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Pencil Cactus Euphorbia tirucalli

Growing Pencil Cactus: Tips at a Glance

Pencil cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli) an add spiky drama in an outdoor garden bed with other succulents and warm-climate plants. As a houseplant, it needs gritty soil and impeccable drainage.

  • Type Succulent
  • Lifespan Perennial
  • USDA Zones 10-11
  • Light Bright light
  • Water Monthly
  • Soil Gritty cactus mix
  • Design Tip Sculptural houseplant
  • Companions Crassula, agave
  • Beware Latex sap

Pencil Cactus: A Field Guide

With its spiky silhouette, a pencil cactus seems an obvious choice to add to a houseplant collection or garden bed devoted to succulents. And yet some people hesitate. Is it because  Euphorbia tirucalli is not really a cactus? And is mildly poisonous? Let’s put those details aside for the moment and admire the sculptural beauty of a pencil cactus.

A succulent (rather than a true cactus), pencil cactus like thousands of other euphorbias varieties emits a milky white sap if injured; wear gloves to avoid exposure, which can irritate the skin.

Unless you live in a warm climate (USDA growing zones 10 or 11), your pencil cactus probably will live in a pot indoors (where it can reach a height of about 6 feet at maturity). Grown outdoors, E. tirucalli can get much bigger and reach a statuesque height of 30 feet.

Planting, Care & Design of Pencil Cactus

More About Pencil Cactus

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