Euphorbia characias ssp. characias ‘Humpty Dumpty’

dwarf Mediterranean spurge

  • © T&L Nursery

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

This handsome perennial is among a palette of Mediterranean plants well-adapted to the coastal Pacific Northwest climate, which receives much rain in winter and has extended dry spells in summer and fall. Euphorbia characias subsp. characias 'Humpty Dumpty' is a dramatic plant that only grows to about half the size of the typical species. In late winter to early spring great club-like inflorescences emerge from the crown. These carry a dome of small flowers set off by lime green bracts. The overall effect is eye-catching and lasts well into June. At about the same time, new shoots emerge holding narrow, grey-green leaves. The whole plant reaches about two feet tall and wide. It combines well with perennials like blue oat grass, giant needle grass, maiden grass, bear's breeches, stinking hellebore and digger's speedwell. Plant it with such shrubs as smoke bush, purpleleaf barberry, Ceanothus 'Victoria', Rosa glauca and bay laurel. This statuesque plant is a striking addition to any garden. CAUTION: Be careful when working with all euphorbias, as some people can develop severe skin reactions to the white sap.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: perennial

Foliage Type: evergreen

Plant Height: 2 ft. 0 in. (0.61 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 2 ft. 0 in. (0.61 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 to 10

Flower Color: green

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun

Water Requirements: drought tolerant when established

Wildlife Associations: bees

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: red, bronze, purple

Great Color Partners: chartreuse, blue, dark green

Culture Notes
This euphorbia grows best in well drained soil in full sun. It is drought tolerant once established. Shoots emerge one year, bloom the next, and then die. The trick to keeping this plant going is to remove the flower shoots at the base once they are no longer attractive without damaging the new shoots that have begun to grow. Be careful and wear gloves when removing stems because the white sap in the stem can cause skin irritation. Seedlings are freely produced, but they can be pulled easily when young.