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Ricinus communis

Castor oil plant

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Key information

Plant type

Evergreen tree

Flower colour





Half hardy

Skill level


Ricinus communis

Plant details

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.

Family: Euphorbiaceae

Genus: Ricinus

Species: communis

Plant type: Evergreen tree

Flower colour: Yellow

Foliage colour: Purple

Feature: Flowers

Sun exposure: Full sun

Soil: Well-drained/light

Hardiness: Half hardy

Skill level: Beginner

Height: 180cm

Spread: 100cm

Time to plant seeds: May to June

Flowering period: July to September

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