starting castor bean

jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))February 3, 2006

When is the best time to start a castor bean plant from seed?

What is the most effective method?

Do the seeds need to be nicked or just planted?

Appreciate any ideas about this. I have been unsuccessful in the past with these, and had to buy them already sprouted. A gardener friend gave me several seeds this past fall, so I really want to give it a go for next spring's planting.

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georgez5il(z5 IL)

Start seed inside 10 weks before plant to set out otherwise when soil temp is about 65F
Soak seed in water for 48-72 hours then lightly cover soil temp 70-75F & takes 15-21 days to germinate.....

    Bookmark   February 3, 2006 at 1:22PM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

So, you recommend the week of March 20th, if I want to plant out on June 1st? Sounds like the time I want to start my dahlias too, and my cannas ( they may have to wait as there is just a limited amount of room).

Is my math right?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2006 at 5:30PM
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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

Jroot, For June 1st plants, I don't start mine till around April 15th.

I soak my seeds in warm water for 24 hours, cover with vermiculite, under lights and warmth. Germinates within 10 days.

Sharon

    Bookmark   February 4, 2006 at 2:07AM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

We are having such a weird winter - very warm. I am wondering if I should start mine a bit early indoors. Our last frost date is normally April 15, and of course, in Oklahoma, anything can happen.

Is it okay to direct sow these seeds? They seem to grow very fast.

Susan

    Bookmark   February 4, 2006 at 6:31PM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

Thanks for your responses. I do appreciate them all as it helps to formulate a plan in my feeble mind. LOL

    Bookmark   February 5, 2006 at 2:15PM
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origami_master(5b)

I 'm not sure about my zone, if you know please e-mail me,. As far as I'm concerner, I just buy those peat pots (add water and watch the pots expand!) and stick the castor bean inside. Make sure you stick the bean pointed end down! I covered the top with saran wrap and left it over our heater. This method seems to work.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2006 at 4:30PM
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susanlynne48(OKC7a)

I've planted them several times, and never paid any attention to which end went which way. Hmmmm. I got some New Zealand purple this year to try.

Susan

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 7:32PM
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rusty_blackhaw(6a)

The seeds can be direct sown.

Anyone planting them indoors 10 weeks before set-out date had better have a tall sunny window and lots of room, as castor beans are fast growers. I start my seed no more than 2-3 weeks before they are due to go out into the coldframe.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2006 at 8:45PM
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thistle(ontario 5b)

A little bit off topic,but if I plant Castor bean in a pot will it limiit it's size? I love this plant but it just gets tooo huuuge for the spot I would like to have it in.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 8:00PM
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ornata(London UK (8/9?))

Thistle: yes, keeping it in a pot will certainly limit its size. I speak from experience - last year I didn't pot all of my young Ricinus on when I should have done. The ones that had been kept in smaller pots too long stayed small, even though they still managed to flower.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 10:20AM
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linrose(6b KY)

Got some soaking just now. I may be sorry - eric oh, can I pinch or otherwise keep these beasts in line before last frost date (here April 10, conservatively April 20.) Also they don't appear to have a pointy side, but one side has a bit of what looks like beige "lips" on one end. Is this the root end or the shoot end??? What size pot to plant in for germination? Will 3" do for now?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 5:55PM
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hayman2

I dried the prickley seed pods over winter in a dry warm area. We want to start propigating them but they haven't popped out of there prickley casings yet. What am I to do.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 8:19PM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

Hayman2, break open the prickly casings. The seed are smooth, usually rather attractive, inside the ugly casings. If your are in a hurry you may scratch the seed with a manacure file and soak them overnight.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 1:18PM
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leaveswave(.)

