How to Prune and Propagate a Pencil Cactus

I have had this plant since the early 70s and I am not sure what it is and how to trim it. I would like to get clippings to start new plants and thin it out a bit. Thanks Fred

Hi Fred,

Your plant is called a Pencil Cactus or Milk Bush plant (EUPHORBIA TIRUCALLI).

 

Lern to identify and care for a pencil cactus
Pencil cactus

You can aggressively prune a Pencil Cactus anywhere along the stems to keep it looking full and maintain a nice shape. Always wear gloves and a long sleeved shirt when pruning the plant to prevent the irritating sap from getting on your skin. Wash your tools and your hands when finished. Be careful not to get the sap in your eyes, mouth, on on an open cut.

A pencil cactus is easily propagated using these stem cuttings. Use a sharp, clean scissors or razor blade to cut a 4”-6” piece from the end of a healthy stem just below a leaf node. A node is where a leaf joins the stem. Dip the cut end of the stem into a small amount of rooting hormone that contains a fungicide. Plant the stem in a 4″pot (drip holes in the bottom) of moist potting soil. Cover the pot with clear plastic to increase the humidity and prevent the soil from drying out. Check the plant every few days to be sure the soil stays moist. Tug on the stem cuttings after a few weeks, if there is resistance, roots have developed, the plastic can be removed, and the propagation was successful.

You can read all my care tips for a pencil cactus in the Popular Houseplant section the website.

https://www.houseplant411.com/houseplant/pencil-cactus-plant-how-to-grow-care-tips-euphorbia-tirucalli

All parts of these plants are considered poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched, immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.  More poisonous houseplant information and pictures of common plants that are dangerous to children and pets can be found in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants and should be kept away from pets and children. Read more about common houseplants that are poisonousPlants are a great addition to homes and offices, but it’s important to know whether your plants are dangerous to children, pets, or even adults. Some plants contain chemicals such as oxalates, solanine, glycosides, or alkaloid lycorine that may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, swelling and redness of the mouth, throat, and lips, and trouble breathing. Touching parts of certain plants, especially the sap, may cause various skin irritations. The weight and age of the human or pet involved, and the part and amount of plant eaten determine how severe the reaction to the toxins will be. Although plants may be listed as non-toxic, they can still cause individual allergic reactions. If there is any question after a houseplant has been ingested or touched, immediately call the Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222.  More poisonous houseplant information and pictures of common plants that are dangerous to children and pets can be found in my book Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants in Don’t Feed Me To Your Cat! A Guide to poisonous houseplantsIn her new book, Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat!, plant care professional Judy Feldstein shares information about twenty-five common houseplants, each with various levels of toxicity, and the possible consequences if your pet or child snacks on them..