How To Grow And Care For Your Pencil Plant

  • By: Succulents Plants
  • Date: December 20, 2022
  • Time to read: 9 min.
Pencil Plant
Photo by courtesy of JIAN YI LIU

Do you have a green thumb but are looking for something a little more exotic to spice up your garden? The pencil plant (Euphorbia tirucalli) is an interesting succulent and is the perfect choice for your collection! Not only is this plant highly versatile, but it’s also relatively low-maintenance and easy to care for. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to grow and care for your pencil plant – from selecting the right spot in your yard to pruning your pencil plant and protecting it from pests and diseases. So, let’s get started!

What is a Pencil Plant?

A Pencil Plant, also known as Euphorbia Tirucalli, is a succulent shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, India, and parts of the Middle East. The plant is also referred to as Stick Euphorbia, Rubber Euphorbia, and Pencil Cactus due to its tall, thin, and segmented, pencil-like stems. These stems are thick and covered in a waxy, white coating. The plant can reach up to 20 feet tall and can spread up to 5 feet wide.

The foliage of the Pencil Plant is not actually true leaves, but rather small, green-yellow bracts that are clustered at the tip of each stem. The blooms are small and green and have no petals. The Pencil Plant’s most unique features are its unique and unusual pencil-like stems. These stems are hollow and filled with a milky sap that is slightly toxic. When the stems are cut, this sap will ooze out and quickly harden, which gives the plant its unique look.

In addition to its attractive appearance, the Pencil Plant is also incredibly durable and can withstand drought, frost, and other extreme weather conditions. It is an ideal choice for landscaping and growing in pots, as it is relatively low-maintenance and can survive in poor soil conditions.

For those looking to add a unique and stunning element to their home or garden, the Pencil Plant is an excellent choice!

Growing Pencil Plants

Growing and caring for a pencil plant is a fun, easy way to bring a little bit of nature indoors. Pencil plants are unique and eye-catching, with their cylindrical, spiky foliage, and they’re surprisingly easy to care for.

Where to Plant a Pencil Plant

The first thing to consider is light. Pencil plants like bright, indirect light for most of the day. If your home or garden is shaded, you may need to use grow lights to ensure your plant gets enough light.

The next thing to consider is the soil. Pencil plants prefer well-drained, nutrient-rich soil that is slightly acidic with a pH between 6.5 and 7.5. Test your soil pH before planting, and if it’s not in the ideal range, use a fertilizer to adjust the pH.

You’ll want to pick a spot that allows the pencil plant to spread out. Ideally, you should give the pencil plant enough room so that it can reach a height of 4 feet and a width of 2 feet.

Soil Requirements for Pencil Plant

When establishing a new planting of pencil plants, you should be most mindful of the soil’s pH level and its moisture level. The ideal soil pH level falls between 5.5 and 7.5, with the ideal moisture level being on the drier side, rather than too wet or soggy.

If your soil tends to be on the alkaline side, you can modify the soil with peat or pine bark to make it more acidic. You can also add mulch to help retain moisture and improve the soil’s structure. Compost is also beneficial for adding essential nutrients to the soil, and it can also help to improve drainage.

Pencil plants prefer to be planted in sandy and loamy soils, as these soils provide good drainage, adequate moisture retention, and plenty of aeration for the roots. These soils also tend to have fewer weed problems than heavier soils, and they help to keep the pencil plants’ roots at their optimal temperature.

In general, pencil plants require a soil that is well-draining, with a slightly acidic pH level, and a good balance of organic matter and fertility. When assessing the soil before planting, take note of the color, texture, drainage, and pH level to determine whether you need to add any fertilizers or other organic materials before planting.

Watering Pencil Plant

There are two main things to keep in mind: frequency and amount. It’s best to water your pencil plant every day, but if you’re unable to do that, try to water it every other day or at least every fourth day. It’s a good idea to water it in the morning, as this allows the plant to get a good drink before the sun sets.

As for the amount of water, the amount you give depends on the size of the container your pencil plant is in. If your plant is in a small container, you should give it 1/2 cup of water; if it’s in a larger container, give it 1 cup of water. If you’re unsure how much water to give, stick your finger into the soil down to the second knuckle — if it’s dry, add in more water.

To make sure your plant is getting enough water, don’t forget to check the soil moisture with a moisture meter. This will help you to get a more accurate reading of how wet or dry the soil is.

Remember, if you overwater your pencil plant, it can cause root rot and kill the plant. Be sure to check the soil moisture regularly, and water only when necessary.

Fertilizing Pencil Plant

Start by applying a balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 12-12-12, to your pencil plant once a year during the early to mid-summer months. Be sure to water your plant thoroughly before and after fertilization.

