Fire Sticks Succulent Care and Cautions
Care of the Fire Sticks Succulent
This instructional page about caring for the fire sticks or Euphorbia tiruccalli was prompted by actual events. Nothing brings home a fact more than true life stories.
It is winter and my favorite time to work in the succulent garden l have amassed on the slope of our property. It is nothing fancy because the plants are placed haphazardly as acquired.
The 'Sticks of Fire' was a one gallon specimen when planted about 6 years ago and now it needs serious tending almost twice a year.
Needs and Growing Habits of Euphorbia tiruccailli
- The location of firesticks should allow for full sun year round.
- Water once a week. It is very drought tolerant. Less water helps control growth.
- I have not given the plant any nutrients and have not needed to fight off unwanted bugs. It is easy to take care of in Southern California.
- Heard rumors about a plant being used for fencing in Mexico? Some specimens grow forever and can eventually be tree-sized.
- If the plant is simply topped, growth is encouraged to make it incredibly thick up and down the whole trunk. Too much green can develop underneath the vigorous red new growth on top. I prefer a more airy, light-looking plant.
- The color of the plant may be the reason for its name, but if you get its white sap on your skin, you will find another reason to call it "fire sticks." It hurts!
- Since this succulent can develop a woody trunk, it might be advisable to replant the whole bush with a new cutting every three years. If you do, it will remain small and manageable.
Growing Tips and Tricks
- Thick older branches develop tough cords inside. A sharp clipper can be used.
- Every branch you remove can be used for a new plant. Let the end dry for a day and simply put into soil and watch for new growth.
- The plant grows new red branches in the winter and adds color and interest to all succulent gardens.
- Add small branches of red color to pot arrangements. It brings height, color, and textural interest. Let it dry out for a couple of days between each watering.
- Since it is a vigorously growing plant, it will need more replanting than other succulents.
What to Beware of When Trimming Succulent Fire Sticks
New branches are tender and can easily be removed by breaking them off by hand. Be cautious because the sap running from the branches can irritate eyes and skin.
A cool day in the garden seemed like a good time to thin branches. I know the white sappy stuff is toxic but have worked on the plant before without any problems. I did not have long sleeves or gloves on.
Next day I had a rash on my arm and the side of my face. It was itchy.
So a word of caution to all Euphorbia growers: the sap can cause rash and eye irritation! Lisa from Los Angeles says in the Comment Section below that Benadryl seemed to stopped the severe eye irritation from the sap quickly. I had an episode and it seemed to last for over 20 minutes without the Benadryl.
Avoid getting your hands near your eyes.
Your Euphorbia Experience
Have you tended euphorbias?
Gloves are Essential When Trimming This Succulent
The gloves are washable too. Put in the laundry if too dirty or sappy. They fit snug around the fingers and the arm shield guards against pricks and sap.
Made by the baseball outfitter.
Things to Consider Before Your Plant
The fire sticks succulent gets too big and is too toxic to have where kids or unknowing adults may break off a stem and get exposed to the sap. I am seeing it more and more, so watch the toddlers when walking the neighborhood.
This plant might cause problems because the stems are tender and break very easily. All would be okay if our planting is kept small.
Dig up the plant every couple of years and replant with the old plant's biggest branch. Maintenance done.
Maintain And Enjoy In Planters
The easiest way to enjoy this colorful plant is in a planter or pot with other succulents. Planters and decorative pots requiring plantings for seasonal renewal is a good method for keeping this succulent a manageable size.
Last warning do not get the sap near your face and eyes and wear long sleeves to avoid getting sap on your arms. This plant can be enjoyed if the sap is safe inside the plant. My dog has never licked or bit into the stems or branches and has not suffered illness because he has explored under it or near it. He is a smart dog, though, and has never became ill because of landscaping in the yard.
© 2014 Sherry Venegas