Euphorbia tirucalli

pencil tree
Pencil Tree. Grows fairly quickly. Try in a hot spot in zones 16-17 or indoors. Great in containers. Wash sap off skin quickly.
Euphorbia tirucalli
height 10–20ft
width 6–10ft
tolerates Drought, Deer , Gophers, Heat, Pots, Salt, Wind
Low – Moderate
This Euphorbia is from arid areas of Madagascar and as such likes to go totally bone dry between waterings in winter, making them very low-maintenance. To get good healthy growth your plant doesn’t want to sit around totally dried out during its summer growing season. Once it is dry, water it.

This plant comes from an area with summer rainfall and is actively growing during that time, when it is forgiving of overwatering errors. During winter dormancy it should be kept extra dry and will be intolerant of overwatering. This Euphorbia will begin to shrivel branches if underwater during summer. If it’s in a nice hot spot it will grow quickly with good drainage and water when it’s about 2/3 dry.

Remember that if kept in a small pot your plant will want more frequent watering.
exposure Part Shade – Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix
fertilizing All Purpose
origin Madagascar
13, 21–24

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

Shrubby when young, treelike with time.
This plant get surprisingly large, so be sure to note the size, and place your plant accordingly.
Pencils will blacken with frost, starting with the smaller tips, but with severe frost this can work lower into secondary branches. Prune these affected areas off once they have dried.
They respond well to pruning and this plant should be pruned early to affect its later mature form. They will look scarred for a while, but then will push new growth wherever they are pruned, often giving you several new growth points. Take care when pruning, as euphorbias have toxic sap that can cause a skin rash or damage to the eyes (make sure to rinse repeatedly with water if sap gets on your skin or in your eyes).

Special Interest

Transitions from outdoors to a sunny warm room indoors without skipping a beat.