Pencil Cactus – Milk Bush – Indian Tree Spurge

Pencil Cactus – Milk Bush – Indian Tree Spurge plant care guide

Pencil Cactus – Milk Bush – Indian Tree Spurge

Euphorbia tirucalli known commonly known as pencil cactus is a plant from the Euphorbia family. They are called milk bush due to the thick, white sap which the plant releases when the stems are cut. They are stem succulent and not true cactus, thus photosynthesis happens in their stems, and not through the tiny leaves that appear at the end of its new stem. The plants have lean, slightly toothed stems without any leaves.

Pencil Cactus are native to Africa, and in the natural habitat, they can grow up to 30 feet tall. They are called Sticks on Fire, due to the pencil-thin stems that turn to fire-red color during the colder months. The color may change to red, orange, yellow, and green depending on the temperature, and weather conditions.

Pencil Cactus grows best outdoors, under the full-bright sun. As the amount of exposure to the sun increases, the colors become more vibrant. But they will stay green if kept in the shade for longer periods. It’s important to acclimate the plant if they’re being moved from indoors to outdoors, to prevent sun damage. Turn the planter periodically to maintain even growth on all sides. 

Pencil Cactus only needs to be watered once every two-three weeks and Letting the soil dry out completely between waterings helps to maintain a healthy root system. A well-draining succulent-cacti potting mix works best.

The plant produces thick, milky sap when the stem is cut and is known to be a poisonous latex, thus appropriate safety measures such as gloves, protective clothing, and eye protection should be taken to avoid any contact with the sap. The toxins might cause an anaphylactic reaction in people who are allergic. Take particular care in the presence of small children or pets in the household. 

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