Euphorbia Platyclada (Dead Plant)

Euphorbia Platyclada Image

The Euphorbia Platyclada is also known as the Dead Plant or the Dead Stick Plant. The common name is due to the plant’s odd appearance; it is a succulent member of the Euphorbiaceae family. The plant didn’t get its name from being pretty, as its appearance is unique. As the adage goes, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. This is a plant that only enthusiasts and collectors can truly appreciate; its beauty is in its uniqueness, not in what is traditionally expected of house plants.

Euphorbia Platyclada is a native of Madagascar’s subtropical and tropical dry forests. It grows in mats in the dry deciduous Alluaudia forests. Its appearance is camouflaged to help it disappear on the forest floor. This species is threatened by habitat degradation and fires. It faces a possible future threat from collectors for the horticultural trade.

  • Other Names: Dead Plant, Dead Stick Plant.
  • Sunlight: requires a lot of sunlight.
  • Watering: requires weekly watering during the summer.
  • Temperature: 20°F to 50°F.
  • Growth Season: from Spring to early Autumn.
  • Propagation: easily propagated from cuttings, division, and seeds.
  • Soil: cannot tolerate wet soil as it can lead to the roots rot.

Morphological Characteristics

The plant is a shade of pink with just a dash of brown, and the variegation becomes more pronounced when the plant is constantly exposed to intense sunlight. Hence during the summers, Euphorbia Platyclada becomes a thing of beauty.

It is a succulent plant with odd-looking: flattened mottled red-brown stems that shoot from an able rootstock. It is a small, leafless, freely branching sub-shrub that grows up to 50cm tall. The plants in this species aren’t all the same. Some are erect, and others tend to grow horizontally. Its branches are fascinating and unique, with an irregular scab-like texture that makes them look dead. you will find its components are splayed with finger-like structures dangling from them like dead weight.

All parts of the Euphorbia Platyclada have nearly the same coloration except its yellow anthers, greenish stigma lobes, and glands. These flowers are contained in cyathia, typical for plants in this genus. The cyathia of this plant are small proportional to the size of blossoms. After pollination, equally minute capsules develop with three seeds in them. When the pills burst, these seeds are forcibly ejected to scatter them from a few inches to a few paces away from the mother plant. Many people wonder how to tell if a euphorbia Platyclada seed pod is developed, but it is pretty simple. All you need to do is check the color of the capsule; if it is brown, it is fully developed.

The growth of seedlings is initially a slow process, at times taking several years for the first few inches of the plant to grow. How to tell if a Euphorbia Platyclada seed pod is developed? It’s when the plant doubles in size annually till a maximum size is achieved. It is a small, slow-growing plant that often attains a maximum height of nineteen inches. This height makes it perfect for house culture because you can quickly grow it in a pot.


The plant is an ornamental house plant, making it a great succulent to care for at home. You can expect it to produce yellow-gold to brown flowers when it flowers. It’s a unique house plant, especially in a decorated pot.

Care of Euphorbia Platyclada

Euphorbia Platyclada
Photo by @taniku.kun via Instagram

#1. Placement And Lighting

The Euphorbia Platyclada loves a hot and sunny position. It is therefore advisable to locate it near a southern or western-facing window. When placing it next to a window, ensure the plant is within a foot of the window to allow it to chalk up as much sunlight as possible. Your Dead Plant can also soak in the sun in a sunny greenhouse or conservatory and thus grow powerfully.

As we have seen, this plant requires a lot of sunlight, and you can supplement the light it is getting indoors by putting it outside during the summer months.

The plant generally has weaker tolerance for cooler temperatures. Therefore, you should keep the plant warm during winter and ensure it gets enough light. Cold causes the plant to lose its color and become a lighter shade of pink; sometimes, it is almost grey in appearance. This plant prefers temperatures from 20°F to 50°F (zone 9a-11b).

#2. Soil

The Europhobia Platyclada, like most succulents, cannot tolerate wet soil as it can lead to the roots rot and they should be grown in well-drained and sandy. our recommendation is Loam soil with added grit and some horticultural sand. However, any well-drained soil mix works just fine. The choice of growth medium between the two mentioned above depends on personal preference and availability. Naturally, that which is readily available is the most common choice.

However, it is not particular about soil pH; it can thrive on acidic and basic soils. You should keep it in a small pot because it has a heavy rootstock. The pot where you grow the plant should also have enough drainage holes to keep it safe from waterlogging, which could be the greatest danger to its health.

