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Love my Pencil Plant

Updated on April 24, 2013

Grande Dame Pencil Plant

She lived outdoors in the summer and indoors during the winter. Until we moved to Arizona and she now lives exclusively in the front Courtyard.
She lived outdoors in the summer and indoors during the winter. Until we moved to Arizona and she now lives exclusively in the front Courtyard. | Source

Beautiful Pencil Plant

This pencil plant (Euphorbia tirucalli) is over twenty years old. It began in a small 6” pot. I let it become root bound in the pot before I placed it in this pot. The next move will be in the ground in my outdoor courtyard here in the Lower Sonoran Desert area of Phoenix, Arizona. It should be protected enough from harsh weather in the front courtyard. It will do well in the hot Phoenix desert.

Close Up of the Pencil Branches

Graceful and elegant
Graceful and elegant | Source

Cork ground cover

Wine corks provided the cover over the dirt and helped hold the moisture in.
Wine corks provided the cover over the dirt and helped hold the moisture in. | Source

Pencil Plant Particulars

Pencil Plant (Eurphorbia tirucalli), a succulent, is very distinctive due to the masses of thin pencil shaped branches. The little leaves that appear are just the beginning of more pencil shaped branches. It grows well in dry climate zones and only needs watering about once a month. I have only fed the thing three times in twenty years! I have changed the dirt once by moving it to a bigger pot with new enriched soil.

This plant is now near 5’ (five) foot tall. It can reach 20-30’ tall when planted outside. I have seen one near 30’ in Phoenix Arizona. I thought it was a tree! That is the next move for this Pencil Plant.

The Pencil Plant can live to temperatures as low as 35°. While the Pencil Plant prefers a more moderate climate, it does very well in the heat of the ArizonaSonoranDesert.

It requires full light and a sturdy pot with a drainage hole. It will rot if you water it too much. We were snowbirds for three months a year and the house sitter only put water on the plant one time a month. We also turned off the heat in our house. We did live in a moderate climate zone of New Mexico and the plant was in the light of three clerestory windows.

The plant lived outside in the New Mexico summers and inside during the New Mexico winters. I also used a wine cork ground cover that is both attractive and holds in the moisture.

The pencil branches of the Pencil Plant (Eurphobia tirucalli) may also turn bright red, and yellow having a direct result to the chill in the air. This Pencil Plant has never been in a chilling area and has never turned the reddish or yellowish due to being exposed to chilly air.

The point is that the Pencil Plant (Eurphobia tirucalli) is easy to grow. You almost cannot kill it!

Taking cuttings and rooting new pencil plants is very easy BUT do take care by reading the caution below.


The Pencil Plant (Eurphobia tirucalli) may be trimmed with shears or a sharp knife whenever it grows beyond what you wish. It will root from the cuttings too. HOWEVER, the sap is toxic. The sap is white and gooey. It can cause skin irritation. NEVER touch your eyes after handling the cuttings.

Note: My cats totally ignore the Pencil Plant. It is not a tasty tidbit to them and so, this makes it a nice plant to grow if you also have cats.

Short Video Showing a Pencil Plant Tree


I think the Pencil Plant is elegant. It is graceful in how it grows. It makes a lacy shadow when the sun shines on it.

It is also very suitable for a smaller area that you want to have the feel of greenery but not create a veritable jungle to clamor through.

I love the patterns the pencil branches create as they naturally grow.

Phoenix is in the Sonoran Desert


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    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona lugging this plant around!!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I have lugged this plant from inside to outside and back many times. Now that we are living in AZ permanently I may get a respite. Finding the right place to plant it permanently would be great.

    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      So true snlee.....I have brutally trimmed this thing for years! It just keeps coming back!

    • snlee profile image


      5 years ago from Asia Pacific Regions

      This plant needs minimum care except that for trimming, otherwise the size may become too big as a houseplant for decoration purpose


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