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Spurge is one of the most diverse and largest classes of plants with over 2,000 species in the family. Showy modified leaves, called bracts, provide visual interest. Most are green, but other colors are available, too. This tough and vigorous grower quickly fills a garden space.
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Part Sun, Sun
1 to 3 feet
1 to 3 feet wide
Spurge is one of the few plants known for its standout green flowers that complement all other flowers in a garden. The foliage colors of spurge are diverse, with blue, green, burgundy, and variegated options.
Spurge Care Must-Knows
Growing conditions between species vary, but it is usually best to plant spurge in full sun, which ensures colored varieties will be their best and brightest. Part sun is typically tolerated, too, but you may miss out on some flowers and the foliage color may be more muted.
Spurge performs best in well-drained soil. Some types are like succulents and can be treated like a cactus. These types are drought-tolerant; err on the side of more dry than wet because they can rot, leaving you with a pile of mush.
Spurge has a milky white sap when cut or damaged. This sap is generally poisonous and is what makes the plant deer- and rabbit-resistant. The sap is an irritant to humans as well, so wear gloves when you are handling spurge as it can cause a skin rash. Also, avoid getting the sap in your eyes; it can cause vision problems—even blindness.
Spurge can be aggressive, and some varieties can be invasive. Most spurge will spread by underground rhizomes, creating dense mats of foliage. This makes it a great option as a groundcover or as a filler between taller plants. It can also make it a bully as it chokes out smaller plants. Make sure to pull up runners early before they take over.