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. 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. WARNING: Sap causes serious burning to the eyes!
Always Use Full Goggles When Trimming Firesticks
Needs and Growing Habits of Euphorbia tiruccailli
- The location of firesticks should allow for full sun year round.
- Water very sparingly. 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? Firesticks grow forever and can eventually be tree-sized.
- If the plant is simply topped, growth is encouraged to become thick up and down the whole trunk. If the plant is too tall rip it out and start a new cutting.
- 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.
Your Euphorbia Experience
Have you tended euphorbias?
Things to Consider Before You 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 hearing eye irration stories more and more, so watch the toddlers and curious youngsters when walking the neighborhood.
This plant near public walkways might cause problems because the stems are tender and break very easily.
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.
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. Even little flying droplets can become a painful episode.
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 stop the severe eye irritation from the sap quickly. I had a second eye burning incident and I swore the plant was coming out. Full goggle eye protection is going to be used for the next trimming.
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 just 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.
Questions & Answers
I have a new firestick plant, and I am trying to figure out exactly what his needs are. I water Most of my succulents about once per week; our climate is VERY dry here in AZ. I just noticed my firestick looks a little dull and wrinkly. Is this a sign of too much water?
Is it in full sun or is it in the shade? It needs lots of sun. I would check for proper water by snapping off a branch. If the white sap starts to drip, there should be enough water. Be very careful to NOT get the sap in your eyes! I think it may need a bit more water if it is in full sun.; not so much water if it is in the shade.
We also live in AZ, and our fire sticks don't have that brilliant color it once had. We have an auto drip watering system, so it gets watered every day, and it sits in direct sun. Is it getting too much water? We transplanted it from a friend.
I am in So. California so I am not sure about watering needs in AZ. Break a branch off and tend to it in a pot for as a back up a plant. Then water the ground plant only once a week and see what happens. You do not want it to grow into a tree in any case, so the backup can be used if the transplant does not come around.
Can firesticks tolerate a windy location?
I think firesticks can. It is a tough plant, but do no let it get very large. Rip it out and start over every two years.
© 2014 Sherry Venegas