Euphorbia Pencil

Pronounced as you-for-bia.

The pencil cactus is a large plant native to Africa and India. The plant is ideal for sunny warm spots indoors or greenhouse growing. Care of pencil cactus is minimal. Euphorbia tirucalli, or pencil cactus, is a tropical plant that may become 30 feet tall in habitat. The stems are slender and slightly toothed with no obvious foliage. The branches are the diameter of a pencil, which give rise to the name. The new growth on the end may be tinged pink and have tiny leaves which disappear as the branch matures.

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Soil: The soil must be slightly gritty and well draining.

Sun and Temperature: Full sun and temperatures of at least 65 F. (18 C.) or warmer are necessary when learning how to care for a pencil cactus.

Water: It will need water approximately every two to three weeks in summer but no water in winter. Allow the plant to dry out between irrigations.

Care must be taken when caring for a pencil cactus to avoid the sap. Even eye protection is necessary because the pencil cactus plant produces a toxin that can cause an anaphylactic reaction. In most cases it can be cleared up with antihistamine but occasionally more severe reactions occur and are difficult to clear.

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