This is one of the largest genera of plants with over 2000 species and many cultivars. However, many are tropical or subtropical and not grown in the open garden, although some such as the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are grown as house plants.
In the garden the majority are herbaceous or shrubs that look herbaceous. They are green leaved and vary from prostrate plants to tall ones either forming clumps or spreading to form colonies, sometimes quite invasively. They often grow into a strong shape which is useful as a feature in a planting scheme.
The flowers are small and individually insignificant, but they are surrounded by coloured bracts (modified leaves) which look like petals and can make a very striking effect. These are mainly yellow or golden, and unlike petals they last for a long time without fading, giving the spurges a long season. The time of flowering varies from species to species and there are usually always some in flower from spring to autumn.
The one thing to be careful of is the sap which can cause skin irritation and is very painful if it accidentally gets into your eye. Always wear gloves and keep your arms covered when working near them.
They will grow in a range of soils, the majority doing best in a well-drained soil. Some of the early-flowering species need to be cut down after flowering to get a new flush of foliage as the old tends to get mildew.