The wobbly appearance of Euphorbia lactea will add a character to your garden that no other plant can give. It has three-sided candlesticks and a long slender stem. The figure is wobbly. In fact, Euphorbia lactea looks almost like a child’s drawing.
The charm of E. lactea is enhanced by short spines along the edges. They are small, but still sharp. The whole plant is green with spotted white stripes. This inspired the nickname spotted spurge.
It may not seem like it, but the spotted spurge is a shrub, not a cactus. This is due to the presence of juice and the absence of large flowers. Unlike cacti, Euphorbia lactea is a tropical plant. It is native to India, Sri Lanka and other parts of tropical Asia.
We will not lie, Euphorbia lactea is a difficult plant. It has specific water needs and is perilly toxic. Once established, however, the mottled spurge pretty much takes care of itself. It is perfect for careless gardeners who are ready to make a first effort.
All About Spotted Spurge
Dragon bones has a crazy height potential of 15 feet! How long your spotted spurge will grow depends on the conditions you give it. If you grow indoors in a pot, it will be 2-foot tops. Left in the ground unchecked, it will become much larger.
You will notice the greatest growth in spring and summer. If you live in zones 10-11, your spotted spurge can live outdoors all year round. In these areas, it is usually grown as a fence or hedge plant. However, the spotted spurge also makes an excellent houseplant. It can stay indoors all year round or come in and out depending on the weather.
Euphorbia lactea blooms very rarely and usually only in the wild. The yellow-tinted flowers are significantly small and grow at the edge of the plant. You can see your dragon bones growing small drooping leaves at the ends of the stem. Unfortunately, these cute details usually fall out pretty quickly.
The spotted candlestick is completely harmful, from the root to the juice. If you have pets or curious children, this is not the plant for you. Be careful with crested cacti. The toxic juice, called latex, seeps out of the stem cuts and can irritate your skin. Gardeners should always wear gloves when handling E. lactea.
Since some species do not take root well, the top of Euphorbia lactea Cristata is often grafted onto the base of another plant. The most common host plant is Euphorbia neriifolia. The combination of these two plants is called coral cactus and cleverly called Frankenstein cactus.
Types Of Euphorbia Lactea
Euphorbia lactea Cristata, ‘Elk horn’, ‘Ruffled fan’, ‘Crested Euphorbia’
This common form radically changes The Form of Euphorbia lactea. The euphorbia lactea crest has wavy palettes that make it much fuller than the sparse original form. Align the edges of the stem in an s-shape.
Euphorbia lactea variegated
Variegation is more common in the crested E. lacteas. Instead of simple green and white, these varieties are painted in yellow, pink or purple. These are particularly vulnerable to direct sunlight and heat.
Euphorbia lactea ‘White Ghost’, ‘Grey Ghost’
This is the white variegated form. Unlike other variegated E. lacteas, you usually see this one in the vertical form, without a crest. Due to its light color, this plant is very sensitive to direct light and can be easily burned.
Care of Dragon Bones
As mentioned, dragon bones have specific water needs. However, in addition to this, this shrub requires quite little maintenance. Here’s everything you need to know.
Light and Temperature
Full to partial sun is ideal for spotted spurge. However, be careful to place it in direct sunlight. When exposed to direct light and heat, it can easily get sunburn. It can also be burned when exposed to bright light suddenly. When you move your spotted spurge, do it gradually so that it can acclimatize.
Euphorbia lactea can not stand frost! 40°F is the lowest temperature this plant can tolerate. This shrub grows best when it is warm, so we recommend that you do not test lower temperatures.
Water And Humidity
The dummy cactus responds well to the “soaking and drying” method, with a few exceptions. For this method, soak the soil until the water escapes from the drainage hole. Let the soil dry completely before watering again. Coming from a tropical climate, the dummy cactus resists moisture well.
In summer, water your Euphorbia lactea at least once a week. Alternatively, significantly reduce the water during the winter. Water it only once or not at all during this time.
Due to the changing water needs, you need to know if your dummy cactus needs more or less water. If the water is overloaded, it will turn yellow, brown and mushy. If left unchecked, the pasty can quickly turn into rot. The dummy underwater cactus will begin to crumple and wilt. This plant will bounce faster underwater than on water.
The soil necessary for dragon bones is typical for any cactus or succulent. It should be well drained so that your plant is never in the water. This is essential to keep it alive.
There are many soils created specifically for succulents and cacti. If you already have the materials, you can mix your own well-drained soil. Add one part perlite or sand to one part potting soil. After planting, regularly check that the soil drains well and adjust if necessary.
Give fertilizer to your spotted wolf every month from spring to autumn. This gives it an extra boost for the growing season. Fertilizer with a low nitrogen content gives the best results.
The roots of the spotted spurge can sometimes be burned by fertilizer. To avoid this, dilute your liquid fertilizer to ½ or ¼ strength and apply it just before watering.
When you buy it, your Euphorbia cactus will probably be delivered in a small container and general soil for the garden. You need to repot it into something larger and better draining. Choose a container about two inches in diameter larger and heavy enough to balance the height of your E. lactea. You don’t want it to get too heavy and topple over.
For such a tall plant, dragon bones have small roots. This gives it the advantage of rarely being rootbound. When you take it out of the pot, gently dust the roots and massage them when they are clumped together. Repotting in dry, well-drained cactus soil. It may be tempting to give your dragon bones a drink, but wait a few weeks for the water. This will give the roots time to heal from any damage.
Due to its thorns and toxic sap, safety is your top priority when repotting. Don’t forget to always, always wear gloves! For extra protection, cover your arms and legs and wear protective glasses, especially if you are repotting a large Euphorbia lactea. If your plant grows several stems close together, protect them from each other by filling them with newspaper before moving them.
As for propagation by cuttings, you have better luck with the Euphorbia lactea base. Crested and variegated forms do not take root well, so they are often propagated by grafting. Before embarking on one or the other, don’t forget to cover yourself! You will cut into the plant, so harmful juice will definitely be present.
Take your cutting in the spring or summer, when your spotted spurge grows the most. With a sharp, sterile knife, cut off one of the arms in the place where it connects to the stem. If you experience a stream of juice here, rinse it off with cold water.
After taking your cutting, soak it in root powder and let it dry for a week to two weeks. Once the cut is calloused, drive the cut vertically into the ground. Spray the soil with water or let it dry until the roots are established. Euphorbia lactea takes root better in the heat, so place it outdoors or on a heating mat.
Grafting A Frankenstein Cactus
If your E. lactea is grafted onto another plant, it is possible that the base plant will grow stems around the spurge. If you like this particular look, feel free to cultivate it. Otherwise, it is enough to prune unwanted stems.
Scale insects are a common pest that is always hungry for succulent juice. These scale insects are small and build cottony white nests. Infestations will cause yellowing, wilting and pass away of the plant.
Remove the scale insects by dabbing them with a q-tip dipped in diluted alcohol (70% or less). Insecticidal soap is a common remedy for scale insects, but not recommended for Euphorbia lactea because it can damage the plant.