Euphorbia Trigona, also known as African Milk Tree, is a stunning low maintenance succulent.
Euphorbia Trigona has many names, Candelabra Cactus, African Milk Bush, and Cathedral Cactus to name a few, but no matter the name, this plant is beautiful and easy to care for.
About Euphorbia Trigona
As one of its names suggests, this plant is a native of Africa, and grows up to 8 feet tall! The plant has three sides and has rows of two sets of thorns running throughout the plants spines. Several branches extend from the stalk of this plant and small leaves grow from the top of it’s branches and crown. New growth comes out a beautiful lime green color.
Euphorbias get mistaken many times for cacti. Their care is similar but it is in fact a succulent. Unlike cacti, euphorbias need more frequent watering. Cacti are specialized in surviving extremely long periods of drought, heat, and at times cold. Euphorbias need to dry out between watering and can withstand some drought, but not months long drought. Euphorbias also have thorns running along its spine as opposed to spikes that’s so commonly seen in cacti.
Lighting and Temperatures
This particular plant does very well with bright light. I have mine in my south facing window sill. If grown indoors, south, east, and west facing windows will be best. If grown outdoors, place in an area where it will get plenty of bright direct/indirect light. Some direct afternoon sun may be too much depending on the size of the plant and the location. For example, full sun in Texas in the summer is very different from full sun in Northern California during the same season.
Euphorbias are very sensitive to cold temps. Anything below 55 degrees Fahrenheit will damage the plant. It is much better suited to warmer temperatures.
Soil and Water Requirements
Be sure to plant your euphorbia in very well draining soil! They are very prone to root rot. A mix of perlite, pumice, and cacti mix should give sufficient drainage.
Water every time the plant gets bone dry. It is very important that the plant dries out completely before watering again. If lighting and temperatures are sufficient, you may water several times a week during the summer months. During the winter months, withhold from watering too much. They are more prone to root rot during the winter due to soil taking longer to dry out.
Fertilizing and Repotting
During the growing season, you can help your plants growth by giving it a balanced fertilizer. A 5-5-5, 10-10-10, or a 20-20-20 diluted would be good to fertilize with monthly/bi-monthly. Be careful not to over fertilize as this may damage the plant.
It is important to note that euphorbias, like many cacti and succulents, have very small root systems. They like to be root bound. If repotting is necessary, you may repot during the growing season. Repot only a pot size up. Like a 4” pot to a 5” pot as an example.
Be sure to use gloves, since the plant does have thorns and produces a latex sap. This sap may be irritating to some so use gloves as a precaution. Be sure to avoid touching your eyes and nose when handling this plant!
Since the plant tends to be a bit top heavy, stakes may be necessary to keep the plant upright. Once you have the plant repotted and/or staked, withhold watering and fertilizing for about a week or two. This will give the plant some time to recover and get settled into its new planter.
Propagation is fairly easy with this plant. Use a sharp knife or cutting shears, and be sure to sanitize them with rubbling alcohol before making your cut. You can take a cutting from one of the branches your plant may have. Rinse with water and you can dip the cut end in rooting hormone or you may wait for the cutting to callous over before planting. Some even plant the cutting into a well draining mix immediately after cutting. Most cuttings take about 2-3 weeks to develop roots. Make sure once your cutting is planted, the soil stays relatively moist or dampened. Soggy soil may rot your cutting.