General gardening topics

Growing Euphorbia plants and care guide to getting the most out of your plants

Last updated on May 3rd, 2022

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Euphorbia comprises a large genus of plants inside of which there are over 2,000 species, meaning there is literally an endless choice of varieties. Of these, around 1200 are succulent species that provide some of the most remarkable shapes and look very similar to cacti. They are cultivated because of the range of foliage in architectural shapes they have but only a few are known for the flowers they produce. Those that do produce flowers bloom in the spring or summer and tend to go into dormancy come winter.

Of these non-succulent varieties, the Euphorbias are deciduous and the most popular flowering varieties include the traditional Christmas Poinsettia, the Poinsettia that is grown by most people over Christmas, as well as the familiar milkweed that is also known as the Euphorbia peplus.

Hardy Euphorbias for rockeries and flowerbeds

Most of the succulent varieties are not very hardy, and if there are being grown in the UK they do better when grown indoors. There are also lots of different hardy rockery varieties available too. There are many perennial varieties that provide much-needed winter colour, with many being evergreen, while some die back for winter before emerging again in spring. These perennial Euphorbia are what most gardeners in the UK will likely want to plant, such varieties include the Euphorbia amygdaloides purpura and the Euphorbia characias.

Easy to Care for

Whether they are flowering or not, Euphorbias are quite simple to care for and they require very little care and maintenance once they are established. Once fully established they are incredibly self-sufficient and won’t die from very much, besides too much care or too much watering.

Regular Care

Beautiful blooming wood spurge in March

Plant Euphorbia in full sun to partial shade

Euphorbias require areas with full sun but they do tolerate partial shade, especially the woodland varieties. If you have a flowering Euphorbia, full sun is a necessity to get the most out of the flowers. If you don’t provide it with full sun, the plant will put all of its resources and energy into maintaining itself rather than flowering. This effectively defeats the purpose of having a flowering variety in the first place, that being said, the foliage of many varieties is equally as stunning as the flowers themselves.

Even though there is very little you need to do to care for the plant, there are some specific requirements needed to give them the best chance of thriving.

Watering Euphorbias

Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’

First, unlike other succulents, Euphorbia does not tolerate long periods of drought so you need to keep a close eye on watering, especially if you are growing them in pots. You’ll have to water your plants sometimes weekly during the summer months. Effectively you want to water whenever the soil becomes dry on the surface, being careful not to overwater. Once you note that it’s dry enough, water it deeply but don’t let it sit in the water because this can lead to root rot.

Feeding Euphorbias

To help them get established when you first plant them, or during their growing season, you can add organic matter, like compost or fertiliser such as bone meal or fish blood and bone into the soil. If you are growing your Euphorbia in a container, you can give it a half-strength fertiliser on a monthly basis.

Vitax Ltd Blood Fish & Bone Fertiliser, 1.25kg
  • Contains nitrogen and phosphate, with added potash for strong root development
  • Improved ripening and healthy growth of fruit and vegetables.
  • With added potash for strong root development

Pests and Diseases

The good news is, that Euphorbias are typically problem-free. Very few animals want to contend with the spiky needles or the milky sap they are known for. It’s worth noting that the milky sap can irritate the skin so always wear gloves when cutting them back or taking cuttings.

Mealybugs and spider mites


However, there are a few bugs that have taken a liking to Euphorbia. Mealybugs and spider mites are the most common pests and they will feed on your plant until such time as it eventually dies. These insects increase in numbers very rapidly so it’s essential that you catch the problem early on and rectify it by spraying the plants with a pesticide spray.

Provanto 84436674 Ultimate Bug Killer RTU 1L
  • Up to 2 weeks control of a wide range of pests
  • Rapid action and long-lasting protection
  • Use on flowers and a wide range of edibles
  • Targets lily beetle, whitefly, scale, greenfly, red spider mite, blackfly, mealybug, thrips and leaf hopper
  • Use outdoors and indoors

Root rot

As mentioned, they are susceptible to root rot. This really only happens when the plants are in wet soil for too long. By having well-draining soil and limiting the watering until it’s dry enough to require it, you can avoid this. Dig plenty of organic matter and grit into the soil if the area sometimes becomes waterlogged before planting.


