Jennifer Schultz Nelson
Extension Educator, Horticulture
If you've planted annuals in your landscape at all since 2005, chances are you have at least noticed Diamond Frost® Euphorbia. If you've purchased this plant once, chances are you have purchased it every year since. It's just such a versatile plant for landscapes and containers.
Diamond Frost® produces clouds of tiny white flower-like bracts that resemble butterflies. These are produced nonstop all season atop airy foliage. Many sources have compared it to baby's breath in terms of its texture.
Its mounded habit and height of twelve to eighteen inches make Diamond Frost® a natural choice for landscapes, and especially container plantings. It makes a great "filler" plant when designing containers-- it doesn't have the height and pizzazz of a "thriller" plant, or the cascading nature of a "spiller" plant. It fits perfectly in the middle, providing interest and bridging the gap between the other plants.
If you are looking for a tough plant that can take some abuse and neglect and still look good, Diamond Frost® is a good choice. It can tolerate summer's heat and even drought without a problem. Although its drought tolerance is not said to be as strong in containers, the Diamond Frost® I planted in containers look good despite my sometimes inconsistent watering schedule.
Another factor that makes this plant a winner is there is no deadheading necessary. Faded flowers naturally fall off the plant, keeping it looking tidy. Diamond Frost's® care-free nature helped earn it a place in Real Simple magazine's top ten list of "goof proof" plants.
As if this plant didn't already have enough good points, it is also deer resistant. This is good news for the Nelson household, as the local deer population is growing bolder each day. As I write this we are mourning the loss of forty ornamental sweet potato plants in one night. So deer resistance is a new requirement for plants in our yard.
I have used Diamond Frost® in containers for the last few years with great results. The recommended exposure for Diamond Frost® is full to part sun. I have plants in both full and partial sun, and the plants that get a little shade in the hottest part of the day look the best. Those in full sun still look good, they are just not as full. These are also the plants that dry out the fastest since they are in full sun, so that is probably also influencing their size and appearance.
Unfortunately, Diamond Frost® is a perennial only in Zones 10 and up. In our Zone, 5b, Diamond Frost® can be brought indoors and treated as a houseplant. You may notice it used as an accent to poinsettia plants this upcoming holiday season.
Diamond Frost® is related to poinsettia. This is more than just a fun fact that might come in handy at a party someday. Practically speaking this means that although Diamond Frost® appears to be a totally new plant to the consumer, for growers it means they have at least a general idea of how to grow the plant. Many times learning how to grow a totally new plant in commercial production settings slows its availability in the market. Not the case with Diamond Frost®. It's different enough that consumers see it as a totally new plant, but similar enough to existing plants that growers don't have trouble producing it. This is an ideal situation that doesn't come around all that often.
Diamond Frost® was discovered, like many great new plants, by accident. It was a random mutation, or sport, found in a collection of Euphorbia hypericifolia in Germany in 2004. Growers noticed the sport because it was so different from the parent plants. The mutant plant had more uniform growth with a lot of branching, and the flowers were more numerous and smaller.
Growers saw potential in the plant. There was some doubt as to how successful it would be with consumers since it is an annual in most parts of the U.S. and Europe. But after its introduction in 2005, consumers grew to love this plant. There are rumors floating around that breeders are working on developing a pink form of Diamond Frost®. I hope that rumor is true. We could all use more plants as beautiful and reliable as Diamond Frost® in our landscapes.