Euphorbia Grantii

Euphorbia Grantii is also known as Synadenium Grantii. Its most popular common name is the African Milk Bush. It is a perennial plant of the Euphorbiaceae Genus that is also quite hardy; it thrives in the USDA zones 10 to 11a. This plant has some typical euphorbia characteristics, including the production of white toxic sap. This is where it gets its African Milk plant common name.

It is a native of tropical East Africa in Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi.

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  • Other Names: Synadenium Grantii.
  • Sunlight: does best in full sunlight.
  • Watering: it must constantly replenish the moisture it inevitably loses through transpiration and other avenues.
  • Temperature: 18°C to 24°C.
  • Growth Season: Spring/Summer.
  • Propagation: easily propagated from stem cuttings.
  • Height: 1.5 meters when fully mature.

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How to Grow Euphorbia Grantii

You can grow it outdoors in the climatic zones for which it is suited, but you can also keep it as a house plant. This plant has a unique characteristic for the Eurphorbia in that it has fully formed leaves. Many other plants under this genus either lack leaves entirely or have tiny leaves that can’t facilitate photosynthesis. In such leafless euphorbias, photosynthesis occurs through stems usually rich in chlorophyll. Grantii, however, has proper broad succulent leaves.

It might be essential to mention, just for the avoidance of doubt, that this plant is succulent and, therefore, the Euphorbia Grantii care regime includes all you need to do to keep a succulent healthy. We shall be looking at the care practices momentarily.

Euphorbia Grantii can grow to a maximum height of 1.5 meters with a hardy stem. This height is one of the reasons it is not problematic to grow this plant indoors. However, some plant varieties can reach four meters when given the right conditions.

euphorbia grantii
Photo by @raisalandia via Instagram

It is advisable to inquire about the mother plant’s size when buying a seedling. However, when you plant it indoors, you will most likely plant it in a pot, and this constricted environment may constrict the plant enough to slow down its growth regardless of its optimum height.

Many people who grow it use it as a hedge, and it works well in the country because it is deer resistant. Its toxicity then becomes an advantage in this regard.

Characteristics of Euphorbia Grantii

Although the leaves are green, sometimes they can be variegated with some purple-reddish color on the lower side, and they are oval. The tree produces purple flowers, which are also relatively small. These flowers come in clusters and contain bracts, yellowish-green in color.

Clustered flowers and bracts are other common characteristics of euphorbias. The flowers grow in clusters of male and female, where several male flowers cluster around a single female flower. One exciting thing about Euphorbia Grantii is that it produces flowers throughout the year when conditions are right. While the flowers are beautiful, you should be satisfied to see but not touch them because they are as toxic as the rest of the plant.

Medicinal Use

Besides being a decorative plant, Euphorbia grantii is used widely as a medicinal plant by the communities it grows. The following are some of the conditions for which you can use it.

  • Intestinal worms: The latex, in its concentrated form, is poisonous, but people dilute it and drink it as a treatment for tapeworms and other intestinal worms.
  • Enhancing blood clotting: You can apply the sap on a wound to enhance clotting and therefore stop breeding.
  • Earaches: If you place a section of the plant’s stem or branch under hot ashes, the sap warms up, and you can then apply it into your ears like eardrops for a person with aching ears.
  • Gonorrhea: Roasted leaves and sap from the leaves mixed with beer treat this venereal disease.
  • Roots: Children chew the roots to treat stomach aches, while adults can use them to treat epilepsy. People who suspect they have been poisoned can also chew the roots, which are believed to be an antidote. Chewing the roots and then applying the saliva thereof can be used to treat the snakebites.
  • Constipation: Communities that use Euphorbia Grantii for medicine grind the roots and add them to porridge to treat constipation.
  • A tonic after birth: Mothers who have newly given can use a tonic made from Euphorbia Grantii stems to restore their bodies after labor.
  • Leprosy: Ash obtained from the stem is used to treat the sores caused by leprosy.
  • Recreation: Some communities native to the areas where this plant grows naturally use it for recreation and stimulation, but they take it in very low quantities.

Modern research shows that the plant contains many 3-methoxyflavone compounds with potent antiviral and anti-inflammatory qualities.

Where to Place Euphorbia Grantii

Euphorbia Grantii does best in full sunlight. It is hardy and has direct sun rays; therefore, don’t scorch it. The fact that it enjoys exposure to full sunlight is why it does well as a hedge outside. Adequate sunlight is necessary for the plant’s health, flowering, and the proper coloration of the leaves. All these aspects of the plant affected by sunlight are its main attraction.

If you keep the plant indoors, position it near the western or southern windows, which allow direct sunlight into the house. The plant should be a maximum of two feet from the window, and you should keep them in a room with bright colors because they reflect the light, thus intensifying it for the benefit of the plant. You can move the plant outdoors to enjoy some sunlight in seasons when not much of the sun is getting into the house when you have just a few hours of daylight. Winter is a good example.

The other factor to consider when choosing a location for this plant is temperature. Euphorbia Grantii, like the vast majority of other Euphorbias, is quite resistant to drought, which usually comes with high temperatures. It is, however, not too frost-hardy, although it performs better than most of the plants in its genus. It can do well in temperatures up to 5oF (15oC). If you experience winters that go much lower than this for extended periods, you might want to move it into the house if it is potted. Avoid planting them altogether if you’re going to use them for a hedge under these conditions. They won’t survive.

