Euphorbia hypericifolia - Frothy and Delicate Plants

Baby's-Breath Euphorbia (Euphorbia hypericifolia)
Photo: © Marie Iannotti

Overview and Description:

Baby's-Breath Euphorbia plants look like frothy clusters of airy flowers, There's not much resemblance here to most of the Euphorbias we're familiar with. You might mistake Euphorbia hypericifolia for Baby's Breath, but these wispy, mounding plants are not babies. Their delicate looks belie their hardy temperaments. Euphorbia hypericifolia is drought tolerant, needs no deadheading, is deer resistant and blooms pretty much continually.

Even so, the common name Baby's-Breath Euphorbia is certainly fitting and much easier to remember than Euphorbia hypericifolia.

 The frothy flowers are held above narrow, delicate leaves. The plants have a mounding habit, but will spread 2-3 ft..

Note: Euphorbia is poisonous if ingested. It also produces a milky sap that is a skin and eye irritant.

Botanical Name:

Euphorbia hypericifolia is how it is generally know, but it was recently reclassified as Chamaesyce hypericifolia. Honestly, it's becoming impossible to keep up with the botanical names of cultivated plants. Since these have become popular under common names followed by Euphorbia, asking for Euphorbia hypericifolia should still get you the plant you are looking for.

Common Name:

Baby's-Breath Euphorbia is becoming the popular common name, although it still often goes by the cultivar name, followed by Euphorbia, such as Diamond Frost® Euphorbia.

Hardiness Zones:

They are only hardy in USDA Zones10 - 11 and are most often grown as an annual or an indoor plant.

Exposure

Baby's-Breath Euphorbia does best in full sun to partial shade.

Mature Size:

Height: 8 - 12 inches (20 - 30 cm)
Width: 20 - 24 inches (51 - 61 cm)

Bloom Period

These dainty beauties will bloom continuously throughout summer.

Suggested Varieties:

  • Breathless™ Blush Euphorbia - Red tinged leaves with white flowers.
  • Diamond Frost® Euphorbia - Slender green leaves and delicate white flowers.

There are several other varieties with green leaves and white flowers and it seems new introductions are being brought out every year. Honestly, they're all good plants.

Design Suggestions:

It is probably safe to say that most containers look better with one of these Euphorbia in them. It's a wonderful filler plant, spilling over edges and between larger leaves. It also looks great tucked into rock wall pockets and intermingled with large leaved plants, like coral bells and coleus, and along the edges of walkways.

Euphorbia hypericifolia also makes a nice houseplant, if you can provide good light. They are starting to use it at Christmastime, paired with another Euphorbia, the Poinsettia.

Growing Tips:

Planting: These are cultivars, so seed is not available. Small plants are widely available in nurseries. They are sensitive to cold, so wait until all danger of frost has past, before planting outside.

Maintenance:

Water well, until the plant is acclimated. After that, allow the plant to dry between waterings. Too much water can cause rotting.

No fertilizer is needed, although a little boost in mid-Summer can help keep them going, especially plants in containers.

No deadheading is required. You can pinch young plants to encourage branching and you can trim back plants at any time, to shape or keep their size in check.

Pests & Problems:

Baby's-Breath Euphorbia can be affected by whitefly and spider mites, especially in tight growing conditions.