European Spurges As Garden Plants

European Spurges As Garden Plants
Among the perennial Euphorbias, there are a number of fine species that were originally native to Europe. These include the following.

Cushion spurge

Native to Eastern Europe, this is one of the most popular garden perennials. Cushion spurge grows from one to two feet in height with about an equal spread. This perennial forms a neat, dense clump.

The light green leaves can become vivid red during the autumn. These grow to about two inches in length. They are oblong.

Cushion spurge is noted for its floriferous nature. Opening in early spring in terminal clusters, this has colorful, yellowish-green or yellow bracts. These last for weeks.

Recommended for zones four through eight, cushion spurge does better if it receives some afternoon shade, especially in southern locations.

This plant will need dividing about every four years. Easily grown from seeds, it can also be propagated from cuttings.

Cypress spurge

This is a reliable garden plant. However, its creeping underground stems spread so readily that it can become a nuisance if growing conditions are particularly good. It has escaped from cultivation in parts of the eastern U.S.

Often used as a ground cover, cypress spurge has numerous stems that are about a foot in height with a much larger spread. The pale green leaves, about 1½ inches long, are crowded together on the stem. The leaves are narrow to spatula-shaped. The plant received its common name from the fact that the densely tufted stems bear a remote resemblance to young fir trees.

Cypress spurge has colorful flower heads that form umbels. These flowers usually have yellowish bracts. But, sometimes these can be bright red. In the U.S. where it has naturalized, the plants bloom from April through August. In Europe, it’s usually from April to June.

It is found over much of the continent with a few exceptions. This occurs as a native plant in grassy places and waysides. In the U.S., it has naturalized in old fields, along roadsides, and in neglected cemeteries.

This is recommended for zones three through eight.

Myrtle spurge

This trailing plant is known for its prostrate, short stems. Less than a foot in height, it has a slightly larger spread.

The blue-green foliage is fleshy and short. This occurs in whorls, and covers the stems.

Blooming in April and May, myrtle spurge has flamboyant flower heads with colorful yellow bracts. The flower heads are up to four inches across. These open on short stems that are almost a foot in height.

Myrtle spurge is an excellent choice for rocky places, particularly hills and banks, where you need a ground cover.

Native to southeastern Europe, it occurs in grassy and rocky places. In Europe, it blooms March to June.

This plant tolerates heat very well, and is a good choice for southern regions.

Myrtle spurge is recommended for zones four through nine. To keep the plant looking neater, cut it back after it finishes blooming. Easy to grow from seed, this can also be easily propagated from cuttings.

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