How to Prune Jatropha


Jatropha is an evergreen shrub with scarlet or yellow star-shaped flowers. When grown in tropical and subtropical regions, Jatropha has been known to bloom all year round. Its flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. It has gained notoriety in the last few years for its high oil content and effectiveness as a biodiesel. The right pruning is crucial to growing a healthy plant with high crop yield.

Prune in the first six months. After initial planting, prune the plant when the stem just above the surface has reached 1.5 inches in diameter. Remove the lowest branches and encourage the growth of one central trunk.

Prune during the winter of the second year of growth. Prune branches below 1 to 1.5 feet above ground. This will encourage branching and give the plant a fuller appearance and ensure more seeds.

Pinch the tip of branches. If plant has not reached 2 feet in height or the stem is less than 1.5 inches in diameter, pinch off the end of each shoot. This will encourage branching.

Prune jatropha to six feet tall, the ideal size for easy maintenance and maximum yield. Prune any branches that reach beyond this height.

Remove dead leaves or branches. Throughout the year, prune any brown or yellow leaves and unproductive branches. This will focus the plant’s energy on its healthy parts.

Tips & Warnings

  • To prevent peeling bark while pruning, use a recently-sharpened knife and hold firmly while cutting.
  • Jatropha contains a milky sap that irritates the skin. Always wear gloves when pruning.

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