Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &
Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli &

Introducing the Pencil Cactus, also known as Euphorbia tirucalli 'Fire Sticks' (Sticks on Fire), which resembles sea coral and grows in bushes of brilliantly colored, loosely branching, linear stems. Native to Southern Africa, this pencil cactus has several other common names, such as fire sticks plant, Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosea’, red pencil tree, milk bush, and sticks on fire ‘Rosea’. When exposed to direct sunlight, the tips turn red, which is why they are also called firesticks.

The pencil cactus flowers boast vibrant yellow, pink, or orange blooms in the summer and spring, making them a true showstopper in any garden.

As the striking evergreen succulent shrub pencil cactus reaches maturity, it can grow up to 30 feet tall and 10 feet wide, forming a thicket of brilliantly colored vertical stems with loose branches.

The unusual stems of this firestick plant, which are as thin as pencils, have a reddish-golden hue that becomes yellow in the summer and red again in the winter.

Additionally, the Pencil Cactus Euphorbia tirucalli firestick plant can be mildly toxic for humans and pets if consumed. So, handle it cautiously!

Low-maintenance and easy to care for, this drought-tolerant firestick succulent can handle a period of neglect.

Watering Needs 

This pencil cactus firestick plant can withstand droughts and doesn't need to be watered frequently to survive. Watering these perennial succulents should be done every 3–4 weeks or when the soil feels dry. Let the soil completely dry out between waterings, and if in doubt, give it a little more time before watering again.  Less water is needed for humid locations and indoor spaces. Pay attention to how the pencil cactus looks and adjust the watering accordingly.

Remember that succulents in the desert can go for weeks or even months without water, so water them sparingly during their rest phase and moderately during their active growing season.

Pro Tip

Most people like to see the red tips that give this Euphorbia tirucalli its firestick name. Note that it is stress that causes the tips to go red. So, the art is to stress the firestick plant a bit, but not too much. So, give it a lot of light and water it less than other succulents, so it is thirsty but not dying of thirst.

Overwatering can also cause the Euphorbia tirucalli 'Firesticks' tips to turn red, but it can also lead to root rot and other problems. So, if your pencil cactus is not turning red in full sun, it's possible that it's not experiencing enough stress to produce the anthocyanin pigments or that it's receiving too much water.

Remember, it's important to monitor your pencil cactus water needs and adjust accordingly to prevent overwatering or extreme underwatering.

Light Requirements 

Like most succulents, Euphorbia tirucalli firesticks need full sun (bright, direct sunlight) to thrive, so choose the brightest area in the house. If you are growing these firestick succulents outdoors, make sure that they receive at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Potted indoor pencil cacti require four hours of direct sunlight, which can be achieved by locating them on a sunny south or west-facing windowsill.

Partial shade may be tolerated as long as your pencil cactus gets the majority of the sunlight that it needs when it's planted outside. This succulent plant won't thrive if left in the shade for a long time. Its colors become more vibrant the more sunlight it receives.

The stems of firesticks are as thin as pencils and turn a fire-red in the winter. In low-light conditions, the firestick succulent will still maintain its bright red color, but the intensity of the color may be reduced. The color is mostly green in shade. In order to avoid sunburn, it is preferable to acclimatize your pencil cactus first before moving it outdoors or increasing the amount of sunlight it receives.

Optimal Soil & Fertilizer Needs 

The firestick Euphorbia is a succulent plant that likes very airy, porous, nutrient-rich soil with a pH of 5.5–6.5. Succulents require fast-draining soil that dries completely between waterings. Your soil must have a sandy texture and a low water-holding capacity, just like desert soil.  Soggy, wet soil can damage your firestick plant and contribute to bacterial and fungal rot. In addition, because of a lack of oxygen, soggy soil substitutes air pockets with water, resulting in an anaerobic environment that can kill your pencil cactus.

