One of the most dramatic plants for your garden, Euphorbia offer a diversity of height, form, color and habit. The genus is expansive, including more than 2,000 species of herbaceous perennials, annuals, biennials, as well as evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees. There are many varieties perennial here in the Pacific Northwest.

As winter turns to spring, perennial Euphorbias start the show with a wow of blooms. Fluffy spires of chartreuse, apple green, cream or gold touched with red punctuate the land scape well into May. As the evergreen Euphorbias begin to fade, Euphorbia 'Excalibur' burst into color with it's vibrant foliage and golden blooms.

Spurges come in a variety of sizes ranging from the 4-5' E. characais 'Wulfenii' to the 12-18" ground cover E. polychroma. These versatile perennials can be used as a specimen plant, in borders, containers, mass plantings and rock gardens. Their mostly evergreen nature and drought tolerance make them particularly useful for hot, dry areas.


It is important to note, Euphorbias ooze a white sap when cut or broken. This sap is toxic to the skin and eyes. It is important to wear gloves when working with Euphorbia. Since Euphorbia are toxic when ingested, they are deer resistant.

Euphorbias are valued for their whorled leaves, with colors ranging from bluish-green to variegated green colors all the way to dark bronze-purple. Typical perennial Euphorbia require a sunny location with well drained soil that is protected from frost and wind. The Pacific Northwest, having been compared to a Mediterranean climate because of the dry summers, is a great place to grow Euphorbia. They combine nicely with sedums, ornamental grasses, Verbena and Gaillardia.

Worth noting is that some kinds of Euphorbia prolifically self-seed. Euphorbia myrsinites (donkey tail spurge) reseeds so severely it is on the Oregon noxious weed list, thereby carried at Oregon nurseries.

Varieties of perennial Euphorbia commonly for sale at Portland Nursery include:

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii in Jardin des Plantes 12

Euphorbia characais 'Wulfenii'

Evergreen, blue-green foliage.

Huge chartreuse blooms March to June.

Grows 4'+ tall and wide, reseeds prolifically.

Zones 6-11.

Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow'

Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow'

Stunning tricolor foliage, colors intensify in cold weather.

Creamy flowers marbled with green March to May.

Grows 24-36" tall by 18-24" wide

Zones 5-9.

Euphorbia martinii 'Red Wing'

Euphorbia x martinii ‘Redwing’

Evergreen, growing 20" tall by 20" wide

Blue-grey foliage, with contrasting deep red flower buds in late winter.

Gold blooms March through April.

Zones 6-11.

Euphorbia 'Blackbird'

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’

Distinctive dark-purple evergreen foliage topped by yellow-green flowers March to May.

Compact form growing 18-22" tall and wide.

Zones 6-9.

Euphorbia 'Shorty'

Euphorbia ‘Shorty’

Compact, sturdy form, growing to only 18" tall and wide.

Evergreen blue-green foliage with chartreuse flowers March to May.

Great in pots or at the front of the border.

Zone 7.

Euphorbia 'Glacier Blue'

Euphorbia ‘Glacier Blue’

Compact growing 12-15" tall by 15" wide

Lovely cream-edged blue green foliage and flower bracts in March to May.

Zones 7-9.

Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire'

Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire'

A deciduous, low growing Euphorbia reaching 24" tall and wide.

Deciduous with stunning burgundy foliage.

Bright yellow bracts May to June.

Zones 7-11.

Euphorbia rigida 1c

Euphorbia rigida

Distinctive pointed, blue evergreen foliage

Apple green blooms March to May.

Grows 18-24" tall and wide with a relaxed, sweeping habit.

Zone 8.

Find the Best Perennials for your Garden

We have a wonderful selection of perennials year round, but if you are looking for a specific perennial we will have the best selection when it is in bloom around town. Note: Native plant pages will take you into the Native Plant section.


Lewisia: Bitterroot