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Blooming Plant
of the month

            
euphorbia

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BOTANICAL NAMES

Euphorbia milii (you-FOR-bee-uh MIL-ee-eye)

COMMON NAMES
Crown-of-thorns, Christ plant, Christ thorn

DESCRIPTION
Euphorbias’ flowers occur in pairs on thorny stems. The leaves look like those found on succulent plants and grow up to 2 inches long. The plants can grow as tall as 6 feet.

COLORS
They are available in white, red, pink, magenta, orange, yellow and bicolors.

CONSUMER LIFE
Each bloom cycle will last for several weeks. The plants can bloom several times a year with proper care and favorable conditions. They can survive for years, depending on the environment.

AVAILABILITY
Some Euphorbia varieties are available year-round from world markets, but supplies will vary. Order in advance from growers or wholesalers to ensure specific crops’ availability.

in-store and consumer care
LIGHT Bright, indirect light is best for plants displayed indoors. Full sun is tolerated outdoors. The best flowering will be exhibited on plants grown in full sun.
WATER Water the plants well, allowing them to dry between watering. Avoid irregular or overhead watering or standing water on the foliage and flowers. Over-watering can cause root or crown rot.
TEMPERATURE Display Euphorbias in warm areas (65 F to 75 F). Storage temperatures for the plants should not fall below 55 F and or rise above 75 F.
HUMIDITY These plants will do best with moderate humidity.
FERTILIZER Feed the plants every two weeks with a general-purpose liquid fertilizer when they are in active growth.
SOIL Euphorbias thrive in well-draining sandy potting mixes. Decomposed granite is ideal.
GROOMING Remove faded flowers and leaves when the plants have finished flowering. These plants naturally stay fairly compact and neat.

challenges
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Euphorbias show signs of ethylene sensitivity and should be displayed away from fruits and vegetables. Check with your supplier to make sure your plants were treated with an anti-ethylene agent at the grower or transportation level.
CAUTION The plants exude a sticky white substance (latex) when the foliage is cut or damaged. It can produce severe dermatitis on susceptible individuals, much like poison ivy, and it can be toxic if ingested in large amounts. Communicate this to buyers with small children and pets.

fun facts
WHAT'S IN A NAME King Juba II (50 B.C. to A.D. 19) of Numidia (present-day Algeria) was the first person to find a succulent-type Euphorbia, and he named it after his Greek physician, Euphorbus. The common names allude to the legend that the wreath worn by Christ during his crucifixion was made from stems of this plant, which are pliable and can be intertwined into a circle.
FAMILY These plants are members of the Euphorbiaceae family, which also includes the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima).
HOME SWEET HOME These Euphorbias are native to Madagascar.

quality checklist
BLOOMS Remove florets as they fade. Don’t accept plants that show signs of wilt, rot, mold or yellowing.
STEMS These plants are relatively insect free. Watch for red spider mites on indoor plants. Aphids can be a problem on new growth. Control both by washing them off the plants.

Some information provided by:
Botanicare, www.botanicareplants.com
Chain of Life Network®, www.chainoflifenetwork.org
Floridata, www.floridata.com
Nurserymen’s Exchange, Inc., www.bloomrite.com
The Royal Horticultural Society, www.rhs.org.uk

Reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at sbfloral@aol.com or (415) 239-3140.

Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2008
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.