Characteristics of milkweed and the origin of its name, rules for growing a plant, breeding steps, difficulties in caring for euphorbia, facts, types. Euphorbia (Euphorbia) is one of the largest genus of plants that are classified in the Euphorbiaceae family. Scientists-botanists in it, according to one data, there are up to 800 varieties, and in other sources the number is indicated in the region of 1600 units, and still others give the number up to two thousand. On the territory of Russia and neighboring countries, the number of such species of milkweed reaches 160 species. The plant is ubiquitous, but mainly they are found in areas with a hot subtropical climate, only a few species grow in the tropics and a very small number have adapted to life in cold areas. For many euphorbia temperature indicators should not decrease less than 25-26 degrees, and they are also able to tolerate prolonged drought (xerophytes).
Euphorbia bears its name due to the fact that it contains milky juice in its parts. It is often referred to as euphorbia or euphorbia, carrying out a simple transliteration of the Latin name. The same name was given to milkweed in honor of the court physician Eforba, who served at the court of the Numidian king Yuba, who lived in 54 BC. This physician first appreciated the medicinal properties of the plant and used them in his practice.
Euphorbia is both annual plants and those with a long life cycle. Accepts herbal or shrub growth. They are often succulents (plants that have the ability to store water in their parts), but can grow as small trees. Stems devoid of thorns in some species, but with leafy plates, while in others they are covered with thorns and leafy, while others have fleshy stems, similar to cactus shoots, with a faceted surface, occasionally taking the shape of columns, differing in thorns, but devoid of leaves.
Also, the stems are ascending or upright. Almost all euphorbias are weakly branched, and occasionally they are spread-branched. All varieties have the presence of milky juice in all tissues; it is enclosed by milky vessels, which are distinguished by strong branching, devoid of septa. Plant height can vary from a few centimeters to almost two meters, like the large-horned milkweed (Euphorbia grandicornis).
The root system of milkweed can be either vertical or characterized by creeping or ascending outlines. The leaf plates are arranged alternately, opposite or in whorls. Their contours are undivided, the edge is solid, but occasionally they can be serrated, there are no stipules or are located between the petioles (most of the species are nevertheless with stipules). The leaf plates are attached to the stems with short petioles or grow sessile.
Flowers are usually monoecious, but can also be dioecious. They are formed devoid of both petals and stipules. Flowers are collected in an umbrella inflorescence. When fruiting, a "three-root" with three lobes is formed. Its surface is smooth or lumpy. When ripe, the fruit splits into three single-seeded nuts, in which the pericarp splits into two flaps.
Rules for growing milkweed in a personal plot
- A place for planting in a flower garden for euphorbia, a light one is selected, although light shading is also suitable. In the shade of the milkweed, the deciduous mass will begin to grow, to the detriment of the formation of buds. In full shade, only species of milkweed, long-horned and scaly, feel great.
- The soil when planting, it should be distinguished by excellent drainability. Euphorbia does not like a heavy substrate, which will provoke waterlogging of the root system. A layer of drainage material should be placed in the hole during planting. The soil mixture should consist of equal parts of garden soil, peat and river sand. Loose and medium loams are suitable. If the soil is acidic, then slaked lime is added to it. It is recommended to add a few pieces of crushed birch charcoal or a little sifted brick chips to the finished soil mixture. If the variety is large, then it is recommended to add well-rotted compost. When planting, the distance is better, so that it is not less than 30 cm; disembarkation is carried out in April-May. Or at the very beginning of autumn, so that the young have time to take root in the winter.
- Care for the winter period, it assumes the shelter of young milkweed bushes with spruce branches or arofibre, it is possible with fallen leaves. Regular weeding and mulching three times during the growing season is required. After flowering is over, the bare stems should be cut off. Thus, the species of milkweed will become more tidy and the stimulation of re-flowering, which will occur after the euphorbia has a little rest, will pass. After planting, the soil under the bush is watered and mulched with sawdust. Important! Do not forget to wear gloves when handling milkweed, as its juice causes severe irritation on the skin.
- Watering for euphorbia, a moderate one is needed, since the plant easily survives a short-term drought, but not waterlogging of the soil. Watering is necessary only on the hottest days, in the evening or in the morning.