As an alternative, you can create your own potting mix by combining equal portions of perlite, coarse sand, and good natural potting soil. Ideally, you want to use our specialized potting mix that contains 5 natural substrates and organic mycorrhizae to promote the development of a strong root system that helps your Euphorbia firesticks Pencil Cactus to thrive.   

Hardiness Zones & More 

Euphorbia tirucalli firestick is a frost-sensitive firestick succulent that can withstand light frost for a short period of time. Your Euphorbia firestick plant performs well in temperatures above 30 °F. However, it can withstand temperatures below that, but only for short periods of time. If you live in USDA hardiness zones 10–11, you can leave your pencil cactus outside all year and even plant it in the ground. Growing these pencil cacti in containers is the best option if you live in an area with harsh winters.

By doing this, you can bring your Pencil Cactus indoors during the winter or any time there's a chance of frost or snow. Normal house humidity is fine for this Euphorbia, but it prefers dry conditions.

Propagating Pencil Cactus

When it comes to pencil cactus propagation, one common method is through stem cuttings. Simply take a cutting from a healthy pencil cactus, let it dry for a few days, and then place it in well-draining soil. Another method is through division, where you carefully separate the offsets or side shoots from the main plant and plant them individually. Remember to be cautious with the milky sap of your Euphorbia firesticks, as it can be irritating to the skin and eyes.

The Bottom Line

Overall, the pencil cactus, also known as Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Firesticks’, is a unique and striking succulent plant that adds a touch of elegance to any space. With its slender, pencil-like stems and vibrant green color, it can truly be a showstopper. However, it's important to remember that the pencil cactus is not a true cactus but rather a succulent. It requires minimal care, preferring bright light and well-draining soil. Just be cautious with its milky sap, as it can be toxic and irritate the skin and eyes. By providing proper pencil cactus care, you'll have a beautiful and unique Euphorbia firestick plant that will thrive for years to come. 

Bloom Season Late spring early summer
Bloom Season Summer, spring
Botanical Name Euphorbia tirucalli
Common Name Pencil cactus
Common Name Pencil Cactus, African Milkbush, Aveloz, India tree spurge, finger tree
Dormancy Winter
Family Euphorbiaceae
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Color Yellow, pink, orange
Genus Euphorbia
Growth Habit Cylindrical
Growth Habit Upright
Growth Rate Fast
Growth Rate Slow
Hardiness Zone 9, 10, 11
Mature Size 20 30 in. tall, 10 in. wide
Mature Size 30 ft. tall, 10 ft. wide
Native Area Eastern Southern Africa
Native Area Southern Africa
Plant Type Cactus like succulent
Plant Type Perennial succulent
Propagation By cuttings
Propagation By stem cuttings
Resistance Drought tolerant, pest resistance
Resistance Drought tolerant, pest resistance, disease resistance
Soil PH 6.5, Acidic, Neutral
Soil Type specialized succulent potting mix
Soil Type Succulents potting mix soil
Special Features Bonsai plant, Showy flowers
Special Features Easy to maintain, easy to grow
Sun Exposure Full sun (bright light)
Sun Exposure Full sun, partial shade
Toxicity Toxic for humans, toxic for pets
Toxicity Toxic for humans, toxic for pets (Keep away from Children)
Watering Needs Low

Pests & Common Diseases of Pencil Cactus

Pencil cactus contains poisonous latex some individuals truly think that it is free of pests and diseases. However, these  E. tirucalli is resistant to pests but they can face the most common problem which is root rot, which occurs when the plant is overwatered or there is too much moisture present. Brown, mushy stems or roots are an indication of root rot. Unfortunately, once root rot sets in it's usually too late to do anything about it. However, you can remove the unaffected parts and propagate them to save the remaining portions of the plant.  

With a little care and attention, your pencil cactus will thrive for years to come! 

Pencil Cactus FAQs

How poisonous is the Euphorbia firestick? 

