One of the most dramatic plants for your garden, Euphorbia offer a diversity of height, form, color and habit. The genus is expansive, including more than 2,000 species of herbaceous perennials, annuals, biennials, as well as evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees.
There is a Euphorbia to meet every garden need. In our gardens here in the Pacific Northwest perennial Euphorbias can be used as a specimen plant, in borders, in containers, mass plantings and rock gardens. Also worth noting is that most perennial Euphorbia are largely evergreen and drought tolerant once established.
At Portland Nursery, during the holiday season, we offer a tender euphorbia known as Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima). Found in colors ranging from striking red to creamy pink, Poinsettias are native to a moist, subtropical environment so must be kept indoors in the Pacific Northwest. In addition, they need 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight a day which can be achieved by placing them in front of a sunny window. With regular water, festive Poinsettias will last into the New Year.
Portland Nursery also carries other tender varieties of Euphorbia. Some of these are largely found in our Division Store’s cactus house, while another kind is a popular annual for sun to part shade. Known as Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ this annual is 12 to 18 inches tall and has masses of pure white bracts above finely textured apple green foliage. With pretty blooms through the whole growing season, this cheery annual is perfect for pots and hanging baskets.
Portland Nursery’s largest selection of Euphorbia are the herbaceous perennials which range widely in color and size. These Euphorbias are valued for their whorled leaves, with colors ranging from bluish-green to variegated green colors all the way to dark bronze-purple. Typical perennial Euphorbia require a sunny location with well drained soil that is protected from frost and wind. The Pacific Northwest, having been compared to a Mediterranean climate because of the dry summers, is a great place to grow Euphorbia.
Worth noting is that because some kinds of Euphorbia prolifically self-seed (thereby potentially spreading into wilderness areas) these kinds of Euphorbia can no longer be carried at Oregon nurseries, including Portland Nursery. This limit includes Euphorbia myrsinites (donkey tail spurge), a popular rock garden perennial. However, we are more than happy to assist you in finding an alternative to a particular desired plant.
Varieties of perennial Euphorbia commonly for sale at Portland Nursery include:
Euphorbia martinii ‘Redwing’ An English hybrid between Euphorbia amygdaloides and Euphorbia x martinii, this hardy evergreen Euphorbia grows 20 inches tall by 20 inches wide and is drought tolerant once established. Color wise, this Euphorbia has blue-grey foliage, but in late winter to spring the terminal flowers become a deep red color turning to gold when they bloom.
Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ ‘Blackbird’ is a sport of the popular variety of Euphorbia known as ‘Redwing’. The most distinguishing characteristic of ‘Blackbird’ is its dark-purple evergreen foliage, which takes on an even darker coloration when grown in full sun. It remains compact and bushy, forming 18- to 22-inch evergreen mounds at maturity. The yellow/green bracts (flowers) provide a nice contrast against the dark foliage in mid-spring. It thrives in locations with full sun to partial shade throughout USDA Hardiness Zones 6-9. Once established, it is heat and drought resistant with few cultural problems.
Euphorbia ‘Shorty’ This hybrid is noteworthy for its compact size and sturdy form, growing to only 18 inches tall. Also, this evergreen variety has graceful blue-green foliage in summer with red growing tips and red-tinted foliage in winter followed by bright yellow flowers in early spring. It is great in pots or at the front of the border.
Euphorbia ‘Rudolph’An evergreen perennial with charming winter interest, ‘Rudolph’ has blue-green foliage which develops brilliant red accents (true to the name) as the weather cools. In terms of size this perennial grows to 3 feet by 3 feet. In the spring, sprays of chartreuse and red flowers appear on this compact and worry-free perennial.
Euphorbia 'Helena's Blush' This perennial grows to about 1 foot tall with narrow gray green leaves with creamy yellow variegation and a thin margin of pink. Flowers, which appear in late spring, have broad bracts that are mostly yellow with a splash of green in the middle. This is a variegated form of Euphorbia 'Efanthia' which would make this plant the result of a crossing of Euphorbia amygdaloides with E. x martinii.
Euphorbia ‘Glacier Blue’ Euphorbia characias 'Glacier Blue' is a compact vigorous plant to 12-15 inches tall by 15 inches wide with cream-edged margined blue green foliage and flower bracts . It is more compact and has bluer-green foliage than 'Tasmanian Tiger,’ another variety of Euphorbia characias.
Common Name: Spurge, Euphorbia
Origin: Southwestern Asia, Britain, Europe, Mediterranean
Culture: Most prefer well-drained, light soil in full sun, although some Euphorbia prefer moist, humus-rich soil in part shade or permanently moist soil in full sun.
Pests and Disease: When grown in too wet soil, collar rot can occur. In addition, some kinds of Euphorbia are susceptible to powdery mildew. Otherwise Euphorbia are generally pest free.
Maintenance: Most Euphorbia resent transplanting, but otherwise are easy to maintain. After flowering, the dead stems on the plant should be cut back to the area of new growth. Importantly, tidying the plant will promote more growth to occur.
In addition, it is extremely important to wear protective gloves when working with Euphorbia because they exude a white sap that is a skin irritant and can be poisonous if ingested.
Propagation: Depending on the species or cultivar propagate by seeding, division or cuttings.