Castor oil plant or Ricinus communis is a large, flowering shrub often grown for commercial purposes. It belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. It has lovely evergreen foliage made up of deep bronze, palmate leaves. Clusters of reddish female and yellowish male flower spikes emerge from this shrub in summer.
It has spiny seed capsules containing multiple oil-rich seeds. These bean-like seeds are very toxic and could be lethal when ingested as they contain a poison known as ricin. They can also cause skin allergies. Ricinus is generally disease-free but it can sometimes be attacked by red spider mites.
How to grow and care for castor oil plants?
Ricinus is usually planted in summer. It can be grown in coastal gardens, informal gardens, in containers or as specimen plants. They are also perfect for borders.
You must water regularly during its growth period. One inch of water per week is a sufficient amount.
The frequency of watering should be increased in summer and reduced in winter. Let the soil dry out between waterings. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer to the base of the plant once a month.
The Castor oil plant doesn’t need much pruning. It is majorly done to limit its size and keep it in good shape. Pruning is best carried out in springtime.
Where should I position castor oil plants in my garden?
Ricinus can be positioned facing west or south. It needs at least 8 hours of sunlight to thrive. This will help it obtain a fuller look. You may place this plant in a sheltered site to prevent frost damage. If placed in an exposed area, it will need to be staked.
What is the height and spread of castor oil plants?
Castor oil plants are fast-growing shrubs. It reaches a height of 1.5 to 2.5 metres in 1 year. Though in warm areas, it can grow as tall as 13 metres. It usually has a spread of 0.5 to 1 metre.
What kind of soil does castor oil plants need?
This plant can be grown in a range of soils, but rich loamy soil is most preferred. It should have sufficient moisture and drain freely. The soil may be slightly acidic, neutral, or slightly alkaline. Deficient soil tends to cause more flowering and less foliage growth.