Growing Euphorbias

Growing Euphorbias (Mediterranean Spurge).
  • Binomial name:                                   Euphorbia characias.
  • Family:                                               Euphorbiaceae.
  • Variety:                                               Mediterranean Spurge
  • Classification:                                      Evergreen hardy perennial.
  • Mature plant size:                                1500mm high x 1500mm wide.
  • Garden bed type:                                 Drip line irrigated. 
  • Recommended soil pH:                         pH tolerant 
  • Climate:                                              Warm temperate.
  • Geography:                                          Southern hemisphere. 
Notes.
  • Euphorbia characias wulfenii are beautiful plants with strong upright stems topped with lime green flowers (bracts).
  • The flowering stems need to be cut back to ground level when flowering finishes.  This prevents the flowers from going to seed, and encourages the growth of new shoots.
  • They are inclined to be invasive making large quantities of seed which set readily around your garden if allowed to.  The young seedlings are easy to see and remove, but keep them under control or they will take over.
  • Many Mediterranean plants including Euphorbia Wulfenii grow rapidly in spring and set flowers before slowing down their metabolism to conserve water during hot dry weather.
  • Once the cooler wetter months return, new growth starts and continues right through until the heat of summer returns.
  • They prefer light well drained soil, and hate getting their root systems water logged in winter.
  • They are poisonous plants and are rarely attacked by pests.  Care needs to be taken handling them.
  • The sap is a milky fluid which flows freely when the stems are cut.  It will irritate the skin and causes temporary blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes.
  • Wear gloves and goggles and an old long sleeved shirt when pruning your plants.
  • You can safely dispose of prunings in your compost heap by leaving them for a few days before cutting them up. The sap coagulates and becomes immobilised.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly when you have finished handling Euphorbia Wulfenii.
Growing Conditions:
  • Full sun and semi-shade.  
  • Minimise soil disturbances to maintain a natural soil structure.  
Feed the Soil.  
  • In September, remove old mulch, fallen leaves and other decaying organic material.  Dispose of them in the compost heap.  
  • Drench the soil with aerated compost extract to enhance microbial activity, and add a 60mm layer of home made compost.
  • Cover the compost with fresh straw mulch.
Growing Instructions.
  • Propagate Euphorbia Wulfenii by division in Autumn before the flowers go to seed.  They will remain vigorous plants for about 5 years before you need to replace them.  
  • Choose a new location to give the original soil a rest.
  • Cut the flowering stems back to ground level when flowering finishes to prevent the flowers from going to seed, and to encourage new growth.
  • Spray the foliage with aerated compost tea twice a year in late autumn and late spring.
Organic Pest Control.
  • General
    • Euphorbias are usually pest and disease free due to the poisonous nature of the plant's tissue and sap.
    • Despite this, I spray the foliage with aerated compost tea in spring and autumn, and feed the soil with a drench of aerated compost extract and a layer of home made compost, to boost microbial and worm activity.
    • These measures improve the plants resistance to airborne and soil borne pests and diseases.