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Euphorbia

The bulk of euphorbias are native to the arid climates of Africa and the island of Madagascar but are also found in Asia and Australia. Often mistaken for cacti, these desert plants share a lot in common with their distant planty cousins. Like cacti, euphorbias prefer dry air, lots of bright light, and infrequent but deep waterings.

How to care for your Euphorbia

Use these instructions to care for an Euphorbia. This guide will tell you how to water an Euphorbia; its light, temperature, humidity preferences and any additional care it might need to help it grow.

Candelabra Cactus

LIGHT

Your Candelabra Cactus will do well in bright light to full sun. If it doesn’t receive enough light, the branches and stems will become leggy and stretched out.

WATER

Water only when the soil is completely dry. Water until liquid flows through the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot and discard any water that has accumulated in the saucer.

HUMIDITY

This plant requires no additional humidity.

TEMPERATURE

Your Candelabra Cactus prefers temperatures between 60-85 degrees.

FOOD

Before applying any type of plant food, make sure the soil is already damp-never apply to dry soil. Your Candelabra Cactus requires fertilizer once in the spring and once in the summer. Apply an all-purpose, liquid plant food diluted to half strength. Do not fertilize your Candelabra in the fall or winter when plant growth naturally slows.

TOXICITY

Your Candelabra Cactus is moderately toxic to pets and humans. Typically, ingestion will cause mouth and stomach irritation and possible vomiting.

ADDITIONAL CARE

If you notice a white, crusty substance on the soil surface of a Candelabra Cactus, it is fertilizer salt that needs to be flushed from the soil. Remove the salt layer if it’s thick, and then water the plant slowly with twice the volume of water that the pot holds. Allow the soil to drain completely, and don’t let the pot stand in water. The fertilizer salt-flushing procedure can be done 1-2 times each year if it is necessary.

Poinsettia

LIGHT

Poinsettias love bright but indirect sunlight. An eastern window is ideal, or a few feet back from a southern or western window. Watch out for pale bleached leaves as this is a sign your plant is getting too much direct sun.

WATER

You should water your poinsettia when the top 50% of soil is dry. Water slowly until you see water begin to trickle out of the pot’s drainage hole, and make sure you let excess water fully drain out. Discard any excess water after a few minutes.

HUMIDITY

Poinsettias enjoy humidity between 50% – 75% ambient humidity. You can boost humidity by misting, adding a pebble tray, or placing a humidifier nearby.

TEMPERATURE

Poinsettia flowers appreciate daytime temperatures between 65-75° F and nighttime temperatures of 55-60° F. Keep your poinsettia away from drafty windows or doors, and any open vents.

FOOD

You can give your poinsettia a boost with fertilizer for flowering plants. Fertilize once a month after the plant begins growing again in the spring and throughout the growing season and into the fall. No fertilizer is needed during the winter months.

TOXICITY

Toxic only if ingested in very high amounts to pets and humans. The sap can be irritating to the mouth and stomach if ingested, sometimes causing vomiting. The sap may also cause a very mild allergic skin reaction in some people.

ADDITIONAL CARE

To encourage your plant to take on a full, bushy shape, prune the stems back in spring and allow the plant to flush out new growth. To encourage the plant to rebloom, ensure the plant receives complete darkness for 14 hours a day for a span of 8 weeks, beginning in mid to late September. This signals the plant to begin producing flower buds and colorful bracts in time for the holiday season.

African Milk Tree

LIGHT

Your euphorbia needs bright direct light. This means a spot that gets 6 plus hours of direct sun per day.

WATER

Water your euphorbia when the soil volume is 100% dry. Water thoroughly until it flows out of the drainage hole. Discard excess water to discourage root rot.

HUMIDITY

Euphorbias do well in dry to average household humidity.

TEMPERATURE

Your euphorbia prefers temperatures between 60-90°F.

FOOD

Fertilize once in the spring and summer with a cacti or succulent fertilizer.

TOXICITY

The euphorbias are toxic to humans and pets.

ADDITIONAL CARE

Be sure to wear gloves when handling your euphorbia as it oozes a milky substance that is irritating to the skin and eyes if handled incorrectly.

Pencil Cactus

LIGHT

The Pencil Cactus needs bright direct light. This means a spot that gets 6 or more hours of direct sun per day like an unobstructed southern or western window.

WATER

Water your euphorbia when the soil volume is 100% dry. Water thoroughly until it flows out of the drainage hole. Discard excess water to discourage root rot.

HUMIDITY

Euphorbias do well in dry to average household humidity.

TEMPERATURE

Your euphorbia prefers temperatures between 60-90°F.

FOOD

Fertilize once in the spring and summer with a cacti or succulent fertilizer.

TOXICITY

The Pencil Cactus is toxic to humans and pets.

ADDITIONAL CARE

Be sure to wear gloves when handling the Pencil Cactus as it oozes a milky substance that is irritating to skin and eyes if handled incorrectly. You can easily propagate your euphorbia by cuttings. Use a sharp knife to make a clean cut at a stem joint. Allow the cut surface to callus over for a week and pot with fresh cactus soil. Withhold water for a week before watering normally. You should see roots taking hold in a month or so.

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What's an Euphorbia?

Botanical Classification: Euphorbia trigona

About

The bulk of euphorbias are native to the arid climates of Africa and the island of Madagascar but are also found in Asia and Australia. Often mistaken for cacti, these desert plants share a lot in common with their distant planty cousins. A unique feature that sets them apart is that they have no needles or areoles but rather sharp thick thorns. They also are known to ooze milky sap when damaged, which can be irritations to skin or eyes upon contact.

Fun Fact

The Euphorbia genus includes over 2,000 plant species. It is one of the biggest genera in the plant kingdom! You will also hear them commonly called the Spurge family.

Pictured Left: African Milk Tree