How To Grow Euphorbias – 2 Best Ways
How To Grow Euphorbias: Plant Care And Growing Guide
There is a group of garden plants that, while not everybody’s cup of tea, are as the finest claret to those with discernment and a taste for the eccentric. Their sap is an irritant milk and their flowers are not really flowers at all, but inflorescences of the most unusual and delightful shape, colour and form.
They are not at all choosy about their soil, although they love being in a spot with lots of sun. At least, most of them do, but as we will discover with there will always be an exception to prove a rule.
Varieties of Euphorbias
We are of course talking about the tribe that is Euphorbias, and most of them are wonderful in their elegance and stature. Some are low ground huggers, some architecturally huge, up to fifteen feet in height. Indeed, there are more than 2,000 varieties of Euphorbias, including annuals, biennials, perennials, sub-shrubs and deciduous or evergreen shrubs. Some are even succulents.
Arguably the finest euphorbia has to be Euphorbia characias. This is virtually a shrub and grows to four feet in height and as much in girth. It is made up of dozens of single, tall thumb thick stems that are covered in whorls of blue gree, narrowly pointed leaves. In early spring, the tips of these stems begin to bend their heads gracefully to form their embryo inflorescences or ‘flowers’.
As spring advances, these grow longer, intriguing, still delicately pendulant. Come March, they are full length, up to nine inches long, and open thier lime green little faces with deep maroon eyes. These continue to flower for months until the seeds baked by the summer sun, explode with noise of distant gun fire. If you are working nearby, weeding on your hands and knees, you will be showered by the flying seeds.
If you like the colour orange, and why not with a slatey blue as its foil, then you will appreciate the charms, although perhaps not its vigourous nature, of Euphorbia griffithii. It is not the alarming orange of the marigold, but a burnt bricky orange. The variety ‘Fireglow’ has more tomato in its colour.
Another, called ‘Dixter’, even has stems that have that tomatoish glow. The plant stands three feet high, the stems looking similar to the euphorbias described earlier. But this one likes to run, so must be kept in its bouds with a spade when it dies down in the autumn, It will even run out into the lawn without being annually tethered. In spring, it looks for all the world like a red and green spangled snake emerging from its winter sleep in slow motion.
The largest euphorbia our climate will allow is Euphorbia mellifera which, in its native islands of the Canaries, can grow to a height of 50 feet. It rarely reaches more than twelve to fifteen in Britain. It has strange, fascinating mops of rusted flowers, intensley attractive to bees, which appropriately smell of wild honey. It loves the sun and poor soil and is quite forgiving of the hacker-back’s spade.
At the other end of the scale is the delicately elegant purple leaved Euphorbia amygdaloides Purpurea. Its leaves surround the needle thin stems with a charming grace. The flowers are a bright lime green that make the mouth water.
How To Choose Euphorbias
There are so many varieties of Euphorbias, which makes Euphorbias suitable for most garden situations.
The many glaucous leaved varieties such as Euphorbia nicaeensis and Euphorbia rigida like hot, sunny, well drained positions whilst Euphorbia palustris revels in damp, wet conditions.
Euphorbia griffithii and its cultivars thrive on heavier clay soils and remains relatively compact, whilst Euphorbia amygdaloides prefers a humus rich soil and shade.
Euphorbia robbiae will thrive in dark dry shade. The miniature Euphorbia capitulata is the perfect rockery plant and the stately Euphorbia characias is the star of the early spring border.
Where To Plant
It is generally recommended that Euphorbias be planted in locations that are sunny and welldrained.
There are some varieties of Euphorbia, however, that thrive under trees and shrubs, and they make excellent groundcovers.
How To Grow Euphorbias
Growing hardy Euphorbias is, on the whole, quite easy.
As a general rule, they will be happy with well drained soil, some shelter and some sun.
The plants can be propagated by division, seed or cuttings. Species are easily grown from seed sown in early spring. No heat is necessary.
Most cultivars can be divided in February and March, and the best time to take cuttings is from late June until early September.
