African Milk Tree Plant Care

Table of Contents

Did you know that the African Milk tree is a long-lived species that can reach heights of 1 to 2 feet a year? This plant seems like a cactus, but it’s a succulent desert plant that’s great for the garden or indoors.

The African Milk tree has a peculiar appearance which makes it one of the rarest plants there is. To begin with, the Milk tree’s leaves are prickly and have green and white patterns. The plant also produces a white latex-like fluid that leaks when it is cut.

Because it possesses a hazardous white latex-like liquid, gloves and eye protection are required. Well, aside from that, this beauty is perfect for your indoors. So find a  comfortable place to read with, and we’ll guide you all throughout!

African Milk Tree Plant Care Basics

african milk tree plant

Before we’ll give you the tea about this plant, here’s a little overview of it.

Botanical Name: Euphorbia trigona

Other names: Euphorbia Trigona Rubra, Candelabra Cactus, Cathedral Cactus, Trigona Rubra, or Royal

Plant Type: Perennial, Shrub, Succulent

Exposure to Sunlight: Bright sunlight

Soil Type: Well-drained sandy soil

Color: Green

Water:  Less amount

Favorable Climate: Tropical climate

Preferable Fertilizer: Water-soluble fertilizer

Propagation: Stem Cuttings

Toxicity Warning: Toxic (the white sap is irritating)

Status: Rare

Height: 6 ft. (72 inches)

Origin: West Africa

Now that we’ve given you the overview of the plant, Plantly never stops there. We will also guide you on how to take care efficiently of this beauty. Enjoy!!

Soil Requirement

soil mix

The African Milk tree prefers a sand-rich, well-draining soil combination. You can also add two parts potting soil, vermiculite, perlite, or good gravel, to the soil mix, as well as one part peat moss. The sand will assist the water drain rapidly, while the peat moss will help the plants’ roots maintain enough moisture.

The soil pH should range from 6.1 (mildly acidic) to 7.8 (mildly alkaline).

Pro tip: Using suitable soil that drains rapidly is critical for preventing problems like stem rot, which can swiftly kill your succulents.

Watering Needs

The African Milk trees are succulents, which means they only require a small amount of water. Indoor plants should be watered once a week with a moderate amount of water. Between waterings, Euphorbia trigona prefers to dry out.

Dip your finger into the soil for approximately an inch. If it’s damp, you can skip watering. If it’s dry, it’s time to water again.

Pro tip: It’s worth noting that, as a succulent rather than a cactus, Euphorbia trigona does not endure total drought. Wet soil, on the other hand, disagrees with it.

Lighting Requirement

plant lighting requirement

Placing them in a sunny location is ideal for this indoor succulent. A Southern-facing window or an outside area with partial sun will suffice. As long as the summers aren’t too hot, full sun is acceptable.

However, they may require some shade during the warmest hours of the summer if it becomes too hot. And if they are exposed to the bright sun for long periods, the succulent may burn, resulting in aesthetic harm. In this case, you can protect this drought-tolerant plant by surrounding it with sun-loving plants that will protect it from the direct sun’s rays.

The Right Amount Of Temperature 

Keep this plant in a warm environment where the temperature does not fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) overnight. African Milk trees are heat resilient. They won’t survive temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius). 

To avoid overheating, the African Milk tree should be cultivated in indirect sunlight or partial shade if it is grown in hot regions.

Pro tip: It’s crucial to remember that Euphorbia trigona needs to be brought indoors for the winter. Keep the plant in a cool spot during the winter months and only water it when the soil is practically dry.

Humidity Requirement

African milk trees do not require a significant level of humidity. The African milk tree prefers arid environments and will thrive in your cactus garden. This succulent will be more susceptible to pests and disease if it is too humid.

So, keep it away from steamy areas like the restroom and shower.

How Often Should We Fertlize Our African Milk Tree Plant

plant fertilizer requirement

African Milk trees do not require any specific fertilizer to flourish. However, like all plants, they will benefit from being fed every now and then. Once a month during the plant’s growing season in the Spring and Summer, apply a water-soluble fertilizer.

During the winter, when the plant is dormant, don’t feed it at all.

Propagation

African Milk is propagated by cuttings of stems

Pro tip: You need a thick pair of gloves to propagate this plant not only to protect you from the spines but also as a protection against toxic sap in the plant. 

