This garden favourite will grow pretty much anywhere, and is as joyous as it sounds

Euphorbias are winners for you and the bees | Life and style
‘Searing red, long-lasting flowers set atop sunset-hued new leaves’: Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’. Photograph: Holmes Garden Photos/Alamy

Rugged, drought tolerant and immune to pretty much every pest and disease out there, euphorbias have to be one of the most resilient and easy-to-grow of all flowering plants. If you have a sunny, well-drained spot on your plot, in exchange for a mere 10 minutes work a year you’ll get a dramatic statement, not to mention scented flowers that bees go crazy about. Here are five great “must have” euphorbias for any site or situation.

The lush leaves of Euphorbia mellifera are a sort of visual sorbet in the garden, with domed canopies of vibrant emerald green, each with a white stripe down the middle. In sheltered spots, they will eventually form large shrubs and even small trees, with a beautiful airy branch structure. From the plant’s centre emerges bunches of curious-looking brown flowers, powerfully honey-scented and like catnip to bees.

While they are normally planted in full sun, I have found the plants to be remarkably versatile, growing larger and lusher leaves when in dappled shade. They are frost hardy and even if cut to the ground by a prolonged Arctic blast, they will soon resurface as if nothing happened. With this surprisingly rugged constitution for an exotic plant from the mountain forests of the Canary Islands, it is no wonder the plant has been granted an award of garden merit (AGM) by the Royal Horticultural Society.

If you love their look, but fancy something a bit stouter and stockier, there is a hybrid between E mellifera and E stygiana called E ‘pasteuri’ with a deeper, richer colouration, as if you’ve whacked up the contrast on the Instagram filter settings. Deservedly, it too has won the prestigious AGM. As with most euphorbias, all you need to keep them in tip-top condition is to snip off the spent flower stems in autumn, being careful to avoid new growth. Be sure to wear gloves though, as the plants will bleed caustic latex, which is the plant’s one downside.

If it’s a blaze of colour you hanker after, E griffithii ‘Fireglow’ does what it promises: searing red, long-lasting flowers set atop sunset-hued new leaves. When exposed to falling temperatures, the foliage flushes yellow, providing a changing display across the season. They look stunning amid drifts of bronze-toned grasses in dry gravel gardens.

I love E rigida as a smaller-statured candidate for pots, producing compact, silver-blue growth just 60cm high and crowned with sulphur-yellow flowers. The spiky, architectural branches form neat, ground-hugging rosettes, a bit like a wreath of monkey-puzzle branches spray-painted steely blue.

The very similar looking E myrsinites is smaller still, with an even more prostrate, trailing habit, which makes it an excellent choice to tumble over the edge of raised gravel beds, window boxes and hanging baskets that you will rarely need to water.

Email James at [email protected] or follow him on [email protected]