With more than 2,000 species spread throughout the world Euphorbia is one of the most successful flowering genera on the planet. Commonly known as spurges, these wonderful and diverse plants come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. There are only 150 hardy, leafy spurges which will tolerate the British climate, yet they are among the most versatile of garden plants.
Euphorbias are generally easy to grow. They prefer well-drained soil and thrive in a wide range of garden situations. Most will adapt to full sun or partial shade, with the greener-toned selections better adapted to woodland conditions. Silver or blue-leaved euphorbias flourish in sharply drained sites and full sun. Most euphorbias prefer sites protected from strong wind.
With careful selection it is possible to have Euphorbia giving colour throughout the year. However it is the bright and zingy coloured varieties such as Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae or Euphorbia epithymoides ‘Golden Fusion’ that will light up even deep shade from early spring. The acid green varieties form striking planting combinations particularly when partnered with bold colours such as red tulips or purple Salvia.
Euphorbias range from creeping, clump-forming varieties perfect for ground cover, to those with a more upright and architecturally graceful habit. With so much choice you are sure to find varieties suitable for the back, centre and front of a border; woodland gardens or Mediterranean style areas.
Pruning is unnecessary; however older specimens may look better if tidied. In autumn cut back the faded flower stems, avoiding new ones.
Euphorbias may be propagated from evergreen cuttings, taking new growth from the base of the plant in early summer or by dividing clump-forming varieties. Always wear gloves when working with euphorbias as the milky, white, latex-like sap emitted is poisonous and a potential skin irritant.
With their many attributes and qualities euphorbias are well worth trying. Just be bold.