Cushion Spurge: How To Grow and Care For Euphorbia Polychroma

Euphorbia Polychroma [yoo-FOR-bee-uh, pol-ee-KROH-muh] is an herbaceous, perennial flowering Euphorbia plant species from the family Euphorbiaceae.

Native to east, southeast, and central Europe, Turkey, and Libya, the plant is also known as Euphorbia polychrome and these following common names:

  • Cushion spurge
  • Cushion euphorbia

Flowering cushion spurge - Euphorbia Polychroma

Cushion Spurge Care

Size & Growth

Cushion spurge grows to 18” – 20” inches in height, with spreads to about 28” inches forming a dome shape.

It features erect, sturdy stems and medium-green leaves, which look amazing in fall as they turn red, orange, or purple.

Flowering and Fragrance

The plant produces terminal clusters of greenish flowers in mid-spring, which are unnoticeable because of the bright yellow colored bracts underneath.

Since the bracts are eye-catching, they not only outshine real flowers but are often mistaken for flowers.

Hence, they are called cyathia he singular term for Cyathium used for a unique type of false flower specific to the genus Euphorbia only.

It consists of five small united bracts, joined together at the base to form a cup-like shape.

The bright yellow bracts bloom in April and last for a long time. However, their color slightly fades by mid-summer as the stems grow.

Light & Temperature

While the plant grows best in full sun, it also appreciates light afternoon shade in areas where summers are very hot.

Do not keep the plant in full shade as it makes the clumps open up and lose their unique cushion shape.

The ideal location for planting euphorbia polychrome is one where it gets full sun in the morning and some shade in the afternoon.

The plant is winter hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8.

Watering and Feeding

In its native habitat, this euphorbia plant grows in dry, open woodlands and rocky hillsides, where it doesn’t require much water to grow.

Soil & Transplanting

Cushion euphorbia is quite tolerant of sandy, rocky, and other types of poor soils.

Although the plant doesn’t have specific soil type requirements and does grow in poor soils, it cannot tolerate water-logged soils.

For the best results, plant in light-textured, loose, dry and well-draining sandy soil.

Once established Polychroma doesn’t like to be transplanted.

Grooming and Maintenance

Euphorbia plants are easy to grow and care for requiring little grooming or maintenance.

However, some home gardeners refer to this plant as a garden thug because when provided the right conditions, it self-seeds abundantly.

Despite its self-seeding tendency, the plant isn’t considered invasive because it is easily curbed by cutting back the plant by about one-third after the end of the flowering season.

Experts also recommend trimming the plant about 4” inches in early summer to keep it compact and bushy.

How To Propagate Euphorbia Polychroma

Propagate the plant in fall or early spring by division, cuttings or by sowing the seeds when they are ripe.

Take terminal cuttings at the end of the flowering season or divide in spring by separating the roots.

Be careful when separating the cushion spurge because it doesn’t appreciate disturbance.

Discard the central woody parts when propagating through root divisions.

Polychroma Euphorbia Pest or Diseases

Polychrome is resilient to most pests and diseases.

However, it sometimes attracts spider mites, mealybugs, nematodes, and aphids. Watch out for these pests and use suitable insecticides (Neem oil) as soon as you detect any of these bugs to prevent severe infestation.

All parts of the plants are highly toxic and hence, not safe for ingestion.

Its stem produces a milky sap when bruised or cut, which is toxic and may cause skin rashes or eye irritation, so the plant needs to be handled carefully.

Cushion Spurge Uses

The bright yellow-colored flowers and the reddish fall foliage make cushion euphorbia an excellent choice for edging, in both containers and rock gardens.

Cushion spurge plants are also ideal for beds, borders, and patios.

Some other varieties of euphorbia polychrome are also available, such as Candy and Emerald Jade, which also features showy flowers and foliage.