The milky sap, or white latex, of the Euphorbia firestick plant is highly toxic and causes skin and eye irritation. Exposure to sap can be fatal, especially if left untreated. 

Can you touch a pencil cactus? 

If the person must handle these pencil cacti, they should be advised to avoid making direct contact with their skin and to put on safety goggles and gloves. Gloves and clothing that have come into contact with the plant or sap should be washed right away. 

How cold and hardy are pencil cacti? 

They are not cold-hardy plants and will not thrive in temperatures below 30 ℉. Pencil cacti, as semi-arid tropical plants, can withstand temperatures as high as 100 ℉. 

Why aren't the tips of my pencil cacti red?

The tips of a pencil cactus Euphorbia firesticks can turn red when they receive enough sunlight. If the tips of your pencil cactus aren't red, it could be because it's not getting sufficient sunlight. Pencil cacti thrive in bright, indirect light, so try placing it near a sunny window or in a spot with more sunlight. Just be careful not to expose it to direct sunlight for extended periods, as it can scorch your pencil cactus.

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Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli 'Firesticks'

sku: 436

15 reviews
Regular price$ 14.22
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Shipping calculated at checkout.

Size
Height:
Diameter:
Height:
Diameter:
Height: 44"-48"
Diameter: 22"-24"

Please note: All Landscape Ready plants that are in a 6-inch pot or larger WILL NOT come with a pot as it will be shipped bare root.

  • In stock, ready to ship
  • Inventory on the way

Please note: Our large plants are many years old, and as a result, they might have minor scaring but will arrive 100% healthy and looking great.

Please note: Our large plants are shipped bare root. They are also many years old, and as a result, they might have minor scaring but will arrive healthy and looking great.

If you live in a cold climate and are expecting temperatures below 40 degrees within the next five days after placing your order, we highly recommend adding a heat pack to your order. If you do not order a heat pack, we do not send one with your order.

BUY HEAT PACKS HERE

**FREE HEAT PACK WITH ORDERS OVER $50 before taxes and shipping- BY REQUEST ONLY, PLEASE MAKE A NOTE ON YOUR ORDER.

To prevent plants from freezing while in transit, orders placed for areas with extreme severe freezing temperatures will be held for shipment until it is safe to ship.

Plants that are in 3.5" pots and smaller will be shipped in its pot to prevent any damage to the roots. Any plant that is 6" and larger WILL NOT come with a pot as it will be shipped bare root.

Depending on the species and season, you will receive a very similar plant to the one in the picture. It may or may not be blooming at the time of your purchase.

We ship via USPS Priority Mail, and we calculate the shipping cost based on the weight and volume of your purchase. Care instructions are included in every package you order. Please allow us up to 3 business days to process your order. Depending on your location, we will ship the plants on a certain day to avoid transit time during weekends or holidays. If you wish to receive your order on a specific date, or have special instructions, please add a note on your order. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us at any time.

  • Description
  • Key Plant Features

Introducing the Pencil Cactus, also known as Euphorbia tirucalli 'Fire Sticks' (Sticks on Fire), which resembles sea coral and grows in bushes of brilliantly colored, loosely branching, linear stems. Native to Southern Africa, this pencil cactus has several other common names, such as fire sticks plant, Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosea’, red pencil tree, milk bush, and sticks on fire ‘Rosea’. When exposed to direct sunlight, the tips turn red, which is why they are also called firesticks.

The pencil cactus flowers boast vibrant yellow, pink, or orange blooms in the summer and spring, making them a true showstopper in any garden.

As the striking evergreen succulent shrub pencil cactus reaches maturity, it can grow up to 30 feet tall and 10 feet wide, forming a thicket of brilliantly colored vertical stems with loose branches.

The unusual stems of this firestick plant, which are as thin as pencils, have a reddish-golden hue that becomes yellow in the summer and red again in the winter.

Additionally, the Pencil Cactus Euphorbia tirucalli firestick plant can be mildly toxic for humans and pets if consumed. So, handle it cautiously!

