Ricinus communis

Ricinus communis

Castor oil plant

J F M A M J J A S O N D
Flowers
Flowers
Yes
Yes
Yes

Key Information

  • Botanical name: Ricinus communis
  • Common name: Castor oil plant
  • Plant type: Shrub

Height: 1.8m

Spread: 1m

Flower colour:
  • Yellow
Foliage colour:
  • Purple
  • Features: Dramatic foliage, Flowers

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Although in its tropical homeland, the caster oil plant, Ricinus communis, reaches 8-12m in height, its growth can be restricted in a British garden setting, and it's usually grown in containers as an annual. While Ricinus communis does produce greenish-yellow flowers, it is grown mainly for its large, glossy, reddish purple foliage.

Seeds must be sown early in the year, and ideally soaked for a few hours in tepid water beforehand. At the end of the season, plants are either discarded or rehoused under glass to grow on as a small conservatory shrub. All parts of Ricinus communis are highly toxic, particularly the seeds, so it's a good idea to deadhead the fluffy blooms before seeds set.

Position

  • Sun exposure: Full sun
  • Aspect: South facing, West facing
  • Position in border: Middle
  • Hardiness: Tender
  • Maintenance: Prefers rich soil
  • Soil type: Well drained/light/sandy

Wildlife

Attracts:
  • Bees

  • Beneficial insects

  • Birds

  • Butterflies / Moths

  • Other pollinators

Care routine

J F M A M J J A S O N D
Sow
Sow
Yes
Yes
Yes
Plant
Plant
Yes
Yes

Toxicity

Toxic to:
  • People

  • Cats

  • Dogs

  • Birds

  • Horses

  • Livestock

  • Toxic part: Seeds, Roots, Seed capsules, Foliage, Sap
  • Effects: Harmful if ingested, Purgative if ingested

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