Euphorbia Tirucalli, pencil cactus, highly drought tolerant

//Euphorbia Tirucalli, pencil cactus, highly drought tolerant

Euphorbia Tirucalli, pencil cactus, highly drought tolerant

Euphorbia Tirucalli Rosea

Euphorbia Tirucalli Rosea

You Don’t Need a Case for the Beautiful Euphorbia Tirucalli Pencil Cactus

The highly recognizable succulent of the Southwest, Euphorbia Tirucalli, pencil cactus provides an inspiring backdrop to any interiorscape and is highly drought tolerant.

With over 1600 pleasing plants in the genus of Euphorbia, any number of them can make excellent plants for sunny locations inside a home or office. The most famous Euphorbia   is the Christmas favorite, poinsettia. Equally as popular and well known is the Crown of Thorns. An unusual and favorite one of ours at Plantopia is the E. tirucalli. Nicknames for this unique plant include pencil cactus and finger tree for the sticklike branches it produces.All are suitable names for this simple-to-care-for fascinating succulent.

Euphorbia tirucalli is considered by most to be a tropical or sub-tropical ornamental shrub that grows in semi-arid climates. It’s native to tropical areas in eastern and southern Africa and grows of upwards to 30 feet tall with a six-foot spread in the wild. Of course, that size wouldn’t be particularly useful inside a building in North America, but the interiorscape plant version of the E. tirucalli rarely exceeds six feet tall. Even though some areas in the world use it as a hedge, in the southern United States it’s often used as a landscape plant. It’s highly tolerant to drought making it very attractive to many in many parts of the world.

The pencil cactus has an ever changing personality as when it’s young, the heavily-branched stems sport small leaves, but, like the first teeth in our young human babies, these soon disappear leaving the stems smooth, glossy, and pencil-thick. Growth spurts resemble this early pattern and throughout the course of the life of the pencil cactus, its new branches produce more of the baby leaves and shed them as the plant continues to mature. Most of the stalks stand upright, producing branches by forking into two equal-size stems. The main trunk and branches become woody and brownish as the plant matures, but the younger branches are green and cylindrical like pencils. Hence the nickname.

Succulents Plants - Tall Pencil Cactus grown in shade

Succulents Plants – Tall Pencil Cactus grown in shade

Also known as milk bush for its sappy liquid, Euphorbia tirucalli has been utilized by many cultures as medicine for years. It has been used to treat cancers, tumors asthma, cough and warts all around the globe in locations like Brazil, India, Indonesia, Malabar and Malaysia. In Africa, the branches are mashed and fishermen dangle it in streams to catch fish easily. It’s also used there as a mosquito repellant.

This beautiful succulent needs full sunlight all year long to flourish and continue to look vibrant indoors. To be successful in the interiorscape your pencil cactus should be placed in bright light or a full sun window. They are watered only when they are completely dry. A fabulous drought tolerant plant for any location, their care mimics their native climate where long periods of no rain were followed by occasional downpours. A little more watering and care might be necessary during their heavy growth periods, but Plantopia can handle all of that hands-on care for you, whether in your home or your office environment.

As for esthetics, the pencil cactus makes a very dramatic presentation and a fantastic interiorscape plant because it’s so easy to grow. Whether in your sunny conference room, or your balcony it’s a great choice. Consider creating your own interior hedge in the atrium by installing several pencils in a row. New varieties offering a bevy of color are always coming on the market. Inquire with Plantopia as to what would look most attractive in your interiorscape’s environment. Call 800-690-7875 or email us at to set up a consult to discuss some ideas.

By | 2017-04-04T19:47:33+00:00 May 27th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments