Euphorbia Ingens Care: Growing The African Candelabra Tree

Euphorbia ingens (EU-for-Bia E-gens), more commonly known as Candelabra tree belongs to 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).

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 bringing home a plant that “looks” like Euphorbia ingens, make sure it really is the species that you want!

African Euphorbia Candelabra Tree cactus

The Euphorbia candelabra tree is a succulent plant that grows into a tree having a short thick trunk and grey bark.

It also goes by the common names cowboy cactus, good luck cactus.

The foliage is rudimentary and ephemeral. This means that most of the photosynthesis is carried out by the green cactus-like stems that erect upwards.

In short, this tall succulent tree euphorbia resembles a green balloon on a stick from afar!

Euphorbia Ingens Care

Size & Growth

The Candelabra tree generally grows up to 36′ feet tall (12 meters). However, when provided with ideal care and growing conditions, in rare cases, the plant can grow up to be 15 meters tall.

The branches of the tree are persistent from about 3 feet about 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 throughout winter. The flowers resemble a 3-lobed capsule.

The greenish yellow flowers appear on the top segment of the plant, covering the fleshy ridges of the succulent.

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 bird also enjoy nesting in these comfortable flowers that appear high on the Euphorbia ingens tree. Light & Temperature

These plants enjoy warmth and full sun. In its natural habitat, Euphorbia ingens grows on 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 make sure 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 enjoy light, it is advisable to choose a sunny spot where it can get loads of light.

Watering and Feeding

In its natural habitat, Euphorbia ingens 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 & Transplanting

This succulent tree Euphorbia prefers well-draining dry soil.

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 over watering!

Once established, these plants are highly self-sufficient. All you need to do is make sure that the roots are not soggy due to overwatering.

How To Propagate Candelabra Tree Euphorbia

Propagate E. ingens from seeds. 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 preferred soil and see your Euphorbia ingens grow into a beautiful tree.

Tree Euphorbia Pest or Disease Problems

It is important to mention that the Candelabra tree is a poisonous plant.

If ingested, the 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 Euphorbia Ingens 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.

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