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.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
I have a beautiful firestick that was doing very well, but it rained and now it seems to be paler than before and has what looks like burnt/drying/ cracking on some of its limbs. It is in a pot that is not too big or roomie and does not look to be wrinkling. Am I overreacting? The rain was a week ago today and I have not watered it since. I live in Los Angeles and other than the rain the weather has been great. What am I doing wrong?
Once a firestick plant reaches a maturity the oldest branches and trunk become woodier. The plant is aging and the main limbs will form a bark and the inside of those limbs will become like wood and have a fibrous nature. There is no stopping this mature growth. I do not think firestick is a good plant to train into a bonsai, but jades are kept for years in pots. You could nurture it like a bonsai with replanting and root and limb trimmings. (Beware of the sap!) There may be a point where you will want to just select a lovely branch from the mother plant and start anew.Helpful 30
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I live in New England, but it’s currently summer time and it’s like 90-100 degrees out. I have this fire stick cactus outside in full sun for the past few days. There are a few little leaves on top that are red, but the plant in its entirety is still totally green. How long does it usually take for these guys to color-up?
As long as you know you have the "red" variety, don't worry. Cut or break off old green branches to encourage new growth. New growth means more red. Lots of sun is best. Don't over water. Warning! Be careful to protect eyes from the white sap.Helpful 21
I live in Arizona, and I have a small firestick succulent that gets a lot of sun. It's on a drip system. Part of the plant turned dry & brown then died. Some of the ends are doing the same. Is it getting too much water or not enough? Is it getting too much sun?
A firesticks plant can take full sun all day. Since it is a small plant, water it more until it is established. Once it gets cooler in the fall, then water less during the winter.Helpful 11
My plant is too big, and it is falling over to one side. What can I do?
It is probably too top heavy. Break off branches along the trunk and thin out the top. Be careful and do not get your hands near your face until they are washed off of all traces of the sap. Stake it for a month or two if it is still leaning, or pull it out and replant a healthy-sized branch from the original. Fall is a good time to do this because it is not too hot. I seriously advise not to let firesticks get too big because it will get a thick woody trunk. Soon you will be looking at a tree-sized plant.Helpful 18
© 2014 Sherry Venegas