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Euphoric Euphorbia

Euphorbia is such a diverse Genus with over 2000 species. It is one of those plants that I’m often asked to identify and yet it’s very familiar in gardens everywhere. One of it’s characteristics is the sticky white sap that exudes from the cuts which can be an irritant.


Euphorbias can be annuals, perennials and even trees! They are all grouped together by their identical flowers and bracts which are often bright green or red.

Three in the garden

Euphorbia peplus or petty spurge is an annual weed that colonises my garden prolifically. This is probably because a plant snuck it’s way into my compost bin and then seeded itself only for me to spread it over the garden!

Euphorbia robbiae is the one you see in woodlands so grows well in a shady part of the garden. Evergreen spreading perennial with bright acid green bracts and very hardy.

Euphorbia griffithii has beautiful orange bracts but does disappear in the winter and pops up somewhere else! There is another called ‘Dixter’ discovered in the garden with the same name. Great in a hot border.

Three for inside

Euphorbia pulcherima also known as poinsettia is a tropical woody perennial (yes really!) that has been manipulated by breeders and growers to provide us with the houseplant we love at Christmas.

Euphorbia milii is a beautiful desert plant available in the UK as a house plant known as the crown of thorns. I’ve seen it with red, pink and white flowers and can be seen in the greenhouses at Wisley and Kew.

Euphorbia ingens or candelabra tree is native to South Africa but can be bought as a houseplant. Ultimately is grows into an enormous woody cactus-like tree with toxic sap to deter predators.


There are many Euphorbias suitable for growing in our gardens but many are short-lived and others are invasive. It’s worth taking a little time to learn about them rather than impulse buying which we are all guilty of!

The houseplants are similar in requirements to other cacti so they need gritty compost, a warm sunny window and occasional watering when they dry out.

Cathie’s Gardening School Services 

CGS is running the Weeds, Pests, and Diseases from April so come and meet me, see the garden, and join in! There are also garden consultancies, mentoring and garden army makeovers.

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