euphorbia characias wulfennii

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by PLH, Aug 31, 2004.

  1. PLH

    PLH Member

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    Seeking advice on this plant. Planted large drift of these euphorbias last Spring. Lost many of them, perhaps due to overwatering (they turned yellow and limp and were unrecoverable). Replanted euphorbias with less emitters and they did well through winter, flowering with beautiful chartreuse flowers. Now the problems are that there are few new shoots (tips of some shoots have turned dry and brown) and the leaves at base of mature stems are turning yellow. I love this plant and do not want to give up. Any tips on growing healthy euphorbias of this sub-species would be appreciated.
  2. Yes, it sounds like they are rotting off. Try a sandier soil, maybe a sunnier spot.
  3. Chris Klapwijk

    Chris Klapwijk Active Member 10 Years

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    Black Ceek, B.C., Canada
    The attached picture of Euphorbia characias wulfenii was taken May 25, 2003 at Dartshill Garden Park. It receives no special care, and litlle if any supplemental moisture.

    Attached Files:

  4. Yes, established specimens shouldn't have to be watered here.
  5. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Hi PLH:

    What abouts are you located? What kind of soil are
    you growing these in? How much sunlight are these
    plants getting? Have you fertilized these? If so, how
    often and when have they been fertilized? Can you
    give me an idea as to how many emitters are you using
    for each plant and how much water is the drip system
    giving off? How long are you watering and how many
    days a week are you watering? Does your planting bed
    have standing water in it for any length of time? Did
    any of these plants start turning yellow in the leaves
    relatively soon after you planted them? The dead plants,
    was the plant tissue hard and crispy or yellowish-brown,
    limp and quite soft to the touch?

    Growing these here can be vastly different than growing
    these Euphorbias in British Columbia. If you can answer
    the above questions, I might be able to help you.

  6. PLH

    PLH Member

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    Mr. Shep,

    Thank you for your reply. I was actually out in my garden looking at my euphorbias. Background: we live in Mill Valley, CA (Mediterrean climate I am told). The initial euphorbias were planted by a landscape designer as part of our landscape project last May. They were then on 2 emitters/1 galloon each, and in my enthusiasm of having my own garden I additionally watered them pretty regularly. I thought more water was better and it was hot. They grew fast and within a few months turned yellow and limp, and we lost all of them (probably about 10/1 galloon size plants). They were replaced; they were planted higher in the soil and with only 1 emitter (I forget the schedule then). This batch did well and looked stunningly beautiful throughout the winter (quite a bit of rain here and irrigation system turned off) and flowered. In the Spring I fertilized with fish emulsion, and the flowers were still beautiful. A few months ago I lost three more plants, with them turning yellow and limp and even if I cut off the bad branches, they were not recoverable. These three were subsequently replanted. More recently I noticed that the new shoots had brown tips and few leaves. Some of the lower leaves on the mature stems were turning yellow and falling off. Yesterday I cut off the remaining flowers (probably too late) with the hope that this will stimulate new shoots. I have not refertilized. As to the environment, the plants are on a hillside with full sun exposure; the original soil (fairly clay packed) was prepared by the landscaper by taking away much and adding new soil/nutrients. The hillside has different kinds of plants on the same irrigation system, with varying water needs adjusted by number of emitters or hand watering. At this point, I just want to stop this pattern of losing them. They are so beautiful when they are healthy! I am very attentive to my plants, although I am still learning ... albeit quickly. Any tips based on the foregoing euphorbia story would be appreciated. Pam (PLH)
  7. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Hi Pam:

    < More recently I noticed that the new shoots had brown
    tips and few leaves. >

    Can you show me a pic of the shoots having brown
    tips and few leaves? If not, then do the leaves seem
    smaller in size in comparison to the rest of the leaves
    and do the leaves on the tips fall off rather easily when
    touched? Did the one gallon plants from the nursery
    have a lot of sand in the soil mix? Was there quite a
    bit of sand used in the planting mix when the Euphorbias
    were initially and subsequently planted? Was there a
    lot of humus applied to the top of the soil prior to planting
    and what kind of humus was it? Give me an idea as to
    the wetness of the soil, I am interested in knowing how
    wet is the soil around the root ball and have you detected
    any unusual order emanating from the roots when the
    dead plants were pulled out of the ground?