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Best Soil for Euphorbia Grantii

When growing euphorbias, the general rule is to use easy to drain soil. Thus sandy soil is ideal for the plant if you grow it outdoors. If the place where you want to grow it is not sandy, dig a considerably larger hole than the plant’s ultimate root system’s reach and introduce sandy soil into it. The ground will constantly be drained where the roots are domiciled. However, your plant still needs a measure of water and some nutrients.

To take care of the nutritional aspect of the growth, add some loamy soil and some organic matter. These will have the nutrients necessary, increasing the soil’s capacity to retain some required moisture. If you want to pot the plant, you can use a succulent commercial mix and blend it with some pumice. The succulent soil mix will provide nutrients and help retain some water, while the pumice will allow for water to drain.  

Watering

Seventy percent of Euphorbia Grantii is water, so it must constantly replenish the moisture it inevitably loses through transpiration and other avenues. However, it would help if you were cautious because overwatering is the most significant cause of this plant’s death. The key is to avoid waterlogging because it causes root rot, and this is where the type of soil you plant it in is so important.

By some estimates, a typical plant grown indoors requires about 0.2 liters of water every twelve days when planted in a 5.0 inches pot. This is a relatively small amount of water, but you need to give it some more water to ensure that 0.2 liters are available to the plant.

It would help if you only watered your African Milk Bush when the soil is arid. The best way to tell if the soil is dry is by checking the top few inches of the ground. If three inches of it are dry, you can go ahead and water. Wait for it to get dehydrated if it isn’t at the time.

Watering the plant when it is growing outdoors is a bit different. It can withstand even rainwater if the soil is easy to drain. The first year is the most critical time for watering because it is when the plant gets established. After establishment, it may not be necessary to give it extra water. You can water it when experiencing severe drought.

Pruning and Grooming

The Euphorbia Grantii doesn’t need too much pruning. However, you can direct the tree’s growth by pinching the top of the stems to facilitate the production of more branches. The branches help your African Milk Bush develop more foliage, giving you a fuller appearance. Pinching works best when the plant is young.

There are instances when you might want to increase air circulation and get more sunlight to penetrate the foliage. This calls for thinning, where you remove some branches. Having a better-aired tree and one better accessible to light enhances its overall health. Thinning should begin with any dead or sick branches.

The other form of pruning is shearing which refers to leveling the surface of the plant’s leaves. The idea is to ensure the shrub takes a pleasant condition, especially when planted as a hedge. You can also prune this plant to reduce its size if it grows too high as a hedge or house plant. Learn more about pruning succulents here: How To Prune A Succulent.

Pests and Diseases

Root rot is one of the main challenges that affect euphorbias and other succulents, and waterlogging is its primary cause. Your plant’s leaves turning yellow is one of the indications it could be suffering from root rot. You can troubleshoot by looking at the season when the yellowing occurs. You can assume that watering is the problem if the plant changes color soon after a rainy season or after watering a few times.

For a potted plant, you can reduce the amount of water and only water when the soil is dry in subsequent times. The easiest way to tell if the soil is dry enough is by checking the topmost part of the soil. If the first two inches are dry, water the plant, but avoid watering if they are wet, as this would mean the plant is then overwatered.

If you have planted outdoors and they suffer waterlogging, you can have an underground drainage system made by a contractor. You can also make French drains adjacent to the plant. Additional water will flow to the gutters, thus leaving your roots healthy.

Pests include mealybugs that look like tiny cotton balls on the affected plant. You are most likely to find them on leaves, stems, and branches. You can deal with them by spraying your tree with a solution of detergent and water. Plant-based pesticides such as neem or pyrethrum-based ones can also be helpful if the mealybugs prove stubborn. Also, it is possible to dislodge the mealybugs by spraying them with water at high pressure from a hose.

Euphorbia Grantii Propagation

The best way to propagate is using stem cuttings. Follow the following steps.

  1. Put on your gloves and goggles to protect your skin and eyes from the toxic milky sap that will run from the plant.
  2. Take your cutting tool, whether a knife or pruner and wipe it with alcohol wipes. If you don’t have alcohol wipes, dip a piece of cotton wool into the spirit and swab the cutting tool with it. Sterilizing the instrument is an integral part of the process as it ensures neither the daughter nor mother plant gets infected with any disease that might be on the tool.
  3. The plant has branches referred to as arms. With your now sterilized tool, cut one stem at the base. The stem will start oozing sap. Rinse the cutting with cold water to stop it from bleeding. Coldwater causes the lumber to thicken fast.
  4. Allow the cutting to dry off by keeping it under a shade for seven days. Please note that the cutting would still root if you planted it without allowing it to callus. However, the cutting will be susceptible to rotting.
  5. Put your potting mix into one of the pots, and plant your Euphorbia Grantii cutting in it.
  6. Place the cutting away from direct sunlight and moisten the soil. Build a shade for the cuttings by planting them outside, such as a hedge. If the sun is scorching, remove it after the plants are established.

Once the cutting roots, move it to direct sunlight but keep watering it until it is a well-established tree.

Before conclusion, …

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Final Thought

Euphorbia Grantii is an attractive tree, and it is pretty easy to nurture. There is only the watering that you need to be careful about. The plant’s toxicity might endanger children and pets significantly when growing indoors. However, if you position it right, it will improve the ambiance and the air quality in your home.

ABOUT ME

Richard Miller

Salute everyone. It's Richard, the author of this Succulent & Xeriscaping blog. I am a traveler and a nature lover looking for a connection with the wild green. In my journey, I found a love for succulents and xeriscaping. What attracts me is the long-lasting & unique beauty of every plant I have the chance to see with my own eyes. Welcome to my little blog and let's enjoy a good time together!

Contact me: richard.succulentcity@gmail.com

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Posted in Perennial Plants