I have to tell you about another favorite plant. I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that there are an abundance of favorites, but the reasons that certain plants become favorites vary from plant to plant. Euphorbia ‘Firesticks’ (aka Sticks on Fire) is an outstanding variation on the old-fashioned “pencil cactus”–a tough, resilient and beautifully architectural plant that now comes in glowing shades of orange, yellow and red.

The photo I have really doesn’t do it complete justice, as my plant was growing in a little too much shade at the time and had not “colored up” to the best of its ability–but you get the idea. The beautiful, nearly leafless, pencil-like stems of this variety look as though they are on fire from the glowing variation of color. It makes an outstanding container plant for a hot, sunny location and will grow into a dense, bushy to nearly tree form specimen (depending on how you prune it) in a relative short period of time. It also looks great in the ground with other sun-loving annuals and perennials, where its unusual form plays well off of other broad-leafed plants.

Pair Euphorbia ‘Firesticks’ with the blues and purples of salvias such as ‘Mystic Spires’ or ‘Victoria’ for great color contrast or really heat things up by putting it with the red texas sages (Salvia greggii varieties) or the vibrant oranges of cuphea (cigar plant). It also works to amazing effect simply mixed with a selection of other succulents in a large container, where their varying colors and architectural character play off of each other in the most interesting ways.