Castor Bean | Hard Freeze | Update 6

Links to the Original post, Update 1, and Updates 2 and 3, 4, and 5


It was bound to happen. Cold air from the north arrived recently and killed the once tall and strong castor bean plant. It looked so sad. It will not regrow in the spring. I will see if the seeds are viable.

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November 8, 2014

The seeds never quite fully ripened. The prickly pods contain 3 in each. A few were starting to split. I cut off the long stalk of them for a closer look. Plus, they will be destroyed and not put out to the environment for animals or children to access. They are toxic.

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Here are some close views of a seed pod followed by photos of the 3 seeds compartments and one of a seed exposed. I read where the seeds resemble a tick full of blood. That seems about right for size and appearance. I am keeping a few of these seeds for next spring to see if they germinate.

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The castor bean was not the only victim of the hard freeze. Our tomato plants took a hit. I have some cleanup work to do in the garden before the cold and snow of winter. I’m already thinking of plantings for next year.

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18 thoughts on “Castor Bean | Hard Freeze | Update 6

  1. OceanDiver

    That’s a freeze all right, I recognize that sudden overnight look. You are wise to get the tomatoes cleared out soon…it’s incredible how fast they turn into rotting mush after a freeze, nasty to work with. Squashes do that too. Your bean had a nice run though. We haven’t gotten a freeze yet in the PNW, not even a frost. Coldest temps of the year are forecast for this week though, mid 30s. Same big system bringing snow to your part of the country. Time to shift into winter mode.

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    1. Jim in IA Post author

      I got everything cleared out today. It was in the mid-50s. I carried the vines etc far back into the woods for the various fauna to enjoy.

      I hope after this cold spell we will get one more warm week or two. Maybe I will even get one more round of golf in. 🙂

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  2. Thread crazy

    Yep, that’s what frozen plants look like! We too have a freeze coming Wednesday or Thursday evening and I have a butternut squash plant that has 8 or 9 squash on it! Guess it’ll be time to pull out the blankets! I’m thinking this year we may just have a hard winter down our way…

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    1. Jim in IA Post author

      Blankets can do the trick. Here, not this time. We are likely to get to 17˚ Thursday morning. I’d have to break out the spare electric blanket for that.

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  3. Steve Gingold

    What little we had not already cleared from the garden now looks very much like what you have there. Only our woody plants such as the tree peonies and azaleas and rhodies remain lifelike. Most of the rest are in the compost piles in the woods. We didn’t have to bother harvesting our winter squashes as they became a layer of fat for someone….maybe the woodchuck that burrowed nearby.

    That Castor Bean plant got to be so large, I was expecting it to be cut for kindling. 🙂
    Good luck with the germination next year.

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  4. Alex Autin

    It had a good run, but seems to have met its match. Good luck with germinating the seeds, it’ll be interesting to see what happens. In the meantime, you guys stay warm up there!

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  5. shoreacres

    Well, your cold front made it all the way south. We’ll stay well above freezing, but we do have a low of 38 forecast for tomorrow night. North of Houston, a lot of plants are going to look just as sad as your castor bean. That’s all right. It was a fine plant, in its time.

    I hope the seeds are viable. I collected a good many from my Cape Honeysuckle yesterday. The pods had been opening one at a time, but the cold air opened the rest, and I nearly missed out. Now, it’s time to break off the cactus pieces I want to repot, and let them lay around for two or three months, just resting.

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  6. Jim in IA Post author

    Sorry about the cold air. We will have several nights in the teens and daytimes in the low 30s. We are used to it. You know how IA is. It just feels too early.

    I hope you get a good collection of seeds etc. Interesting how the cold will trigger certain responses. We have some trees still holding onto some yellowed leaves. I think they are mulberry. When the sun warms them to just above freezing, they will drop in a mass fall. The cold triggers abscission and their release. It is a wonderful thing to watch.

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