Low-maintenance and easy to care for, this drought-tolerant firestick succulent can handle a period of neglect.

Watering Needs 

This pencil cactus firestick plant can withstand droughts and doesn't need to be watered frequently to survive. Watering these perennial succulents should be done every 3–4 weeks or when the soil feels dry. Let the soil completely dry out between waterings, and if in doubt, give it a little more time before watering again.  Less water is needed for humid locations and indoor spaces. Pay attention to how the pencil cactus looks and adjust the watering accordingly.

Remember that succulents in the desert can go for weeks or even months without water, so water them sparingly during their rest phase and moderately during their active growing season.

Pro Tip

Most people like to see the red tips that give this Euphorbia tirucalli its firestick name. Note that it is stress that causes the tips to go red. So, the art is to stress the firestick plant a bit, but not too much. So, give it a lot of light and water it less than other succulents, so it is thirsty but not dying of thirst.

Overwatering can also cause the Euphorbia tirucalli 'Firesticks' tips to turn red, but it can also lead to root rot and other problems. So, if your pencil cactus is not turning red in full sun, it's possible that it's not experiencing enough stress to produce the anthocyanin pigments or that it's receiving too much water.

Remember, it's important to monitor your pencil cactus water needs and adjust accordingly to prevent overwatering or extreme underwatering.

Light Requirements 

Like most succulents, Euphorbia tirucalli firesticks need full sun (bright, direct sunlight) to thrive, so choose the brightest area in the house. If you are growing these firestick succulents outdoors, make sure that they receive at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Potted indoor pencil cacti require four hours of direct sunlight, which can be achieved by locating them on a sunny south or west-facing windowsill.

Partial shade may be tolerated as long as your pencil cactus gets the majority of the sunlight that it needs when it's planted outside. This succulent plant won't thrive if left in the shade for a long time. Its colors become more vibrant the more sunlight it receives.

The stems of firesticks are as thin as pencils and turn a fire-red in the winter. In low-light conditions, the firestick succulent will still maintain its bright red color, but the intensity of the color may be reduced. The color is mostly green in shade. In order to avoid sunburn, it is preferable to acclimatize your pencil cactus first before moving it outdoors or increasing the amount of sunlight it receives.

Optimal Soil & Fertilizer Needs 

The firestick Euphorbia is a succulent plant that likes very airy, porous, nutrient-rich soil with a pH of 5.5–6.5. Succulents require fast-draining soil that dries completely between waterings. Your soil must have a sandy texture and a low water-holding capacity, just like desert soil.  Soggy, wet soil can damage your firestick plant and contribute to bacterial and fungal rot. In addition, because of a lack of oxygen, soggy soil substitutes air pockets with water, resulting in an anaerobic environment that can kill your pencil cactus.

As an alternative, you can create your own potting mix by combining equal portions of perlite, coarse sand, and good natural potting soil. Ideally, you want to use our specialized potting mix that contains 5 natural substrates and organic mycorrhizae to promote the development of a strong root system that helps your Euphorbia firesticks Pencil Cactus to thrive.   

Hardiness Zones & More 

Euphorbia tirucalli firestick is a frost-sensitive firestick succulent that can withstand light frost for a short period of time. Your Euphorbia firestick plant performs well in temperatures above 30 °F. However, it can withstand temperatures below that, but only for short periods of time. If you live in USDA hardiness zones 10–11, you can leave your pencil cactus outside all year and even plant it in the ground. Growing these pencil cacti in containers is the best option if you live in an area with harsh winters.

By doing this, you can bring your Pencil Cactus indoors during the winter or any time there's a chance of frost or snow. Normal house humidity is fine for this Euphorbia, but it prefers dry conditions.

