Euphorbia Tirucalli or the firestick plant is a succulent that comes from the African region and spread all over the world. People can now also witness these alluring plants in other regions like India, Brazil, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Ghana. However, some other names for this beautiful plant such as stick-on fire, pencil cactus, and pencil plant confuses people for a cactus plant. The plant belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family and it can be used to decorate any landscape or garden due to its stunning appearance.
The bushy plant is well-known for its vibrant red-orange colored stems that could be yellow or green as well depending on the temperature and season. The plant can attain a maximum height of thirty feet in the wild, however, at homes, the growth is limited to 6-8 feet only. The foliage of the plane is green most of the time of the year but during winters the color changes to a red-orange shade. The sap of the plant is poisonous to humans and pets, so make sure you keep them out of reach of pets and children.
Firestick Plant Care
- Soil: Just like any other succulent, the firestick plant needs well-drained soil that does not retain any moisture. These plants are ideal for rock gardens and thrive well in infertile soil. Users can opt for cactus mix along with that you can add perlite to increase the drainage of the soil. The ideal potting mix may contain two parts of the cactus mix along with one part of perlite. Also, people can use the combination of cactus soil mix, perlite, and coarse sand in a 1:1:1 proportion.
- Water: The watering sessions depend on the temperature and the climate. The user needs to water the plant only when the few inches of the upper layer of soil feels dry. During summers you need to water the plant every one-two week but in winters you hardly need to water the plant. Remember that the firestick plant is drought tolerant so it is better to keep it underwatered rather than overwatering the plant.
- Light: Remember that these plants are not fond of low light conditions as they may hamper their growth. If you are planting the firestick plant inside the house, put it near the south or west-facing window from where heat and light are proper for their growth. When the plant receives plenty of light and heat, the foliage becomes yellow before turning into an orange-red shade during the fall.
- Temperature and Humidity: Firestick plants thrive well at temperatures ranging from 10 degrees Celsius to 21 degrees celsius. Also, the plants can tolerate a minimum temperature of -1 degrees Celcius and a maximum of 37 degrees Celsius for several days. The plants are pretty comfortable growing in dry, arid climates so there is no need to increase the humidity in the surroundings but make sure there is proper airflow near the plant.
- Fertilizer: The succulent can thrive without feeding any fertilizer if you put it under bright light, sandy soil, and water it occasionally. However, if you want to boost the growth process, moderately fertilize the plant, once a year during the springtime.
Firestick Plant Propagation
Before propagation, you need to prune the plant and make sure you know how to prune a firestick plant properly. While pruning or cutting the stem for the propagation process wears gloves in your hand as the milky sap of the plant can cause irritation to the skin when comes in contact. Now, you can follow the basic steps mentioned below to propagate the firestick plant.
- Cut out a stem cutting and let it dry out for a few weeks until it forms a callous or scab at the cut end.
- To ensure success and boost growth, put the cut end into the rooting hormone. Although this step is optional it can provide a boost to the overall process.
- Once you see the cut is properly healed and dried, put that cutting into a well-draining soil mix.
- Keep the new cuttings away from the direct sunlight and make sure you water them once you feel the soil is dry.
- After two weeks, you will notice the roots coming out from the cuttings, and after around six weeks, you will observe new growth from the top.
Also read: Elephant Ear Plant: Various Varieties, Common Problems, and Major Benefits
Firestick Plant Benefits
- Firestick plants have medicinal values and in northeast Brazil, the plant is used to fight syphilis.
- The latex or bark of the plant has excellent pharmacological uses being an antibacterial, antimutagenic, antiherpetic, and molluscicide.
- Furthermore, the plant is used to control the intestinal parasites, and as a treatment for various infections and health conditions like asthma, cough, epithelioma, sarcoma, skin tumors, earache, rheumatism, and many more.
- The plants are good at absorbing the radiation from your surroundings and keep you safe from any internal harm.
- Also, the plant comes with air-purifying qualities, as it absorbs the pollutants and carbon dioxide from the surroundings and released fresh oxygen.
So, if you have a garden area with good light and well-drained soil, it is easy for you to keep this ornamental plant along with other species. Also, some people are confused about the debate of Pencil cactus vs fire stick. Basically, both the plants are the same but the only difference here is that the fire stick plant is the variegated variety of the pencil cactus plant. Otherwise, there is no such difference in terms of growing care tips, propagation methods, and other important aspects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Is the Firestick plant poisonous?
Yes, the sap of the firestick plant is mildly poisonous to humans and pets.
Q2: How fast do pencil cactus grow?
Under favorable conditions, users can expect the plant to grow around 2 to 20 inches in a single season.
Q3: Does a pencil cactus bloom?
Yes, the pencil cactus plant blooms during spring and summer and produces yellowish-colored flowers.