Herself's Houseplants

Killing plants so you don't have to

Pencil tree ( Euphorbia tirucalli )

This is one of those Walmart plant finds. It’s really a cool store for plants if you poke around in the novelty plant section. Every 4th or 5th time I do so I find something worthwhile, and it’s almost always dirt cheap.

Pencil tree is really more of a dense shrub than a tree with branches about the size and thickness of a pencil. As it grows older stems thicken and turn a brown-grey color. In the wild in a perfect home it can reach 25′ tall. In homes in containers it can easily reach 5′ tall.

In the summer it develops leaves as you can see in the photos. Flowers are yellow and extremely tiny.

Give this plant as much light as you can and water only when dry. Treat it much the same as you would a jade plant. Water more in the summer, less in the winter. This plant can not tolerate freezing so protect it from the cold.

This plant prefers to be slightly pot bound. Which is a good thing since it is not the easiest of plants to transplant.

Prune to what ever shape pleases you. It is often grown in containers with other plants as a dramatic background.

Propagate by cuttings. Cut off a section and let the bottom dry out for a few days. Then plant in a loose sandy soil and keep moist until it roots. Slowly ween off the water until you just water it when dry.

This plant is native to southern Africa.

This plant is in the same family as pointsettias and has a similar milky sap. The sap will irritate some people’s skin and be very careful to keep it from your eyes. Do not ingest the sap it is toxic to humans, pets and fish.

Recently it has gained attention as a possible source of biofuels. It is often used as a hedge in many of the places it grows outside.

There is also a red version of this plant, ‘Firesticks’.