Euphorbia Neriifolia Care: Growing The Indian Spurge Tree

Euphorbia neriifolia (yoo-FOR-bee-uh ner-ee-eye-FOH-lee-uh), more commonly known as Hedge Euphorbia, belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae (euphorbia plants).

This euphorbia species has a variety of common names:

  • Indian Spurge Tree
  • Oleander Spurge
  • Milk Spurge
  • Milkbush
  • Holy Milk’s Hedge
  • Dog’s Tongue
  • Common Milk Hedge

It is a perennial succulent plant that looks more like a shrub in cultivation but can grow into full-grown trees in the wild.

Euphorbia Indian Spurge TreePin
Indian spurge tree Euphorbia – image via Wikimedia Commons

The word neriifolia means leaves like Oleander which is a reference to the shape of its long, narrow leaves.

Oleander euphorbia is native to parts of Southern and Central India. However, it is found throughout Burma, West Bengal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Euphorbia Neriifolia Cactus Care

Size and Growth

In the wild, Hedge Euphorbias can grow 18′-24′ feet tall. However, when being cultivated, it is much smaller – more shrub-like or a small tree – with leaves growing 3″ to 5″ inches long.

The height of the plant in cultivation depends on how much area it is given to spread and grow.

Overall, this is a moderately fast-growing plant with a growth rate of twenty inches per year.

Flowering Plants and Fragrance

Indian spurge euphorbia is a succulent with spiraling, five angled stems that bear leathery, glossy leaves.

Clusters of fragrance-free yellow-green tinted flowers will appear from the upper leaf axils. Once these flowers dry and fall off, short rigid spines are left in their place.

E. neriifolia Light and Temperature

Despite being a tropical plant, Hedge Euphorbia is relatively hardy. It can tolerate sweltering temperatures, but during winters, it becomes sensitive to frost and colder temperatures.

It does well as long as the temperature doesn’t fall below 60° degrees Fahrenheit. The plant prefers normal humidity levels throughout the year but requires drier air to be hardy in winter.

It is a light loving plant that thrives when given full sun or even half shade. It grows well outdoors in gardens or balconies during the summer or can be a great addition as an indoor plant near a sun basked south-facing window.

Watering and Feeding

Hedge Euphorbia is extremely sensitive to overwatering. Due to its ability to store water in its stems, it is a drought tolerant plant.

As such, veering on the side of underwatering will be safer than risking making the leaves drop or the crown rot with too much water.

Let the soil dry out between watering and make sure that you do not get too much water on the stems. If your plant is outdoors, plant it under some overhead protection to help break the intensity of the rain.

During the winter months, you barely need to water it twice throughout the season.

Feed plants from the months of April to July with liquid plant food once or twice, and it should be good enough.

Soil and Transplanting

These plants do well when planted in well-drained, commercial cactus soil with good drainage in the base. You should only transplant them if they have outgrown an old pot. The best time for transplanting is in February-March.

Grooming and Maintenance

This plant does not require a lot of grooming.

However, if you have any unwanted stems or want to prune for a certain shape, leaves should be removed carefully to avoid getting the sap on your skin as it can cause irritation.

How to Propagate Oleander Euphorbia

This plant propagates easily through seeds or stem cuttings.

All you need to do is remove a stem from the plant, let the sap dry out over a few days (remember the sap can cause irritation).

Once the cut is dry, pot in well-drained cactus soil and pretty soon, you will see it take root.

Indian Spurge Euphorbia Pest and Disease Problems

The plant is occasionally susceptible to mealy bugs and scale insects. These appear as cottony blobs on the stems but are easy enough to remove. Pick them off with tweezers or toothpicks and wipe down the stems with a cloth dipped in alcohol.

Most of the issues in the plant’s health such as falling leaves, corky patches on the leaves and crown rot are a result of overwatering and easily avoided.

If any of the leaves are cut, there is a milky white sap that bleeds from the cut. This can be poisonous.

It is best to close the bleeding with a warm wet cloth and to make sure your skin does not come into contact with the substance.

Uses For Hedge Euphorbia Uses

This plant works great as a decorative addition to your garden or home due to its beautiful appearance and hardiness to grow throughout the year in most environments.

You can use these as plants in smaller pots on windowsills or as floor plants in larger pots. These are also great to grow in a garden or greenhouse.

However, Hedge Euphorbia also has medicinal uses in Ayurvedic practices.

The juice from this medicinal plant roots is used to treatment of snake bites, purgative rubefacient, asthma, colds, and some stomach issues.

It is also believed that the latex of the leaves can help relieve earaches.

Commercially, the stems of this plant are used for fuel due to the richness of latex and chemicals found in it.

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