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Ricinus communis

Castor oil plant

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

  • Botanical name: Ricinus communis
  • Common name: Castor oil plant
  • Family: Euphorbiaceae
  • Plant Type: Shrub
Flower colour:

Yellow

Foliage colour:

Purple

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.

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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.

How to grow Ricinus communis

  • Plant size

    1.8m height

    100cm spread

  • Aspect

    South facing, west facing

  • Position in border

    Middle

  • Sun exposure: Full sun
  • Hardiness: Tender
  • Soil type: Well drained / light / sandy

Plant calendar

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sow
Sow

Do not Sow in January

Do not Sow in February

Do Sow in March

Do Sow in April

Do not Sow in May

Do not Sow in June

Do not Sow in July

Do not Sow in August

Do not Sow in September

Do not Sow in October

Do not Sow in November

Do not Sow in December

Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Ricinus communis and wildlife

Ricinus communis has no particular known value to wildlife in the UK.

Is Ricinus communis poisonous?

Ricinus communis causes an upset stomach and toxins are absorbed by the skin. Its seeds, roots, seed capsules, foliage and sap are toxic.

Toxic to:

Toxic to Birds

Toxic to Cats

Toxic to Dogs

Toxic to Horses

Toxic to Livestock

Toxic to People