Euphorbia as a genus is a uniquely diverse group which includes over 2,000 different annuals, biennials, perennials, even trees and shrubs! In the nursery trade, however, only a handful of these are grown and commonly available. The perennial forms are truly spectacular varieties and well worth having in the sunny garden!
The showy Euphorbia "flowers" are technically colored bracts. The actual flower is a small structure found in the center of these colorful bracts. One of the most commonly grown Euphorbias is the beautiful Poinsettia plant, Euphorbia pulcherrima!
Many beautiful species are available for the landscape. Most of these form dense mounds of handsome foliage topped with brightly colored, often chartreuse, "flowers". Many of the new varieties have gorgeous foliage in shades of purple and blue. 'Blackbird' has beautiful dark purple foliage with contrasting red stems and lime green flowers. A striking combination! The fine foliage of 'Blue Haze' and the succulent foliage of Euphorbia myrsinites are both a lovely powder blue.
Some varieties, such as 'Helena's Blush', have striking variegated foliage.
In addition to their attractive summer foliage, many varieties have beautiful red, purple, or orange fall foliage.
They truly have a full season of interest in the garden!
Euphorbia grows well in full sun to part shade. In areas with hot summers, they perform better when they are provided with some afternoon shade. They prefer average soil that is well-drained and even on the dry side. They can be cut back by half after they finish blooming to keep them compact.
Note: It is advisable to wear gloves when handling these plants as they exude a milky sap that is poisonous and may cause skin irritations similar to poison oak on some people.