I've always loved huge, dramatic, castor beans (Ricinus communis), but the past couple times I've grown them, haven't had much luck.
I'm not alone -- Loree over at Danger Garden wrote recently about castor beans not quite living up to what she had planned on.
This year, though, I think I've gotten it figured out.
First, what not to do:
Check out, however, this one, just a few feet away in the same bed:
Chiltern seeds. So lesson one: Variety matters. If first you don't succeed, try, try another variety.
Lesson two: Site matters even more. Those first two plants are in the front bed, where conditions are dry and slightly shaded thanks to a big silver maple. This is what the same Dominican Republic castor beans look like in the back garden: