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5 euphorbias to brighten up the garden border this summer

One of Ladybrook Nursery’s favourite perennials is the euphorbia. Whilst there might be thousands of different species of spurge, euphorbia, or cushion spurge, produces spectacular early spring colour. Like its sibling, the Pointsettia, spurge’s colour comes not from the tiny flowers, but rather from the bracts that surround the flowers. The plant produces a mound of foliage about a foot in height and thrives in everything from full sun to full shade: that alone makes it unusual and different from other early-blooming perennials. A word of warning is needed, however: all parts of the plant are highly toxic if ingested. The milky sap may cause irritation to skin and eyes.

Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’

Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ is a bushy, softly hairy, evergreen perennial with reddish-purple stems bearing ovate/ spoon-shaped, maroon to reddish-purple leaves and cymes of bright yellow-green flowers from mid-spring to early summer. The Wood Splurge ‘Purpurea’ will reach a height of 1m and a spread of 0.5m after 2-5 years. Tolerates most soil types and is happy in sun or shade. Can be invasive, spreading by rhizomes and seed.

Type: perennial

Height: 1m

Foliage: evergreen – deep purple stems and leaves

Flower colour: lime green

Flowering: May to September

Aspect: full sun to partial shade

Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Robbiae’

Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Robbiae’, also known as Mrs Robb’s bonnet, is a spreading, evergreen perennial with rosettes of oblong, leathery, glossy, dark green leaves and cymes of yellow/ lime green flowers from mid-spring to early summer. Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Robbiae’ will reach a height of 0.7m and a spread of 1m after 2-5 years. Will tolerate most soil types and is happy in sun or shade. It can be invasive, spreading by rhizomes and seed.

Type: perennial

Height: 70cm

Foliage: evergreen – dark green

Flower colour: lime green

Flowering: April to June

Aspect: partial shade

Euphorbia characias ‘Wulfenii’

Euphorbia characias ‘Wulfenii’, or the Mediterranean spurge, is an upright, evergreen shrub with biennial shoots bearing linear to oblong, grey-green leaves and dense, spherical to cylindrical cymes of yellow-green flowers from early spring to early summer. Euphorbia characias ‘Wulfenii’ will reach a height of 1.5m and a spread of 1.2m after 2-5 years. Grow in well-drained soil in full sun. If necessary, add grit or sharp sand to the soil to improve drainage as the plant dislikes wet conditions.

Type: perennial

Height: 1.5m

Foliage: grey/green

Flower colour: large roundish heads of greenish yellow flowers

Flowering: March to May

Aspect: full sun

Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’

Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’, or the Spurge ‘Fireglow’, is a spreading, rhizomatous perennial bearing narrow, dark green with a prominent, red midrib and terminal clusters of bright orange-red flower heads in summer. Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’ will reach a height of 0.75m and a spread of 0.6m after 2-5 years. Plant in rich, moist soil in sun or dappled shade. Colours best in sun.

Type: perennial

Height: 75cm

Foliage: dark green, tipped orange

Flower colour: orange/red

Flowering: June to September

Aspect: partial shade

Euphorbia x martinii ‘Baby Charm’

Euphorbia x martinii ‘Baby Charm’ is a compact subshrub with a neat round clump of deep green leaves tinted with red, producing sprays of light green flower/bracts for weeks in spring. It branches readily, with a flower appearing on every stem. The plant is toxic if ingested, so care is needed when handling. Plant in well-drained, light soil in full sun. Prefers mild areas.

Type: perennial

Height: 75cm

Foliage: evergreen – green stained red

Flower colour: March to July

Flowering: Chartreuse-green with red eye

Aspect: full sun

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