Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Euphorbia milii


Euphorbia milii is an easy plant to grow in a container. Just use a good packaged cactus soil with plenty of perlite or other drainage material. Because cactus soil is light to make it fast-draining, I like to mulch my succulents with rocks to help hold them in their pots. If your plant drops its leaves and flowers, leaving just the thorny stem, then it is telling you it needs watering more frequently. I find watering once a week is usually enough unless it is very hot and dry. Inside I tend to water every two weeks or even less in the winter. Watching my plant tells me when to water. I seldom use any fertilizer and the plant flourishes although most sources say to fertilize during the growing season (which is year-round for me). I'd suggest using a fertilizer made for cactus or a low-nitrogen fertilizer to avoid green growth and few flowers. The plant should be kept at 60°F or above although some sources say it can be slightly cooler in the winter if kept dry. I have found this to be a totally pest free plant although this article suggests several potential problems. I've had a crown of thorns plant for several years. It started as a single stem in a small pot. By taking a tip cutting, I caused it to begin branching. This plant is now nicely branched and has provided me with up to 15 tip cuttings at a time. I cut about a 3" long piece of stem and put it immediately into a dry potting mixture. I gently mist them but try to avoid soaking them until a gentle tug on the cutting tells me it has formed roots. Watering succulent cuttings before they have rooted will cause them to rot. My cuttings bloom in as little as two months time making this an easy plant to propagate and share with your friends. Varieties Available Most of the plants I've seen are either planted in the ground (in a cactus and succulent indoor greenhouse) or as potted plants. The standard color for the flower bracts is red. However, I happen to have a pure white variety that I picked up at a local garden center. This plant has been spread around several friends who all report how easily it flowers for them. The one problem with this plant is that it tends to develop long stems unless you prune it regularly to keep it branching out. When you buy a small pot ($2.99 to $5.99), you receive 1 to 4 or more cuttings that look like sticks stuck in the pot. This doesn't impress me anymore. © Diana Pederson

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