The Root-Succulent Shrub ‘Euphorbia Hedyotoides’

Euphorbia Hedyotoides Image

Euphorbia Hedyotoides is a native of Madagascar, specifically southern Madagascar, in the Alluadia forests. However, it has been transported to different parts of the world for decoration and other purposes.

Physical Attributes of Euphorbia Hedyotoides

The Caudex

This plant’s caudex is one of its most distinguishing features: twelve inches long and eight inches wide. These dimensions are the biggest the caudex can have. This caudex helps the plant, which is drought-resistant, to store water for future use. Sometimes the caudex can lead the plant’s roots to grow above the soil.

small euphorbia hedyotoides in a plastic black pot
Photo by @plandemics via Instagram

The Stem

Euphorbia Hedyotoides’ stems can grow up to five feet high, and a single plant can have several branches. The stems are woody, although the wood has relatively low biomass, and it doesn’t thicken to the level of a real tree as it only reaches a thickness of 1.2 inches. The bark is gray-brown and thick.

Euphorbia Hedyotoides have thin branches that proceed from the stem. These branches generally start sprouting between 12 and 20 inches from the ground. The branches from that point are pretty dense. This Euphorbia differs from many plants in the Euphorbia genus because it doesn’t have the spines that characterize most other Euphorbia species.  

Leaves

Euphorbia Hedyotoides produce leaves in groups of threes and fives which differ in shape and size in different plants. The leave can be curving, oblong, spatular, or straight. The leaves, stems, and branches don’t resemble typical succulents. The leaves are deciduous, which sheds them at the beginning of winter.

The plant’s appearance doesn’t look like a typical succulent is why it is referred to as a root succulent. The caudex is the most unambiguous indication that this is a succulent.

Flowers

Like many other plants in the Euphorbia genus, this plant flowers. Euphorbia Hedyotoides flowers in spring, and the flowers are pale yellow and red. Each flower has specific sex, but they come in bunches of male and female flowers. The flowers of this root succulent usually grow to produce the seeds, which grow into maturity. Ultimately, the seeds that come from this Euphorbia are viable.

Lighting and Placement

Euphorbia Hedyotoides thrives under full sunlight, and it likes the sun bright. This is a common characteristic of plants in the Euphorbia genus. This attribute makes it possible for you to grow this succulent outdoors without worrying that the sun would negatively affect it. However, it is also possible to successfully grow it indoors, especially if you place it next to a window through which it can get some sunlight. Keep your plant next to a window or on a porch that allows direct sunlight; western and southern windows are the best for this. Keep the Euphorbia Hedyotoides plant no more than one foot from the window so that it gets enough sunlight through the day to survive.

Also, it helps to keep this Euphorbia in a room painted in bright colors as the walls reflect the light intensifying it. This reflection allows the plant to enjoy more intense light even when access to direct sunlight isn’t as much.

The plant can survive moderate winter temperatures since it is not cold and hardy. Temperatures below 50oF (10oC) are usually not survivable for the plant. It does best when the temperature is (60oF (15.6oC) or above, and it doesn’t mind high temperatures, the caudex keeps it hydrated. With this in mind, if you live in a place with severe winters, you can bring the plant back inside to protect it for the season and take it back out when the weather is more accommodating.

Ideal Soil for Euphorbia Hedyotoides

Like other plants in the Euphorbia genus, Euphorbia Hedyotoides does best in well-drained soil; it carries the family trait of extreme sensitivity to wet soil because such soil causes root rot. The ground where you plant this plant should be a good mixture of loamy and sandy soil, with some organic matter to help with nutrition. If you grow this plant in a pot, get some cactus mix and add vermiculite or perlite.

Pot Requirements for Euphorbia Hedyotoides

It is impossible to separate your soil’s drainage from your pot. The importance of the pot is that no matter how well the soil drains, you will need a pot that allows the excess water to drain. Otherwise, the water passes through the soil and remains in the pot wreaking havoc on your plant. You can use virtually any pot to plant your Euphorbia Hedyotoides, but any pot you use should have suitable drainage holes to let the water pass through.

Sometimes, the pot’s material is a factor since some pots, such as porcelain or metal, are not breathable while others, such as terracotta pots, are breathable. A breathable pot is better because it allows the soil to be better aired, and evaporation causes the soil to lose some of the excess water the plant is so opposed to.

It would help if you considered that the plant has a caudex that can grow to a very substantial size and make provisions accordingly.

euphorbia hedyotoides in a pot placed on the table
Photo by @suwung.__ via Instagram

Repotting Euphorbia Hedyotoides

It is necessary to repot your Euphorbia Hedyotoides plant from time to time. When the soil is rich enough, you should repot the plant once every year. You might have a plant that is so robust that it doubles in size in less than a year. You should, therefore, report your Euphorbia Hedyotoides after one year or after it doubles in size, whichever comes first.