Here is the process on how to propagate it:

  • Choose the stems you want to propagate. Make sure the branches are in good shape.
  • Begin by cutting the stem at the base with a sharp, disinfected knife. Rinse the white, latex-like sap that comes from the cut with a garden hose, a watering can, or running water from the faucet.
  • Continue to rinse it with water until the sap stops flowing.
  • Allow the cutting to dry on clean paper towels in a well-ventilated place. The cutting will dry out and produce a scab after 3 to 7 days. While drying, ensure sure the cutting is exposed to light but not direct sunlight.
  • When the wound has healed, stand the cutting upright in a rooting media like perlite and water only when the medium has entirely dried up. The cutting will establish roots and begin to grow after around two months.
  • When the propagation is successful, it’s time to plant it in its permanent location.

African Milk Tree Growth Zone

While the succulent African milk tree may be grown successfully in USDA hardiness zones 8 and 9 with winter protection, it flourishes best in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 12.

Potting Our African Milk Tree Plant

During the growing season, repotting your plant will allow it to swiftly fill its pot. Choose a terracotta pot that is a couple of inches larger than the original when repotting an African milk tree. Upgrading the plant to a significantly larger size will overwhelm it and prevent it from growing properly.

Use thick gloves to repot the Cathedral cactus to avoid being pricked by the spines. And it will also protect you from the liquid that can cause irritation on the skin. When the plant grows large, enlist the help of a buddy to hold the pot while you pluck out the Euphorbia Trigona.

African Milk Tree Varieties and Similar Plants

I bet you want to add other succulents to your collection, right? Well, here at Plantly, we just don’t give you care tips, but we also provide plants that can go with your African MIlk tree. 

Here are some of the examples of succulent species or varieties that have a bit similarity to the Euphorbia trigona

Desert Candle

desert candle plant

Desert Candle is a succulent tree-like with a thick, green, mature trunk. It grows flowers with yellow bracts without petals.

Pencil Cactus

pencil cactus

This plant is much like a pencil for the cylindrical branches. Although it’s usually green, it can take a fiery red color and keep it in full sun!

Donkey Tail Spurge

donkey tail spurge plant

This plant can grow 1-2 feet high and shows blue-gray blue leaves with yellow blooms. In tight places, it looks excellent.

African Milk Tree Diseases & Pests

As long as it is treated well, African Milk Tree is relatively tough and resistant to disease and pests. However, weak African Milk can be susceptible to:

Mealy Bugs and Spider Mites 

Neither of these pests will be fatal to the succulent. Still, they should be removed immediately to prevent spreading to other plants. Remove these pests by wiping them off with a towel of paper dipped in isopropyl alcohol if you see the infestation.

You can use neem oil to use the natural method, but ensure that you keep your succulents a few weeks away from bright indirect light. Neem oil combined with bright light can damage the plant by burning.

Fungal Infection Cork Disease

If you notice areas of cork-like substance on the stem, it’s a sign of overwatering or overly rich soil. Apply a plant fungicide to the cut areas. Repot the plant in a cactus soil mix and keep it in a warm, well-ventilated place.

Reduce the amount of water you use. While you may not be able to save the Euphorbia cactus, you can offer it the best chance of survival by keeping it dry, comfortable, and well-ventilated.

Rot or Fusarium Wilt

Suspect fusarium rot if your plant has mushy, reddish spots near the base of the stem. Most of the time, it is fatal, and the best option is to dispose of the plant, container, and everything. If you decide to keep the container, make sure it is sterilized before reusing it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is African milk tree poisonous?

This plant has a high level of poisonous potential. A milky latex-producing succulent plant. This plant is highly toxic and can be fatal if consumed. It also causes severe skin irritation.

African milk tree turning brown.

It appears as black, corky, gray, or brown regions on the stems, concentrating near the plant’s base. It’s usually a fungal infection brought on by prolonged or repeated contact with wet soil or chilly, damp growing conditions.

African milk tree medicinal use?

Although toxic and caustic to the skin and mucous membranes, latex has been used internally in the past, primarily to treat internal parasites. To eliminate intestinal parasites, few drops of latex from warmed leaves are taken.

Where to buy an African milk tree?

You can now purchase this beauty here at Plantly! Yes, we offer faster transactions online without damaging your plant when delivered! Reach us directly!!

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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