Sun-loving garden euphorbias
Botanical name: Spurge, caper spurge
Sun-loving euphorbias can be planted to create a variety of garden styles. Some fit well with Mediterranean plants in gravel gardens, others look great in exuberant jungly plantings or eeven traditional cottage gardens. Some of these euphorbia have a shrubby framework of branches and so offer a permanent structure, while others emerge anew from the ground each spring. Most bloom in spring/early summer, offering large acid-yellow and green flowerheads.
Shrubby euphorbias produce thick, unbranching shoots from the base. The herbaceous types come up each year. Foliage is often a strong bright green; others are valued for their blue hues or, in the case of E. griffithii and its cultivars, they red and orange. Heights range from low and spreading to the large domes reaching 2m (6⅔ft). The actual flowers are small and insignificant, but are surrounded by the colourful, showy bracts for which these plants are known.
These euphorbias generally grow well in average free-draining garden soil in full sun. Species that really require excellent drainage to survive, especially in colder locations, include Euphorbia rigida, E. mellifera and E. characias. In contrast, Euphorbia griffithii and E. palustris are happy in damp soil.
Most of these plants don't like prolonged periods of freezing weather or wet soil in winter, so plant in well-drained soil and in a sheltered sunny corner for best results.
Did you know?
All euphorbias contain a milky sap. Contact with this sap can cause eye and skin irritations. Do take care when handling these plants, especially when pruning, by wearing gloves, long sleeves and goggles.
There are some garden worthy annual euphorbias too. The funky caper spurge, E. lathyris is often self-sown and E. marginata and E. oblongata are grown as cut flowers.