Propagating Pencil Cactus

When it comes to pencil cactus propagation, one common method is through stem cuttings. Simply take a cutting from a healthy pencil cactus, let it dry for a few days, and then place it in well-draining soil. Another method is through division, where you carefully separate the offsets or side shoots from the main plant and plant them individually. Remember to be cautious with the milky sap of your Euphorbia firesticks, as it can be irritating to the skin and eyes.

The Bottom Line

Overall, the pencil cactus, also known as Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Firesticks’, is a unique and striking succulent plant that adds a touch of elegance to any space. With its slender, pencil-like stems and vibrant green color, it can truly be a showstopper. However, it's important to remember that the pencil cactus is not a true cactus but rather a succulent. It requires minimal care, preferring bright light and well-draining soil. Just be cautious with its milky sap, as it can be toxic and irritate the skin and eyes. By providing proper pencil cactus care, you'll have a beautiful and unique Euphorbia firestick plant that will thrive for years to come. 

Bloom Season Late spring early summer
Bloom Season Summer, spring
Botanical Name Euphorbia tirucalli
Common Name Pencil cactus
Common Name Pencil Cactus, African Milkbush, Aveloz, India tree spurge, finger tree
Dormancy Winter
Family Euphorbiaceae
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Color Yellow, pink, orange
Genus Euphorbia
Growth Habit Cylindrical
Growth Habit Upright
Growth Rate Fast
Growth Rate Slow
Hardiness Zone 9, 10, 11
Mature Size 20 30 in. tall, 10 in. wide
Mature Size 30 ft. tall, 10 ft. wide
Native Area Eastern Southern Africa
Native Area Southern Africa
Plant Type Cactus like succulent
Plant Type Perennial succulent
Propagation By cuttings
Propagation By stem cuttings
Resistance Drought tolerant, pest resistance
Resistance Drought tolerant, pest resistance, disease resistance
Soil PH 6.5, Acidic, Neutral
Soil Type specialized succulent potting mix
Soil Type Succulents potting mix soil
Special Features Bonsai plant, Showy flowers
Special Features Easy to maintain, easy to grow
Sun Exposure Full sun (bright light)
Sun Exposure Full sun, partial shade
Toxicity Toxic for humans, toxic for pets
Toxicity Toxic for humans, toxic for pets (Keep away from Children)
Watering Needs Low

Pests & Common Diseases of Pencil Cactus

Pencil cactus contains poisonous latex some individuals truly think that it is free of pests and diseases. However, these  E. tirucalli is resistant to pests but they can face the most common problem which is root rot, which occurs when the plant is overwatered or there is too much moisture present. Brown, mushy stems or roots are an indication of root rot. Unfortunately, once root rot sets in it's usually too late to do anything about it. However, you can remove the unaffected parts and propagate them to save the remaining portions of the plant.  

With a little care and attention, your pencil cactus will thrive for years to come! 

Pencil Cactus FAQs

How poisonous is the Euphorbia firestick? 

The milky sap, or white latex, of the Euphorbia firestick plant is highly toxic and causes skin and eye irritation. Exposure to sap can be fatal, especially if left untreated. 

Can you touch a pencil cactus? 

If the person must handle these pencil cacti, they should be advised to avoid making direct contact with their skin and to put on safety goggles and gloves. Gloves and clothing that have come into contact with the plant or sap should be washed right away. 

How cold and hardy are pencil cacti? 

They are not cold-hardy plants and will not thrive in temperatures below 30 ℉. Pencil cacti, as semi-arid tropical plants, can withstand temperatures as high as 100 ℉. 

Why aren't the tips of my pencil cacti red?

The tips of a pencil cactus Euphorbia firesticks can turn red when they receive enough sunlight. If the tips of your pencil cactus aren't red, it could be because it's not getting sufficient sunlight. Pencil cacti thrive in bright, indirect light, so try placing it near a sunny window or in a spot with more sunlight. Just be careful not to expose it to direct sunlight for extended periods, as it can scorch your pencil cactus.

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