‘Glacier Blue’ Euphorbia--Plant of the Month February 2020

February can be a challenging month in the garden, visually.  Oh sure, spring bulbs are nosing up out of the ground, and buds are swelling on flowering shrubs and trees, but unless you’re carrying a magnifying glass or want to crawl around on the muddy ground, I like to have something that’s easier to enjoy in February.  One such plant is the variegated leafy spurge Euphorbia characias ‘Glacier Blue’.  Here’s a plant that looks good 365 days a year.

Like the non-variegated forms of E. characias (also great to grow), give ‘Glacier Blue’ full or partial sun and water only when quite dry.  The narrow, creamy variegated foliage combines really well with a contrast:  say the big, floppy, dark-in-winter foliage of Bergenia, or the small/dark foliage of barberry (Berberis).  Each stem on E. characias is biennial, meaning it will flower the spring after its first winter and then the stem dies. Fear not, though, as there will be plenty of fresh new stems already formed by flowering season to replace any flowering stems.  Grooming the plant is a quick, once-a-year activity:  just cut away any yellowing stems as they fade after flowering.  Just trim them off around 2 inches high or above any new shoots being formed at the stem’s base.  All Euphorbias release an irritating milky sap when cut, so avoid getting it on your skin or in your eyes.  The flowers on ‘Glacier Blue’ are interesting and attractive, although not quite showy.  Unlike non-variegated forms of E. characias, ‘Glacier Blue’ rarely procures seedlings.  Want to propagate your plant? You can divide large plants in late winter/early spring, and you can take stem cuttings of young stems in spring too (again, beware the sap!).

If you want a low-water, evergreen perennial plant that looks good all year, February included, I hope you’ll give ‘Glacier Blue’ a try and tell me all about it.  And if you’re already growing it, I hope you’ll propagate it to share with members of our club.

Happy gardening!