After gardening in semi-arid Colorado for nearly 40 years, Debbie returned to her native state three years ago and has been learning how to garden in a totally different climate -– more rain, more heat, the dreaded heat-index, more bugs, and certainly more weeds.

Perennials are her passion and discovering and trying new plants is her addiction. She's also become a vegetable gardener on her two acre retreat in the country. Besides outdoor gardening, Debbie loves houseplants, especially succulents, begonias, and gesneriads, especially in the winter months when nothing else is blooming. As a new Master Gardener, she's trying to convince her neighbors that growing flowers is just as rewarding as growing corn.

 

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May 17
Buds and Blooms.  

Apr 22
The Ever-Changing Garden  

Mar 26
Where Oh Where Is Spring?  

Oct 03
Weird but Lovable Euphorbias   (2 comments)

Aug 14
Greetings from your new Kentucky Gardener Blogger…  

 

 

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Weird but Lovable Euphorbias
by Debbie Griffith - posted 10/03/13

Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'

 

One aspect of gardening that I really enjoy is discovering new varieties of plants.  I’ll try anything once, and very often that trial leads to further discoveries.  Such was the case with the genus of plants commonly known as Euphorbia.  This genus encompasses over 2,000 different plants with growing habits ranging from tropical to succulent to cactus.  There truly is something for everyone.

Euphorbia’s botanical name derives from Euphorbus, a Greek physician who married the daughter of Anthony and Cleopatra.  Euphorbus described a cactus-like plant as being a strong laxative.  In his honor and in a game of one-upmanship with Augustus Caesar, who had dedicated a statue to his own personal physician, King Juba II of Numidia named this plant after Euphorbus.  Many, many centuries later, Carl Linnaeus assigned the name Euphorbia to this entire genus of plants.

Today, you may know this genus by a more familiar title – spurge, so named because of the milky substance emitted by most members of the Euphorbia genus.  You are no doubt familiar with one of the most common plants in the Euphorbia world:  the traditional Christmas plant, Poinsettia pulcherrima.  Poinsettia derives its common name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Minister to Mexico.  Poinsett first introduced his namesake into the U.S. in 1825.

Some of the Euphorbias which I have grown or grow now include Euphorbia ‘Firesticks’, a wonderful succulent whose stems turn a fiery red when exposed to sufficient sunlight.  ‘Firesticks’ is one of the many plants from South Africa which have been recently introduced to American growers.  Another plant which may be familiar to you is Euphorbia milii -- ‘Crown of Thorns’.  This plant comes in several different colors ranging from deep red to pink to yellow.  Be cautious of the sap produced by the plant, however, as it is toxic.

Probably the most outstanding, (at least in my book) recently introduced Euphorbia is Euphorbia graminea ‘Diamond Frost’.  Introduced by Proven Winners in 2005, this plant literally has it all!  Regardless of how hot, how humid, or how dry your growing conditions, this plant never falters.  Beginning in early spring until a killing frost, this plant looks as fresh as the first day it was planted.  Its leaves and blooms do not wilt, ever.  I have never seen any insect damage which makes it a winner in my book.  Even now in early October, my ‘Diamond Frost’ is still flourishing.  This year, I’m going to bring part of the plant indoors to see how it fares being overwintered.  Several years ago I acquired a sibling of ‘Diamond Frost’ – ‘Diamond Blush’ – same plant but the blooms have a faint pink blush.  It was also an outstanding performer. 

Cultural requirements for Euphorbias are quite simple:  they rarely need to be deadheaded, their water requirements are minimal to moderate, most thrive in full sun, they aren’t invasive, and they have attractive foliage.  All in all, just about the perfect plant.

If you haven’t tried a variety of Euphorbia, now’s your opportunity.  They are readily available in most garden centers and from Internet sources, and I’ve seen some varieties in the box stores as well.  They are a wonderful addition to your outdoor garden or houseplant collection.  Try one, you’ll enjoy it.

Euphorbia 'Firesticks'

Common spurge

 

 

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COMMENTS

Stef - 10/05/2013

Hi Debbie!
Thanks for the informative write-up! I'm forever on the lookout for plants to add to my "Family and Friends Garden" and the weird but lovable "Diamond Frost" or "Diamond Blush" sounds like an ideal plant to honor my Diamond ancestors, who came to the U.S. 165 years ago from Ireland! Hopefully it will like my Missouri soil just fine!
Stef
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cmincks - 02/23/2014

I have found Common Spurge to be very invasive in my Northern Kentucky garden. I have a patch near my house foundation that I've been pulling up and trying to get rid of for about 10 years. It's interwined with some iris & peonies, so I can't spray it to get rid of it. It is also thriving and taking over a steep dry bank under some trees where I'm happy to let it go.
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