Watering Euphorbia Hedyotoides

Watering is a vital consideration owing to the love-hate relationship between Euphorbia Hedyotoides and water. How you give it drinks determines whether your plant will live or die. The plant grows in spring and summer, but it gets dormant in winter. This means that the plant needs more water in spring and summer to support the normal processes necessary for its growth.

You can go through winter without giving the plant any additional water because the soil neither loses it through evaporation nor does the plant use it up because it is dormant in winter. You can tell if a plant needs watering in the growing seasons by checking if the soil is dry. The general rule of the thumb is that you should never water Euphorbia Hedyotoides while water from the previous drink is still in the soil.

You can tell if the water from the last drink has been used up by dipping your fingers into the soil. Avoid watering if there is still moisture in the first three inches of the soil. It means water from the previous drink is still in the soil, and you, therefore, shouldn’t water it and vice versa. Ultimately, you will get the watering rhythm for your Euphorbia Hedyotoides.

Humidity

Some house plants prefer high humidity environments but succulents generally don’t. Euphorbia Hedyotoides is succulent, and high humidity would cause the leaves to rot due to fungi. It does best in a dry environment. This is good for you as a plant parent because it means one less involving care activity.

Fertilizer

This plant grows relatively slowly, and it doesn’t need too many nutrients. You don’t need to feed it with any extra fertilizer in light of these facts. You also need to repot it once per year using fresh soil with more nutrients.

Toxicity

This plant is toxic like others in the Euphorbia genus. It has a poisonous white sap known as lumber. Lumber has been known to cause blindness when it gets into a person’s eyes. Contact with the skin can cause blisters, and it is highly toxic when ingested. You should, therefore, take due care when handling it to avoid poisoning. Always keep the plant away from children and pets.

Pruning Euphorbia Hedyotoides

Many people use this Euphorbia as a bonsai subject due to its ease of pruning and training. You can prune the plant using secateurs and give it whatever shape you want. Only ensure to wear protective gear so that the milky sap doesn’t get into your eyes or skin. Goggles and gloves are necessary for this work.

pruned euphorbia hedyotoides
Photo by @pluntco via Instagram

Pests and Diseases

This plant, like other euphorbias, is susceptible to mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects. Prevention is the best pest control method for your succulents. If you can get the pests to stay away from your plant, your plants will be healthier and your work easier. You can keep pests and diseases from the plant by keeping it healthy, pruning it, and dry. Also, you can keep the plant safe from pests by applying neem oil. Neem oil is a systemic pesticide that makes the succulent unpalatable to pests.

You can also use organic pesticides such as hot pepper spray, garlic spray, and biological controls such as introducing predators that eat the pests. Other simple ways of getting rid of these pests include rubbing the infected areas with cotton swabs dipped in alcohol. The alcohol should have at least 70% concentration. Spraying the infested plant with a water mixture and liquid soap or pesticide soap also helps.

Root rot is the most common disease, and prevention by using well-draining soil and watering as per recommendations.

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Propagating Euphorbia Hedyotoides

You can propagate Euphorbia Hedyotoides either by cuttings or by using seeds.

Propagation through cuttings

It would be best if you had the following things, so put them together before you start.

  1. A sharp cutting tool such as a knife or hand pruner
  2. Alcohol wipes, methylated or surgical spirit, and cotton wool
  3. Pots, the number of which depends on the number of plants you want to propagate
  4. Well-drained soil
  5. Heavy gloves and goggles

Take the following steps for successful propagation.

  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, and wipe it with alcohol wipes or otherwise sterilize 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. Cut one of the stems or branches at the base with your now sterilized tool. The cutting should be about 15 to 20cm long, and wait a few days for it to be callous.
  4. Rinse the cutting and the wound on the mother plant to stop them from oozing sap. Coldwater causes the liquid to thicken fast.
  5. Once the cut is closed off, plant the Euphorbia Hedyotoides in well-draining soil and water lightly. You should be vigilant not to let the soil be ever arid.

Propagation through seeds

You can propagate this plant using seeds by collecting pods when they are ripe and sowing them on a seedbed before transplanting them when they are ready. Also, you can wait for the seeds that fall to germinate naturally and plant them.

The main problem with this approach is that it takes much longer for the new plants to be established than if you had used cuttings. A house plant of this nature rarely produces seeds due to the limited opportunities for pollination.

Some plant parents indicate that a Euphorbia Hedyotoides plant propagated from seeds doesn’t produce a caudex; only a seed propagated one does.

propagating euphorbia hedyotoides
Propagated euphorbia starts to grow @Reddit

Final Thought

This is an easy plant to parent; it requires no feeding and very little grooming. The most important points are watering, repotting, and the plant’s toxicity. You will have a pretty beautiful plant that allows you to practice some Bonsai. Are you interested in more Euphorbia posts? See my suggestions below:

Succulent City chief editor

ABOUT ME

Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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Posted in Succulents