Plant of the Month – October, 2007

Latin Name: Euphorbia pithyusa ‘Faded Jeans’
Common Name: Faded Jeans euphorbia
Flowers: Yellow-green
Foliage: Blue-green to silver
Mature height: 12 in.
Hardiness: Tender perennial in Zone 8
Soil: Well-drained
Exposure: Full sun to light shade
Water usage: Low
Sources: From seed or local nurseries

I think one of the most common mistakes most home gardeners make when doing any design is leaving foliage out of the equation. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re designing a container, a color bed or a whole garden – always remember that foliage is the backbone on which a good garden is built. OK, so you have a few hollies here and some green grass over there – isn’t that enough? No!

I’m passionate about foliage, but I really do think most gardeners get hung up on the flowers and completely forget about the rest of the plant. Flowers come and go with the season and the weather, but foliage is a constant. When the foliage is ornamental there is even more reason to love the plant.

So I’ve got you convinced? Maybe some variegated or bronze foliage plants this year? Well, how about denim-blue-colored foliage? The color of euphorbia ‘Faded Jeans’ is hard to describe. Depending on the light, it can be a bluish-grey metallic color to almost silvery. This blue tone really becomes more pronounced when planted in combination with white, blue or yellow flowers.

‘Faded Jeans’ euphorbia may perennialize in Zone 8 during a mild winter, but I wouldn’t count on it if you live in an area with high winter rainfall. Like all euphorbias, this plant prefers well-drained soils during dormancy. Unfortunately, most of Texas receives the heaviest rains during the cool season. But, don’t let that stop you from using this plant. I use it as an annual addition to my containers, where it performs perfectly. It also works wonderfully spotted into perennial borders as a filler.

Did you ever wonder why florists add greenery to a bouquet? The backdrop and contrast of the foliage adds to the combination. And it is cheaper, yet another good reason to plant more foliage! Why not try to add some sophistication and interest to your combinations this year and branch out using more ornamental foliage? Start with a comfortable pair of euphorbia ‘Faded Jeans.’

You can see ‘Faded Jeans’ at the Dallas Arboretum. We are located at 8525 Garland Road, overlooking White Rock Lake. For more information, visit

About the author: Jimmy Turner is the Director of Horticulture Research at the Dallas Arboretum. For more plant profiles by Jimmy, subscribe to Neil Sperry’s GARDENS magazine.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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