I don't bother nicking anything. Mother Nature seems to manage without it. I haven't seen any studies demonstrating higher rates of germination, but it does let one feel more actively involved in nurturing plants.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 4:30PM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

Anyone planting these come spring? I bought a few seeds off ebay, they are the tall green type ( zanbiensis ) and the red type

    Bookmark   January 28, 2008 at 7:54AM
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reginaaginar(5b/6a)

I was wondering why people grow a poisonous plant like castor beans. I have never grown one but I am planning to do so this year as I have a few seeds. But I am planting it in my veggie garden as it is said to repel moles and gophers. Does it really do the trick? Is it a beautiful plant? Should I plant more than one seed?
Regina

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 8:51AM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

reginaaginar, I would definitely NOT plant this in your vegetable garden.
1) It can grow up to twelve feet tall in one summer ( my neighbours had one this tall last summer).
2) It will provide TOO MUCH shade for your vegetables to grow properly.
3) At the end of the summer, you will have to till through a mass of roots. My plant had a stem with a diameter of 2 inches. The roots went a LONG way out from there.

Fair warning!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2008 at 10:17AM
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reginaaginar(5b/6a)

Thank you, jroot for letting me know.
Regina

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 9:03AM
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cheerpeople

Hey Jroot!

Because the 'started in the house ones' didn't stay ahead of the self sown ones I'm not planting them inside at all this year. The wind here really is hard on the inside started ones, after they go out. The outside started (self sown) ones just learned how to handle it without staking the first month....
Starting them at the same time as the tomatoes inside is how I'd done it in the past. That way they are about a foot tall for transplant.

:)

karen

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 7:46PM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

I'll just start some indoors, and direct seed some outdoors. I am really looking forward to this one, it my 1st time planting it.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2008 at 7:19AM
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medontdo(8)

hi!! my kids and i were doing an experiment, so on some castor beans that we got that floated we left in the water a few days. and then we put into a container and within a week they started coming up. i had all 15 of them sprouting and not only did they come up well but these babies took off great!! in the middle of winter till i forgot about them LOL they are the very easiest things to sow!! :'))

    Bookmark   February 16, 2008 at 11:32PM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

I am soaking some right now, looking to sow them for 1st of March. I'll then direct sow the rest outside after last frost.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 9:52AM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

As a newbie to castor bean, I planted the seeds on the 25th of Feb, and they germinated on Feb 29th under growlights in the basement.

The pots were put in ziplock bags

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 11:46AM
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banana_fun

my castor beans usually germinate in 2 days indoors with a heat mat. Bottom heat makes a huge difference when germinating tropical seeds. You can place seeds on top of a fridge for added heat.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 1:35AM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

So what size castor bean plant did people achieve in 2008?

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 4:55PM
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kiddo_1(NE OH 5)

I grew castor beans for the first time this year (NE Ohio, zone5). I treated them just like beans. When it was warm outside (mid-May) I soaked them about 4 hours, then put them in 6" pots (one each). Cool nights I covered the unsprouted pots. The sprouts and leaves were definitely different - a bile yellowish. Very interesting. When they were about 8" high (they grew fast) I put them in a new bed. I liked the huge leaves but didn't expect to really enjoy the flower stalks. Bees seems to love them too. I'll certainly grow them again.

I think you could just as easy sow them directly. In fact, as the beans developed from the flowers and they matured, they dropped off and when I was cleaning up in November, there were at least a dozen that had sprouted and were over 18" high. I saved seeds from 2 of the tall plants: one that was the biggest and one that was the reddest.

Castor beans are supposed to deter chipmunks which is why I originally planted them. I swear the chippies practically hung out over there in the shade, having little chippy picnics and family reunions. *sigh* Oh well....

Kris

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 7:44PM
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jupitershane

I agree,caster beans do deter chipmunks

Here is a link that might be useful: caster beans seeds

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 10:45PM
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radtechx_ray

Thank you everyone. I will be planting some castor bean seeds tomorrow after I soak for 24 hours. I will try and plant in a few pots with planting soil. I hope they will germinate indoors. I will try them in a south window. Do they need a grow light? I live in the Chicago suburbs. I got them from a garden friend. My wife's aunt has grown them for years. I love the size and the height of the plant. I will try them in different conditions. Dry,wet, shade, and sun.I am going to plant out doors around the 3rd week in May.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 7:34PM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

Don't start the castor seeds now, they get huge quickly and unless you have a sunroom, then you might struggle to keep them going

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 6:16PM
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Joyce(Zone 7b LI, NY)

I'm all for planting the easy-efficient way.
Last year I harvested HUNDREDS of the little spiney seed pods and stored them in a big ziplock. This year I direct sowed them in the ground. I left them in the spiney seed pods too!
I planted them all along the top of my bluff in a row 100' long every 6-8" by poking them about 1-2" deep into some very finely ground mulch we got from our local landfill. Then I sprinkled them with some Osmocote. This was about a week ago.
What do I see when I got home today? A cute little hedge about 100 feet long of Castor Bean Seedlings. :)
Looks like I am going to have one heckuva hedge in a couple months! :D

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 8:10PM
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jroot(5A Ont. Canada (near Guelph))

Amazing. Hopefully, you'll post some photos, Joyce.

