March plant of the month

The bold, bright colours from euphorbias provide a fresh new feel to the gardening year

The Dry Garden at Hyde Hall looks good throughout the year, and really comes alive in the spring when many of the plants emerge from their winter hibernation. During these early months the dominant colours are yellow and lime green, and much of this colour is provided by euphorbias which flower for several months from late winter onward.

Contrasting appearance

A slightly more unusual species to look out for is Euphorbia rigida AGM, a sprawling evergreen perennial that reaches up to 1.2m (4ft) across. The silvery grey leaves are arranged in perfect neat spirals around the stem and the narrow leaves all end in a sharp point. The foliage makes a distinct feature and looks particularly good on a cold, frosty or snowy morning. Most euphorbias flower on the stems they produced the previous year, and this species is no exception. The bright yellow flower heads emerge in spring and last for several months, contrasting well with the sharp grey foliage. 

Maintaining the old to bring in the new

This particular species of euphorbia is native to the Mediterranean, Turkey and Iran and loves to be grown in the sunniest situation possible and in a fertile, very well drained soil. It could also be used in a container as evergreen interest, as long as it’s fed through the summer period when it is putting its growth on for the following year. Euphorbias are generally easy to look after and the only task that needs to be carried out is to remove the old flower heads to the base of the plant when they finish flowering. New stems will then emerge from the base and if the old stems are removed promptly this will stop the plant self-seeding excessively. 

In the Dry Garden

Euphorbia rigida thrives on the Dry Garden environment, where it loves being baked by the sun all day long, and as it faces due south any frost we receive quickly lifts. The seams of boulders running throughout, works particularly effectively around these euphorbias as they sprawl over them. Other plants that grow well in this situation at Hyde Hall include: Aloe striatula AGM with its candle-like flowering stems and Gaura lindheimeri. Growing around the boulders Erigeron karvinskianus AGM is always very effective with its small white and pink, daisy-like flowers and during the spring Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ AGM makes a vibrant contrast with its rich purple flowerheads.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.