How to Grow Abrus Precatorius in India

Abrus Precatorius is a beautiful specimen with evergreen foliage and matching red berries! Let’s have a look at all the information.

Abrus Precatorius

Abrus Precatorius might be a very attractive plant, but it hides a harsh truth – the berries of this plant are extremely toxic to both adults and children. However, this plant is also famous for its uses in medicine. Reah ahead to know everything in detail.

Botanical Name: Abrus Precatorius

Common Names: Jequirity bean, Indian licorice, Rosary pea, Love pea, Red-bead vine

Abrus Precatorius Information

Abrus precatorius is a plant species in the pea family, Fabaceae. It is native to tropical areas of Africa, Asia, and Australia but is widely cultivated in other parts of the world for ornamental and medicinal purposes. The plant is a slender climber with compound leaves and small, pea-like flowers that are typically white or pink in color.

The most distinctive feature of the plant is its bright red seeds, which are oval-shaped and about the size of a small pea. The seeds are often used in jewelry and crafts due to their striking color and hard, durable shell.

Despite its ornamental uses, the seeds of Abrus precatorius are highly toxic and contain a potent toxin known as abrin. The toxin works by interfering with the synthesis of proteins in cells, leading to cell death and tissue damage.

Despite its toxicity, abrin has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including cancer, malaria, and inflammation. However, the use of Abrus precatorius in medicine is highly controversial due to the risk of toxicity and the lack of scientific evidence to support its efficacy.

Propagating Abrus Precatorius

Propagation of Abrus precatorius can be done through seeds or cuttings

From Seeds:
  1. Collect ripe seeds from a healthy Abrus precatorius plant. The seeds are bright red and have a hard, shiny coat.
  2. Scarify the seed coat by gently nicking or filling the outer layer to allow water to penetrate and speed up the germination process. Alternatively, you can soak the seeds in hot water for a few hours.
  3. Plant the seeds in a well-draining soil mix in a small pot or seed tray. Cover them lightly with soil and keep them moist.
  4. Place the pot or tray in a warm, sunny location or use a heat mat to maintain a temperature between 21-29°C (70-85°F).
  5. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Germination should occur within 2-4 weeks.
From Cuttings:
  1. Take a cutting from a healthy Abrus precatorius plant in the spring or summer. Choose a stem that is healthy, green, and about 10-15 cm (4-6 inches) long.
  2. Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting, leaving only a few leaves at the top.
  3. Dip the cut end of the stem into rooting hormone powder to promote root growth.
  4. Plant the cutting in a pot filled with a well-draining soil mix. Water the soil to settle it around the cutting.
  5. Cover the pot with a plastic bag or place it in a propagator to maintain high humidity.
  6. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and place the pot in a warm, bright location, but not in direct sunlight.
  7. Once roots have developed, which usually takes around 4-6 weeks, transplant the cutting to a larger pot or into the ground in a sunny location with well-draining soil.

Requirements for Growing Abrus precatorius


Abrus precatorius requires full sun to partial shade exposure to grow properly. It prefers a warm and sunny location with at least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight per day.

In areas with hot summers, provide some shade during the hottest part of the day to prevent the plant from getting sunburned.


The plant prefers well-draining, fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. It grows best in a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH range of 6.0-7.5. The soil should be loose, airy, and able to retain moisture without becoming waterlogged.

A good soil mix for Abrus precatorius would consist of equal parts of sandy loam, peat moss, and perlite


Abrus precatorius needs consistent moisture but should not be overwatered. It is important to maintain soil moisture without allowing it to become waterlogged or completely dry out.

Water the plant deeply and thoroughly, allowing the water to penetrate the root zone, then allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again.

Temperature and Humidity

The plant thrives in warm temperatures and requires a minimum temperature of 10°C (50°F) to grow. Ideally, Abrus precatorius prefers a temperature range between 21-29°C (70-85°F) during the day and 16-21°C (60-70°F) at night.

It is a tropical plant and cannot tolerate frost or temperatures below 10°C (50°F). If grown in a warm and sunny location, Abrus precatorius can grow vigorously and produce beautiful foliage and flowers.

The tree grows best in a humidity range between 50-70% but can tolerate lower humidity levels.

Taking Care of Abrus precatorius

Abrus Precatorius 10


Abrus precatorius benefits from regular fertilization to promote healthy growth and flowering. A balanced fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK 10:10:10) is recommended.

Fertilize the plant every 2-3 weeks during the growing season using a water-soluble fertilizer or a slow-release fertilizer. Once it grows to about 4-5 feet in height, it will take care of its own.


It would be a good idea to prune it to maintain its shape and promote healthy growth occasionally. Prune the plant in the spring or early summer after the flowering period is over.

Use sharp, clean pruning shears to remove any dead, damaged, or diseased branches. Wearing gloves is recommended when handling Abrus precatorius.

Pests and Diseases

Abrus precatorius is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but it can be susceptible to some common garden pests, such as spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs.

Regular inspection of the plant can help detect any pest infestations early, which can then be controlled with organic insecticidal sprays or insecticidal soap.

Abrus precatorius can be affected by fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and root rot if the soil is too moist or the plant is exposed to humid conditions.

Maintaining good airflow around the plant and avoiding overhead watering can help prevent fungal diseases. If fungal infections occur, treat them with a fungicidal spray or by removing infected plant parts.

Abrus Precatorius Toxicity 

Abrus precatorius is a highly toxic plant that should be handled with extreme caution. The seeds of the plant contain a toxic compound called abrin, which is one of the deadliest plant toxins known to man. Abrin can cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, as well as neurological symptoms such as seizures and respiratory failure.

Ingestion of just one seed can be lethal to humans, and there is no known antidote for abrin poisoning. Contact with the seeds or plant sap can also cause skin irritation or other adverse effects.

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