    With your location you should not need a lot of water
    for your Euphorbias. One thing you have to learn is that
    we kill these plants with too much kindness. We tend to
    over water them and if we do not over water them, we
    tend to over feed them. In your case the latter does not
    apply but the over watering might. Most Euphorbias
    are quite drought tolerant and really do not need to be
    fertilized much at all.

    I am interested in knowing what your soil medium is of
    the plants as they came from the nursery and I would like
    to know how the clay soil was set up for planting of the
    Euphorbias. I'll tell you why I want to know after I know
    more about the soil amendments for your planting bed and
    know more about the soil composition of the soil mix
    of the plants from the nursery. What, if any, kind of
    plants or vegetation did the original planting bed have
    just prior to the Euphorbias being planted there?

    At this point I cannot say that over watering is your main
    issue but it may have lead to another issue which can kill
    your plants in a selective fashion. You really do not
    need to use any Nitrogen for these plants at your location
    with your climate. Fish emulsion and I do not get along
    as I would use a granulated or liquid 0-10-10 fertilizer for
    most ornamentals rather than use a 5-1-1 liquid fertilizer
    any day of the week. You should have had ample nutrients
    with the soil amendments such as a planting mix or humus.
    If a mushroom compost was used as a soil preparation then
    we might very well have our culprit when too much water
    has been applied.

  8. PLH

    PLH Member

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    Thank you for your interest in my euphorbia situation. I do not know composition of the soil amendments used in preparation, or whether any sand was added to the euphorbia containers prior to planting. There are no unusual odors, and there is no pooling of water. There was only old, naturally existing brush on the hill before we landscaped. However, this weekend I visited a new nursery and got some advice, including getting a water meter. The readings around the base of the euphorbias were dry to moist, and not wet. I have cut off all the old flowering stems, and the young shoots with brown tips. I think I am on the right track and plan to persevere. As a novice, I plan to put in the requisite time to understand my garden. Pam (PLH)
  9. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Hi Pam:

    With the sand question I wanted to rule out nematodes
    as an agent of the plants distress. The soil amendment
    questions were designed for me to know if the soil may
    have been a host for a fungus attacking your Euphorbias.
    By your admission there may have been too much water
    applied at one time could be true and it may not be the
    problem also. Here we have to water these when they
    are young and we apply more water than a standard
    emitter will yield. I know of areas along the coast that
    get by with very little water near where you are and in
    Santa Barbara they will provide almost the same amount
    of water as we use when these plants are young. When
    the plants are about three years old we can hold back on
    the water but for you the amount of water your emitters
    are putting out should be enough for you. I know of a
    person that has this same Euphorbia as well as Euphorbia
    lathyris in a nearby foothill area that floods his plants
    with a hose once a week and has had no ill effects for
    several years that I know of.

    I wanted to know if the plants that you purchased may
    have been the problem all along or as I sensed with your
    answer about the color of the plant as it was dying and
    the texture of the plant that you may have had a root
    rotting fungus hitting you which could have been
    enhanced by too much water but could have hit your
    plants regardless of how much water you had been

    As long as the roots are not wet much of the time and
    you allow the roots to dry out some before the next
    application of water you should be okay but that is
    based on my not knowing the soil amendments that
    were originally used. The fish emulsion fertilizer
    should not have been anything for you to worry about.
    I know in your area that mushroom compost has been
    used a lot and without proper heat sterilization can
    harbor a fungus disease to come about that can cause
    a wilting of the plant and its subsequent death. It
    may be triggered by water but it is not the amount
    of water applied that is the problem, it is more so
    when the water was applied; as morning applied
    water will be less harmful for you than evening
    applications of water can be.

    Anytime you see a browning of the tops I suggest
    you snip them off. Right now you want to develop
    a root system and pruning your Euphorbias after
    they bloom, cutting off the spent flower heads, will
    help promote root growth and will in time force the
    plant to develop new shoots for you. Once these
    plants establish themselves they should do okay
    for you. If the problem you have been having
    persists then I suggest you contact me again
    through this thread. Either the plants you are
    buying have a problem with them or there is
    something in your soil that is killing your

    Best regards,


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