MySecretGarden

U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Year Round Beauty: Euphorbia


Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them
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If you ask me what plant pleases me year around and never, even in winter, fails me, I 'd name Euphorbia (other name - Spurge). Taking in consideration that there are thousands species in the family Euphorbiaceae, I need to be more specific. There are three varieties that I have in my garden: Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii 'John Tomlinson', Euphorbia x martinii (variety's name is unknown to me) and Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Ruby Glow'.
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Among them, my favorite is the Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii 'John Tomlinson'. Its tag tells that it originated from wild-collected Yugoslavian seeds. My main plant, a mother ship of all other euphorbias, is about 6 years old, grows in a location with morning sun and survives winters colder than zero degrees F.
This specimen is one of the central plants in my front flowerbed (under the right side of the window).

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It's huge in size and grows taller than in this picture. They recommend to cut old stems to base after flowering. This is what I do. Since there are always lots of stems without blooms, the plant looks full even after the cutting (as in the pictures above and below).
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Euphorbia might be grown mainly for its foliage, but it looks even more interesting when in bloom. Its large flowers (to be correct - cyathia) have a wonderful chartreuse color:
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They appear in the spring, long before other plants start blooming, and last for several months.
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Euphorbia's blooms are joined by Spanish lavender
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Euphorbia in bloom with the tree peony' buds seen on the left and tulips in the container
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Euphorbia is a very essential part of my front flowerbed
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Euphorbia's blooms glowing in the morning sun with tree peony flowers
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With or without other blooms, Euphorbia adds height, color and texture to my garden:
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Euphorbia is blooming behind lavender, asiatic lilies and daylilies
After several years of growing in front of the house, my Euphorbia started to spread its seeds here and there. It led to new plants popping up all around. I keep those which are in the 'right' place and replant those which are growing too close to other plants.
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Two new euphorbia plants in the so called Accidental bed, on both sides of the urn*
The plants are drought resistant and grow even in spaces without a sprinkler system.
In the fall, my Euphorbia looks as good as in the spring and summer. In the picture below, you can see it behind the yellow Japanese maple.
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Winter comes, and it still stands strong. When the temperatures fall below freezing, its leaves look almost dead, but after the temperature warms up, they are back to normal.
This is how it looks now, in December:
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This picture of Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii 'John Tomlinson'
was taken on the 17th of December, 2010.
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New plants are so abundant that I started to add them to my containers.
Some characteristics:
Exposure: Full sun
Average size: 32 inches (80 cm) tall, 24 inches (60 cm) wide
Water Use: Low once established
Cold Hardiness: 0 to - 10 F (-18 to -23 C)
Blooms: February - June
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Unlike 'John Tomlinson', the second plant came from a hardware store with the less specific name Euphorbia x martinii (E. amygdaloides x E. characias; 'martinii' comes from Martin, the name of the plant's creator).
Shorter and more compact, it has leaves which change in color from green to pinkish, to dark red and finally to brown.
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Euphorbia X martinii rather pinkish blooms are in the middle of the picture
together with blooming daisies, astilbe and alliums.
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Here, the blooms do look brown.
Foxglove and lavender blooms are seen too
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This plant blooms when 'John Tomlinson' is already done blooming.
In the next picture, it is joined by acanthus,aliums,
fuchsia and long-blooming lavender:

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This particular plant hasn't surprised me with any baby plants.
Some characteristics
Exposure: Sun
Average size: 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) tall, 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) wide
Water Use: Low once established
Cold hardiness: 0 to -10 F (-18 to -23 C)
Blooms: Spring
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The third type Euphorbia amygdaloides 'Ruby Glow' (Wood spurge) was acquired last summer with the hope of bringing color to the dry area where not many other plants survived. Plants are compact with new growth being bright red, darkening to almost black. Stems are red. I was attracted to this plant after reading that it does good in dry, sandy, well-drained soil. It should be comfortable in the very front of our yard where the driveway starts. I like to see them near my Blue fescue (Festuca cineria 'Elijah's Blue').