It’s also important to note that, while pencil plants do not require frequent fertilization, they do benefit from an occasional boost of fertilizer throughout the growing season. If you notice that your pencil plant is not performing as well as it should, a light application of balanced fertilizer every two to three months may be beneficial.

Finally, be sure to always read and follow the instructions on the fertilizer label, as this will ensure that you are using the right product for your pencil plant. Too much fertilizer can be just as damaging as too little, so it’s important to stick to the recommended amounts.

Pruning the Pencil Plant

Before beginning to prune your Pencil Plant, it is important to remember that the sap of the plant is potentially toxic and it is best to wear gloves when pruning. It is also wise to avoid getting the sap on your skin as it may cause an allergic reaction. Additionally, you should avoid inhaling the vapors released when the plant is cut.

The best time to prune a Pencil Plant is in the spring, after the plant has finished blooming. During this time, you will want to remove any dead or discolored leaves, as well as any branches that are not producing new growth. If a branch is especially thick, you can use a pruning saw to make a clean cut.

You can also prune your Pencil Plant to help it maintain its shape and size. You will want to make sure to leave some of the branches at different heights in order to give the plant a more natural look. During this process, you should also be sure to leave some larger branches so that the plant is able to continue its growth.

Protecting the Pencil Plant from Pests and Diseases

Taking proper care of your pencil plant can be a real challenge, especially when it comes to protecting it from pests and diseases. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to make sure your plant stays healthy and happy.

Make sure your plant is in an area with the right temperature and sunlight exposure, as this will greatly reduce the chance of pests and diseases. Pencil plants thrive in temperatures between 60° and 85°F, and prefer bright, indirect light, such as from an east or west-facing window.

Another key to protecting your pencil plant from pests and diseases is to make sure you don’t overwater it. Pencil plants are drought-tolerant, so they don’t need much water. In fact, they should only be watered once the top of the soil has dried out – usually around once a week or less.

If you notice any signs of pests or diseases on your pencil plant, it’s important to act quickly to prevent them from spreading. You can spray an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil on the plant to get rid of the pests, and remove any diseased or infected leaves and stems.

Repotting a Pencil Plant

Repotting your pencil plant is a great way to encourage new growth and help your plant maintain its health and shape. When repotting, it is important to first choose the right-sized pot and soil. Your new pot should be only one or two inches larger than the current one, so the roots can spread but still stay healthy. Additionally, be sure to use a soil that is well-draining and has good aeration.

When it comes to the actual repotting, here is what you should do:

1. Gently remove the plant from its old pot by carefully tilting it to one side and letting the plant slide out.

2. Check for any signs of root rot or damage, and if you find any, trim the affected roots.

3. Place the plant in its new pot, filling the sides with soil and lightly patting it down.

4. Water the soil until it is moist but not soggy.

5. Place the newly potted plant in a place with indirect sunlight and keep the soil evenly moist.

The key to repotting a pencil plant is to be gentle and use the right soil. Be sure to use a pot with proper drainage and the right size for your plant, and water the soil evenly after repotting.

Propagating a Pencil Plant

Propagating your own pencil plant is an easy, cost-effective way to increase the number of plants in your home. Pencil plants are easy to propagate, as they are simple to propagate through stem cuttings.

First, select a stem from the pencil plant that has at least four leaves, and cut the stem just below one of the leaves using sharp scissors. Make sure the stem you choose does not have any flowers or buds, as you do not want the stem to focus energy on forming blooms instead of roots. Next, remove the remaining leaves from the stem, leaving only the top one, as this helps reduce water loss from the cutting.

Once the stem is cut, place it in a pot with moist potting soil and make sure to press the soil around it firmly. Make sure the STEM is kept moist but avoid overwatering. You can mist the stem once a week if needed. It can take a few weeks or even months for roots to appear at the base of the stem. Once the roots appear, you can start to water the stem more regularly.

After a few months, your plant should be fully rooted and ready to be transplanted into a permanent pot. Be sure to keep the plant in an area with indirect light, as direct sunlight can damage the foliage. Also, you’ll want to water the plant consistently, being careful not to let the soil dry out completely between watering. With proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy your newly propagated pencil plant for years to come.


In conclusion, the Pencil Plant is a hardy and attractive option for houseplant lovers. With a bit of knowledge and effort, even beginner gardeners can successfully grow and care for a Pencil Plant. It is important to make sure you choose the right location for your plant, make sure it has the appropriate soil type and nourish it with the right amount of water and fertilizer. You will also need to prune the plant to encourage healthy growth and protect it from pests and diseases. Finally, it is important to repot your plant every few years and propagate it to ensure it stays healthy and continues to produce beautiful foliage.


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