Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow', spurge

Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’

This month’s Native Plant Spotlight takes a bit of a departure to a native of South Africa and Madagascar.

I am sure that the extreme temperatures weren’t missed by anyone as we close out of June and start into July. Our personal experience with the beauty and reliability of these plants is why we have decided to feature Euphorbia as a “must have.”

There are approximately 2000 varieties of Euphorbia and they have taken root and found new homes all over the world. You might even refer to them as “Ex-Patriots” as they have settled in here in California as if they have never come from anywhere else. Hardy to a fault, we at Evergreen feel they are plants that no Californian should be without.

Appearance

With over 2000 extremely varied types of euphorbia, it’s hard to characterize the general appearance. Some Euphorbia are succulent and resemble cacti, while others are herbaceous perennials. They range from tiny plants to tree sized and everywhere in between.

Most notable are the whorled leaves of most varieties that feature deep dark purples, chartreuse, variegated and even rainbow. The angular and intriguing shapes lend an element of architecture, design, and color to any garden.

Soil and Water Requirements

Euphorbias generally prefer a full-sun situation, but most can tolerate dappled shade. They have an extreme tolerance to both hot and cold temperatures. Euphorbia does best in well-drained soil but can tolerate a wide variety of soil types.

Pruning

A hard pruning will result in a much denser plant. After blooming, spent stems should be cut down to promote new growth. It is very important to use gloves when cutting down euphorbias as they exude a milky sap that is a skin irritant and can even be poisonous if ingested.

Plant Features and Uses

  • Specimen plant

    Euphorbia ‘Rigida’, ‘Tiny Tim’, and ‘Blackbird’

  • Borders
  • Containers
  • Mass plantings
  • Rock gardens.
  • Drought tolerant once established