Please help with plant identification, possibly spurge. - Knowledgebase Question

Harper's Ferry, W.V.
Question by jswilliams2
August 27, 2017
Hi, I'd appreciate some help with plant identification. I think it may be a type of spurge, but I'd like to know which kind and what I can do to help it thrive and spread. (When cut, it does produce milky sap that is mildly irritating to skin.)

It is growing at our house in W.V., about 10 miles south of Harper's Ferry, zone 6b. It is a difficult environment on top of a mountain ridge -- dry, rocky soil; high winds; and significant deer pressure.

But the deer don't touch this plant. And I have been nurturing it by weeding out other stuff (mainly stilt grass) and top dressing with Compro last year. So this (rainy) spring/summer, it has been doing great. It has been spreading and not getting that "burned out" look until just recently and only is the full sun area. Also, I was able to water during a dry spell in July, which I think helps.

So, my questions:
-- What do you think it is? (Photos below)
-- Should I fertilize and/or continue to top dress with Compro?
-- It does get a tad floppy as the summer goes on. Can I weed wack it when it gets dry and brown in winter or very early spring?

Thank you,
Jennifer
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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Answer from DaisyI
August 27, 2017

3

It is a Spurge. Look up Cypress Spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias) and see what you think.

Harper's Ferry, W.V.
A comment from jswilliams2
August 27, 2017
Oh, I think you are right. And I looked it up on several sites and learned that I CAN cut it back to the base in early spring, which is good. And it can be expected to spread aggressively. Excellent! Thank you!

Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
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Answer from Leftwood
August 27, 2017

2

Fertilizing and adding Compro makes it grow more floppy. And it will have stronger and shorter stems if you don't fertilize it or baby it beyond the weeding that you have been doing. You are right when you discovered that it can grow aggressively, so you will want to keep an eye on it in case it becomes to rampant.

Harper's Ferry, W.V.
A comment from jswilliams2
August 28, 2017
Rick, thanks for this info. I'll cancel my thoughts of doing Compro again this fall. And I was already a little leary about fertilizer based on some past wildflower plantings. So, thanks for confirming.
Jennifer. P.S. what do you think of my plan to weed wack the bed in early spring? My motivation is the sprawl of old stems left from the prior summer. If new growth comes on these, it is super floppy. The Royal Horticultural Society seems to think it is okay...

Name: Rick R.
Minneapolis, MN, USA zone 4
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Answer from Leftwood
August 29, 2017

1

1) It looks like this type of spurge dies back to the ground each winter. A closer look at how it is growing now will confirm or deny my assumption. In this case, weed whacking will tidy things up, but will not have a bearing on whether the plants flop. Weed whack in the late fall or early spring before any growth begins.

2) If your closer look reveals that growth begins on previous growth (not at the ground), then you might want to experiment with weed whacking, and see if it helps or hinders.

If it is Euphorbia cyparissias, then #1 applies.

Harper's Ferry, W.V.
A comment from jswilliams2
August 29, 2017
Thank you. This is very helpful.

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