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Euphorbia Plants

Updated on October 20, 2013
Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii
Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii | Source

What Is An Euphorbia

Euphorbia is a ‘cactus-like’ flowering shrub with thick fleshy stems.

The plant is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family and there are over 2000 Euphorbia varieties.

The stems produce a thick white milky colored sap when cut.

In some types of Euphorbia the latex can be quite toxic to the skin and eyes e.g. eyes and skin can become irritable, inflamed or feel a burning sensation.

Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii
Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii | Source

How Dangerous are Euphorbias

The latex from the Euphorbia cooperi variety is used in Africa to catch fish.

Grass is soaked with the latex and then thrown into the water where the fish are.

Once the latex mixes with the water it paralyses the fish.

The fish then float helplessly on the surface of the water.

Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii
Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii | Source

Who Name The Plant Euphorbia

A Roman officer known as 'Pliny the Elder' (who was a botanist during his younger days) is credited for giving the plant the name Euphorbia.

The name was also included in his book 'Natural History of Pliny' (79 AD).

Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii
Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii | Source

What Are The Names Used for Different Species of Euphorbia

Throughout the years English names have evolved for some varieties of Euphorbia plants:

  • Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii
  • Poinsettia - Euphorbia pulcherrima
  • Milkbush or Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli.
  • Snow on the Mountain - Euphorbia marginata
  • Medusa’s Head - Euphorbia caput-medusae
  • Scarlet Plume - Euphorbia fulgens

Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii
Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii | Source

Euphorbia milii

The photos of the Euphorbia I’ve included in this hub are known as Euphorbia milii.

These plants can be grown from seeds or from cuttings.

Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii
Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii | Source

How To Grow Euphorbia

If you choose to grow the plants from cuttings as I’ve always done, you can use coir fiber or compost and sand for the potting mixture.

Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii
Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii | Source

How To Make Coir Fiber Potting Mixture To Grow Euphorbia

  • Coir Fiber
  • Cuttings (each 1 ½” in height)
  • Pot

Fill the pot with the coir fiber and then place the cutting in it. Water daily but not in excess. New roots should appear within 30 days.

Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii
Crown of Thorns - Euphorbia milii | Source

Compost and Sand Potting Mixture For Euphorbia Plants

  • Pot
  • Cuttings (each 2 ½” in height)
  • Compost
  • Sand

Fill the pot with a mixture of 50% sand and 50% compost. Place the cutting in it. Water daily but not in excess. New roots should appear within 21 days.

* Euphorbia milii are hardy plants but will rot if water is allowed to get stagnated inside the pot. Make sure the plant is grown under well drained soil.


How To Prune Euphorbia Plants

Always use sharp pruning shears when pruning your Euphorbia plants. Make sure to wear gloves to avoid getting pricked by the thorns.

I’ve always pruned the plants six inches from the base every autumn. Although some may call this hard pruning I’ve found it helps to produces a tightly branched bushy plant when it begins to yield new shoots, leaves and flowers.

How To Grow Euphorbia Plants From Cuttings

Growing Euphorbia plants is quite easy. I've been doing it for years. As mentioned earlier Euphorbia plants can be propagated from cuttings although I use to occasionally produce new plants from seeds.

If you’re planning on using pots to grow the cuttings choose three inch diameter pots which are filled with have equal amounts of sand and compost. I normally use cuttings which are two to two and a half inches in height.

It takes between fourteen to twenty one days for the cuttings to root. Make sure to not over water. I’ve been successful in watering every other day and keeping the plants in partially sunny areas.

How To Fertilize Euphorbia Plants

Euphorbia Plants just like many other flowering plants love to be cared for and will produced healthy dark foliage leaves and bright stunning blooms.

Fertilize every two weeks by applying a flowering fertilizer which is normally used for other types of floral plants. Don’t forget to apply a foliar spray bi-weekly to help the plant bring out healthy blooms and leaves.

When adding mulch to the soil I’ve found pure cow manure or compost gives the best results.

© 2012 Suranee Perera

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    • Kyricus profile image

      Tony 5 years ago from Ohio

      I'm not sure I've ever seen this plant. What regions can they be grown in? Will they withstand cooler temps?

    • Suranee1969 profile image
      Author

      Suranee Perera 5 years ago from Kandy, Sri Lanka

      Euphorbia milii is a native of Madagascar. It's a popular plant grown in many countries in Asia like India, Thailand, Malaysia and here in Sri Lanka.

      Since I only have experience growing the plants here in Sri Lanka (tropical climate) I'm not sure the conditions it needs to thrive in countries with cooler temperatures. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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