How to Grow Pencil Cactus | Euphorbia Tirucalli Care Guide

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Euphorbia Tirucalli can be an interesting addition to your home and garden with its pencil-like appearance! Know everything about How to Grow Pencil Cactus!

How to Grow Pencil Cactus

If you are looking for a plant that thrives in neglect and makes a clean and bold impression, then Euphorbia Tirucalli is perfect for you! But before you learn more about How to Grow Pencil Cactus, it’s important to note that the sap of this houseplant is very toxic if ingested. So, if you have kids in your home or dogs or cats that are carefree and nibble everything, it’s better to postpone growing it or keeping it out of their reach.

Have a look at the best types of cacti here

Pencil Cactus Information

It must be originated in desert parts of Africa or South Asia, the reason why pencil cactus is succulent and has tremendous ability to tolerate drought and negligence! It has slender and thin stems that give it the appearance of pencils grouped in clusters! One of the characteristics that the plant is known for is its fatal milky sap, that’s hard to take off.

The plant also grows tiny flowers during late spring and early summer and becomes fiery red or orangish when it feels stress due to cold or hot temperatures in winters or summers. This is why it is also known as Firestick Plant!

Propagating Pencil Cactus

image of Propagating Pencil Cactus

The pencil cactus is extremely easy to propagate from cuttings. Make sure always to wear gloves when handling it as its sap is toxic.

  • Snip off 4-6 inches long cutting from a healthy plant.
  • Let the cutting dry out for 3-6 days and form a callus.
  • Once done, plant it in a pot in any soil or cacti mix.
  • Keep it at a bright location where it gets indirect light.
  • The cutting will form roots in 3-4 weeks.

Growing Requirements of Pencil Cactus

How to Grow Pencil Cactus 2


The Pencil Cactus plant loves to thrive in full sunlight. This means the more you will give it, the more colorful it will become. Surprisingly, it also has the ability to grow in low light.

You can easily grow it in rooms with indirect light. A window with southern or western exposure is recommended if you don’t want to lose its color.

While direct sun exposure will help the plant get that fiery red edges on the tiny foliage and stems, low light will make it green.


The plant does best in any soil type, so you don’t have to worry about this that much. However, potting mix that is well-drained and has the ability to remain dry is most suitable.


You don’t have to bother much about the plant’s watering needs as it grows in dry soil. Watering it once in 10-20 days should be fine. If you have kept the plant in full sun, then keep an eye on the topsoil and water whenever it feels dry to touch.


The plant performs well in warmer climates and does best in a temperature range between 65-75°F or 18-25°C. Make sure the temperature does not drop below 50°F or 10°C for a long time.

Pencil Cactus Plant Care

 image of Pencil Cactus Plant


The plant pretty much takes care of its own, so you don’t have to worry much about the feeding regularly. Infact, fertilizing too much can kill its growth and development.

If you want to boost its growth, use a balanced liquid fertilizer, diluted to half of its strength, once in 8-10 weeks. Refer to the label for instructions.

Also, do not feed the plant in winters in USDA Zones 9 and below, as it does not grow actively at this time in cold climates.

Pests and Diseases

Commonly spider mites attack pencil cactus, and though these pests are inconspicuous, they look like tiny flecks of red, yellow, or green on the plants. Knock them off using a strong jet of water or an insecticidal soap solution.


Prune the plant to keep it in shape as it can grow wild in all directions. Snipping it now and then will keep the growth in check. Also, take away dead and damaged foliage from time to time.

Note: While pruning the plant, always wear gloves as its milky sap can cause severe skin irritation. Also, do not forget to wash your hands because if the sap gets into the eyes, it can cause temporary blindness. 

How to Make Pencil Cactus Colorful

Keep the plant in a root-bound state, water less than required, and ensure it gets plenty of direct sunlight. Also, exposure to cold and hot temperatures will make it blush in no time. All these measures will make it colorful! The best way to make it take the glorious yellow, red, and orange hue is to neglect it.


According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the plant is toxic to pets, causing severe irritation to the mouth and stomach. It can cause serious side effects if swallowed and can cause temporary blindness and vision issues if it gets into the eyes.

Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

Have a look at the easy houseplants for seniors here

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