Euphorbia Trigona: Caring for African Milk Tree (Euphorbia Cactus / Candelabra Cactus)

The Candelabra cactus (Euphorbia trigona or Euphorbia cactus) is a succulent rather than a genuine cactus species. This plant is a tall-growing branching succulent that is also known as the African milk tree. The central stalk of this cactus-like succulent is leafy and branches lift upward. Thorns and tiny oval-shaped leaves cover the stems’ crests.

To care for the Euphorbia trigona: When grown in filtered bright light, well-draining potting soil, and low to moderate humidity, the Euphorbia cactus thrives. When the soil dries, water the succulent. 55°F (12°C) is the lowest temperature permissible. During the growing season, apply a balanced fertilizer every month.

A perennial, evergreen succulent from Central Africa, the Euphorbia cactus is a perennial. The African milk tree, which grows outdoors like a shrub-like spikey plant, is also known as the African milk shrub. The Euphorbia cactus grows to be up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall when fully mature. The good luck cactus, cathedral cactus, friendship cactus, dragon’s bones, high chaparral plant, and Abyssinian Euphorbia are some of the other popular names for Euphorbia trigona.

Several houseplant enthusiasts like this species of Euphorbia because it resembles a cactus. The houseplant’s ability to grow in partial shade and its tall growth makes it a good choice for adding accents to rooms’ corners. The leaves of some Euphorbia cacti are particularly vivid. The Rubra or Royal Red Euphorbia, as it’s known, stands out with its vibrant color.

The Euphorbia cactus never blooms indoors or outdoors, except in the form of E. trigona ‘Rubra.’ Discover how to keep Euphorbia trigona alive in this comprehensive guide on how to care for it.

Why Euphorbia Trigona (Euphorbia Cactus) Is Not a Cactus

The succulent Euphorbia trigona isn’t a cactus, but it’s a succulent. The leaves of this Euphorbia species are nearly non-existent in cactus plants. Second, when cut, this Euphorbia-like cactus releases a poisonous milky-white sap. The plant is from the succulent family Euphorbiaceae, despite its common names of Euphorbia cactus, hat-rack cactus, and African milk cactus. The plant’s upright stature and corner-thorned stems gave it cactus names.

The Euphorbia cactus has a comparable growth pattern to the saguaro cactus, with a towering, straight core stem and upward-growing arms that resemble arms. Euphorbia Trigona is a succulent plant that resembles a cactus or little tree/shrub.

Why the Euphorbia Cactus is Called African Milk Tree

The toxic white sap in the stems of the Euphorbia trigona gives it its popular name, “African milk tree.” This milky latex substance is found in several succulents species in the genus Euphorbia. Milk leaks out of the plant if it is chopped or punctured. This substance is commonly referred to as cactus sap by those who are unfamiliar with it.

What is the name of this plant, which resembles a cactus? Euphorbia trigona grows to be 8 or 9 feet (2.4 to 2.7 meters) tall in its natural habitat. Euphorbia cacti plants grown to maturity resemble huge, bushy trees in photographs. The “trees,” too, are known as candelabra cactus because of their form, which is like an up-turned candelabra.

You don’t have to be concerned about Euphorbia cactus’ towering height if you’re planning to grow it at home. The growth of a plant in a pot constrains its indoor development. It’s also simple to train the prickly succulent branches to develop extra indoor “trees.”

Euphorbia Trigona is an Easy to Grow Plant

The tall-growing Euphorbia succulent, Euphorbia Trigona, is a low-maintenance houseplant. All you need is a heavy, unglazed clay pot to support your branching succulent like plant, well-draining sandy soil, and regular watering. They can go a few weeks without water, like most succulents.

You may almost forget about the plant when you get the potting soil combination and watering schedule right. You may place it in a bright location, protected from direct sun.

Euphorbia Cactus Flowers

The Euphorbia trigona flower is typically tiny white or yellow-white flowers. In comparison to the long upward stems, the tiny Euphorbia cactus flowers appear insignificant. Euphorbia cacti blooms, on the other hand, are very unlikely to bloom indoors under ideal growing circumstances.

How to Care for Euphorbia Trigona (Euphorbia Cactus or Candelabra Cactus)

You treat Euphorbia cactus in the same way that you would a real cactus, even though it isn’t one.

Candelabra Cactus Light Requirements

Place your Euphorbia cactus in a bright area with plenty of indirect light, and it will thrive. The upright candelabra cactus thrives in the sun when it is protected from direct heat by a south-facing window. In an east- or west-facing room, Euphorbia succulents can also survive in partial shade. At least four hours of bright sunlight is required for the Euphorbia to thrive.

