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Castor Bean Substitute. Anything Non-Poisonous?

Posted by phelansmom WY Z4 (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 8, 12 at 10:43

I am planning on installing a new garden based on a Sunset Garden Plan. The plan includes a Dwarf Red Spire Castor Bean which is not an option with a 5 year old. It will be next to a Miscanthus sinensis 'Strictus' plus other ornamental grasses, rudebeckia and pineleaf penstemon (substitute for invasive Japanese Blood Grass..colorwise.)

Is there another plant with a similar texture/color/height?

I thought about an Angelica gigas for texture and color, or a "Turn of the Century" Hibiscus (yikes though about the japanese beetles!) for foliage style. But I haven't had an aha moment yet.

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RE: Castor Bean Substitute. Anything Non-Poisonous?

Hi Phelansmom!

Before I answer your question, I have to admit that I've grown Castor Bean 'Carmencita' the past couple of years, and I have 3 children, the youngest of which is now 5. They were taught that every part of the plant was poisonous, and to not touch it. Never had any issues with them bothering it.

Here's a picture of it at the end of July in 2010:

Castor Bean 'Carmencita' 7-29-10

That really doesn't do it justice though. It was close to six feet tall by the fall and gave the garden a tropical look that is difficult to achieve in this climate.

There are a couple of options though, and you mentioned one - Hibiscus, thought the variety that would look closest to Castor Bean is 'Mahogany Splendor', which unfortunately is an annual.

The other idea I had is also an annual, Burgunday Okra. It's very ornamental, and has the added benefit of being edible. Probably would have to start it indoors though. I tried direct sowing and it never got more than a couple of feet tall, even though it's supposed to be 4' -5' in height.


Here is a link that might be useful: Hibiscus 'Mahogany Splendor'

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