Column: The Garden Girl – Drought Resistant Evergreen

March 9, 2014 14:00 pm · 9 comments


Euphorbia is a tough, drought resistant evergreen that will thrive in almost any Claycord landscape. Its interesting foliage and unique flowers are extremely appealing. Euphorbia looks great surrounded by stone, along rock walls, near swimming pool, or in hard to water containers.

Many years ago we learned about the drought tolerance of Euphorbia quite by accident. It was installed in the flowerbed of an English Garden. Barbara, the customer, was an experienced gardener. Euphorbia was a” new to us” plant. She was taken by the dark foliage, and thought it would contrast well against the white blooming candytuft. After a couple months in the ground, the Euphorbia gave up and died. Barbara was did what any garden-lover would do, and bought a couple more. She was determined to grow her vision. Again, the Euphorbia started to fail. Barbara dug up the plant and inspected the roots, they were drenched and smelly. The Euphorbia couldn’t tolerate the water that the rest of the flowerbed was receiving. Lesson learned.

Euphorbia Helena’s Blush has an awesome variegation of cream, green and pink. In the late winter through spring flower stalks curl upwards towards the sky. Clusters of cream bracts with burgundy centers create the flower display. This Euphorbia will grow 18”-2’ tall and wide. It can by used as a small shrub in a landscape layer. If you are installing a minimal amount of plants in an area, the Helena’s Blush can stand alone, surrounded by dark colored mulch and still make a statement. If you are considering companion plants for Helena’s Blush Euphorbia, think about mixing with Tom Thumb Phormium, Coreopsis Early Sunrise and red foliage Smoke Bushes.

Euphorbia Black Bird has dark, eggplant colored foliage. The flower display is born in clusters of lime green colored bracts with burgundy centers. This selection of Euphorbia is very desirable. The growth u-shaped, 2’ tall and wide. Euphorbia Black Bird is excellent in any full sun landscape. Use this evergreen as a layer to the taller Salvia Leucantha.

Not all Euphorbia is shrub-like. Euphorbia Rigida is a ground cover selection. The shape of the leaves of this Euphorbia is often confused with a succulent. Gray, triangular-shape leaves lines sturdy, tube-like stems. When in bloom, green bracts and green flowers contrast off the Rigida’s gray foliage. Euphorbia Rigida looks great in a rock garden. Give this evergreen some space. Rigida will set seed and spread throughout a landscape.

Another great attribute of all Euphorbia is that they are totally deer and gopher resistant. Their milky sap is toxic, so critters leave the plants alone. Some garden lovers are bothered by Euphoria, so if you have many plant allergies, you may want to steer clear of this selection.

Happy Gardening!

Nicole Hackett is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio and Gardens, located at 6780 Marsh Creek Road in Clayton, 925-672-0207.

Nicole writes for the Clayton Pioneer Newspaper, and She is also the Clayton Valley Garden Club 2012 President.

1 lavender n rosemary? March 9, 2014 at 2:35 PM

I have a kind of birds n bees question. Many plants that I plant over the years, flowers, shrubs, bushes, even full sized trees, seem to know how to reproduce. Walnuts, mimosas, geraniums, succulents, and many flowers are practically weeds in my yard, and I have to pull them regularly. My question is: with many varieties of lavender and rosemary being ubiquitous in our region, and all being the go to choice for honey bees, why are they not self-propagating?

2 Julio March 9, 2014 at 3:09 PM

So many drought tolerant plants are truly ugly. Maybe if I’d grown up in the desert I’d feel different. Will just have to get used to it.

Thanks for your column.

3 nytemuvr March 9, 2014 at 5:05 PM

That Euphorbia Black Bird is a really good plant in CA, have a big potted one on my front porch. Takes the cold and heat….

4 Julio March 9, 2014 at 5:59 PM

Thanks for the picture Michael. It is colorful and very different.

5 itsme March 9, 2014 at 6:37 PM

The plant is very pretty along with the other varieties of the same. It sounds like it wouldn’t be a good match for a garden where pets meander because of it’s toxicity though.

6 Mustang Sally March 9, 2014 at 7:53 PM

Nytemvr, that’s a really pretty plant. Good of you to post it.

Julio, there are many draught resistant plants that don’t look like they belong in the desert. The suculents (a euphorbia CAN be a succulent) and cacti are only obvious candidates for a dry garden. There are many others you’ld never guess didn’t require lots of water. Maybe Nicole has more suggestions.

7 nytemuvr March 10, 2014 at 8:47 AM

@Julio #4
I took that picture as I posted it, that is what it looks like at present even with the weird weather. My daffodils and iris’ are blooming. It was much bigger last year(2 ft. tall from the soil), hides my spigot very well near my front door.

8 oscar March 10, 2014 at 9:29 AM


9 Bea March 10, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Euphorbia has been growing in my garden for years. Once when adding it
to a flower arrangement to be delivered, everyone thought it was from Ireland.
It always blooms in time for St. Patrick’s Day.
Love your article and read it each weekend.

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