Hello. Our Euphorbia has a top part that has grown quite large and the stalk will not be able to support it much longer. it is already leaning a lot (this photo is a few months old and it has gotten larger).
Is it possible to cut the top part off and plant it? How do these plants do with propagation and how do you suggest we do this. How will the bottom respond/heal from it? Is this a good time of year to do this?
I seem to recall there was a solution you suggested to put on this plant if we cut it as it releases some irritating sap.
You can cut below the branching top – leave at least 6 inches of stem below. You should wait until spring, winter is not a great time for this.
First be aware that this is a Euphorbia ammak which has a caustic milky-white latex sap. You need to wear gloves and long sleeves and eye protection when working around this plant. Given its height, this is going to take at least 2 people to safely take cuttings. One to hold the plant, one to do the cutting. If it is taller than it appears you may need a 3rd person to help hold the branch as it is being cut. Please make sure you feel safe with all this before you start. I recommend using a serrated bread knife to cut, and blankets to wrap the branch before cutting.
Basically you need to cut with enough left to be able to plant below the branching. Spray the cut with hydrogen peroxide and set aside to dry for 2 to 3 weeks. Spray the remainder as well, make sure to protect from direct sun until calloused over.
When the branches are fully healed over you can plant them in dry cactus soil and keep dry for a few more weeks. Water only every 3-4 weeks.
I came across your web site and saw that you answer questions, so I thought I would try sending one. My friend gave me a large golden barrel pup from her father’s outside golden barrel cactus that lives in LA. I have been waiting for it to callus, and I went to check it today and the cut area was covered in a white fuzzy substance (pictures attached). I immediately thought of fungus, especially since it had been sitting in a box cut side down. I also thought it could be mealy bugs, and there was some orange color when I dabbed at it with alcohol on a paper towel, but not as much color as I would have expected if it was a dense mass of mealy bugs. I also looked at the cut surface and one of the pieces that came off with a 10x hand lens and I did not see any adults, just a dense matrix of white fluff. I had looked at it briefly when she brought it to me a week ago, and I do not recall seeing such a dense area of white fluff, although it was dark and I only looked very quickly. So whatever it is seems to have grown quite a bit in a week, although I can’t be 100% sure.
I attached some pictures, in the last one the spots where the cut surface is orange is where I dabbed it with the alcohol on the towel. It seemed to dissolve from the alcohol, it didn’t really seem to rub off onto the paper towel.
Do you think this is fungus, mealy bugs, or something else, and can it be saved? I was admonished not to kill the cactus so I would be very disappointed if I lost it even before planting it. If you don’t just answer random questions, I understand but thought I’d give it a try!
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
It’s going to be a problem since it’s winter, to treat this successfully. It’s a fungus and likely bacterial. I recommend sulfur on the cut edge and treat the whole plant with a systemic fungicide like Infuse, after the sun goes down. Keep dry! Air circulation. It will be at least a month before you can try planting it, and a heat mat under the pot might help it root (warm and dry).
Hi my name is jack.
I currently live in the canarys islands fuerteventura.
I have just took over a property to maintain there garden.
I am just looking for some advice how to prune the euphorbia candelabrum. The customer would like it reduced in height.
They are not particularly bothered about it flowing at this moment in time as it is round a pool area and would like it tidied up and reduced before guests arrive
Looking forward to your response
I have attached a photo.
That is huge! Actually has pretty good form as is. Anyway, the trick with Euphorbias is that they have a poisonous sap so you have to wear a lot of protection, long sleeves gloves and eye protection. At that size it will probably take multiple people unless you have larger equipment available. We would use a crew of 4-5 people to safely cut that back.
You can cut any of the branches at the joints. That will reduce the overall mass. As for reducing the height, I don’t actually think that is possible. You could in theory remove all the branches and keep a tall stump which will start to grow back over time.
Dear Cactus Jungle,
I purchased a cactus from a garden centre in the UK. They were unable to tell me much about my purchase. I have been looking at your website and the cactus bears a striking similarity to opuntia monacantha variegata, which you sell
I just wondered whether you would be able to confirm whether this is the same type of plant. I have attached a picture of my cactus, for identification.
