How to grow the Ricino
The castor (Ricinus communis L.) is a plant of the genus Ricinus belonging to the Euphorbiaceae family. In this sheet we see how to grow the Ricino and useful technical information. This plant native to East Africa can reach even more than 10 meters in the original places; in the Italian latitude areas it assumes the shape of a shrub that does not exceed two meters in height. The Ricino has a hardy and sturdy root, an erect stem, hollow and very branched; with stems that carry large palmate leaves supported by long, reddish hollow petioles. Both the stem and the branches end with a panicle inflorescence that bears feminine and masculine flowers. The female flowers are pitted and with red central pistils are in the upper part while the male grouped in clusters and carrying yellow stamens are located in the lower part. The Ricino has fruits that are globose capsules covered with non-rigid spines, which contain three large oval seeds similar to beans, marbled and shiny.
Even if the seeds are toxic (due to the presence of ricin) they are processed to obtain the Ricino oil which is used in cosmetics, in the medical field and also as a lubricant in engines.
The Ricino plant for excellent growth must be planted in sunny places and protected from winds; it is a species that fears both the cold and the nocturnal frosts. It has no particular soil requirements as long as it is well endowed with organic substance and above all permeable and well drained.
The irrigation of the Ricino is required above all in case of periods of prolonged drought. At the Ricino plant it is necessary to provide the soil with good quantities of organic substance (very good mature manure) to be reintegrated during the vegetative cycle, especially with the preliminary processing at the beginning of spring.
The propagation of the Ricino can be done by seed in the spring period with planting of the seeds in a substrate of sand and peat in equal parts at a constant temperature of about 18 ° C. It is advisable to put them in lukewarm water for at least 24 hours before seeding. The seeds germinate in about thirty days. The plant in the open field should be done in rows about a meter away when the seedlings have developed the fifth leaf.
The Ricino is not a plant that needs special pruning techniques to produce, but it is good to remove twigs and dry leaves to better air the inside of the plant.
Since the ripening of the fruits and seeds of the Ricino is climbing, the harvest is carried out from August until the end of October.
As for adversity, even if the Ricino is a rustic plant, it fears the Alternaria ricini, the Xanthomonas ricinicola, the Botrytis and the Fusarium, fungal parasites that cause serious damages both to the roots and to the stem. But the most dangerous enemy of the Ricino is the Dichocrocis punctiferalis (bombina of the Ricino), a butterfly that seriously damages the fruits during the ripening phase.
To reduce these adversities, it is not recommended to use nitrates, which tend to excessively vegetate the plant and make it more susceptible (and desirable) especially to the bomb. A treatment with Neem oil can greatly increase the resistance of both the Bombice and the resistance to fungal attacks.