Jatropha is a flowering deciduous shrub that is often used as an ornamental in the home garden. A tropical plant, jatropha grows best in mild climates that don't experience winter freezing. The large, oval deep green leaves give it a lush appearance even when its not flowering. Jatropha may bloom twice yearly and the flowers are deep reds and pinks, which adds ongoing color to the landscape. While seedlings may be purchased, growing jatropha from seed is an inexpensive and uncomplicated process.
Prepare a well-drained garden bed in full sun. Remove any weeds and large stones, then loosen the soil to a 12- to 18-inch depth using a power tiller.
Fill a bowl with warm water. Place seeds in the water to soak for 8 hours or overnight. Soaking weakens the seed coat which aids germination.
Water the prepared bed until it is evenly moist throughout. Place the soaked seed on the soil surface and press it into the soil to a depth of 1 inch. Water again immediately after sowing. Space seeds 3 feet apart in all directions when planting.
Water twice daily until the seedling appears, approximately one week after sowing. Once the seedling appears, water once daily.
Side-dress each jatropha seedling with a balanced organic fertilizer when the seedling is eight weeks old. Apply the fertilizer 12 inches away from the plant and work it into the top 8 inches of soil. Follow label instructions for application amounts.
Water immediately after fertilizing until the soil is moist throughout. Continue to water the jatropha once weekly if there is no natural precipitation.