Gardeners' Dirt: Baby's breath euphorbias add billowy, white color to landscape
By Nancy Kramer - Victoria County Master Gardener Edited by Charla Borchers Leon
July 19, 2012 at 2:19 a.m.
You've got it made in the shade, if you are looking for a great summer annual bedding plant that performs in shady areas. Check out the baby's breath euphorbias, which were named to the Texas Superstar plant list in 2011. You'll end up with clouds of white if you add these to your landscape in the sun or the shade.
Not baby's breath in floral work
Don't confuse the baby's breath euphorbias with the Gypsophilia, which is mostly found in floral shops in Texas. That's the baby's breath that works wonderfully as dried flowers in arrangements and is often added to bouquets of live roses.
Varieties that do well in Texas
Diamond Frost - Blooms throughout summer
Many of you may be acquainted with the diamond frost euphorbia, which has been available from proven winners for a few years now. That's the kind of baby's breath I'm talking about. It is a beautiful, bright green mounding plant about 12- to 18-inches tall and wide, with tiny, wispy, white flowers in abundance throughout the whole summer season. That is one of the prerequisites of being named a Texas Superstar. It must do well all over the state, and this one does well in our hot Texas sun and will perform very well in the shade, too.
It works beautifully as a plant to make other flowers standout, much as the other baby's breath does for a bouquet of roses. If you plant it along the edge of a sidewalk as a border, it will make a plant, such as the deep pink butterfly pentas, stand out even better.
Choose any brightly-colored flower that you would like to accent an area to mix with this euphorbia. During the holidays, it is even being used as a filler in containers of poinsettias, which is another euphorbia.
White Manaus - Performed best in Texas
The variety that performed best during testing in Texas is the White Manaus from GroLink. This is the one that many nurserymen all over Texas and other states are touting as the whitest and biggest of all the euphorbias, growing up to two feet high. I was curious about the name, and found out that Manaus is a city in Brazil and that is where the white Manaus' cultivar came from.
Hip Hop - Breathless White - Silver Fog cultivars
Another pretty little baby's breath euphorbia from GroLink is named Hip Hop. Breathless White from ball floraplant is another vigorous grower in Texas according to Brent Pemberton at Texas AgriLife Research. You might also find the cultivar named Silver Fog.
Look for any of these as they are all designated as Texas Superstar plants. They should be available in area nurseries now. I was able to find the cultivar hip hop in various area garden centers. I also found a new Breathless Blush.
The scientific name of this euphorbia is Euphorbia Hypericifolia (syn. Chamaesyce Hypericifolia.) They belong to the Euphorbiaceae family and are spurges, which release a toxic, white sap.
Remember, although you may find other baby's breath euphorbias, such as the Diamond Frost, which does very well, the varieties that do the best and are the Texas Superstars are named White Manaus, Breathless White, Hip Hop and Silver Fog.
These plants are started by vegetative propagation, rather than seeds. They are drought tolerant. In colder areas, they are considered an annual, but in warmer climates in South Texas, they can be grown as a perennial plant lasting several years. Here in Victoria County, that helps us get lots of bang for our bucks spent on this plant.
Along with doing well in the hot sun or under oak trees or other shady areas, this plant can also be grown in a container on hot patios or around pools as fillers in larger planters and it does well in hanging baskets. Hip Hop is a great choice to add to container mixes. I especially like it with the dark purple Angelonia Serena, which is also a Texas Superstar plant.
The plant needs no deadheading, but you can trim on it anytime to control the size. Try taking those cuttings and propagating more for yourself or friends. They propagate easily, which is another reason they made the Texas Superstar designation.
Different from cool-season euphorbias
When shopping for these Baby's breath euphorbias, you will usually find them with their genus name euphorbia followed by the cultivar name, such as the euphorbia Breathless White or euphorbia Hip Hop. Don't get confused by seeing a cool-season euphorbia, also awarded Texas Superstar status in 2011.
The cool-season ones are euphorbia martinii, E. characias subsp. wulfenii, E. amygdaloides with the common names Tiny Tim, Blackbird, Rudolph, Tasmanian Tiger or Glacier Blue.
Look for these special Texas Superstars to add to your summer landscape to increase your success as a gardener. With a little proper care anyone can grow these successful plants in Texas without using lots of water, pesticides, fertilizers or valuable time taking care of these almost carefree plants.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at VictoriaAdvocate.com.