This is how that spot looked before the Euphorbias were planted:
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Some characteristics:
Exposure: Full sun (tolerates part shades but full sun gives best foliage color)
Everage size: 10-12 inches (25-30 cm) tall, 18 inches (45 cm) wide
Water Use: Low once established
Cold hardiness: Hardy to -10 F (-23 C)
Blooms: March - May
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Following are some Euphorbia pictures in other gardens.
This is how Euphorbia looks in the slope garden which was featured in one of the most readable posts in my blog Slope Garden Extraordinaire :
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Blooming Euphorbia in one of the tour's gardens is seen in the middle of the picture below:
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In the next picture blooming Euphorbia is on the left:
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Click on the pictures to enlarge them
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A good article about E. can be found on the Portland Nursery site . Interestingly, prolifically self-seed types of E. are prohibited for sale in Oregon nurseries. Euphorbia oblongata (oblong spurge, eggleaf spurge) is included in the list of the most dangerous invaders to keep out by the Oregon Invasive Species Council. (Curious how it looks? You can see its picture here)
The Portland Nursery site, along with others, stresses an importance of wearing protective gloves when working with Euphorbia because they exude a white sap that is a skin irritant and can be poisonous if ingested.
I never have had any problems working with my plants, but I agree that caution won't hurt.
By the way, the common name 'Spurge' derives from the Middle English/Old French espurge ('to purge'), due to the use of the plant's sap as a purgative.

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Copyright 2010 TatyanaS

37 comments:

  1. This is such a thorough review of euphobias! Excellent photos -- I've always loved the ones with the blindingly chartreuse blooms.

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  2. You have some beautiful color combinations in your garden. I would love to add the ruby glow to my garden. It looks great next to your blue grass.

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  3. I've never been a big fan of the green-leaved Euphorbias, I don't know why. I've only ever seen them long and floppy. They look nice and tall and wonderful in your garden.

    I might have to get that Ruby Glow now. I love it, and it only gets 10-12 inches tall. Perfect!

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  4. Nothing else has quite the same impact as those lime green flowers. Mine is Euphorbia mauretanica. And I have a tiny 'weedy' variety that bobs up all over the garden.

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  5. Ah so that's how it came to be called Spurge. I planted Euphorbia 'Purple and Gold' last Autumn. This will be it's first year, can't wait.

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  6. T, you have some wonderful combinations, especially the rose color of the peony against the yellow of the euphorbia.

    We have several different varieties and they are true to reseed in lots of places throughout the garden. Drought tolerance is key in our garden and this does quite well.

    If I don't see you before Christmas ;)... many blessings to you and your family. It has been wonderful to share with you this past year.

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  7. Tatyana, I have had a couple of different Euphorbias but only a few are hardy in my area. The one we have that blooms in the springtime is certainly not as showy as yours - beautiful.

    Eileen

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  8. Very informative post. Ruby Glow looks very enticing!

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  9. I enjoyed seeing all of the beautiful pictures of your garden. Wonderful color and texture combinations! I love the euphorbia with the lavender, fushcia and bear's breeches. That is gorgeous.

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  10. Thank you my friends for your sweet comments! Euphorbia was one of the very first plants in my garden. I am very happy with it, and I am glad you like it too! Ruby Glow is a new one here. It is the shortest and the brightest among my euphorbias. I hope it'll be as easy as two other varieties.

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  11. Great post and a great genus.

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  12. I'm in love with your garden. Great combination of plants and excellent landscape. Now I am thinking of growing Euphorbias and Blue Fescue too.

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  13. Great survey of your euphorbias. You are right about the invasiveness of many species. I planted one and a month later it was coming up 10' away from runners. Can't remember the name. Carolyn

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  14. So nice to meet a fellow Euphorbia-lover! My favorite varieties are E. ceratocarpis (it's HUGE with super cool, airy acid-yellow blooms) and Blackbird (though it can be unreliable so I buy the 5-gallon size as insurance). Nice post - very informative!

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  15. I loved this post, it really made me think about Euphorbias again. I have one or two but they are really ignored. I love the way you have used it in your front border - really inspired me to think about mine which is similar. Its location is wrong too shady and it is swamping other plants so seeing yours has helped me rethink its location.

