How to Care for Euphorbia characias

Euphorbia characias is a herbaceous perennial shrubby plant from the Euphorbiaceae family. The plant is commonly called spurge or Mediterranean spurge. Native to the Mediterranean region. The spurge plant reaches a height of 2 to 3 feet, with equal sized spreads. Small, insignificant blossoms surrounded by thick groups of showy bracts in yellow and green emerge from the plant in the spring.

Clear a planting site in full or partial sun as soon as you can work the soil in spring. Euphorbia characias grows best in full sun, but will tolerate areas with some shade. Pick a location with well-draining soil and the room needed for the plant's full-grown size.

Make the planting hole the same depth as the container holding the spurge plant, but twice as wide. Space the holes according to the plant's marker, if you're planting more than one in an area.

Put on gloves and wear them whenever you are working with this plant. The white sap is a skin irritant and poisonous.

Place the Euphorbia characias in the hole and backfill. Firm the soil as you fill the hole, and then water the plant well to saturate the soil and settle the Euphorbia characias in place.

Supply 1 inch of water weekly but only during any long dry periods of the growing season. Do not water the Euphorbia characias during the winter.

Cut off most of the stems of spent flowers to encourage additional growth. Cut the plants at the bottom of the stems. Leave some of the spent flowers on the plant to reseed the area.

Prune the Euphorbia characias back to ground level during the winter in areas where the plant naturally dies back. Some gardeners in warmer regions do not prune the plants except to remove flower stems.


Keep the sap away from your eyes because it can cause blindness.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Shovel
  • Shears
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About the Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published online at the Travel Channel and Intel.