During this period many varieties of Euphorbias produce branching shoots from the upper part of the stems after flowering which make perfect cutting material.
How To Grow Euphorbias From Seed
Euphorbias are easy to grow in pots from cuttings.
I would say it would be more time-intensive and less convenient to grow them from seeds.
Furthermore, seeds that have a short shelf life are hard to come by on the market.
Euphorbia International released a great PDF about Sowing Euphorbias.
How To Plant Euphorbias In Pots
Whenever you handle Euphorbias, always wear gloves and safety glasses.
Prepare The Soil
Euphorbias thrive in well-drained soil. Air circulates more freely around roots in well-drained soil. You should also avoid leaving these plants in wet or damp soil for an extended period of time.
Nurseries and online retailers offer soil especially made for succulents. Even if you do it by yourself, preparing the soil isn’t that difficult.
In a pot with a drainage hole at the bottom, combine two parts soil, one part peat perlite, one part clean sand, and one part peat moss. Using this mixture, you will get the best soil for Euphorbias.
Preparing Euphorbia Cuttings
Euphorbia seeds can only be stored for a limited time. This makes them harder to find on commercial markets.
A local nursery is the best place to purchase euphorbia plants during the warmer months.
Euphorbia plants can be propagated by cutting off the newest shoots from the plant. New shoots have a bright green color, so it is easy to identify them.
To make a clean cut, use a knife or scissors that are sharp. Cold water should be used to thoroughly rinse off milky sap.
Allow the shoots to dry overnight.
Planting Euphorbia Cuttings
In order to insert the shoots into the pot, you must make holes in the pot using your pencil or stick.
Euphorbia cuttings should be pushed to the edge of the pot. In comparison with the center of the pot, the edge of the pot is more moist. The result is that plants will not dry out when planted near edges.
It is necessary to keep the soil moist for Euphorbia to grow, although it does well in the sun. Put the pot somewhere that receives sufficient bright light without being directly exposed to the sun.
The plants can be re-potted into larger pots once they have rooted after 14 to 21 days.
When the climate is mild, most varieties of Euphorbias can be grown outdoors as well. Although Euphorbias prefer direct sunlight, they will not suffer from partial shade.
How To Plant Euphorbias Outside
The best location for Euphorbia plants is in full sun or part shade with well-drained soil. It may also be beneficial to add coconut fibre and sand to the soil to open it up.
You should dig twice as wide and twice as deep as the root ball when planting. Gently tease the roots of the plant once it has been removed from the container.
Set in the hole and gently firm down with the backfill. Create an elevated ring around the plant, creating a well for water to run to its final destination. Give it plenty of water.
Put a thin layer of mulch around the base of the plant, using an organic mulch like woodchips or pea straw.
The plant should be watered deeply one or two times a week, depending on the weather.
How To Care For Euphorbias
Pruning is essential for Euphorbias, especially after flowering.
In the early stages of flowering, trim back euphorbia stems at the plant’s base. The plant will remain healthy and tidy this way.
It is best to cut down euphorbia in autumn. Frost cannot kill it this way. During the spring season, your euphorbias will grow back.
Your plants will remain healthy if you water them regularly. Water the soil a few inches under the surface of the soil once a week or more often during the summer. Make sure to water deeply, but not to flood the soil. Root rot may result.
Is Euphorbia Toxic?
People and animals can be poisoned both by ingestion and skin contact with milky sap from Euphorbia plants. Sap is actually a defense mechanism that plants use to keep animals at bay, as well as an antibacterial agent.
When the sap from Euphorbia plants comes in contact with the skin, it can cause pain, redness, and rash-like symptoms. A small piece of sap in the stomach can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and upset stomach.
What To Do If You Get Euphorbia Sap In Your Eyes?
If Euphorbia Sap gets into the eyes, it can cause severe irritation, blurred vision, or even blindness. If you get Euphorbia Sap in your eyes, you need to wash your eyes with water ASAP.
Please seek medical attention immediately if you suspect poisoning.