Need an easy-to-grow, drought-tolerant, pest-proof plant that gives you year-round color and blooms in the winter?
Saturday, December 30, 2023
The Euphorbia family is a diverse one, ranging from fluffy little annuals to huge, long- lived trees. Did you know that the much-loved Christmas Poinsettia and the cactus-like 'Crown of Thorns" are both members of the euphorbia family? Yep! Commonly known as "spurge," all Euphorbias are remarkably rugged, easy to grow (in the right zone of course), heat and drought tolerant - plus they're deer , rabbit and gopher proof too!
They're pest resistant because of their caustic, milky , white, latex-like sap (so be sure to handle them with care when pruning or tidying up) but despite all this, several euphorbias serve as larval host plants for certain butterfly species, and all are graced with unusual and unique floral structures filled with pollinator-attracting nectar , making them fabulous additions to any habitat garden.
Euphorbias are perfect for any Northern California garden – not just those plagued by bunnies, deer, or gophers. They're wonderfully ornamental, will brighten up the garden all year long and flower in late winter and early spring before anything else starts blooming! And they're fabulous in a habitat garden! Here are just a few of what we'll be growing for you this year.
Purple Wood Spurge 'Miner's Merlot'
(Euphorbia hybrid ‘Miner 's Merlot', Zones 7-9- available late spring, 2024)
The deep, dark, sea-green and burgundy leaves of this vigorous grower become even more intensely burgundy during summer , and new growth emerges in stunning hues of merlot-red—all of which then contrast gorgeously with the lime-green flower heads that appear in early spring and linger on through summer . Offering dramatic color all year long either alone, mass planted (traffic-stopping), or in mixed combinations, ‘Miner's Merlot' forms a dense 18-24” rounded mound when grown in full sun to part shade with light to average water.
Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow'
(Euphorbia x martini ‘Ascot Rainbow', Zones 6-11- available now , January 2024)
This sturdy , mounding, evergreen and gorgeously colorful perennial offers a vibrant interplay of color all year long with each golden-edged, sage-green leaf appearing to be brushed with tangerine, peach and fuchsia highlights - with the colors intensifying as temperatures dip. Not only is it uniquely variegated all year long, but spectacular and long lasting cream-chartreuse-crimson flowers bracts appear in early spring to add to the attraction! This pest-proof, heat and drought-tolerant beauty grows 18-24” tall and a little wider in full sun with average to little water.
(Euphorbia characias subsp wulfenii, Zones 7-10 - available now , January 2024)
Evergreen, drought tolerant and appealing all year long, with sturdy upright stems clothed in whorls of blue-green foliage and topped with chartreuse blooms in winter when little else adds excitement to the garden. This low-maintenance perennial (simply deadhead when the blooms are spent) is pest proof, drought tolerant, and so easily maintained yet deemed “a most pictorial plant” by renowned horticulturalist Gertrude Jekyll. Reaching 3-4' tall and 2-3' wide, Mediterranean Spurge does best in full sun to part shade with light irrigation during the warmest months.
Dwarf Bush Spurge
(Euphorbia x martini ‘Tiny T im', Zones 6-10 -available now , January 2024)
A dense, compact, upright-growing yet short little cultivar with evergreen, crimson- blushed green leaves carried in whorls on sturdy red stems, and chartreuse blooms - each one featuring a bright red eye. The bloom display begins in late fall or early winter and continues through early spring, leading to the only maintenance (deadheading to the base of the flowering stalk) you'll ever have to do for this pest-proof, rugged little perennial. Great in containers or out in the landscape, either grown as a specimen or in combinations, 'T iny T im' grows 8-12" tall and wide, and does well with full sun or filtered bright light and regular to light watering.
Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'
(Euphorbia hypericifolia ‘Diamond Frost', Zones 10-11, annual elsewhere – available summer , 2024)
Airy clouds of frosty white butterfly blooms cover the 12-18” rounded mound of shamrock-green foliage non-stop from late spring through fall. Delicate only in appearance, ‘Diamond Frost' is easy enough for a beginner to grow and makes an excellent addition to any sunny border or container - either on its own or in mixed combinations. Long-blooming, deer-resistant and astonishingly low maintenance - with no deadheading required - this fluffy marvel prefers a full sun to part shade location (though it blooms better in full sun) and regular to light watering.
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