- Fertilizers milkweed is carried out with the activation of vegetative activity (at the very beginning of flowering or before it) 2-3 times per season. Humus or peat is applied in the spring, summer and autumn to the soil under the euphorbia bushes. Half a bucket is used per 1m2. You can use complex mineral fertilizers three times per season.
- Euphorbia in landscape design. The plant is planted both in single plantings and in groups. It looks good in a frame of other flowers, for example, in combination with irises, tulips and bells.
- The flowering of the plant depends on the level of lighting. If milkweed does not form buds, you should pay attention to the landing site. The higher the ambient temperature, the faster the euphorbia will bloom. The length of the flowering period directly depends on the weather conditions. Euphorbia usually fades in a month and a half from the beginning of this process.
Steps for self-breeding milkweed at home
Euphorbia propagates by sowing seeds, cuttings, dividing the overgrown bush and root shoots.
The seeds have a rounded shape of 2 mm in diameter. And in this way, both annuals and perennials can be propagated. Annual seeds need preparation before sowing. You need to soak them in Epin-extra or another stimulant for several hours. If planting is carried out in closed ground, then the best time is February-March, for greenhouse sowing - March-April, and seed material is sown in open ground in April-May.
The substrate should be light (turf, humus, sand or perlite). The seeds are lightly pressed into the soil or sprinkled a little with earth on top. The temperature during germination is maintained at 18-22 degrees, the germination period is 7-14 days. When 2-3 leaf plates develop on the seedlings, you can dive into separate containers. In open ground, transplantation is carried out on May days or at the beginning of summer, when there is no longer a threat of frost. The distance between the plants is maintained at 30 cm.
If the seeds of perennial species are being sown, then before that it is recommended to carry out cold stratification (14-21 days at a temperature of 3-5 degrees), as well as scarification (rub the seeds with sandpaper) Then there is sowing in closed or open ground in March-April, the substrate should be light, planting depth 0.5 cm. Temperature during germination is maintained at 18-22 degrees. The emergence of seedlings can be expected in 7-10 days. After the formation of 2-3 true leaves, the seedlings are dived into separate containers or immediately planted in a flower garden.
The division of overgrown euphorbia bushes should be carried out in mid-spring or May, or at the end of summer or September. Each division should contain at least 2-3 buds of renewal. It is recommended to divide the plant no more than once every 2-3 years, the divisions should not be too small, otherwise you can lose the entire instance of euphorbia. The strips can be immediately planted in a permanent place, keeping the distance between them 25–30 cm (if the species is undersized) or 40–50 cm for large varieties.
Milkweed cuttings are practiced from mid-July to late summer. With the help of a sharp pruner, the tops of the stems are cut so that their length is at least 10–12 cm. In this case, all inflorescences and leaves are removed from the bottom. The cuttings must be placed in a vessel with water so that the milky juice comes out for a couple of hours. Then the sections are blotted to remove excess moisture and powdered with a rooting stimulator. Planting is carried out in a pot with moistened sand or perlite. From above, you need to cover with a glass jar, a cut bottle or plastic wrap to create the conditions of a greenhouse or mini-greenhouse. At the same time, it is important not to forget about the daily airing and moisturizing of the substrate if it begins to dry out. After the cuttings take root, they are planted in a permanent place of growth.
Pests and diseases arising from the care of milkweed
Among the problems that arise during cultivation are:
- due to the fact that milkweed are succulents, then with frequent waterlogging of the substrate, rotting of the root system can occur;
- if the soil is selected incorrectly, then with frequent contact with moist soil in the part of the root collar or a little higher, corking begins, a brown color of the stem becomes a sign of it, as if it has become covered with bark;
- also corking appears during watering, if the heat indicators are lowered, the solution in the first and second cases is to sprinkle the root collar of milkweed with fine gravel or pebbles so that the water does not come into contact with the stem;
- with increased heat indicators in winter (above 12-15 degrees), milkweed will begin to grow and the stem may acquire twisted and ugly stems, so that this does not happen, additional lighting is needed.
Of the pests, euphorbia is susceptible to attack by nematodes and worms. It is necessary to carry out treatment with special drugs (for example, Nematofagin). Insecticides are used against worms - Arrivo or Nurell D.
