Still contributing

The castor bean plants are some of the most dramatic, eye-catching features in my garden during mid to late summer. Their impressive height (8'-10' or more), giant leaves, and colors (dark reddish leaves and bright red seed pods) make a statement. Their only drawback is their size and resulting susceptibility to storm damage, requiring me to stake them up each year.

What I've found this year is that they're also worth keeping around during the winter.


I usually pull these up or cut them down to a stump after the first freeze when they die, but this year I decided to leave one of the plants alone. I may have pruned a branch or two that was in the way, but for the most part left the entire plant in place -- trunk, branches, leaves, seed pods -- the whole thing.

My idea was to give the birds something to perch upon, and to add some sculptural, visual interest.

I didn't realize how much visual interest they would provide:

Not bamboo, but almost as cool.

Next year this plant won't be needed for a vertical element, nor for a place for birds to perch as the bamboo planted next to it should be large enough to provide both of those. I'll still be growing it though, and I'll leave it through the winter again too.

It's just too interesting in my winter garden not to.

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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (January 19, 2011 at 3:22 PM)  

I've always wanted to grow one of these. Did you start yours from seed? I've never seen them in any of our local nurseries.

Alan  – (January 19, 2011 at 3:33 PM)  

Super-easy to grow from seed, and I've got plenty to share. All parts of the plant are poisonous to people and livestock when ingested though. You can keep them smaller by growing in a pot too.

Unknown  – (January 19, 2011 at 3:56 PM)  

Ok. How many dozen? Or would you prefer ordering by the pound? :-)

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (January 19, 2011 at 6:49 PM)  

I was thinking of a handful...of seeds, not pounds! I only need one or two plants :-).

Alan  – (January 19, 2011 at 8:59 PM)  

Ok, 2 seeds it is. I've never had one not germinate. =)

If you look at the first photo of this post, each spiky pod holds 4 seeds I think, and there are 15 or so pods showing in that one photo, so that's 60 seeds. The whole plant has at least 100 pods on it, so that's 400 seeds. Plus the bucketfull I have from last year.

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