Growing Euphorbias: How To Cultivate A Euphorbia Plant

Image by Karl Nickless

By Bonnie L. Grant

Euphorbia plants (Euphorbia spp.) also go by the easier to say, but less elegant, name of Spurge. They are a family of plants that may be grown as houseplants or occasionally outdoors. There are many varieties of Euphorbia plants, with fascinating forms that range from shrubs, herbs, or cactus-like specimens. Growing Euphorbias is easy and some are hardy in temperate climates. These are easy to start from seed and propagate from cuttings. Learn how to cultivate a Euphorbia plant that will start conversations and cause second looks.

About Euphorbia Plants

Euphorbias occur naturally in many parts of the world, but most notably Africa, Asia, Europe and North and South America. The variation of form and size provide a spectacle of plant life. Some are as large as trees and others range as small ground covers. There are over 2,000 species, many of which you will find familiar from interior commercial plantings.

Crown of thorns is recognizable by its spiky stems, and donkey spurge is aptly named with thick rope-like stems sprawling away from the plant. Poinsettias are a form of Euphorbia that is recognizable to almost everyone.

Most varieties of Euphorbia plants produce weird and unusual flowers. Gardeners should be cautious when handling Spurge, as all varieties have a milky latex sap that can be irritating or even poisonous.

How to Cultivate a Euphorbia Plant

As a general rule, Spurge requires well-drained soil in full sun. A few tolerate shadier conditions, but none of the family is fussy about soil condition. They even thrive in very poor soils and can tolerate periods of drought.

Euphorbia plant care is simple. Provide them light, moderate moisture and watch for annoying pests, like whitefly. Provide water under the plant’s leaves to prevent powdery mildew.


You will not need to fertilize Spurge often. Wait until the bottom leaves become yellow before feeding with a water-soluble plant food.

Prune when the plant gets out of hand. These plants are almost impossible to kill and are a perfect choice for the novice gardener. Growing Euphorbia to share with a friend is also a great beginner propagation project.

Additional Growing Tips for Euphorbia

Spurge grows quite well from seeds sown indoors in pots. You can propagate Euphorbia more quickly and easily by gathering up the “volunteers” around an established plant. You may also root stem cuttings in a soilless medium, such as peat. Keep them lightly misted and enclose the pot in a bag to keep moisture in. Let the pot breathe once a day for an hour, so the soil does not mold.

Once the cutting has rooted, you can pot it in regular soil or plant outdoors in moderate climates. One of the more important growing tips for Euphorbia is to let the stem cutting dry for a few days before planting. This allows the sap to form a callus on the cut end and prevents rotting.

Whether you want a giant thornless cactus specimen 6 feet tall or a creeping, sweetly flowering ground cover, you should try growing Euphorbias. They reward the gardener with more than just good looks, but remind us all of the variety and beauty found in nature.

Print This Article
This article was last updated on
Did you find this helpful?
Share it with your friends!

Related Articles
Additional Help & Information

Didn't find the answer to your question? Ask one of our friendly gardening experts.

Do you know anything about gardening? Help answer someone's gardening question.

Read more articles about Euphorbia.

Search for more information

Use the search box below to find more gardening information on Gardening Know How:

  • How To Grow A Moss Path December 2, 2015
    This week’s guest blogger is Deb Elliot, a plant enthusiast who speaks and writes about gardening. Deb gardens on three and one half acres of rolling, partially wooded land in Helena, Alabama.  She has published a successful garden blog, Deb’s Read this artice The post How To Grow A Moss Path appeared first on Gardening […]