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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

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Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’

Posted by Graham Rice on 25 Jul 2009 at 03:29 PM

Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire’ - new in 2009. Image: ©Walters Gardens, IncEuphorbias with attractive coloured foliage seem to have been coming one after another recently; some are strong, attractive and stable while others seem weak, or poorly coloured, or revert to green. Of course, this being the New Plants blog, the plants here are by definition new and have not been tested for many years in the way that old favourites have been. But one of these euphorbias that looks especially promising is Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire'.

The big thing about ‘Bonfire' is that it keeps its purple colouring all summer; I've just taken a look at the trial plant in my garden and although it's become a little overshadowed by neighbouring plants it still retains its reddish purple colouring -  and it's almost August.

In early in spring, it looks a little like E. polychroma ‘Candy' (‘Purpurea' as was) with rich purple foliage, sometimes shading to greenish yellow at the base of the leaf, surrounding bright yellow buds which stretch into brilliant yellow flower heads. But while ‘Candy' turns green in summer, ‘Bonfire' retains that rich purplish tone with golden tones in the shoot tips sometimes becoming pinkish before ageing to purple. Only the lower leaves down in the plant where they're much less prominent turn green.

Reaching about 30-45cm/12-18in as the plants mature, this is an easy going plant for any reasonable soil and colours best with plenty of sunshine.

Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire' was found by Mary Ann Fria of Limerock Plant Farm in Lincoln, Rhode Island on the north east coast of the USA. It was found growing in a crack in the paving on the nursery in 2000. Mary also discovered the Coreopsis ‘Limerock Ruby' on her nursery.

At the moment you can order E. polychroma ‘Bonfire' from just one RHS Plant Finder nursery, Dove Cottage Nursery, but expect it to become more widely available soon.



Foxnfirefly said:

Nice to see "Bonfire" highlighted here.  I got this one last spring and placed it next to a raspberry yarrow.  It is, as you say, getting overshadowed by other plants as it seems to grow slower.  I expect it to increase more next year, but not sure it will stay ahead of the yarrow!

on 29 Jul 2009 at 03:52 AM

Graham Rice said:

No, you're right... those yarrows can bulk up quickly and often need plenty of space where they won't overwhelm their neighbours.

on 30 Jul 2009 at 03:45 PM