This week I am going green. Many bushes like edible currant bushes are now in flower with green flowers, the flowers are totally inconspicuous and only our good friends the bees and the flies notice them as they come for their supply of nectar whilst going about their important business of pollinating the fruit for us. In appreciation I am going to choose a green flower for my vase this week – this one is very eye-catching although it is not commonly sold in the shops as a cut flower – the Euphorbia.
Botanical Name: Euphorbia Characias. Common Name: Milkweed or Spurge.
The genus Euphorbia includes a large range of shrubs; there is the showy poinsettia that is induced to flower at Christmas time, and the tender round ball ‘Euphorbi obese’ that looks like a tennis ball. The one that is now in flower and for sale in garden centres is usually the Euphorbia characias. It has stout stems clothed with whorls of leaves all the year round even in winter. They are of interest all the year round; I use them as a low growing hedge, there is a variegated type pictured here which is specially of interest.
During the spring each stem produces a whorl of hundreds of tiny green flowers high above the stem. Some varieties like those in the photo can be as large as 30 cm. but usually they are much smaller. Especially showy is a very similar species Euphorbia x martinnii which has a red eye in the centre of every tiny flower.
It can be kept as a small bush but beware as the more common types like my hedge can be very invasive, and its long roots throw up small plants all over the rest of my garden!
TIP For Displaying your cut Euphorbia characias
The flowers will last for weeks on end in the garden and similarly in a vase . The common name is milkweed this is due to the milky sap that will run from the plant when cut. This sap will also form a crust on the cut flower and this will often not allow the cut flower to draw up water. The age old method to prevent this is to immediately burn the cut with a match before placing it in water. The flower will then last for up to two weeks in water.
Good gardening ,
Boris Legarni .