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Euphorbia Care and Quirks

Fine Gardening – Issue 191
Photo: Danielle Sherry

Euphorbias, commonly known as spurges, are very easy to grow. They all need at least six hours of full sun, but more is generally better. Plants that don’t get enough sun will not bloom well or will have lax growth. An exception is Robb’s spurge (E. robbiae), which needs some shade.

Life span

Most spurges persist only for several years. The evergreen types tend to get woody bases that eventually succumb in winter.


Overly rich soils promote soft growth, which is more prone to flopping. To avoid unnecessary staking, keep fertility moderate.

Photo: gapphotos.com


Wear gloves to avoid skin contact with the white sap, especially if working in full sunshine, as exposure to bright light can exacerbate the reaction. Also, keep gloved fingers away from your eyes.


The early spring-flowering species and cultivars provide pollen for pollinators when there aren’t many other food options. In addition, they attract ladybugs and other beneficial insects.


The pesky toxic sap makes the plants quite resistant to predation from deer, rabbits, and voles.


With the exception of marsh spurge (E. palustris), good drainage is essential for all spurges. They will not survive winter if the soil is wet at that time of year. Most spurges are drought tolerant and are good candidates for xeriscaping.

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