The attention of many fans of exotic plants attracts an unusual southern culture with large, bright leaves, shaped like a palm tree. This castor, planting and cultivation of which does not require much effort and time.
Characteristics and features of the plant
Castor bean (second name Castor) is an annual, poisonous plant of the Euphorbia family. Her homeland is Africa. In a subtropical and tropical climate, castor is grown as an evergreen perennial plant.
Externally, the castor plant resembles a tropical palm tree up to 3 m in height. The stems are hollow, branched, arranged vertically. The color is rose red or purple with a slight bluish bloom.
Castor leaves are deep-cut, unequally-toothed, sometimes pointed. Color from green to burgundy. The length of the sheet can reach 80 cm, together with the stem - more than a meter.
In summer, inflorescences appear on the castor oil in the form of green with a red tinge of brushes. Male and female flowers are on the same plant: female - at the top of the inflorescences, and male - at the bottom.
Later in place of the flowers appear fruit. They are round or elongated seed pods, can be smooth or with prickles. Each box contains 2-3 seeds, externally similar to beans.
To collect the seeds, in the beginning of September the largest and most beautiful boxes are cut. Then they dry the houses in a well-ventilated area, and in November-December seeds are extracted from them. On an industrial scale, castor (castor oil, racinic) oil is produced from seeds.
Castor bean is often grown in gardens for decoration, but despite its attractive appearance, some gardeners are wary of its planting on the backyard. The root, stem, leaves, and seeds of this plant contain ricin, a protein that is poisonous to humans and animals. Getting it into the body causes irreparable harm to health, and can be fatal. The highest concentration of ricin in the seeds of the plant. In case of accidental ingestion of them into the body, you must flush the stomach and consult a doctor.
Varieties and types
For central Russia, castor oil is an exotic decorative culture. Since the nineteenth century. these grassy plants for an open ground are actively used in landscape design.
Long-term work of breeders has allowed to get a lot of varieties that differ in size, color and shape of leaves. To date, several types of castor bean are popular:
- Borbonskaya. Tree-like plant, whose height reaches 3 m. Differs in red color of the trunk and large glossy leaves.
- Cossack. Decorative variety of domestic selection. Plant height up to 2 m. The stem is red-brown, the leaves change color from purple-red to dark green with red veins as they grow. The flowers are collected in a brush-rich red color.
- Zanzibar. Spreading plant up to 3 m. It has large green leaves with white veins. The flowers are blood red.
- Indian (or Cambodian). Plant with dark green foliage and almost black trunk. The average height does not exceed 1.2 m.
- Impala Plant with bronze leaves and red flowers. The height does not exceed 1.3 m.
Despite the external differences, all varieties belong to the same type of "castor bean".
Throughout the world, castor oil is known not only as poisonous, but also as a valuable industrial and medicinal culture. The healing properties of castor oil extracted from castor seeds were known in antiquity. It is still used:
- as a laxative and diuretic;
- in the treatment of chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract;
- to neutralize toxins in case of poisoning (except for alcohol intoxication);
- if necessary, stimulate labor activity;
- in the treatment of skin diseases (applied externally);
- as a basis for the manufacture of ointments and emulsions.
The useful properties of castor oil are widely used in home cosmetology. It is part of the masks and lotions for hair and skin.
The cultivation of castor oil begins with planting seeds for seedlings in late March - early April.
In order to ensure the best germination of seedlings, it is necessary to prepare the seeds, to scarify them - to partially destroy the solid waterproof shell. You can do without scarification. To do this, soak the seeds for 24 hours in clean, warm water or a growth stimulant solution.
The castor bean does not tolerate the transplant, so it is better to sow seeds for seedlings in peat pots. Since the shoots are quite large and grow quickly, the pots for planting them must be of an appropriate size. The soil can be bought already prepared or prepared by yourself, mixing an equal amount of peat, garden soil, sand and humus.
Castor beans are planted with 2-3 seeds in each container, deepening by 2-4 cm. The soil should be slightly damp. After planting, the seeds are watered abundantly.
Containers with future sprouts must be placed in a warm, well-lit place in the house. Moisture in peat containers evaporates quickly, so you need to make sure that the plant is not dry. Once every 2 weeks, castor bean seedlings need fertilizing with mineral fertilizers.
The first shoots usually appear after 3-6 days. When they grow up a little bit, they leave one sprout in each pot, the rest are carefully removed.
If the climatic conditions of the region allow, seeds can be sown directly into open ground. To do this, the air temperature at night should not fall below 12-15 ° C.
Planting in open ground
A castor is planted on a permanent place in open ground in late May - early June, when the threat of night frosts passes and warm weather sets in. Like other grassy plants for open ground, castor oil does not tolerate frost and prolonged cooling.
Castor grows well in an open, sunny area with loose and moist soil. Sometimes, to protect against drafts, it is planted near the fence or near the southern wall of the house.
If the land on the site is heavy, then for planting an exotic plant it needs to be prepared: add sand, humus, peat. Then dig as deep as possible.
Planting seedlings in open ground as follows:
- In accordance with the size of the root is prepared well.
- Sprouts are planted in peat containers, which later decompose in the ground or with ground clod.
- 2-3 cm stalk sapling embedded in the ground and sprinkled with earth.
- Abundantly watered. So that the water does not spread, you need to pour a small roller around the hole.
- When water is absorbed, the ground in the hole can be mulched peat.
When planting in open ground, it is important to preserve the integrity of the root system of plants.
Planting and caring for castor beans does not cause difficulties even for novice gardeners.
When the plant is planted in open ground only remains:
- Water at least once every 5 days, 10 liters per bush.
- Weed and loosen the flower beds. To provide oxygen access to the root system.
- Feed at least 1 time in 2 weeks. Use for this liquid fertilizer, alternating mineral and organic.
- Place the support near the young plant until it is strong. In order not to spoil the look with props, sometimes castor is planted near mesh fences. It goes well with climbing cultures.
For complete care, castor oil should be treated with special preparations. They protect it from damage by fungal diseases and harmful insects to which all types of grassy plants for an open ground are subject.
Application in landscape design
Landscape design specialists appreciate castor oil for its exotic appearance and rapid growth. It is planted in the garden as a single planting or in a flowerbed along with other ornamental plants.
Castor bean is attributed to the properties of scaring flies and other insects, so it is often planted near a gazebo or at home.
Having planted a castor-oil bean along a fence, it is possible to quickly grow a beautiful hedge that does not require complicated maintenance, constant pruning and shaping. In the design of the garden, this exotic plant is used to divide its territory into different zones.
In the beds, castor oil is placed in the background, so it does not cover other plants. Such annual herbaceous plants for open ground as marigolds, nasturtium, petunia, clematis, sweet peas are well combined with castor oil. Among the perennials, the castor is beautifully complemented: monards, lilies, host, gerberas.
On the open veranda of the house castor can be grown in large pots. Placing it in a room in the autumn-winter period, it turns from a seasonal plant into a perennial, indoor flower.
The castor is a decorative, herbaceous plant for open ground that can decorate any personal plot. Do not be afraid of the poison contained in it. Working with seeds in gloves, observing elementary precautionary measures, growing the castor bean becomes no more dangerous than other grass crops.