Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfennii

How to prune euphorbias

Discover how to prune euphorbias in this quick guide.

Euphorbias are a beautiful addition to any garden – they provide their bright, colourful bracts provide colour in spring and summer and their foliage forms an attractive shape.


Some evergreen euphorbias simply need to have their faded blooms cut back after flowering. Others, such as varieties of Euphorbia charcacias, have biennial stems, which need to be cut down to the ground after flowering. Deciduous types need to be cut down to the ground in autumn.

Bear in mind that all euphorbias have a thick, milky sap that is an irritant to skin and eyes, so be sure to wear gloves when handling them.

More on growing euphorbias:

Here’s our quick guide to pruning euphorbias.

Some varieties, such as Euphorbia charcacias, have biennial stems, which need to be cut down to the ground after flowering.

Trim after flowering


Some evergreen euphorbias simply need a light prune after flowering. Once the acid-yellow bracts have turned completely brown, remove them, cutting back to the first ring of leaves below.


Cut back flowered stems to the ground


Some varieties produce biennial stems. This means that plants have two types of shoots: those from the previous season, on which the flowers appear, and this season’s growth. Cut down the flowered stems down to ground level in late summer or autumn so that the new season’s shoots will flower the following year.


Cut whole plant back to the ground in autumn


Herbaceous perennial types of euphorbia need deadheading after flowering. Then cut back the plant to the ground before the first frosts – it will reappear next year.



Beware the irritant sap

Be careful not to get any euphorbia sap on your skin or in your eyes, as it is an irritant – be sure to wear gloves.

Gardening gloves. Photo: Getty Images.