If you’re looking to add a unique-looking plant to your living room for the desired aesthetic appeal and soothing greenery, Pencil Cactus is the way to go. Here are a few pieces of information about this dainty lady!
Pencil cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli) is a plant in the succulent family and is native to Africa. But it actually belongs to the spurge family and not the cactus family!
The plant’s visual interest enhances when its stark shoots are sometimes painted in pink or orange on new growth. If any of your room receives plenty of sun, this may be an easy plant for you to grow, and if you grow it in a pot that’s big enough, it may even reach up to your ceiling.
NOTE: Before you proceed towards buying and planting pencil cactus, here’s a word of caution. Just like other euphorbias, this plant secretes a milky sap (known as latex) that is toxic and can cause allergic reactions including blisters, rashes and swelling of skin. Sometimes even more severe reactions may be caused. Therefore, you should always wear protective gloves while pruning or handling the plant in any other way, and of course, reconsider your decision to grow it if you’ve young ones or pets in your household. If accidentally the sap touches your skin, you’ll have to wash the skin thoroughly, that’s it.
How to Grow
As such, pencil cactus is so easy to grow that you can plant it’s cutting in any small container, even an old coffee mug that you don’t use. However, it’s recommended to plant pencil cactus in an unglazed terra cotta planter that should have drainage holes. Potting mix is recommended to be the one which is specifically designed for cacti and succulents. Since pencil cactus doesn’t like moist soil, the unglazed porous clay will let excess water to evaporate and create an atmosphere the plant will love.
Like all other succulents, pencil cactus too can store water in their fleshy leaves and stem, and so, they don’t need watering as often as the other houseplants need. Once every 2-3 weeks is enough during spring and summer, and only if the top 1-2 inches of the soil is dry; however, it’s advisable to stop watering totally during the winter because this is the plant’s dormancy period.
Pencil cactus thrives in bright sunlight. You better keep the plant near a south-facing window and keep as much warmth as possible around it. Being a native to Africa, this plant prefers temperatures above 65-degree Fahrenheit throughout the year. Even you can move it outdoors, or to a screened in patio, in the summer. However, pencil cactus doesn’t totally dislike shade. In fact, you can keep it in full shade and it will survive! You just have to avoid keeping it in a dark room. This means it should get some filtered light. Pencil cactus growing in shade will become blackish green in color, whereas those growing in full sun will be bright green in color.
Although pencil cactus doesn’t need any fertilizer, it’s recommended to feed a liquid fertilizer to your pencil cactus once a year in the spring. Since it has the capability to adapt well to nutritionally poor soil, a lot of fertilizer can actually kill it. You can add only around 10% compost in potting mix while repotting or add some compost on top soil once in 3 to 6 months and it’s optional.
Pencil cactus can be easily propagated with cuttings. You just have to insert a cutting into a clean sandy soil or even cocopeat. It will root in around 2-3 weeks. You don’t need to use a rooting hormone (but you can use it if you want). However, you should allow the cutting to dry and form a callous to seal the wound to prevent the entry of fungus, bacteria etc. and save the plant from rot. the callous will be formed when you dry the cutting in shade for 1-2 days, before inserting into the soil. Actually, this step is important when you try to grow any succulent from cuttings. Once you insert the cutting into the soil, you should leave it in shade or indirect sunlight for 1-2 months or until a good new growth or shoots are seen.
Pencil cactus is a true friend of a homeowner. It doesn’t need any special attention, but quietly and unconditionally offers your home the greenery you’re looking for. Start with a tiny cutting and you’ll get a dense green corner in a few months. Its only drawback is that it doesn’t produce colorful flowers. Still, its green color is lovely enough to soothe your eyes and mind! So, have you started looking for a cutting?