I found myself on your website when doing a Google search for the plant in the attached photo. I am a landscape designer in San Diego and a fellow designer suggested that it might be Sedum rupestre ‘Silver’; I’m not so sure because the plant height is more than 1′ high. Can any of you ID this plant for me, I sure would appreciate it.
Past President, APLD San Diego District
Definitely not a Sedum. You can tell from the old flower stalk there it is a Senecio, probably Senecio haworthii.
I’m wondering why the succulents on this plant have gotten so small in size…the pant used to produce very large “blooms”….
What you have on the ends of each branch is a rosette, not a bloom – if they bloom they will form giant pyramids of small yellow flowers. It’s kind of surprising when it happens.
Anyway, the rosettes shrink up in summer because the Aeoniums are winter-growers from a Mediterranean climate with a climate very similar to ours – all winter rains. They should start getting bigger again in October.
Thanks for replying in response to my email request. The subject cactus, which I was told by its owner Tyler is Trichocereus pacnoi monstrose. It has this callous on the cut end but it also has some yellowish spotting that I am concerned may be a virus. Tyler bought this specimen, along with a bridgesii cutting on eBay, and the first pic shows the plants right after they were unpacked. The other pics are closeups of the cactus of concern. Please reply to me and Tyler as to what actions need to be taken to try to salvage both plants, if that is possible. Thanks so much for responding to my request in a timely manner. Tyler just recently got involved with cactus growing and reached out to Texas A&M Extension to get help with his cacti. I was asked, as a Master Gardener, to try to help him, and I decided to reach out to some cactus experts so I do not send him off in the wrong direction.
I don’t think there is any virus. I think the cactus is just less than perfect, which cactus often are. It may be some active fungus or rot from the shipping process. You can spray with an organic fungicide like Neem Oil or use a systemic like Infuse if you are worried. After you plant it in fresh fast-draining cactus soil and wait 2 weeks to water, if you see any spots start to grow then you might have an issue. If the spots have rings then it might be a virus. But I don’t see anything like that now.
Species name is Echinopsis pachanoi fa. monstrose.
I have purchased things from you over the years & need a little help.
Please see in the attached photo our fallen Eve’s Pin (I think that is what it is??) that we have had for years & is huge! The soil was too wet with all this rain & It just toppled over.
Can I somehow put it back in the hole – really don’t know how I am going to pick it up – those thorns are plentiful and large!
I think it roots easily – or should I just take pieces of it off & try putting the back in the ground to see if it will root?
Any advice would be appreciated & thank you for your time.
Thank you – Kevin A
This is definitely because of the wet winter. You can see that the root ball on the Eve’s Needles, Austrocylindropuntia subulata, is very small so it couldn’t support the large cactus above. If you want to try to right it I recommend some bamboo stakes, making a bit of a cage, and tie it all together while it is on the ground, and then use some fabric pieces to wrap around for a handle hold to lift it up. You might want to get more cactus soil where it is and mound up and get as large an area of faster draining soil and then replant upright.
You can of course also take it apart and plant the cuttings, they will root easily.
In the future I would water less, or to be more speicific this gets enough water in winter that after the first summer you should never water it, so that it groiws a bit slower and doesn’t get top heavy.
I found your website/blog while searching images of plants in an attempt to identify mine (pics attached). I acquired this about a year ago when the yoga studio it was living in was closing. The owner told me she had it for several years but, prior to that, it was owned for a number of years by a friend’s relative in Boston. (I am in CT so assume the plant has been indoors it’s whole life).
The prior owner told me that at one point she had it up on a trellis and it seemed to do better. She also told me she had not repotted it since she acquired it. So, I brought it home, tried to let it acclimate for a few months, then repotted it in cactus soil that I’ve used successfully in the past (Fat Plants San Diego Cactus & Succulent soil). Then several weeks later, I moved it to a south facing window for more sun, then tried to put it up on a trellis, but it does not look as good as when I got it.
The post that brought me to your site originally was on page 11 of the “questions” — the title was “Dragon Flower” which is what you advised the plant was. BUT that one did not have any of the little “tufts” of leaves at the ends like mine does (now fewer and more wilted 😞). I also read in another post of yours that a milky white sap indicates euphorbia and mine does have that sap.
ANY advice you can offer to help ID this and/or advise on care would be SO much appreciated.
