Euphorbia 'Helena'

Common Name: spurge 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Air Pollution

Culture

Best grown in dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Appreciates some afternoon shade in hot summer climates. However, clumps tend to open up and lose their attractive shape in too much shade. Must have sharply-drained soils. Wet soils, particularly in winter, can be fatal. Plants are tolerant of some poor soils, including rocky-sandy ones. Plants generally prefer a Mediterranean-type climate and may show some stress in hot and humid summers.

Plants are not reliably winter hardy throughout USDA Zone 5 where they should be sited in protected locations. This hybrid is sterile.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Euphorbia is a genus of about 2,000 species of annuals, herbaceous perennials, trees, shrubs and succulents found in temperate, subtropical and tropical areas. All plant parts are toxic and can cause severe discomfort if eaten. The milky sap can cause skin irritation.

Genus name probably honors Euphorbus, physician to the King of Mauretania.

‘Helena’ is a hybrid spurge that is noted for its narrow gray-green leaves variegated with creamy yellow margins (new leaves have pink margins) and its showy, long-lasting, lime green and yellow floral bracts. It grows in a clump to 12” tall with a slightly larger spread. Parents of 'Helena' are Euphorbia milii (male) and Euphobia lophogona (female). Compound cymes of inconspicuous true flowers bloom in late spring. Although the true flowers (borne in cyathia) lack sepals or petals and are not showy, these flowers are subtended by long-lasting, bright, lime green and yellow floral bracts which are exceptionally showy. Flower color comes from the floral bracts. U.S. Plant Patent PP15,446 was issued on December 21, 2004.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Use gloves when working with this plant. Some gardeners experience skin rashes from contact with the toxic plant sap of euphorbias. Deer tend to avoid this plant.

Garden Uses

Beds, borders and rock gardens.

Containers.