How to Care for a Desert Candle Cactus – Euphorbia acrurensis

Hi Judy,

I recently purchased a Euphorbia acrurensis (Desert Candle) for our apartment. I was hoping to find some indoor care information. Any ideas on how frequently to water? light requirements etc?

Hi Omar,

A Euphorbia acrurensis (Desert Candle) is a lovely plant that can grow to be 5ft-8ft indoors with the proper care.

A Desert candle needs as much bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light. as you can provide. As it grows it will start to grow towards the light source. If this happens give the plant a 1/4 turn once a week.

Watering is always tricky. The brighter the light, the higher the temperature, the smaller the pot, the more often the plant will need water. It is always easier to save an under -watered cactus than an over watered cactus, so when in doubt do not water. Never use water that has passed through a softener, too salty. If your household water has a lot of chlorine or fluorine in it, allow the water to sit out over night before using it. The plant will probably need water every 3-4 weeks depending upon the conditions in your home. When you water in the spring and summer, water well enough so that it comes out the drip holes in the bottom of the pot. Do not allow the plant to sit in the excess water. Water slowly, so the water can be absorbed well by the cactus soil. The plant will tell you when it needs water. The stems and arms will become soft and the first inch or two of soil will be dry.  The plant needs more water in the spring and summer, less in the fall, and practically no water in winter.

Use a water soluble fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small.   low in nitrogen and high in phosphorous diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Feed every other month in the spring and summer only.

Cactus plants prefer low humidity.

A Desert Candle likes warm temperatures between 70°-80°F (21.1°-26.6°C). Avoid placing it near heating or cooling vents. During fall and winter keep it away from doors or open windows.