All about the Euphorbia
Since there are 2000 different types of the Euphorbia, they include many different kinds of texture such as cactus, herbs, or shrubs. Some varieties have flowers on them, but all of the plants have a spurge which can be poisonous to ingest and irritating for the skin. All you need to do is wear gloves when handling pruning or propagating to avoid contact with the skin.
1200 out of 2000 are succulents, with fleshy and wide-shaped leaves, and these are the ones most famously coveted as household plants.
Since the name Euphorbia is quite a mouthful, growers interchangeably use Spurge for this species of plant. The family name of Euphorbia is Euphorbiaceae.
Different types of the Euphorbia
There are many different types of this plant; some can grow to be tall trees, or some can be smaller, acting as ground cover or as succulents.
Origin of the Euphorbia
Euphorbias originate from many regions such as North and South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa. They're usually from tropical areas.
How to take care of the Euphorbia
The Euphorbia requires little indulgence as babies, but as soon as they start growing, they're capable of taking care of themselves with only some help.
Similar to other houseplants, you should water the Euphorbia when the soil feels dry. They don't like the soil to be soggy; hence the bottom of the pot should have a proper drainage system, or the pot should be unglazed on the outside; this lets the excess moisture evaporate from the walls.
Since this plant is tolerable to droughts during winter months, reduce the amount of watering to as little as when the leaves are wilting. Excess water will clog the roots, leading to root rot.
Euphorbia plants love the sun. You can easily expose the plant to direct sunlight for a few hours a day. But before placing it directly in the sun, you should increase the exposure slowly over a period of time. Although they love the sun, some species can also tolerate shade where they're still receiving bright but indirect sunlight. Whichever location you wish to choose for your plant, gradually increase the exposure rather than dumping it in shade or full sunlight.
Different types of Euphorbia can handle different temperatures. Most can tolerate warmer climates, and some can even tolerate cold weather. For example, the species from Arabia or Africa can tolerate temperatures between 10°C to 15°C. Succulents thrive in hot climates, while species from South America can survive in a light frost. Euphorbia plants like humidity, but it also likes ventilation which prevents fungal infections from developing due to moisture.
Just like any other plant, the Euphorbia also benefits from fertilizers, even though it's a slow-growing plant. During the growing season, you can use a liquid fertilizer diluted to quarter strength. Make sure not to fertilize during dormant months as it'll have an opposite effect to a boost.
If you don't want to fertilize regularly, you can also wait to check if the underside of the leaves turns yellow in color. Then you can provide the plant with a water-soluble fertilizer to go back to its bright green color.
As it's a low-maintenance plant, Euphorbia can handle any type of soil as long as sand holds a higher component; it prefers a good drainage system, and sand provides that. You can include loamy soil and peat in the mixture.
The spurge inside the plant is very harmful to humans and animals alike, not only to ingest but also when contacted with the skin. The spurge is actually a protective shield to make sure animals don't use them as their fodder.
Ingesting the spurge can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Propagation of the Euphorbia
It's very easy to propagate the Euphorbia plant. All you have to do is cut the new shootings, which can be recognized by their bright green color. Some of the spurge will leak, so make sure to wash it off with cold water without letting it come into contact with your hands.
Dry the shoots overnight. Then use a stick or a pen, and make holes in the pot's soil. Place the shootings in the holes around the edge of the pot, where there's more moisture as compared to the center of the pot.
It takes the shootings up to three weeks to form roots. Once this happens, you can repot them in either larger pots. Euphorbias don't require pruning, but if you really wish to shape your plant, you can at the start of the growing season. This gives the plant a fresh look.