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 our plant allows for full sun any season of the year (one of its requirements).
- 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 in 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 plant 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. Enjoy the Sticks of Fire in pots too. Let it dry out for a couple of days between each watering.
- Add small branches of red color to pot arrangements. It brings height, color, and textural interest.
- Since it is a vigorous growing plant, it may 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. Soon after, you will notice the white sap. Be cautious because the sap can irritate both eyes and skin.
One cool day of garden work started down slope and tending migrated without much effort to the branch-bound fire stick. 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.
I spent an hour breaking off dozens of branches and piling them up for loading into a barrel later. Washed my hands for lunch and went at it again to achieve a balanced look.
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!
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.
In California, this plant would not be good for the city owned curb area. I do know you have to have walk-thrus every few feet for access to the sidewalk. 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.