If you are looking for a succulent houseplant to make a compelling statement, then the pencil cactus or euphorbia is your best choice. The firecrackers of this plant have many names: aveloz, firestick plant, Indian euphorbia, naked girl, pencil tree, and milk tree.
This surname refers to the cloudy latex sap that it releases when damaged, which may be toxic. But with a little prevention, you can successfully plant, cultivate and enjoy the pencil cactus at home or in the landscape.
It belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family, and the pencil cactus grows in various shapes in indoor landscapes. It can grow up to 30 feet tall in its natural habitat. Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’ has vertical stems and loose branches. It is as thin as a pencil and is reddish-gold, turning yellow in summer and red in winter. If provided with plenty of sunlight and a frost-free climate, Firestick plants can grow to 4 to 8 feet and 120 to 240 cm wide in the home.
Because the diameter of the stem is equivalent to that of a pencil, it is called a pencil cactus. The new branches in the plant are slightly pink. When the branches sprout, you may see leaves appear. But once the branches mature, they disappear.
Euphorbia also has commercial uses. Since it is a hydrocarbon plant, it can produce latex that can be modified and converted into gasoline substitutes. It can also be used to produce rubber. Pencil cactus can be grown in soil that is not suitable for growing other plants.
The plant is widely distributed in Africa, especially in the northeast, central and southern regions. The planting range of pencil cactus was expanded to the Arabian Peninsula and surrounding islands. Pencil cactus grows in dry areas and is usually used to feed cows. What's interesting is!
It makes an amazing houseplant, with the striking stems contrasting most indoor plants quite well.
Pencil Cactus Care
Firestick plant has very simple needs. It doesn’t have very particular soil, water or fertilization requirements.
Pencil tree cactus requires full sun for optimal growth. If you’re indoors, right next to a south-facing windowsill is your best bet. Mild and warm temperatures, ranging between 65°F to 70°F are best for growth.
Being succulents, they can store water in their fleshy stems and leaves, meaning ‘Sticks on Fire’ plant doesn’t need much water at all. Water it once every 2-3 weeks in the summer, and maybe once a month in the winter. During cold spells, you don’t need to water it at all.
If you’re growing pencil tree cacti in your home as an indoor houseplant, make sure to have a gritty and well-draining soil. The excess moisture needs to drain from the soil. Otherwise, there will be a risk of rotting out the roots, the most common houseplant issue.
Stick plants can be fed with a controlled-release fertilizer at the start of the growing season. You can apply it with a weak liquid solution weekly. Using a balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer at one-quarter strength can be applied for large, mature outdoor plants.
Euphorbia firesticks are easy to propagate, like many of their fellow succulents. You can propagate stick cactus with some cuttings taken from the new or healthy stems. These cuttings develop tiny roots. Make sure to dry them out before planting them in new cactus mix, otherwise the cut end will rot in the soil before it can set out new roots.
Frequent pruning is not required for stick cactus. If it starts growing too big, you can trim some of the branches to cut it back to a more manageable shape. The sap is toxic though, so wear a good pair of gloves and avoid direct contact with the sap on any part of your body.
Diseases and Growing Problems
Overwatering the sticks on fire plant can be troublesome. If you overwater the plant and the soil has poor drainage, you’re going to get root rot underneath the soil. Make sure to water the plant very infrequently, especially when the weather isn’t hot. Check the soil moisture and only water if you find it completely dry. Consider using a looser-textured mix if you find your soil holding on to too much water.
You will not come across any pest problems in pencil cactus in our experience. If you have, let us know down below and we’ll add prevention tips!
Q. How do I know if I am overwatering pencil cactus?
A. You can check the moisture of the plant by examining the soil and studying the appearance of the cactus. If you find the soil soggy, it means either you have overwatered the plant or have a poor draining soil. The signs of overwatering are a less stable cactus plant with grayish-brown colored stems
Q. When is the best time to fertilize firestick plant?
A. The best time to fertilize the plant is the growing season during summer. Use an organic houseplant fertilizer and apply once a month for healthier growth.
Q. Is a pencil tree plant suitable for growing in pots?
A. Yes, you can grow the plant in pots. Make sure the pot has drainage holes and potting mix suitable for cacti and succulents is used.