I have watered sparingly (maybe every 2-3 weeks) because of all I read about too much water being worse than not enough, but maybe the change of soil would require more (since it was originally in plain potting soil as far as I could tell). Maybe it’s also getting too much sun now???
I really love this plant and want very much to do it justice.
Thanks in advance for any information you can provide. I love your site and wish I was closer!
Your plant is a Monadenium ritchei. I would recommend pruning it back, no reason for it to be going everywhere like that. The basic issue seems to be that uit was in low light for a long time and so it has gone travellingeverywhere, and is a bit floppy too. More sun is better, but you need to take time when moving a plant into full sun – generally move it closer over the course of 1-2 weeks. You may at this time have some sunburn on parts of the plant. Since it is such an overwhelming size anyway, trim off any parts that are too floppy or sunburnt and bring it back down to a more manageable size. Careful of the milky white sap, wear gloves.
Hey guys, I’d absolutely love to pick your brain about this monster I’ve created. A couple years back I received a leaf from what I feel is clearly a panda plant, Kalanchoe tomentosa.
It rooted fine, but then what grew out of the leaf was…something strange. It’s just a whole bunch of sad fuzzy leaves on squiggly vine-like stems. The leaves never get very big (the two containers are the same in both pictures), and it just keeps making more and more squiggly growth.
At first I thought maybe it needed more light to reach its panda destiny, so I moved it right under my grow lamp. No change. I got mad, ripped some off, and threw it in a deeper pot thinking maybe the roots wanted more space? Doesn’t seem to matter. Tried rooting from its own leaves again…they root fine, but then just keep turning their noses up at me and doing the same thing.
I’ve racked my brain/the internet looking for examples of panda propagation gone wrong, alternate growth patterns, kalanchoes turning into vines, but I’ve found nothing to help with my mystery. Any ideas you could share with me would be so much appreciated!
I found your blog online and it had been very helpful to me. I am really grateful that you answer questions from people that are not your customers, as well! I recently got a pot with three small cactuses in it and am having trouble identifying them. I have attached a few photos. For reference, the center cactus is about 2″ tall. What do you think? I am particularly curious about the one on the right as I can’t find anything similar searching online. I would like to know about their care requirements and if they are suitable to continue growing in the same container.
PS – I am aware that the l little red flowers on the center cactus are fake. I’ll remove them eventually…
The left is a Mammillaria and the right is a Euphorbia (probably E. meloformis) while the one in the center, after the paper flowers are removed, is maybe a Myrtillocactus although it can be hard to be sure when they are young.
They can grow together in that container for a couple years and then they will outgrow it and need to be separated. Care depends on where you live, but the 2 cacti need a lot of direct sun – at least half day, while the Euphorbia is less. Not a lot of water, but the watering depends on whether the pot has a hole. Either way, make sure the soil is dry between watering, probably every 2-3 weeks.
HiYa, Greetings from Germany.
We are looking for an expert advice and hope you might be able to help. Our Euphorbia has on the bottom of the main stem a blackish discoloration. It is not soft or in anyway different texture from the rest of the cacti 🌵. We just worried it is some kind of rot. Do you know how best to proceed? Leave it for now or cut it and replant?
It looks like the start of rot. The soil looks too rich for the Euphorbia, so it may be taking too long to dry out after watering. You can use a systemic fungicide now and wait to see if it gets worse, or you can take the cuttings now to be sure. I recommend cutting just above the first branch, and taking that branch as a separate cutting. Spray with Hydrogen peroxide to help the ends heal, dust with Sulfur Dust. Wait a week and then plant into new fresh fast draining cactus soil. Be careful with the milky white latex sap as it is caustic and you do not want it near your eyes or lips.
I have had euphoria lacteafor almost 9months. It has glued rocks to support and has no hole in bottom of pot. Should I transplant it to another withhold and if so, how to do it? No change or growth in 9 months.
Thank you for information you can provide!
If it is a crested lactea then you won’t see much growth anyway – they’re very slow! But yes, please do repot – no drainage and glued rocks can be a disaster for plants – please rescue your plant ASAP!
If you are not sure how to repot it, maybe there is a local nursery you can visit who has cactus soil, and tips for repotting into a larger pot with drainage?
