I discovered this one early on in my Backyard Resort journey. Castor Bean is absolutely beautiful, very easy to grow, and guaranteed to bring an exotic, almost jungle feel to just about any area of your tropical backyard or pool landscape. It has huge, palmate leaves that can be over 2 feet across, with great color and shape.
This plant is just fun. You grow it from seed at the begining of the season. I already hear the grumbles from you impatient types but, fear not, it grows incredibly fast, faster than you can imagine if you baby it just a little. Believe it or not, mine consistently grow well over 12 feet tall every year. Feel better?
Castors are very versatile. You can grow it as a specimen plant, or in groups to create a spectacular tropical screen. I’ve found that castor beans combine very well with bananas, cannas, gingers, and other tropical looking plants.
I’ve used at least 3 different varieties: green, grey, and red. The greens get the biggest by far. They grey’s have a really cool stalk color. But for max effect, I suggest you look to the bronze/red varieties such as Carmencita as they provide an even more dramatic effect with their deep bronze foliage.
Castor Beans are annuals in all but the warmest zones, but are almost guaranteed to reseed themselves, maybe more than you want! Plant the seeds in the spring, in well-drained soil and in full sun. To get the most out of castor beans in the shortest amount of time, baby them a little by enriching the soil with compost at planting time and providing plenty of water early in the growing cycle. This is a tough plant and, once established, requires very little maintenance. The only real downside once established is that high winds can sometimes push them over a bit. When that happens, I just straighten and brace them, and they go right back to being happy. Very tough cookies.
Seeds or readily available on ebay or through online retailers. Trust me, you’ll only need to buy seeds once as you can collect seeds from your own plants once you have some established, and there will be far more than you’ll ever need!
Fair warning, all parts, and especially the seeds, of this plant are poisonous if ingested. I’d leave Castor Beans out of your Backyard Resort mix if you have young children.