Euphorbia

A couple of years ago I bought some euphorbia seeds. They didn’t germinate on my first attempt but I had another go and I am now a proud mum to several euphorbia plants which I have planted down the path to my front door and at the front of garden borders.

All photos by Toni Abram.

Euphorbia oblongata.

The variety I have is euphorbia oblongata but the euphorbia family contains around 2,000 species and I recently learned the Christmas poinsettia is a euphorbia plant too.

Euphorbias are sun lovers and mine are planted in full sun. However, there are varieties that will tolerate shade. In the UK we grow perennial and shrubby types, known as spurges. Euphorbia foilage and flowers are zingy green, acid yellow, chautreuse green and bright orange. They make a dramatic backdrop for other plants and flowers – I have red poppies, blue cornflowers and purple alliums planted with mine and the colour combinations are striking. Euphorbias make a lovely cut flower too and will last in a vase for 7 – 10 days.

Euphorbia oblongata as a cut flower.

The flowers are actually bracts, a modified leaf or scale, typically small, with a flower or flower cluster in its axil. Bracts are sometimes larger and more brightly coloured than the true flower, as with poinsettias.

Euphorbia oblongata.

Euphorbias flower nine months of the year from May – December. When the stems turn brown, cut them back to allow for new growth but be careful when doing this, as they have a milky sap which is a nasty skin irritant.

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