Euphoric about a euphorbia

Poinsettias may be among the best known euphorbias, but here are some euphorbias that make great outdoor plants.

Courtesy of Craig Summers Black
The Jessie euphorbia arches up to about 3 feet and is hardy throughout Zone 5, maybe even colder.

This time of year, everyone can grow euphorbias, even those of us on the Midwest’s frozen tundra.

Yes, that bright red poinsettia in your living room is a euphorbiaEuphorbia pulcherrima to be precise.

Colorful euphorbias for the garden

But several euphorbias (also known as spurges) are splendiferous landscape plants. I especially like Great Dixter, Christopher Lloyd’s fiery orange selection. I can’t grow it, though.

Another stunner: the cheery, cherry Fireglow. I can’t grow it either -- or any of the many other intensely hued spurges.

Some that don't work in my garden

What euphorbias that will actually survive here in Iowa are either:

1) Thuggish, like the bluish groundcover E. cyparissias.

2) Undependable, like Chameleon, which disappears and then shows up unannounced in spots all over the garden.

3) Or pedestrian, like the blue-gray donkey tail spurge, which rarely flowers in my clime, and E. polychroma, which in my garden never seems to attain the yellow highlights it is grown for. It just sits there.

It seems the only attractive euphorbia I can grow is Jessie (pictured), which is tall and yellow – two features I highly admire in a landscape perennial.

But before I sing her praises too loudly, a caution: Jessie likes her elbow room, often either crowding out or flopping over onto flowers or lawn.

But that buttery-yellow color, tinged with tangerine … as with some gardeners, with some plants you tend to overlook their little faults.

What else I’m into this week: Celebrating with my family!


Craig Summers Black, The Transplanted Gardener, is an award-winning garden writer and photographer who blogs regularly at Diggin' it. You can read more of what he's written by clicking here. You may also follow Craig’s further adventures in gardening, music, and rural life on Twitter.

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