I’m hoping you could give me some advice, I live in the UK and bought an Echinocactus grusonii a few months ago. The guy told me to water once a fortnight and add Baby Bio plant foot or tomato feed in each alternate. The first few times I watered it it was fine but this time I think I’ve killed it. Within a day of feeding the spines have started to die around the base, it’s got dead looking patches and darker green patches that look like water marks. It doesn’t feel squishy but the bottom looks like it’s shrinking in on itself.
Have I broken it? Can it be saved?
Thanks in advance
It’s hard to tell for sure from the photo, but it is not looking great. I think there may be 2 different pests, but again it’s hard to tell from the photos. The base looks like it has started to rot, in which case it is too late to save it. But if it is firm, maybe I am misreading it. If it is firm, you can try to use a systemic fungicide, and spray the rest with an organic pesticide. Not sure what’s available in the UK, but we use Bonide Infuse and Monterey Take Down Garden Spray.
In general we would suggest watering every 4 weeks (every 2 fortnights?) for the cooler parts of the year, and every 2-3 weeks when it is hot and sunny. Do not fertilize regularly with any tomato fertilizer – it’s too strong for cacti. Use an organic low strength granular all-purpose (like Down to Earth All Purpose) and use it at lower strength than recommended. Use only twice in a year – spring and mid-summer. Let the plant grow slow and it will be healthier.
hey there…. i was wonder if you could help me with my cactus…. we had mealie mites and i used a insecticidal soap. then this started to happened and fast. could it be corking? i don’t think its root rot. i dealt with that before. is there something we can do to save it?
Could we cut the bad out of the cactus and callus it and replant? the tops don’t seam to be infected..
thank you for any help you can provide!!!
It looks to me like you have 2 plants with the same problem. After the infestation, which the soap didn’t fix, the plants would have been susceptible to infection.
I would recommend getting the 3 of them out of that soil, and repotting the 1 healthy one on its own. You can take tip cuttings of the other 2 if you can cut above the infection. When you cut, if the flesh is clean and white then you can let it callous over for a week before planting. Since it’s winter I recommend Sulfur Dust on the cut end to help prevent fungus. If the cut end is not clean then keep cutting upward til you get to clean flesh, or if the infection is all the way through the plant then it is not saveable.
I got this guy from you a couple months ago. I’m worried it has developed a fungus. What do you think those dots are?
That is Scale, a small hard-shelled insect that sucks the juices out of cactus. We recommend spraying with natural pyrethrins. We sell Don’t Bug Me which will kill them on contact. They have a hard outer shell so you can clean them off with a spray of rubbing alcohol which will break down the shell, and then use a soft brush to wipe them off. Be careful not to scrape the cactus.
I bought two plants but am not sure what they are . one look like it was sufering from rot so I removed the bad sections and repotted in new cactus type mix. Wound up with two pots from one because root system was large. Some of the plant is whiteish, Is this sunburn?
The one that is whitish is a Stapelia, the other is a Huernia, both closely related.
The Stapelia has an infestation of Scale, which is an insect that is feeding on your plant. As bad as it looks I would recommend removing all the white stems and taking cuttings from the green stems to replant them, letting the cut ends heal for about a week before planting them in new fresh dry cactus soil. I would spray the green stems you are keeping with a strong insecticide that can handle Scale. We sell a product called Don’t Bug Me. You will need to start over again with new fresh soil. Spray in the evening and out of direct sun to prevent sunburn.
You also might want to spray any plants that are near this one as a preventative measure.
Hello! I purchased a few succulents there about a month ago. They were doing great but when I went to check if they needed watering yesterday (they did) I noticed two had brown edges and the aloe was spotty. I think this just means the two just need more water but can’t remember if the aloe was always spotted. I attached a photo of each. Am I correct?
They’re all outside on our east-facing deck and get full sun until mid-late afternoon. Is that too much? We’re in Oakland so cool evenings and mornings but warm afternoons usually.
The 2 Aeoniums look fine – a little browning on the leaves could be from being moved to your location – i.e. similar to transplant shock, but it looks minimal so nothing to worry about. Also, Aeoniums are winter growers so they will tend to lose leaves throughout the summer until about October anyway, and then the rosettes will start to grow big and full again through our winter rains.
