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How to Care for a Buddha Belly Plant

Native to Guatemala, the Buddha belly plant (Jatropha podagrica), also called the gout plant, is a tropical perennial plant that can grow up to 5 feet tall, but usually reaches 2 to 3 feet in height. Known for its swollen lower trunk that looks like a Buddha’s belly, the Buddha belly plant is an unusual and exotic-looking plant with waxy, large leaves that reach 10 to 12 inches across. The plant flowers year-round with reddish, clustered flowers that attract butterflies. The Buddha belly plant is extremely cold tender and must be grown indoors during the winter in most non-tropical climates.

Position your Buddha belly plant in full to partial sunlight during the growing season. Place the plant beside a sunny, south-facing window or outdoors in direct sunlight during the summer months.

Water your Buddha belly plant deeply once or twice each week during the growing season, allowing the soil to dry out slightly before watering.

Maintain air temperatures of 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and 60 to 65 degrees at night. Don’t expose your Buddha belly plant to air temperatures below 50 degrees.

Feed your Buddha belly plant with a liquid fertilizer for succulent flowering plants once each month during the growing season. Feed the plant at half the recommended dosage rate and follow the application instructions on the label.

Reduce watering frequency to once every month during the fall and stop watering the plant during the winter dormant season. Stop fertilizing the plant in early autumn and don’t begin feeding the plant again until new growth emerges in the spring.


Although the flowers on the Buddha belly plant remain year-round, the plant will drop its leaves in the fall, signaling the beginning of its dormant season. You can propagate the Buddha belly plant by harvesting the seeds in late summer.


Keep children away from the Buddha belly plant, because its sap and fruits are extremely toxic when ingested.

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