Firestick succulent (Euphorbia tirucalli) is a showy plant that features a tangled mass of orange-red branches as thick as pencils, hence the name. Also called pencil cactus or pencil tree, it grows as an accent outdoor shrub or a container patio plant that spruces up the spot. The branches form a striking contrast against the background so the plant stands out and draws attention. The firestick contains a toxic white sap that causes serious skin allergies, which is why utmost care during handling is essential.
Fill a large container 2/3 of its depth with commercially available cactus growing mix or good quality potting soil. If growing outside, select a spot with well-drained soil that receives at least six hours of sunlight everyday. Dig a hole twice the depth and width of the rootball of the plant.
Lower the plant into the container mix or garden soil. If growing in a container, place it directly in the center, at the same level as it was in the nursery container. Add the remaining mix to cover the root ball completely, until 2 inches below the rim. Tamp the soil gently to release trapped air bubbles.
Water until the soil is evenly moist. Do not cause water to pool around the plant. After this, water the firestick succulent plant only when the top 2 inches of the soil feel dry. However, allow the soil to get quite dry in the winter before watering.
Feed the firestick succulent plant a well-balanced fertilizer in granular or liquid form in mid to late spring. Follow label directions for appropriate application.
Snip off dead branches to maintain shape and appearance. Do not remove more than 1/3 of branch length if pruning to maintain shape and size.