The Q&A Archives: How to care for Buddha's Belly?

Question: There is conflicting info about jatropha podagrica care on the web, some say water, some say dry, some say sun, some say shade.some sights say inside others say outside. I just bought one that was beautiful, large leaves, bright flowers, and large belly with two arms in the air. it is going down fast. Watered it and put in shade, all flowers and leaves are falling off. Small new leaves are starting

Answer: Jatropha is a member of the Euphorbia family (Crown of Thorns and Poinsettia are other members) and grows outdoors in Columbia and South America. Here in the U.S. most gardening regions are not warm enough for this plant to grow outdoors year around so it is commonly grown indoors. I think that is why you are finding conflicting information on their care. In their native habitat they grow outdoors in full sun with little water. They should grow outdoors in your gardening region in full sunshine as well. However, if your new plant has been growing under a shade cloth in the nursery and you set it out in full sunshine, the leaves can sunburn and drop from the plant. At this point I would place it in a bright shade location and slowy move it into more and more sunshine, eventually to the place you'd like to plant it. In the meantime, don't over water your plant. Allow the top two inches of soil to dry out before watering again. I think your plant will be fine - just give it time.

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