Mine have not germinated yet. Perhaps they are too old.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 10:54PM
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glaswegian(5b, Ont)

Anyone have giant zanzibaresis seeds to spare?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 11:59AM
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wally_1936(8b)

I have grown the common green Castor beans and one variety of the red. Some do get quite large but I did grow one in the shaded side of my home which only got to be 6'X6' and it was quite full. Those seeds explode and have to be picked just after they start to change to a brown color or they will broad cast their seeds by themselves. I have two of them growing in the shade and they are quite small so they can be contained even here. I mowed down the seedlings which started in my lawn area. They start will from cuttings also, that is how I received my first red variety start.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2010 at 9:10AM
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shirlenegreen_hotmail_com

This is a crazy question but once I have soaked the bean do I plant the little sprout that is coming out of the bean up or down in the soil?????

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 10:10AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

The root should emerge first. When in doubt, lay the seed on it's side, root will find it's way down and leaves up :)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 9:53PM
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Terry464646

Thanks so much for the info regarding Main Street Seed Supply. What a great place to buy seeds.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2012 at 6:25PM
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ChicagoPlants

This is a great plant. It works well in container boxes - the more sun and water the better. I've only bought the giant purple ones - gorgeous in every way and can be grouped or singled to provide different effects.

I've had mixed results with germination - but just had a big hit. I bought 10 seeds from online (is it okay to say where from) and heated water to has hoot as my finger could stand. In go the seeds, and all popped within 20 mins! I am going to send a note to the seed provider b/c I have tried this before, with some making it, others not. 10 of of 10 is great!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 6:10PM
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HeidiN

I put my castor bean seeds in water overnight and then put them into some small pots and nothing has happened. It has been about 2 weeks. Should I order more and retry?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 9:51AM
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runswithscissors(MT 4/5)

Personally, I would wait another week or so...but since the seeds are so gigantic, if you are super impatient (like me) carefully, oh so carefully, pull the dirt away from the seed to see if it is rotting. If the seed is still hard, cover it back up and give it more time. I've had these seeds pop up in a week, and other times they take their sweet time. Zone 4, night temps are still pretty low if you are sprouting them on a window sill, so that make take a bit longer to wake them up.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 12:41PM
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maj742(5)

Last year I soaked castor bean seeds for 72 hours. They all rotted.
This year I soaked for them only one hour in water laced with fungicide. Then into pots 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. For grins & giggles I put four of them into clear plastic cups that had bottom holes, placing the seed on the sides of the cups for viewing. Onto a heat mat. Within three days they were rooting - huge roots winding their way down, branching magnificently, well before any sign of top growth. The top growth probably took 10 days. Four other pots which I had no room for on the heat mat still haven't rooted, a month later. Two days ago I just put them on the mat with some pumpkin seeds. We shall see if they will grow with heat, or if they rotted during the past month while they just SAT.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:26PM
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maj742(5)

"Two days ago I just put them on the mat with some pumpkin seeds. We shall see if they will grow with heat, or if they rotted during the past month while they just SAT."
AMAZING. The castor bean seeds that "SAT" from sowing March 30 until I put them on a heat mat on April 24 are now sending up shoots, just four days later, on April 28. They absolutely respond to heat. I am especially amazed that they did not rot in the cool soil.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 9:23AM
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steilberg(6 lou,KY)

where did you find castor seed?
thanks rich

    Bookmark   April 28, 2013 at 10:39AM
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maj742(5)

To Steilberg: I got my seeds from a neighbor. I have seen them in various seed catalogs.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 1:16AM
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