. I have a plant rescued from a building site in Mexico. It is many decades old and has about a dozen branches coming off of a 6+ inch wide base. The plant is 3 feet tall and looks like an old, weathered tree. I'd let the plant grow naturally myself. If you have to cut, do so during dormancy. Cutting severals wouldn't hurt it.
    Good luck!

  5. #5
    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I grow mine indoors and, while I do cut back on water in the winter, it never seems to drop it's leaves. This year I put the lights on a shortened photoperiod and it made smaller leaves, which are now starting to approach normal size again, but it's never been bare. Might this be stunting it's growth?
    ~Joe
    o//~ Livin' like a bug ain't easy / My old clothes don't seem to fit me /
    I got little tiny bug feet / I don't really know what bugs eat /
    Don't want no one steppin' on me / Now I'm sympathizin' with fleas /
    Livin' like a bug ain't easy / Livin' like a bug ain't easy... o//~

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    Not really, mine always hold on to a few leaves. Once they get older, they don't grow nearly as fast as seedlings. They slow to a snail's pace once they get over a foot.

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