There are some issues of mildew if you have bad air circulation. You can correct this by changing the growing conditions to provide better airflow around your Euphorbia before you resort to a fungicide, however, in bad cases try to improve the air circulation and spray the plant with a fungicide.

FungusClear 18986 Ultra, 3 in 1 Action, Plant Protection Disease Control, 225 ml
  • Systemic protection and control of blackspot, powdery mildew and rust
  • Use on roses and other flowering or ornamental plants
  • Protects new growth and protects plants for over 3 months, when used at intervals recommended in usage instructions
  • Use between March to September
  • Apply using a garden pressure sprayer washed before and after use


Euphorbia usually falls into one of three pruning categories. Evergreen varieties just need the flowers trimmed when they have finished and turned brown. Varieties with biennial stems (which means they flower on the stems in the second year) just need the flowering stems cut back to ground level in autumn. Finally, deciduous varieties that die back for winter need all the stems cut back to ground level in autumn, ideally before the first frost.

Read our detailed guide on pruning Euphorbias with examples of varieties and which pruning method to use.

Propagating Euphorbia 

Euphorbia cuttings growing well
Euphorbia cuttings growing well

If you have a successful Euphorbia plant in your garden and you have decided you would like more there are two propagating options available to you. Firstly, you can propagate from seed, however, this is a very difficult process.

The second, and most common way to propagate is by taking cuttings. Be cautious of the fact that the cuttings ooze a sticky, milky white sap that is an irritant to the skin and the eyes so it’s important that you wear gloves during this process.

Some of our favourite varieties:

