How to care for your Pencil Cactus

Euphorbia tirucalli known colloquially as the pencil cactus is a wonderful indoor plant. Found primarily in semi-arid tropical climates, these plants can grow up to 30 feet! Though it is succulent, it photosynthesizes in the stems, unlike true cacti. If you are looking to take care of a pencil cactus, keep in mind that they need lots of light and grow best in low moisture. Like several other euphorbias, the pencil cactus secretes a milky white latex sap when cut, which is irritating on the skin and can be toxic – so exercise care when handling the cactus! Don’t let the pencil cactus’ huge growth potential scare you. Indoor cactus usually only grow up to 6 feet, making them a good plant to decorate your house with. 

Did you know? 

The pencil cactus is nicknamed ‘Sticks on Fire’ or ‘Fire Pencil Cactus’ because it has thin stems resembling pencils that turn pink or orange when under the sun! 

Let’s take a look at how to care for Pencil Cactus

Though you can occasionally neglect this plant, it does require some care every once in a while! If you’re the type of person who goes out a lot and can’t take constant care of your plants – this might just be the perfect plant for you.

  1. Light: It’s best to keep pencil cacti in full sun, but keep in mind that very high temperatures can get problematic. So ideally 6 hours a day should give your cactus the care it needs.
  2. Soil conditions: The pencil cactus is very low maintenance. It can go for quite a few days without water in the soil. You can leave it in dry soil that doesn’t carry many nutrients! But make sure to give it ample watering care every now and then. 
  3. Watering: You can water these cacti once every 2 or 3 weeks and they’ll be completely fine. There’s very little to do here when it comes to watering care. You can also dry the soil out every time you water to ensure overwatering doesn’t lead to rot forming in its roots.
  4.  Ideal temperature conditions: The best temperature for pencil cacti ranges between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. While it is somewhat resistant to hot temperatures, it doesn’t fare so well against the cold. Keep it away from air-conditioned rooms and cool drafts. 

Propagating a pencil cactus

Pencil cacti can be propagated from cuttings. But it’s important that you keep in mind – pencil cactus has a toxic sap that oozes out when cut! Here are a few simple steps to propagate your plant:

  • Cut a green branch, about 5-6 inches in length. 
  • Dip the cutting in water to stop the flow of sap.
  • Once the cutting dries (takes around a week), it will form a callus on the cut end.
  • Now pot it in a cactus potting mix and watch the magic happen! 

With this, you’ve got yourself an amazing indoor companion who’s bright, vibrant, and very low maintenance! Care for your pencil cacti right and you will be rewarded generously.

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