Friday, June 12, 2015

How to cut back shrubby Euphorbias

Before
 If you're like us, you know the shrubby Euphorbias are the fun lovin' criminals of the plant world. Tough, drought tolerant and always seeding themselves everywhere.

We have lots of Euphorbia characias in the garden and enjoy their compact shape and amazing chartreuse flowers. But when the flowers are over (more brown than lime green) they need to be cut back, so here's how.

Don't do this
First of all, note that Euphorbia sap, a white milky and sticky substance that leaks out when you prune them, is quite the irritant. Don't get it in your eyes people! Some species have sap that can blind you, so take care.

That also means that pruning them around dogs and children needs to be done right.

First, do not just deadhead the tops of the flowers and leave sticks with nasty sap at small-beast eye level! Someone's gonna get hurt, and at the very least it looks ugly when you prune plants this way.

After
Second, if you cut down to a few inches from the base and compost the stalks (I chop them up a bit for faster composting) it's a quick job. See the before and after here - the new stalks coming in will quickly fill out the shrub.

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