  • Euphorbia grandialata will start out with upright growth and eventually spread into a thorny bush, producing coral red flower bracts in the summer.
  • Euphorbia lactea has fan-like branches with black spines.
  • Euphorbia milii is a thorny, bushy plant that provides floral bracts of red, orange, yellow and white throughout the year.
  • Euphorbia obesa is round and plump and it has reddish stripes. It tolerates some shade.
  • Euphorbia symmetrica is a smaller, round subspecies of the Euphorbia obesa.
Bestseller No. 1
Euphorbia Redwing - Spurge | Deciduous Herbaceous Potted Garden Shrub for Sale (15-30cm Incl. Pot)
  • Latin Name: Euphorbia amygdaloides Redwing
  • Common Name: Spurge
  • Characteristics: Euphorbia Redwing is a deciduous, herbaceous perennial plant with narrow leaves of dark green colour in the earlier periods of the year, with a red hue coming in Winter. Very classy and elegant flowering appears in Spring, with the colour of those being a yellow-green shade. Due to the plants deciduous nature, it will lose its leaves later in the year, before returning with fresh new foliage in Spring.
  • Plant Advice: Euphorbia should be planted in moist, well-drained soil and kept in full sun at the best of times. Watering can be done at a low maintenance level as the plant can tolerate this. Also, when pruning, take care as the white latex from cut stems is harmful to eyes and skin.
  • Images are for illustrative purposes only. Plant supplied in a growers pot, decorative pot not included.
Bestseller No. 2
Euphorbia Silver Swan Spurge Evergreen Flowering Perennial Garden Plants in Plant Pot (9cm Pot, 15-30cm)
  • Characteristics: Compact, bushy evergreen herbaceous perennial with variegated white and green foliage and cream flowers.
  • Flourishing Season: Tiny cream flowers that bloom throughout the Spring.
  • Water & Maintenance: Requires little water. Plant in retentive, well-drained soil in full sun. Drought tolerant over extended periods.
Bestseller No. 3
Euphorbia 'Ruby Glow' Wood Spurge Herbaceous Perennial Garden Shrub | 9cm Pot
  • Pot Size: 9cm
  • Plant Height (Including Pot): 20 - 30cm
  • Characteristics: Compact, bushy evergreen herbaceous perennial with deep purple foliage and bright yellow flowers.
  • Growth & Spread: Ultimate height and spread of 0.2 – 0.5m.
  • Flourishing Season: Small yellow flowers from mid-Spring through to the Summer.
Bestseller No. 4
3 x Euphorbia Ruby Glow - Ascott Rainbow - Silver Swan - Ready to Plant in 9cm Pots
  • Three Plants Ready To Be Planted In The Garden
  • Includes unusual Variety Ascott Rainbow
  • Amazing Plants For Autumn/Winter Colour
  • Perfect For Patio Pots In The Garden
Bestseller No. 5
Euphorbia charachias 'Tasmanian Tiger' Herbaceous Perennial Shrub | 9cm Pot
  • Pot Size: 9cm
  • Plant Height (Including Pot): 20 - 30cm
  • Characteristics: Compact, bushy evergreen herbaceous perennial with variegated green and cream-white leaves and cream-yellow flowers.
  • Growth & Spread: Ultimate height and spread of 0.5 – 1m.
  • Flourishing Season: Conical cream flowers with yellow-green centres blooming from midSpring through to Summer.
Bestseller No. 6
Portal Cool Rare Euphorbia Marginata sposa 10 Semi UK venditore
  • As shown in the image
  • Easy to grow
  • Item Condition New
  • Suitable for all type of soil
  • 1 Pc
Bestseller No. 7
You Garden - 3 x Euphorbia 'Miner's Merlot' 9cm pots
  • Irresistibly attractive perennial with colourful foliage and flowers
  • Bright yellow-lime flowers - a haven for pollinating bees & butterflies
  • Drought tolerant & easy to care for
  • Ideal for ground cover & rockeries
  • Grows to 60-75cm height and supplied as 3 x established plants in 9cm pots
Bestseller No. 8
Euphorbia Pupurea Wood Spurge Bushy Flowering Evergreen Perennial Shrub (20-30cm Incl. Pot)
  • Characteristics: Compact, bushy, evergreen perennial shrub with purple stems bearing purple-red ovate leaves and small lime-green flowers from Spring.
  • Growth & Spread: Ultimate height and spread of 0.5 – 1m.
  • Period of Interest: Year-round foliage interest. Small clusters of bright, lime-green, cup-shaped flowers from mid-Spring through to Summer.
  • Water & Maintenance: Plant in moist, well-drained soil. Keep in full or partial sun in a sheltered position. Harsh Winters and frost may cause leaf damage and dieback, but the plant will regrow the following Spring.
Bestseller No. 9
1 X Euphorbia 'Glacier Blue' Mediterranean Spurge Evergreen Shrub Plant in Pot
  • Propagation is by division in early spring or Propagate by seed in autumn or spring
  • Generally trouble free
  • Rust may be a problem
Bestseller No. 10
Euphorbia purpurea by SPB. Sometimes Called Wood Spurge and Occasionally Darlington’s Glade Spurge. (1)
  • A compact, bushy, shade loving perennial with deep purple stems and strap-like purple leaves.
  • From April to June Euphorbia purpurea carries an abundance of lime green almost yellow flowers on slightly arching stems. Long lasting and very eye-catching the blooms contrast beautifully with the dark coloured foliage.
  • Growing just 75cm tall it looks great at the front of a border where it can show off its wonderful foliage and sensational when combined with spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils and used as ground-cover on a difficult, shaded or partially shaded site. Superb as a container plant.
  • Fast growing, evergreen and fully hardy Euphorbia purpurea is unfussy about soil type but it must be well drained. Self-seeds freely and will need keeping in check in small gardens.
  • It is recommended that you wear gloves when working with this plant as all parts of it are highly toxic if ingested and the milky sap is also a potential skin irritant.

Last update on 2024-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at

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