The candelabra cactus may need some shade during lengthy, hot summers. Move the plant to a shady position if you notice it is stressed by the heat. You’ll discover that plenty of sunlight helps to maintain the leaves a deep red color if you have the red kind of succulent Euphorbia trigona ‘Rubra.’ Bright light is ideal for the candelabra cactus.

However, it may adapt well to shaded or darker settings, such as north-facing rooms, if you test it out. The Euphorbia trigona’s growth, on the other hand, becomes weak if there is insufficient light. Succulent stems may also darken in color as a result of a lack of light.

How to Water Euphorbia Cactus

Water isn’t required for a Euphorbia cactus. When the ground gets dry, water the cactus-like plant only. Just water the plant every ten to fourteen days throughout the summer. The succulent seldom needs watering in the winter.

Check the top 2″ (5 cm) of soil for moisture to determine when to water a Euphorbia trigona. You’ll have to wait if there are any signs of dampness. The soil should dry between watering, just like watering cactus varieties. Leaving succulents’ or cactus’ roots in soggy soil is the absolute worst thing you can do to them.

Pour enough water into the cactus pot until it runs out of holes in the bottom to water candelabra cactus plants. The roots are hydrated appropriately with this kind of deep watering. Also, allowing all the surplus water to flow out ensures that there isn’t too much moisture in the pot.

For growing a Euphorbia cactus, an unglazed terracotta pot is the best kind of container. As the Euphorbia grows tall, the weight of the pot helps to keep it stable. Clay pots also lose moisture more quickly than plastic pots. Succulent soil can’t stay too wet in this type of container.

Euphorbias, on the other hand, are a drought-tolerant houseplant. As a result, you can leave them without water for up to a few weeks. Remember to underwater your cactus and succulents rather than overwater them. A little negligence on your part will be rewarded by your Euphorbia.

The Ideal Potting Soil for Euphorbia Cactus

Succulents must grow in sandy cacti soil with excellent drainage, including Euphorbia trigona. Mix one part peat moss and one part perlite to create a growing medium for cacti and succulents. Instead, you can grow Euphorbia succulents with a suitable cactus mix.

When grown in the proper soil, the candelabra cactus is a low-maintenance householdplant. These plants prefer a sandy, loamy potting soil that allows water to drain quickly. You may add pumice or perlite to increase aeration if the soil is too thick. The Euphorbia cactus roots can also thrive in a light, aerated soil since they get enough oxygen. You’ll get a succulent plant that thrives if you fulfill the two fundamental Euphorbia trigona care requirements. The two aspects are:

  • In a well-draining potting soil, growing Euphorbia cactus
  • Only when the soil dries does the cactus-like succulent receive watering.

Temperature Requirements for Growing Euphorbia Cactus

Indoors, good room temperatures are needed for African milk plants. In a room temperature range of 64°F to 78°F (18°C to 26°C), the Euphorbia houseplant thrives. Euphorbia cacti must be kept at 55°F (12°C) in order to survive. In the winter, keep cold drafts away from the African milk cactus.

The multi-stemmed succulent thrives in hot, arid environments and grows outdoors. If you reside in USDA zones 11 and above, you may also plant Euphorbia cactus plants in your yard. You may bring the potted Euphorbia cactus outside in the summer in temperate areas. When the temperature drops to 55°F (12°C), remember to bring it inside. If it’s left out in temperatures below 50°F (10°C), the succulent might perish.

Candelabra cactus plants thrive in most indoors situations, however they need a lot of ventilation. Ensure that there is adequate air circulation around the plant during the summer. However, keep the potted cactus plant away from drafts and air conditioning currents.

Humidity for Euphorbia Cactus

There are no particular humidity requirements for African milk plants (Euphorbia trigona). The humidity levels in the room are perfect. You don’t have to mist the Euphorbia’s leaves because of its fondness for dry air. The plant will survive without additional humidity as long as you only hydrate the soil when it dries and put it in bright sun.

Too much humidity can be their downfall, just like it is with most succulents and cacti at home. Your cathedral cactus may be stressed by excessively moist circumstances. Root rot, fungal disease, and houseplant pests are some of the problems linked with excessive air moisture.

Euphorbia Trigona Cactus Growth Rate

In containers, candelabra cactus plants grow at a leisurely pace. The Euphorbia trigona may grow to 6 feet (2 meters) as a houseplant. However, by snipping the tops off the stems, you may easily control its height. Of course, in the spring and summer, Euphorbia cactus development is quicker than during the winter dormancy.