Fusarium is isolated from diseases, in which foliage falls and the inevitable death of the plant. Spraying with fungicides, for example, Vitoras, Gamair or with a similar effect, should be used. Root rot also creates a problem for milkweed, but in this case there is no salvation. When the temperature is elevated, a ring spot or mosaic appears on the plant. To fight, the affected leaves and inflorescences should be removed, but basically the disease cannot be treated. If there are signs of a fungal disease, it is recommended to use fungicides - Fundazol and Agate.
Curious facts about the euphorbia flower
It is known that the Waldstein milkweed variety (Euphorbia waldsteinii) is a malignant weed that annoys agricultural crops.
When working with milkweed, it is recommended to wear gloves, since the variety is extremely sharp and, depending on the variety, it is more or less poisonous, cattle avoid eating this plant. When landing on a personal plot, Euphorbia will help get rid of bugs and caterpillars gnawing at the foliage. Also, a variety of Euphorbia lathyris in Asian countries, especially in China and Japan, is usually cultivated as an oilseed crop and oil is made from its seeds.
Parts of milkweed contain not only milky juice, but also resins and rubber, as well as alkaloids, flavonoids and coumarins. Spurge has long been known in medicine and folk healers, although today their composition is still being studied. In Russia, euphorbia was used for "spoilage", which was caused by malicious people, fear of water, to remove warts and callous formations on the face, was prescribed as a laxative and antiemetic, used for cancerous tumors.
In the Altai Territory, it was customary to use spurge for the manufacture of decoctions, powder and tinctures. They used such remedies for impotence, with uterine bleeding, and also with symptoms of syphilis, kidney disease and bleeding.
Types of milkweed
Types of Euphorbia grown as annuals:
- Bordered spurge (Euphorbia marginata) possesses straight shoots differing in branching. In height, it can reach 80 cm. They are covered with multiple leaf plates of a light green hue, their shape is oval. The length of the leaf is 4 cm, their arrangement is alternate or whorled. The flowering period is from July to early autumn. At this time, the foliage of the plant, located at the tops of the stems, begins to acquire a whitish border. The inflorescence is surrounded by snow-white bracts, and for this the variety is popularly called "snow in the mountains".
- Euphorbia (Euphorbia heterophylla), although it has a long life cycle, it can be grown in the garden as an annual. Its height is equal to 90 cm. When flowering, the upper leaf plates and bracts become red in color. Because of this, it sounds like a poinsettia. The flowering period is late summer and September.
There are a lot of perennials, let's dwell on the most popular types:
- Altai spurge (Euphorbia altaica) possesses a herbaceous form of life, with a height of about 20 cm. Although there are many shoots, there is no branching. They are divided into vegetative and generative types. The shape of the leaf plates is ovoid or elliptical, their number is small, the length varies from 3 mm at the base of the stem, and at the apex they are about 3 cm. The inflorescence of an umbrella type, consisting of yellowish-green flowers, which is decorated with a wrapper in the form of a wide bell.
- Euphorbia capitulata (Euphorbia capitulata) can form a low mat with its shoots, with a height of 5–10 cm. Stems are recumbent, slightly raised, abundantly covered with ovoid leaves. Their color is bluish-green. The flowering process is June-July. At the same time, an inflorescence appears with a wrapper of a juicy yellow hue covering it. The plant can be an aggressive weed due to the filamentous shoots underground.
- Longhorn spurge (Euphorbia macroceras) reaches 70 cm in height, has a long-term life cycle and branched shoots. Stems are dense, ascending, their shade is reddish, covered with oblong leaf plates of green color. During June-July, terminal inflorescences of pink or salmon tones with wrappers are formed.
- Scaly spurge (Euphorbia squamosa). When growing, it has the ability to form an openwork bush in the form of a ball. Its height is 40 cm. The shape of the leaf plate is oval, color is light green. The shade of inflorescences and bracts is bright yellow. The flowering process is extended to June-July.
- Fire spurge or Griffith (Euphorbia griffithii). The height of the stems growing vertically is 80 cm. And because of the processes, clumps are formed. The foliage is lanceolate, the color is dark green in summer, changing to a yellowish-orange tone with the arrival of autumn. The central liquid is whitish. From June, flowering begins, large inflorescences appear in a bright orange-red tone.