Common Name: Castor oil plant
Skill Level: Beginner
Exposure: Full sun
Hardiness: Half Hardy
Soil type: Well-drained/light
Time to plant seeds: May to June
Flowering period: July to September
Although in its tropical homeland, ricinus is a tree reaching 8m to 12m (25ft to 40ft) high, in the garden it is grown as a dramatic foliage plant to provide a summer highlight in the middle of summer bedding or in large tubs. The seeds must be sown early, soaked for a few hours in tepid water first, and kept growing in pots without check up to planting time. At the end of the season, plants are either discarded or rehoused under glass to grow on as a small conservatory shrub. The seed coats are highly toxic, so it is a good idea to deadhead the fluffy blooms before seeds set.