Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’

The fiery-orange bracts and red stems of this perennial spurge brighten spring, summer landscapes.

Three-year-old specimen of ‘Fireglow’ in mid-June.
All photos by Mark Leichty

I have a love-hate relationship with genus Euphorbia. I love it because it is so diverse, having species that look very cactus-like such as Euphorbia horrida and also herbaceous forms like E. griffithii ‘Fireglow’, which is a beautiful perennial in USDA Zones 5-9. I hate the genus because of the dreaded “P” word which I will not utter here. Suffice it to say, I have grown my share of them over the years. Mike Hicks, our head grower at Little Prince, and I agree that we will not ever grow another euphorbia that turns red at Christmas again!

E. griffithii ‘Fireglow’ is beautiful and well mannered. It is not a rampant thug like its cousin Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii. Instead, ‘Fireglow’ has always stayed right where I put it, slowly spreading via rhizomes to form a clump that might reach 4 feet wide after five years. In spring, fiery orange bracts develop on red stems, seemingly setting the plant ablaze. They last for two to three months, disappearing when summer heat sets in. ‘Fireglow’ will thrive in full sun to light shade. It prefers moist, well-drained soil but will tolerate heavier clay soils as well.

It is native to the Himalayas and western Asia. Like most Euphorbias, ‘Fireglow’ has a milky-white latex that “bleeds” when a stem is cut. Nonetheless, it makes a great cut flower. Careful though, as all parts of the plant are toxic. The sap is a skin irritant and will cause severe discomfort if ingested, so be careful.

Euphorbias are not hard to root. It can be propagated from seed or cuttings. One trick I have learned is to give the cuttings a short 5 second dip in 90- to 100-°F water to wash off the latex. I have rooted them with and without hormones. Using a powered hormone may help to “cauterize” the wound.

If you grow herbaceous perennials, this is a plant to add to your production. It presents well from a 4-inch pot to a 2-gallon container. It is beautiful in mixed containers. I love this Euphorbia and you will, too.

Mark Leichty is the Director of Business Development at Little Prince of Oregon Nursery near Portland. He is a certified plant geek who enjoys visiting beautiful gardens and garden centers searching for rare and unique plants to satisfy his plant lust.

August 2020
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