The Aloe looks like it got some sunburn when it got moved. Even though you are very close to us in Oakland sometimes a change in sun/heat/location can cause some stress. That is what the spotting is. It looks like the spots are healed over, so as long as they don’t get worse over time eventually you will see new leaves grow from the center and the old leaves will get replaced – succulents do lose bottom leaves regularly.
You might want to pro-actively spray the Aloe with organic Neem Oil (in the evening out of full sun) just in case there’s any fungal infection from the spotting.
You can also bring any of the plants or all of them in to the store and we can take a closer look in person. Let me know if anything changes either way!
I was at Cactus Jungle this morning – here is a picture of my succulent that is unidentified. It has been in the ground three years in full sun has not grown much in that time. Looks like a chrysanthemum.
Thank you Hortensia
That’s a Dudleya. We do have those here at the store, out on the floor, but they do not have as much red on the tips as in the photo. It is a very slow growing succulent that forms only small clumps.
Maryann with the Marin Independent Journal wants to know about all the agaves blooming all at once all over Marin. Interesting!
I read that the American agaves really do die after blooming – but live on through their offspring. Is that so?
Yes, if they’ve had the offspring by then. Also, the giant bloom stalks are filled with hundreds of blooms which can be pollinated and develop seed and spread thousands of seed in every direction.
Do you know how long the current blooms will last?
It can take 4-6 months for the full bloom cycle
Could the large number of blooms be attributed to the heavy rains we witnessed this year?
It can be because they were popular to plant 25-30 years ago, or it can be caused by stress as well, which can be the aftermath of the drought, and even the heavy rains this winter.
If they really make mezcal from the plant, can I do that at home? 😉
It would be difficult, to say the least. Once they’ve bloomed it’s too late, but if you want to make mezcal from an agave you need to cut all those giant spiny leaves off and harvest just the heart of the plant. That’s a lot of work!
I checked your archive and I couldn’t find anything about this, so I thought I’d ask you. Years ago I remember reading that scientists were extremely vexed about the evolutionary appearance of Venus flytraps. The article I read said that the little evil-looking plants simply appeared some time in our planet’s history without any apparent relatives, and the creepiest thing is that their (very small) native area is right in the middle of where a meteor hit the earth years ago. Is this true? It sounds very “Little Shop of Horrors” to me. Additionally, how do the plants “know” when an insect is in their maws? I didn’t think plants had nerves. I patiently await your reply.
SDStaff Doug replies:
There are no scientists puzzled about the Venus flytrap, only “scientists.” The VFT is the only member of its genus, Dionaea, but it has several relatives in the genus Drosera, which also happen to be carnivorous plants, known as “sundews.” Together, these two genera make up the plant family Droseraceae. Sundews occur all over the world, while the VFT is limited to bogs throughout North and South Carolina — and, despite any X-Files episodes to the contrary, neither of the Carolinas used to be a meteor crater….
I have attached a photo and I’m wondering if you can tell me what is happening with this plant.
Is it a lost cause😞? If not, how can I help it?
The plant is a Euphorbia, and hopefully it is just the tip that got damaged in the winter. Depending on where you live, they are only semi-hardy here in the Bay Area, so they can take damage to the tip when we get below freezing, or with heavy rains, or especially with both (See: This year.)
You can cut the top part off the plant and it looks like the damage is limited there. Cut at an angle, using a bread knife, and make sure the flesh is clean and white. If there is still some rot there, cut lower. Be careful when cutting a Euphorbia as it has a caustic milky-white sap. Where gloves, long sleeves, and eye-protection. Spray the cut end with Hydrogen Peroxide and put a paper bag over it to keep the sun off it until it is healed. Good Luck!
Would you be able to tell me the name of the succulent in the attached?
And perhaps more importantly, what is happening with the dry, papery bits toward the crown? Can this plant be saved? I am not sure what to do next. It was lovely and plump and then this started happening and I am not sure what I did (or am doing)
Much thanks to you!
The plant is a Haworthia. It looks like it’s growing towards sun, maybe not enough sun where it is? It’s doing well since it can handle lower light levels for a succulent, but the result is the long stems with the dried leaves along it. You can pull them off or leave them in place, doesn’t really matter. But it is time to repot into a fresh fast-draining cactus soil and a larger pot.