Euphorbia ingens, also referred to as the candelabra tree cactus, belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae, the spurge family, and genus Euphorbia.
Native to South Africa, these plants are found in the dry regions of Angola, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, and Swaziland (eSwatini).
The euphorbia ingens cactus, also known as the candelabra euphorbia, is a striking plant that can add an exotic touch to your garden or indoor space.
Keep in mind these plants are very similar to another species, Euphorbia candelabrum, which is found in the east and northeastern regions of Africa.
Owing to the similarities in the appearance and characteristics of these plants, it is easy to confuse them.
Therefore, before you bring home a plant that “looks” like Euphorbia ingens, make sure it really is the species that you want!
The Euphorbia candelabra tree is a succulent plant that grows into a tree with a short, thick trunk and grey bark.
It also goes by the common names cowboy cactus, good luck cactus, and african golden candelabra.
Euphorbia Ingens Quick Care Tips
- Botanical Name: Euphorbia Ingens
- Common Name(s): African Candelabra plant, Candelabra tree, Candelabra cactus, Cowboy cactus, and Good luck cactus
- Synonyms: Euphorbia Candelabrum, Euphorbia Cooperi
- Pronunciation: EU-for-Bia E-gens
- Family & Origin: Euphorbiaceae family, native to southern Africa, dry regions of Angola, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, and Swaziland
- Growability: Easy to grow
- Grow Zone: USDA zones 10-11
- Size: Can grow up from 36’ to 49′ feet tall
- Flowering: Produces small, yellow-green flowers from autumn through winter
- Light: Full sun to partial shade
- Humidity: Tolerates low humidity
- Temperature: Warm temperatures of 74° – 82° degrees Fahrenheit
- Soil: Well-draining, dry soil
- Water: Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings
- Fertilizer: Fertilize once a month during the growing season with diluted liquid 10-10-10 NPK formulation
- Pests & Diseases: Can be susceptible to spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs, May also be prone to root rot if overwatered.
- Propagation: Can be propagated through stem cuttings or by seed
- Plant Uses: It makes a great statement to plant in a garden or as a potted plant indoors. It can also be used as a natural fence or barrier.
The foliage is rudimentary and ephemeral. This means that most photosynthesis is carried out by the green cactus-like stems erecting upwards.
In short, this tall succulent tree euphorbia resembles a green balloon on a stick from afar!
Euphorbia Ingens Care
Size and Growth
The Candelabra tree generally grows up to a mature height of 36′ feet tall (12 meters). However, when provided with ideal care and growing conditions, in rare cases, the ingens cactus can grow up to 49′ feet tall.
The tree branches are persistent from about 3′ feet above the grove in the upward direction. Young plants may have paired spines that converge as the plant grows.
Flowering and Fragrance
Euphorbia ingens is a flowering species. It blooms from autumn through winter. The flowers resemble a 3-lobed capsule.
The greenish-yellow flowers appear on the plant’s top segment, covering the succulent’s fleshy ridges.
These flowers grow in abundance, but neither the flowers nor the plant itself has a distinctive fragrance.
Nonetheless, the flowers of the Candelabra tree attract a number of insects, including butterflies and bees.
They also act as a source of food for birds, and some birds also enjoy nesting in these comfortable flowers that appear high on the Euphorbia ingens tree.
Light and Temperature
These plants enjoy warmth and full sun to partial shade. In its natural habitat, the euphorbia tree grows in dry areas and semi-savannas, taking roots in rocky outcrops or deep sand.
It does not mind the heat and, like most other succulents, can even survive long periods of drought.
Therefore, it is important to ensure the plant remains consistently warm, enjoying temperatures ranging from 74° – 82° degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep in mind that this species does not do well in winter. It can survive temperatures as low as 28° degrees Fahrenheit.
Since the Candelabra tree enjoys light, it is advisable to choose a sunny spot where it can get loads of light. It also tolerates low humidity levels.
Moreover, this tree thrives in USDA hardiness zones 10 to 11.
Watering and Feeding
In its natural habitat, Euphorbia ingens cactus can survive long droughts. In fact, it is more of a desert plant.
Therefore, it is advisable to limit watering to once every two weeks. As the temperature starts to drop in the second half of the year, reduce watering to once a month.
Similarly, these plants do not require feeding very often. You can feed your plant in spring.
This is the time of the year in which new growth starts. It is best to use diluted liquid 10-10-10 NPK formulation for feeding these plants.
Soil and Transplanting
In candelabra tree care, remember that this plant is prone to root rot, so choosing a well-draining soil mix is advisable to ensure proper drainage and prevent issues.
The best mix of soil for these plants includes two parts coarse sand, one part peat moss, and one part loam. Don’t forget to add a handful or two of small gravel to encourage drainage.
The best time of the year to transplant is during the spring and early summer.
Grooming and Maintenance
Candelabra trees are sturdy plants and do not require much pampering to thrive and flourish.
In most cases, these plants die from extra care and overwatering!
Once established, these plants are highly self-sufficient. All you need to do is ensure the roots are not soggy due to overwatering.
How To Propagate Candelabra Tree Euphorbia
Starting from seeds Euphorbia ingens propagation can be difficult. However, it is not only difficult to find the seeds, but generally, germinating them is a challenge.
Therefore, the best way to propagate these plants is through cuttings.
Here’s how you can do it.
- Wear gloves before handling the plants because it is naturally poisonous.
- Use a sharp knife to take cuttings from around the branching point.
- Hold it under cold running water to wash away the milky latex.
- Allow the cutting to dry for about two weeks. You will notice a callus over the cut ends.
- Plant them in your preferred soil and see your Euphorbia ingens grow into a beautiful tree.
Tree Euphorbia Pest or Diseases
Common insect pests that attack this plant include spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs.
It is important to mention that the Candelabra tree is a poisonous plant.
If ingested, latex can pose certain health threats. It can cause skin irritation and even blindness on contact.
Since it is considered to be toxic, a lot of people avoid planting them in areas accessible to children and pets.
There is a bright side to the toxic nature of this plant – the poisonous latex makes sure that pests bring no damage to the plants.
Suggested African Candelabra Tree Uses
Despite being toxic, Euphorbia Ingens has been used medicinally for centuries.
In South Africa and Zimbabwe, the branches are used as fish poison.
While you are less likely to use the Euphorbia Candelabra tree for medicinal purposes and to kill fish, it can always make a wonderful addition to succulent rock gardens.
You can also use it as a houseplant, but make sure it remains out of reach of children and pets.