Cultivation and characteristics of Euphorbia lactea

The Euphorbia lactea owes its name to Euphorbus, former physician of King Juba of Mauritania, although it is also popularly known as dragon bones tree, candelabra cactus or cactus. It is a succulent that adapts easily to any climate and environment, and even if the most confused forget to water it, it will not suffer too much.

Their cactus- like branches and a beautiful, bright green color make them ideal as ornamental plants. Being objective, it seems like something out of another world. I’ve seen science fiction and fantasy worlds with plants more “normal” than Euphorbia lactea


Originally it comes from the most tropical regions of Asia, specifically Sri Lanka and India, but thanks to the ease of its cultivation, it is currently produced as an ornamental plant in almost the whole world. In any case, its presence naturally focuses only on tropical and subtropical areas.


Belonging to the Euphorbiaceae family , it is a plant that has a bright green color. Its crown tends to be rounded, dense and highly branched, with succulent branches with three or four ribs whose wavy crests are armed with small spines up to 6 millimeters long. It has small rounded leaves that are not very visible and due to its deciduous nature they tend to fall off very quickly. In summer, its flowering time, it produces small yellow flowers.

It is a shrub that can reach up to 6 meters in height, and although when they are young the branches are totally green, with the passage of time the central trunk becomes woody and whitish in color.

If the branches suffer any damage, from their interior it secretes a kind of milky latex (hence the “lactea” in its name) that although in some places in India it is used as a natural purgative, it is very irritating if it comes into contact with the eyes or the tissues of the mucosa so special care must be taken when handling it.

As a curiosity, Euphorbia lactea , due to its resistance, is ideal for grafting other varieties of the same species.



The Euphorbia lactea is a plant very undemanding and does not need care too complicated, although tropical origin can not stand frost and requires the minimum temperature of the place where it is grown is never less than 10 degrees Celsius If so, it can only thrive in well-lit, draft-free interiors. You should also avoid placing it too close to the crystals so that the sun’s rays do not burn it.

If instead it is grown in warm places, it has no problem growing outdoors and although it requires a lot of light, it is advisable to get it indirectly.


It is not too selective as far as substrates are concerned, admitting a great variety of them, as long as they are mainly mineral and sandy to maintain good drainage and avoid the spread of fungi that damage the roots.

It is advisable to fertilize with special fertilizers for cacti and succulents every two or three weeks, especially in the spring and summer months. During the fall and winter, a couple of times each season will be enough to provide the necessary nutrients to the plant.

COMPO Fertilizers for cacti, succulents and succulents, Liquid fertilizer with potassium, 500 ml

  • Optimal development: Liquid mineral fertilizer with potassium for cacti, succulents and succulents, Practical dispenser
  • Adequate growth: Provides the plant with all the main nutrients from the first application, Reinforces resistance and optimal water storage
  • Easy to use: Clean and safe dosage according to stages I to III marked on the cap (for 2, 4 and 6 liters of water), Application every 3 weeks (March to October)
  • COMPO quality: raw materials selected according to the original COMPO recipe, Strict quality controls by independent laboratories and institutes, The right conditions for healthy plant growth
  • Contents: 1 x COMPO Fertilizers for cacti, succulents and succulents, Liquid fertilizer, 500 ml


It is a plant that needs very little watering, so it should only be watered when the soil is completely dry. If it is in a pot, we will also have to make sure that the substrate is quite dry and containers should not be placed underneath that could cause waterlogging, since an excess of water causes fungi to proliferate and the roots to rot.


If we have a Euphorbia lactea in a pot and we want to plant it in the garden, the most suitable time is in spring and taking special care not to manipulate the roots too much so as not to damage them.

If we want to always have it in a pot, we must bear in mind that this plant can grow to several meters , therefore it is convenient to transplant it every year into a pot that is three or four centimeters larger than the previous one, always in spring and taking care of its estate.

Remember that it is a plant that has thorns and you should protect your hands with gloves when you go to handle it.


Despite being a fairly resistant plant, if you have it in a garden and there are snails that will end up destroying it , they love to eat succulents. To avoid this you have the classic phytosanitary products on the market, but if you prefer to use something more natural you can spread diatomaceous earth around the plant or also put a container with beer near the plant, since snails love the smell of beer and will fall in the container before reaching it.

It is also frequent as in other succulents that signs appear that the plant is rotting or has fungi, the main cause of this problem is usually an excess of watering. If you notice that any branch is soft to the touch, you must cut it so that it does not affect the rest of the plant and dry the wound with the healing treatment that you usually use. In addition to controlling the frequency of irrigation, it will be convenient for you to use a remedy against fungi, the most effective are those that contain copper.


Although it can be reproduced by seeds , it is quite difficult to get the flower to fertilize so that it produces seeds and be able to get a complete plant from them, so the simplest method is through cuttings that you can obtain well by cutting from the base of an adult plant the suckers that are growing or cutting a healthy branch that measures about 25 centimeters. In both cases, you must wait three to seven days for the cut wound to dry, once healed you can plant it in a pot with a specific substrate and good drainage, you water it normally and after a couple of weeks it The new plant will have already begun to take root.

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