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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.
Plant type: Evergreen tree
Flower colour: Yellow
Foliage colour: Purple
Sun exposure: Full sun
Hardiness: Half hardy
Skill level: Beginner
Time to plant seeds: May to June
Flowering period: July to September
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