Fertilizer for Euphorbia Cactus

For succulents or cacti, feed Euphorbia cactus with a diluted water soluble fertilizer. During the growing season, apply fertilizer twice a week during spring and summer: every three to four weeks. When the plant stops growing in the fall and winter, don’t give it fertilizer.

Throughout the growing season, flush the soil every two to three months to ensure healthy and quick Euphorbia trigona growth. Excess minerals that may accumulate in the soil are washed away by thoroughly drenching the soil. All you have to do is allow water to run through the potting mix for a few minutes before completely draining it.

How to Propagate Euphorbia Cactus

To propagate Euphorbia trigona plants, use stem cuttings. Just take a 3″ to 4″ (7.5 – 9 cm) section from the top of a stem to grow succulents. After three weeks, you may place the freshly chopped stem in fresh potting soil and it will begin to grow. When growing candelabra cactus, remember to use protective gear.

Wear heavy-duty gloves, goggles, and a cover over exposed areas of skin before handling the plant. When propagating these succulents, use protection to avoid the plant’s stem sap, which is irritating. E. trigona can be propagated in a variety of ways, as shown below:

  1. Put on safety goggles and protective gloves.
  2. Cut off an arm from the base of the main stem with sharp, sterile pruning shears.
  3. Make sure not to splash “milk” on your skin when rinsing both the severed parts of the plant with clean water.
  4. You may either let the chopped stem dry for two days to callus over or plant it in fresh potting soil.
  5. Until the severed stem takes root, keep the potting soil moist for two to three weeks.
  6. After that, treat your Euphorbia trigona as you would any other Euphorbia.

You can develop new plants quickly because the hardy succulent stems root quickly.

Repotting Candelabra Cactus (Euphorbia Trigona)

It is simple to move an African milk plant from one pot to another. When repotting the plant, there are a few things to consider. Skin contact with the poisonous sap, for example, must be avoided. Additionally, you’ll need to prevent the stems from piercing each other and your skin.

Repotting Euphorbia trigona requires the following instructions:

  1. Put on your safety gear and gloves now.
  2. Between the stems, place crumple pieces of newspaper.
  3. To prevent the stems from falling and breaking, lightly tie them together with string.
  4. To loosen the soil, run a flat knife around the pot’s inside edge.
  5. Remove the African milk plant from its container gently. It may be simpler to do this by putting tall plants on their side.
  6. Fill half-full with cactus mix potting soil a new container that is one to two sizes bigger than the current one.
  7. Fill the empty space with potting soil and carefully place the plant in the new pot.
  8. Wait two weeks after repotting before watering the plant.

Pests Affecting Euphorbia Cactus Growth

Two kinds of pests that may infect candelabra cactus plants are mealybugs and scale insects. These sap-sucking insects may harm your plant’s development by feeding on its juices. To keep plants healthy and thriving, learn how to identify the symptoms of common householdplant pests.

  • Mealybugs—White fuzz or a cotton wool-like substance on Euphorbia cacti are signs of mealybugs. To get rid of mealybugs for good, use a natural neem oil spray.
  • Scale insects—On African milk plants, scale resembles bumps or abnormal growth. When it comes to plant-destroying pests, they remain still and suck the sap from the plant. Alcohol may be used to get rid of scale pests on succulents, according to this article.

Diseases Affecting Euphorbia Cactus Growth

Overwatering is a common cause of root rot in candelabra cactus plants, and it can kill them. Watering too often is the best way to avoid fungal houseplant diseases. When the top layer of soil is completely dry, only water Euphorbia cactus plants. It’s likely that your Euphorbia trigona has fallen victim to rot if its brown, soft stems or limbs.

Remove the dying stems and dispose of them, rather than composting them. Wait until the African milk cactus potting soil has dried before watering. In order to preserve the succulent from dying, you may have to repot it in fresh potting soil in a worst-case scenario.

FAQs About Growing African Cactus (Euphorbia Trigona) at Home

Is Trigona Euphorbia poisonous?

Euphorbia trigona’s milky poisonous latex is found in the plant. Its poisonous white sap, according to medical studies, may cause skin inflammation, discomfort, and pain. If Euphorbia sap enters the eyes, it may cause vision problems and even blindness, according to reports.

Do all euphorbias have milky sap?

This white sticky sap causes skin irritation, mucous membranes irritation, and eye irritation in many species of plants in the genus Euphorbia.

Are Euphorbia trigona plants toxic to animals?

Several succulents in the genus Euphorbia are poisonous to dogs and cats, according to veterinary experts. If you have pets, they recommend that you avoid growing any euphorbias at home.

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