Euphorbia is a large genus, with plants ranging from Christmas poinsettias and cowboy cacti, to large shrubs like Euphorbia mellifera. The shrubby hardy varieties make excellent garden plants for a range of situations, depending on their size and preference.
Euphorbias are easy to grow and look exotic and striking all year round. They add structure and texture to a mixed planting scheme, making them a great companion for colourful shrubs and perennials.
How to grow euphorbias
Grow euphorbias in moist but well-drained soil in sun to partial shade. use them as a foil for other bright colours or as part of a woodland scheme. Mulch annually with leaf mould.
More on growing euphorbias:
Find out how to grow euphorbias, in our detailed Grow Guide, below.
Where to plant euphorbias
Euphorbias generally require a sunny position and fertile, well-drained soil. However, some varieties are shade tolerant and will thrive beneath trees and shrubs, as ground cover.
How to plant euphorbias
When planting pot-grown euphorbias, dig a generous hole and add some compost or leaf mould. After firming in your euphorbia, water well and mulch to keep in moisture and prevent weeds.
Here, Monty Don recommends two excellent euphorbia varieties and details how and where to plant them. He also gives tips on how to propagate euphorbias from cuttings.
How to care for euphorbias
Euphorbias do not require feeding or special care as long as the growing conditions are right. It’s a good idea to cut back flowering stems after the blooms have faded. However, you must always wear gloves when working with euphorbias, as their milky sap irritates the skin and eyes, and is poisonous if ingested.
How to propagate euphorbias
Propagate euphorbias by taking cuttings in spring. Make sure you wear gloves to protect you from the sap.
Find out how easy and rewarding it is to propagate euphorbias by taking cuttings of Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii in spring. Monty Don shares tips on how to keep the cuttings fresh, how to plant them and how to protect your hands from the irritant sap:
Growing euphorbias: problem solving
Euphorbias do not suffer from any particular pests and diseases.
Great euphorbia varieties to grow
- Euphorbia x martini ‘Ascot Rainbow’ – with dark grey-green rosettes of leaves and upright bracts in lime-green with a red eye. They emerge with a pink flush and develop a red-marked, creamy yellow margin with age. They may also develop pink colouring in winter. The spring flowerheads are variegated green, cream and red. It forms a low, weed-smothering carpet over the ground.
- Euphorbia myrsintes –small and drought-tolerant, E. myrsinites is good for bordering paths or patios, alpine gardens and containers. It has elongated silvery-green fir cones, with pale silvery green scale-like leaves overlapping all the way along the stems. In early summer these have typical flat heads of yellow euphorbia flowers at the ends.
- Euphorbia x pasteurii – a large evergreen shrub, this is a cross between Euphorbia stygiana and Euphorbia mellifera. It is rounded in shape and slender, with dark green leaves with white mid ribs, turning red in autumn. Flowers are bronze/green and sweetly scented. Grow Euphorbia x pasteurii in well-drained soil in a Mediterranean style or gravel garden. Cut back spent flower heads in autumn.
- Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae – a dark, evergreen variety that thrives in poor dry soil in shade, making it perfect for growing under big trees. It spreads by underground runners, eventually forming a low weed smothering carpet. Lime green flowers appear from spring to early summer.
- Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii – an architectural perennial, with bluish-green evergreen foliage and large, dome-shaped, lime-coloured flowers in spring. It’s ideal for growing in a sunny border or gravel garden.