Euphorbia Caput-Medusae: Growing The Exotic Looking Medusa Cactus

Euphorbia Caput-Medusae (You-phor-Bi-ya Ca-put me-Dus-Sa) is an exotic-looking plant from the family Euphorbiaceae and Euphorbia plant (Spurge) genus.

Euphorbia Medusa’s head plant
Euphorbia medusa’s head succulent

Its distinctive foliage and interesting appearance, has earned this species several common names:

  • Medusa’s head plant (Euphorbia flanaganii goes by the name too)
  • Medusa Plant
  • Euphorbia medusa
  • Medusa succulent

The name is a clear reference to the famous character from Greek mythology, Medusa. Medusa’s is known to have hair made of living serpents.

It is believed that whoever dared to look into her eyes turned into stone!

With long, snake-like stems rising from a center caudex, Medusa’s head has a befitting name.

Native to South Africa, this distinctive-looking succulent comes from Cape Town area. There it grows in sandy or rocky terrain on the coast.

Medusa’s head Euphorbia became popular in the Netherlands around the 1700s.

In 1753, Carl Linnaeus recorded the Caput-Medusae euphorbia in his book, Species Plantarum.

Medusa’s Head Care

Size & Growth

Medusa’s head euphorbias can grow up to be 1′ – 2′ feet tall. At the center, it has a deep-rooted caudex which is almost 8” inches in diameter.

Despite its height, the plant is compact and does not take a lot of room.

But, due to the unusual appearance of the Medusa’s head, it is advisable not to crowd the medusa with other plants.

As the head euphorbia grows, new leaves sprout atop a brown stem that resembles a trunk. The plant supports many branches that are often half buried in the ground.

Flowering and Fragrance

The medusa succulent is a flowering species which produces flowers during the spring.

The flowers are small with a bright sulfur-yellow color.

These flowers grow in clusters on top of the plant and have a sweet fragrance. However, the fragrance is very light and is only detectable when the plant is in full bloom.

Light & Temperature

The Medusa’s head enjoys warmth and light. However, despite requiring loads of light and warmth, these plants cannot withstand the sun burning through the glass.

Therefore, it is advisable to keep these plants away from the window, in a shady spot that is adequately warm and receives a lot of light.

Temperature is another important factor. During the summer, the temperature in the 70’s is ideal for Medusa’s head.

On the other hand, during the colder months of the year, the temperature must be maintained in the 60’s to make sure that the plant remains comfortable and healthy.

Watering and Feeding

Caput-Medusae euphorbia does not require much water to thrive and flourish. Too much water can end up harming the plant.

During the summer growing season, water the Medusa’s head once a month to encourage growth. As the temperature drops, reduce watering as these plants need almost no water during the winter.

These plants do not require much water. However, it does not automatically mean they don’t need feeding.

To ensure good health and promote growth, feed Medusa’s head a couple of times with liquid food during the warmer months.

Soil & Transplanting

These plants thrive and flourish best in well-drained potting mix. Make sure the potting mix does not stay excessively moist. Also, excess water must always be drained away to prevent root rot.

Generally, repotting is not necessary for a long time as Medusa’s Head Euphorbia grows very slowly. However, if the plant overgrows the pot, repot as needed.

Grooming and Maintenance

Medusa’s head is exceedingly self-sufficient and does not require additional grooming. This makes it one of the easiest succulents plants in the Euphorbia genus to grow and care for.

How To Propagate Medusa’s Head Succulent

The head Euphorbia is as easy to propagate as they are to look after. Dividing the plant is the best and easiest way to propagate Medusa’s head.

  • Cut off a side shoot
  • Place in a pot or propagation tray filled with well-drained soil
  • The plant will begin to root in a few days

Medusa’s Head Euphorbia Pests and Diseases

Medusa’s head is susceptible to mealy bug attacks. These pests gather at the base of the serpent-like stems to form cotton-like clusters.

The best way to deal with this situation is to dab a piece of cotton in alcohol and dab it on the affected areas.

Long leggy growth is another common problem encountered by the Medusa’s head succulent. When this happens, know that the plant is receiving insufficient light.

Move it to a spot that receives a lot of natural light to restore it back to health.

The plant can fall prey to infections causing the side shoots to curl up and become deformed.

Although these plants are affected by infections very rarely; when they do, not much can be done to save the plant.

Suggested Uses For Medusa’s Head Euphorbia

With proper care, the Medusa head plant can live for years. Its unusual appearance makes this plant a collector’s dream. You’ll find them at a garden center specializing in cactus and succulents.

Most people grow it as a houseplant to increase the overall aesthetic appeal of their place. While it can look good all on its own, it can do equally well among other succulents and cactus plants.

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