Castor Bean Question

joefalco(z8 MB SC)July 15, 2006

I had a question concerning castor beans. I planted some seeds in Spring and they are only about 16 Inches tall now in July.

I have read how fast and large these plants are supposed to get, but so far my experience is different. The plants are starting to get dried seeds on them does this mean they are done growing?

Could I have gotten some sorry seeds?

Thanks for any help...

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gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)

Could it be the soil conditions? Or maybe water? Mine were sown late spring and are about 6 feet tall. I did keep a hose on a very slow drip most of the time.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 9:06PM
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dirt_dew(z9 az)

Joefalco-
They can get that tall in a couple of weeks! Are you sure they were castor bean seeds that you planted? They should grow very fast and should be much larger before setting seed.
As Gurley mentioned, they do like some water.
Castor bean trees will keep growing for years if they do not freeze. They can take some frost and even grow back after some frost damage if the roots survive. When seeds are ready, the large seed pod "explodes" sending seeds many feet through the air.
Do the leaves look healthy? Are they producing new flower spikes?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 1:27AM
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joefalco(z8 MB SC)

I'll post a picture of them, I am sure they are castor beans though.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 4:26PM
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joefalco(z8 MB SC)

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    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 6:44PM
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gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)

After seeing the pics my advice would be to leave a hose slow dripping on it and maybe give it a tiny bit of Peters fertilizer or fish emulsion.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 10:13PM
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john_trussville(z7b AL)

joe, I know exactly the frustration you're feeling, as I've had the exact same experience with most of the castor beans that I've planted. For me the only ones that have grown to any size are ones that are planted real close to another plant that also gets some size. One of mine is planted between a couple of brugmansias & another is growing beside my manihot grahanni. I'm thinking that the competition for the sunlight gives them the impetus to grow tall. I also have several that look just like yours....they look healthy but no matter how much I water & feed they refuse to grow more than 2ft tall. Next year plant some next to something that will give them some competition for light and see what happens.

john

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 11:31PM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

Based on Joe's pictures, the problem could well be poor dry soil and cramped conditions with insufficient sun (the castor bean next to the wooden fence, in particular).

Work some decomposed organic matter into the soil, give sufficient water, fertilizer and full sun, and stand back. Competition for light and nutrients is the last thing they need.

My plants are only now pushing past three feet in height, but they were started and set out late.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 6:52PM
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joefalco(z8 MB SC)

Eric, We have sandy soil here with not much in the way of OM in the soil. The CBs near the chain link fence are in full blazing sun all day long they are also in sandy soil with no ammendments besides piling up grass clippings around them. The ones next to the "wooden fence" are actually planted directly beside the compost bin. Everything else growing near the compost is growing great bananas and moonflower vine. The ones near the "fence" actually a pallet compost bin get less sun. It might be hard to tell from the pictures but these castor beans look healthier but still small.

Thanks for all the replies.

Based on Joe's pictures, the problem could well be poor dry soil and cramped conditions with insufficient sun (the castor bean next to the wooden fence, in particular).
Work some decomposed organic matter into the soil, give sufficient water, fertilizer and full sun, and stand back. Competition for light and nutrients is the last thing they need.

My plants are only now pushing past three feet in height, but they were started and set out late.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 10:36PM
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jon1949(z7 north tx.)

Hi joefalco,my castor beans grow in a dry,shade late and hot corner of my yard.They re-seed and are the first plants to flower.Both the green and red grow very quickly.Picture below. john

Here is a link that might be useful: castor picture

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 9:58AM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

My guess is that they need more water. Castor beans are tough and very drought-tolerant plants but when getting established as seedlings, they form a very long taproot. If your soil is dry and sandy, and especially if you had the same early spring drought that we did in the mid-Atlantic, they may never have gotten established properly. Also, they generally need little fertilizer but in sandy soil it may help to give them some. I think it's too late for this year, but maybe they'll do better for you next year.

The size also depends on the selection you are growing. Many of them are selected to stay small, and will start blooming at a small size. If you want really big castor beans, you need to seek out the really big selections like 'Zanzibarensis', which has enormous green leaves.

BTW did you start them directly in the ground? I find this is best, because it allows that long taproot to grow. Starting them in pots usually just stunts them (although I've had some luck with peat pots). Also, they do best in full blazing sun, although again they do need some water, especially when young.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 9:57AM
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joefalco(z8 MB SC)

John, the plants near the chain link fence do not get a lot of water since my hose barely reaches there.

I did direct sow them, I really have not idea what variety they are since someone from gardenweb gave them to me.

Does anyone have any seeds of a super large variety? I would love to have some.

THANKS JOHN

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 5:57PM
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bihai(zone 9)

Mine grew to about 20 feet in one season from seed last year, they were seeds I brought with me from my old house when we moved. Last summer was extremely wet, and for us, so was this winter, and winter was mild, so they didn't freeze all the way, just got a bit of leafnip.

This summer has been a bona fide drought til now, we are finally getting some rain, but they have only gotten to be about 14-15 ft on the old root and trunks.

I think water is the key for them

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 7:40PM
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zone_denial(6b)

I placed two castors in the garden this year. One only gets filtered light for most of the day, the other gets much more sun. The filtered light plant has grown twice as tall and at least three times as full and lush. They both receive the exact same amount of moisture, same soil, etc. So, here in the arid west I think sun protection is a key factor.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 10:04PM
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john_trussville(z7b AL)

I agree with you zone, that castors seem to grow taller out of full, direct sun. But of course some of the experts above screamin "full sun, full sun" will continue to scoff at that suggestion. But that's ok...I say whatever works for you!!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 6:25PM
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joefalco(z8 MB SC)

The castor beans near the compost have since taken off and are about 4 feet tall, Still not huge but pretty big now. I will need to take some updated pictures to show you all.

The castor beans near the chain link fence in full sun are still the same size and look horrible.

Just an update

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 9:44PM
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benita383(z5WI)

Hi all: I planted some castor beans last April and they took about two weeks to sprout. Now they are about three feet tall with huge bronzish-green leaves that show some purple when the sun hits them. I still haven't gotten any flowers/seeds showing up. Am anxiously waiting. By the way, these are Carmencita's, with the red stems.

We all reside in So. Wisconsin. I hope they will winter over.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 11:26AM
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unautre(8B San Antonio TX)

"I hope they will winter over"

Not a chance in WI. They don't make it outside here in San Antonio TX.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 1:13PM
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cheerpeople

I agree- zone 5 here- not a chance of wintereing over.
I start mine in the house for a bigger plant.
My tallest right now is 11 ft.
The shortest- are teh self sowers that are 2 ft that started themselves outside.- makes a huge diference to start hem under lights or on a window sill in cold climates like Wisc. if you want height.

I'm discovering a bit too late- that I should have staked the ones on the embankment when it rains this much --
Karen

    Bookmark   September 3, 2006 at 7:04AM
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