How to Prune and Grow a Euphorbia Trigona (Cathedral Cactus or African Milk Tree)

Could you tell me what this plant and how to prune it. It is getting really tall and straggly.

Hi Sharon,

Your plant is called a Euphorbia Trigona, also called an African Milk Tree or Cathedral Cactus. It looks like a cactus but really isn’t one. It is a  deciduous succulent from western Africa. You can’t trim any of the stems, but you can totally remove some to make the plant more manageable.
 You’ll need a sharp knife that has soaked in a solution of 50% water and 50% alcohol for about 5 to 10 minutes. This prevents the plant from getting a serious infection during the pruning process. Be sure to wear heavy gloves and long sleeves to protect yourself from the sharp spines and the irritating white latex sap that the plant secretes wherever a cut is made. It’s a difficult task and you might want to have someone nearby to give you a hand if you need it.
Start by removing side stems. Cut off the stem at its base where it attaches to the main plant. Be very careful not to cut into the main stem! It’s important to stem the flow of white latex from the cut end of the stem you removed if you want to start a new plant with it and especially from the cut area on the main stem. Spray the areas with a hose (if you’re working outside) or pour cold water on the cuts from a watering can. Keep pouring on the water until the latex stops flowing. You can remove as many of the stems as you want, as long as you control the latex that seeps out.
This plant really needs a sunny spot to grow well. It should be close to a sunny window where it can get at least 6 hours of direct sun every day.