Euphorbia Growth and Propagation

Euphorbia propagation can be done simply with plant cuttings. Euphorbia is one of the most interesting succulents, available in more than 2,000 varieties ranging from upright trees to bulbous plants seemingly more fit for an alien landscape. Euphorbia flowers are short-lived, but they add a splash of tropical color to these interesting plants.

Growing Euphorbia
Euphorbia is a succulent plant that requires bright light but not necessarily full sun. If you are planting the euphorbia in full sun, place rocks nearby so the plant can stretch its roots under the cooler rocks. They can tolerate very high summer temperatures but do not like colder winter temperatures. In northern zones, it is possible to grow Euphorbia indoors, although it may be necessary to supplement the natural light with a grow light to compensate for winter's shorter days.

Euphorbia thrives in well-drained, lighter soil. Once it is established, it is drought tolerant. Until they are established, they need regular and thorough watering. Fertilize your euphorbia with a low-nitrogen fertilizer every two to three weeks during the growing season.

Varieties of euphorbia native to Arabia, Central and West Africa and the tropical and sub-tropical parts of the Americas need warmer temperatures in winter. Varieties from Madagascar and East African can tolerate colder winter temperatures, but must be protected from frost. The most cold-tolerant species are those from North and South Africa. Some South African species can survive frost if temperatures rise rapidly the next morning. Although Euphorbias do not like colder temperatures, they do enjoy the temperature variations found between night and day.

Propagating Euphorbia
It is possible to propagate Euphorbia from a cutting. Be careful when cutting these plants, as they will secrete a milky white latex from the wound. The latex can cause skin irritation or severe allergic reactions. It's best to wear gloves when cutting this plant, and be careful to keep the latex away from your eyes, mouth and nose.

It is preferable to take cuttings in the spring, but it will not damage the plant to take cuttings in summer. To perform the cutting, lay the plant down and cut with a sharp knife using a pulling motion; this ensures a clean cut. If the euphorbia is a branching variety, make the cut at the branching point. Wash away the latex that drips from the cutting using cold water, and then seal the cut using a flame from a match or candle. Euphorbias with large leaves should have leaves just above the cut removed with a knife.

The cut surface must be left to dry before planting. Once the cutting has formed a callus, which can take several days, the cutting is ready to plant. Dust the cut surface with rooting powder and plant in a different pot, with some of the same soil as the original plant. Water regularly until your new plant is established. 

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