    Also love the third one and the way you have used it with the Festuca - might pinch that idea if you dont mind

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  16. Great post Tatyana, we too are fans of Euphorbias and use different varieties/cultivars all over the garden.

    Cotswold Garden Flowers here in the UK is where we get most of ours.

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  17. I've never done much with euphorbia but a wonderful friend gave me a seedling, and now I'm hooked. I don't know the name of it but it looks like the purple one in your post. In my garden it's offcially known as "the little purple euphorbia from Annette." That might not fit on a plant tag! Great post, as usual!!

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  18. I love your euphorbia, Tatyana. Ooh I sure wish spring would hurry up.

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  19. Oh, the Ruby Glow is gorgeous, especially next to the gray foliage of the blue fescue. I'll have to research and see how they would do in my Texas garden.

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  20. They sure do look pretty where you have them planted! I love the 'Ruby Glow'! I'm going to have to look into that one. I have one growing in a container with some other plants and I was just noticing yesterday how good it looks after all the crazy weather we've had.

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  21. Oh and I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!

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  22. Can I just say "wow". You made this plant look so stunning amongst your garden. It's amazing how design and landscaping can bring out the utmost beauty in a plant. Have a wonderful, wonderful holiday! - Jen (aka Miss Daisy)

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  23. Таня, очень люблю это растение, и должна сказать, что тебе удалось идеально интегрировать его в садовый пейзаж.
    Браво!

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  24. I can see why you like this plant, Tatyana. The 'John Tomlinson' looks lovely contrasted with the other foliage and blooms in your garden. And the 'Ruby Glow' is a real eye-catcher! I should check out how both of these would do in my zone 5 garden.

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, Tatyana!

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  25. Lovely pictures, Tatyana. Euphorbia is a mainstay in my gardens, as well. I love the color changes and bright personality they show throughout the seasons.

    Happy Holidays!

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  26. Euphorbia Ruby Glow is a favorite of mine and you have made these plants look so great in amongst your other plantings. I also like the Euphorbia in the sloped garden you have shown. Really pretty here.

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  27. I like Euphorbias though some spread so quickly. Nice to see some that are a bit more tame. I do like that Ruby Glow with the Blue Fescue.

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  28. Great post - you covered a lot here! I like Euphorbias too, especially their unusual flowers. That Ruby Glow is gorgeous though - I haven't seen that one!

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  29. Your garden is really very beautiful and all ready for Christmas. I thought is is winter and bare. The euphorbias looks like evergreens and a good choice for the garden, which makes me thinking that I want it too. Tatyana, thank you for all the encouragement and support. Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas and Joyful and Happy New Year!

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  30. It must be something about the way the light glances off their leaves that makes Euphorbias stand out in a crowd. I've always liked them but never grown them (put off by the sap). You have so many and they look so good I'm wondering if I ought to consider planting some after all.

    Esther

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  31. That yellow Japanese maple is incredible! Have you posted on it before?

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  32. Those are some fantastic photos!

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  33. I have a couple of euphorbia and would like to add more, especially after seeing your post. My current favorite is the new variety called "Bonfire". It is low growing and a chameleon, changing colors throughout the seasons to a deep burgundy in fall. I also have a lovely variegated one (sorry the name of the variety escapes me). Hopefully, I can add one of your recommendations come spring. I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

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  34. Hi Tatyana, what a great post, and your garden is just beautiful. Timely, too, since at least according to the labels on mine, poinsettias are also in the Euphorbia family, as are one of my favorites, snow-on-the-mountain. So many plants to explore!

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  35. Hi Tatyana - I resisted euphorbia for a long time, partly due to fear of the sap. Then a neighbor's plant sent a seed over to my side of the (non-existent) fence, and I transplanted the resulting plant down to my parking strip. Now I think it had a baby too! They are so weird and alien looking, but the flowers are so incredible. Thanks for showing so many possibilities!

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  36. Oh my...
    *scribbling the names down on my plant wish list*

    Beautiful pics and what a lovely garden!!!

    ~Wendy /sassyb.

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