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Herbaceous Perennial

Euphorbia characias
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

Mediterranean spurge

Evergreen perennial to 1.5m, with vertical or arching biennial stems, leafy throughout at first, then bare, almost woody at the base, densely leafy above, carrying flower heads in the second year. Slender, blue-green, rather downy leaves to 15cm long. Profuse flowers, in large, terminal, cylindrical heads in early spring have petal-like bright yellow-green bracts surrounding the tiny flowers. May be short-lived, but often self-seeds

Other common names
Albanian spurge

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Size
Ultimate height
1–1.5 metres
Time to ultimate height
2–5 years
Ultimate spread
1–1.5 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Green Yellow Green
Summer Green
Autumn Green
Winter Green Yellow Green
Position
  • Full sun
Aspect

South–facing or East–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Sheltered
Drought resistance
Yes
Hardiness
H4
Botanical details
Family
Euphorbiaceae
Native to the UK
No
Foliage
Evergreen
Habit
Bushy
Potentially harmful
IRRITANT to skin/eye, harmful if eaten. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling
Genus

Euphorbia can be annuals, perennials, shrubs or succulents, with milky sap and small flowers held within cupped, often colourful bracts

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Mediterranean

How to grow

Cultivation

Grow in well-drained, light soil in full sun. See Euphorbia for further advice

Propagation

Propagate by division in early spring or take basal cuttings in spring or early summer; dip cut surfaces in charcoal or lukewarm water to prevent bleeding

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Coastal
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Mediterranean climate plants
  • Gravel garden
  • Low Maintenance
  • Banks and slopes
  • Flower borders and beds
Pruning

Cut back flowering shoots to ground level in late summer or autumn

Pests

May be susceptible to aphids

Diseases

Generally disease-free

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