African Milk Tree sounds funny, isn’t it? I am sure you must be wondering what the plant is all about and why it is called a milk tree and so on. If you want to know more about this plant then keep on reading this article till the end.
The scientific name of the African Milk Tree is Euphorbia Trigona. It is an easy-care plant that can be grown as an indoor plant or you can also place it in your garden. As the name suggests this plant is native to Africa specifically West Africa.
Euphorbia Trigona is an interesting plant. Why? Because this plant looks like a cactus but is called a tree. Maybe you are also curious to know what is the reason behind it. I am going to discuss all of this one by one.
If you are planning to get an African Milk Tree and trying to educate yourself About How To Care For Euphorbia Cactus, then this article is made for you. Let me guide you to know the process better.
How to identify?
It is very confusing, whether the African Milk Tree is a tree or a cactus. Well, it is considered succulent despite having leaves. The leaves of this cactus are tiny and short-lived. It also consists of thorns that grow in sets of two and a single leaf grows between them.
This African Milk Tree plant can be grown indoors as well as outdoors. While indoors, this plant can grow 2-4 feet and 7-9 feet outdoors. When the plant grows outside, yellow or white-colored flowers are seen to bloom.
Euphorbia Cactus grows very tall compared to other succulents. But the growth rate is very slow.
These African Milk Tree Cactus generally grow along the ridges which makes the stem rectangular. They grow in a ‘candelabra’ shape that gives them an appearance of a tree. Do you know why this plant is called the ‘Milk tree’?
The reason is, it exudes a toxic white sap or latex when it is cut. It looks like milk that is why the tree is called so.
Euphorbia Pencil Cactus belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family which is the main cause of its toxicity. Latex can be allergic to your skin. I will discuss more this toward the end of this article.
Types of Euphorbia
Let’s have a brief discussion on Euphorbia Cactus Types. Euphorbia is basically a genus of plants belonging to the Euphorbiaceae family. This family consists of 2100 species. Euphorbia Trigona commonly known as the African Milk Plant is one of them.
After knowing so many facts about this plant you must be wondering What Is The Difference Between A True Cactus And Euphorbia? So, let’s try to analyze Euphorbia vs Cactus.
Cactus have spines which are modified leaves, and they come from areoles. Euphorbia has thorns in pairs which are modified stems and they do not have areoles. Now, I think it is clear to you. Now it will be easier to you to differentiate between them.
Pencil cactus: How to grow and care for Euphorbia Tirucalli
Euphorbia Cactus Care is not a hectic job and it is a low maintenance plant. So, you do not need to worry so much to grow this plant. You just have to be a little patient and perform the steps which I am going to mention now.
Temperature and Light Requirements
By the time you already know African Milk Tree is native to central Africa. So, a warm temperature is needed to grow this plant. A temperature between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. Place the pot where it could get sufficient temperature.
Sunlight plays an important role in growing Euphorbia Cactus. Place the full-grown plant in a spot where it could enjoy full sun daily for six hours. You can also place it in a dry and air-ventilated room on a sunny windowsill. But make sure it gets sufficient temperature and lights.
The Winter season is not suitable for growing this plant. So, in winter keep it indoors to avoid frosting. If you are living in high altitudes or where winter lasts longer, do not buy this plant. The African Milk Tree Cactus will not survive.
Watering and Soil Requirements
Watering is important in order to keep the plant alive. But sometimes people get confused about How Often To Water African Milk Tree. Don’t worry, keep reading to find the solution.
The summer season is ideal for its growth. But this plant does not require a lot of watering. Water the plant as well as the soil throughout the season to hold the moisture. Do not water the plant more than once a week. Overwater can cause rotting.
In winter, water the Milk Tree Cactus every two weeks to barely moisten the surface of the soil. Do not water the soil that it becomes soggy.
The soil should be enriched with gritty ingredients. A mixture of sand, perlite/pumice, and limestone can be a good option because it promotes drainage and the soil dry out quickly.
Generally, this plant grows fast, and fertilizing it will accelerate its growth even faster. African Milk Tree grows best in summer. So, this season is the best time for fertilizing. Use a complete 20-20-20 fertilizer two or three times during this time. It should be a water-soluble dilute fertilizer that does not damage your plant.
In winter, the growth rate of this African Milk Tree plant is very slow or nil. So, there is no point in using fertilizer at this time. Using fertilizer is totally optional.
If you are a gardener out of passion you can totally skip using fertilizers. But if you are a professional gardener using fertilizer would be really beneficial to you.
Disease and Pest Control
Disease and pests do not affect that many African Milk Tree as long as you care for them very well. Try to avoid harsh sunlight and also do not overwater it. If you are planning to grow Euphorbia Trigona in your home, you should be aware of the diseases it could get.
Mealybugs- This is a cotton-like thread form only on the African Milk Tree plant. If you see something like this then simply wipe it off with a towel soaking with rubbing alcohol. Spray some insecticides like neem oil on the plant to avoid this.
Plant Scale- Scale insects are too tiny and are covered by an impenetrable brown shield which makes them difficult to remove.
Like, mealybugs wipe it off with a towel soaked with rubbing alcohol. If it does not work out take a sharp knife and scrape them off very gently. Spraying neem oil will prevent their return.
Fungal Infection, Cork Disease- It is a fungal infection that causes patches of cork-like material on the stem. It is a sign of overwatering or the soil is too rich. Repot the soil into the new cactus mix, paint the cut areas, reduction of watering the plant will help to avoid this disease.
A solution mixing 3 parts of rubbing alcohol with 1 part of the water is best to keep away all the bugs and pests. Neem oil can be also used as a natural insecticide. Instead of alcohol, you can use vinegar or apple cider vinegar as well.
Potting & Repotting
As of now you already know how to propagate African Milk Tree at your home by simply using some household tools. Now, I am going to discuss How To Plant Euphorbia Emporium Cactus In Pots? and how to re-pot them simply.
You can get a huge variety of fancy mixing pots out there or you can make your pots in your home according to your needs. Generally, people use ¼ of perlite with 2- or 3-parts succulent mix.
After some weeks, you should re-pot the African Milk Tree Cactus because a full-grown plant needs more space to grow more. If you have not changed the soil for more than 2 years, change it immediately.
- Remove the African Milk Tree plant from its existing pot.
- Then remove soil from the roots very carefully.
- Place the biggest stem in the center or wherever you like to place it.
- Fill up the pot with a new soil mix.
Though it is a very simple process, placing the plant into the soil can be tricky in the case of a big plant. Ask for help from any friend. After completing the process place it where it could get indirect sunlight.
How to prune an African Milk Tree?
Do You Know How To Make African Milk Tree Branch? At first, cut off the stem where it is attached to the main plant. Remove the toxic latex from the cut area and plant it, if you are planning to grow a tree out of it. From each cut, a new branch will grow.
Propagation is the process of growing a plant from an existing plant. If you are interested to grow a plant from an existing plant then you will need these tools-
- Heavy gloves
- Eye protection
- Perlite or pumice
- Cactus mix or sand
- Sharp knife or blade
- Well-draining cactus mix
- 4-inch or 6-inch pot
- 20-20-20 fertilizer
- Coarse gravel
- Water-soluble fertilizer
Now, I am going to explain to you the steps of How To Grow Euphorbia Trigona Cactus From Cutting.
Clean the sharp knives with soapy water and also disinfect them. Put on your heavy gloves. Follow this ritual every time you perform cutting.
Then take out a healthy and unblemished stem of your existing Euphorbia Cactus and cut it off about 5-7 inches long.
Now hold the cut end under a tap or running water to stop the flow of sap. This is process is known as stop sap flow. Also, spray some water on the mother plant of the African Milk Tree Cactus.
After this, leave the cutting for air dry at least for 3-7 days on a paper towel. This will promote the formation of a callus and will prevent the cutting from rotting. Do not leave it in direct sunlight.
You can also dip the cutting in the rooting hormone. This is step is totally optional.
After 7 days, place the cutting into the potting mix which has good drainage. You can buy it for the market or you can prepare it at home by simply mixing sand, perlite, or pumice. Place the cutting 1 inch deep into the pot. Cover the soil surface with coarse gravel to hold the plant straight.
Water the African Milk Tree Cactus for few weeks. Water the soil whenever it feels dry. After the establishment of rooting, decrease watering. It will take 2 months to root.
Avoid harsh sunlight during this time. Place it somewhere it could get medium sunlight. Once the roots are established place them in your garden.
The sticky latex inside the stem of the euphorbia cactus is toxic. So, protect your skin and eyes by wearing gloves and eye protection. Keep away your children and pets from this plant.
Generally, Euphorbia Trigona is not very famous for its flowers. The plant itself is attractive due to its tree-like shape. However, the plant is considered succulent even though it has leaves.
The tiny thorns grow in sets of two and a single leaf grows between them. The Euphorbia Cactus plants may bloom small white and yellow flowers when it is grown outside.
Where can I buy it?
African Milk Trees are easily available in any plant store. Are planning to get it from online websites? Let me guide you to find some of the bestselling websites. Amazon, Etsy, Plantsguru.com, and Natureslive are some of the popular websites.
Not only this African Milk Tree Cactus but also you will get varieties of plants on those websites at a very cheap rate with free shipping on selecting plants all over the world.
Toxicity to Pets & Children
Now, let’s discuss the toxicity of Euphorbia Trigona. Most of the succulents are non-toxic in nature which is why they are safe for pets and children. But the African Milk Tree is Poisonous. Now, the question arises why it is toxic in nature.
The African Milk Tree plant belongs to the Euphorbia genus. The members of this genus emit white-colored milky latex which makes it toxic. If this latex comes in contact with humans and animals, it causes allergies.
So, this plant is not at all safe for your pets as well as your children. Either keep your Milk Tree Cactus plant outside or keep it somewhere far from your children. You also have to be very careful during cutting the plant. Maintain a safe distance from it.
I hope you found all the solutions to your questions. In brief, the African Milk Tree is a good plant to grow in your house for your room as well as for your garden. Euphorbia cactus could be a good gift option.
These cacti plants can be grown both indoors and outdoors but proper
These cacti plants are called, ‘Milk trees’? Because of this reason, it exudes a toxic white sap or latex when it is cut. So, It looks like milk which is why the tree is called Milk Tree Cactus.
But before buying it, be aware of its toxicity and make your children and friends aware of its toxicity. Do not let your pets come in contact with Euphorbia trigona.
I have already mentioned the process of its caring, you can blindly rely on the methods. It will sustain more if you follow these steps religiously.
I hope this article is helpful to you. You should buy Euphorbia cactus, keeping all precautions in mind. I totally recommend this plant which will add uniqueness to your garden.