#3. Watering

The Euphorbia Platyclada, unlike most succulents, is not drought resistant. It may require weekly watering during the summer. These plants need plenty of water during their active growing season from spring to early autumn. Always allow the soil in their pots to fully dry out before watering again. This is because Euphorbia Platyclada, like all Euphorbia succulents, doesn’t like their roots to sit in wet soil as this can cause root rot. From mid-autumn to late winter, reduce watering to the bare minimum. Only water is enough to stop the plant from wilting too much.

Only water the Euphorbia Platyclada once every two months in winter for an indicative timeline. When watering, rainwater is preferable to tap water since tap water contains chemicals such as chlorine. If you must use tap water, draw it at least twelve hours before giving your plant a drink and keep it in an open jug. This waiting time allows any harmful chemicals in the water to dissipate by the time you are giving your plant a drink.

You can use the soak and dry watering method in a hot country. However, we do not recommend it to people living in colder areas with less sun and higher humidity, such as Canada.

#4. Fertilizer

When the plants are actively growing, or the soil you use is of low quality, you should add some compost or fertilizer. As a general rule of thumb, fertilizers for succulents should be liquid and diluted to half a concentration to avoid chemical burns on the plant. Diluting them also prevents the build-up of heavy salts in the soil.

The plant does not require to be fed during winter as it is dormant in the season. There is more fertilizer for indoor plants as the soil is planted isolated. Such soil doesn’t benefit from natural cycles that replenish fertility after depleting the plant over time. Hence the plant is entitled to fertilizer once every month in the appropriate seasons.

#5. Pruning And Grooming

This plant does not require a lot of pruning except where you need to trim away the dead wrinkled stems. And how do you know that the branch is slow since the whole plant looks dead in the first place? You will notice a color change; instead of mottled green or pink, the dead stems are brown and wrinkled instead of the typical plant color. You will see them when doing the pruning.

#6. Ideal Pot

The pot is always a vital facilitator to help you attain your plant’s drainage needs. Therefore, if you are planting your Euphorbia Platyclada in a pot, you must consider the type of pot you use carefully.

It should have several draining holes at the bottom because the water that gets to the soil needs to get out of the pot to avoid waterlogging. The material from which the pot is not a critical factor, provided it has adequate drainage holes. However, a breathable pot can enhance the evaporation of water from the sides of the pot, enhancing the suitability of the soil. In this regard, unglazed terracotta pots are the best option. 

Pests and Diseases in Euphorbia Platyclada

In this Euphorbia succulent, you will notice some things indicating that the plant is not thriving. They include a color change, especially when the plant or sections of the plant are pale. This shows pest damage typically.

A lack of growth can also point to a problem. If the plant does not grow during the actively growing months from spring to early autumn, it indicates a lack of nutrients. The drying off of the flowers of the Euphorbia Platyclada suggests a lack of water.

You can remove the pests by spraying the infested plant with liquid soap mixed with water. The other way you can get rid of these pests is by applying pesticides. You should use pesticides made from plants such as neem or pyrethrum.

Other methods include dipping a piece of cotton wool in alcohol and dabbing the infested areas. You can also spray the affected areas with high-pressure water and dislodge the bugs physically.


Propagation of Euphorbia Platyclada

You can propagate euphorbia Platyclada in seeds, offsets, and cuttings.

#1. How to propagate Euphorbia Platyclada from cuttings

It would help if you had the following things, so put them together before starting.

  1. A sharp cutting tool such as a knife or hand pruner
  2. Alcohol wipes, methylated or surgical spirit, and cotton wool
  3. Three-inch pots depending 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 spreading 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 sap to thicken fast.
  5. Once the cut is closed off, gently plant the Euphorbia Platyclada in well-draining soil and water. It would help if you were vigilant not to let the ground be ever parched.

#2. How to propagate Euphorbia Platyclada by division /offsets

Propagation through division is the easiest method to reproduce the Euphorbia Platyclada. Using a clean knife, separate a new plug from the main plant when the plant is ready. Please wait until the cut has been calloused before letting it contact the damp soil.

This method may be the easiest and the surest way of getting a new plant, but it will be up to two years before the Euphorbia Platyclada produces any pups at the root level.

#3. How to propagate using seeds

This plant is a slow grower and takes several years to mature, so this method is not recommended even if its seeds can propagate it. Plant the seeds in a well-draining soil mixture to reproduce from the seeds. You can use this method outdoors. In cooler areas, indoor propagating is recommended.

Before You Leave …

This weird plant with a morbid name is attractive for its odd appearance. The name and connotation are fitting because this plant is toxic like others in the Euphorbia genus. Avoid getting the sap on your skin or eyes when pruning or obtaining cuttings for propagation. Also, keep the plant out of the reach of children and pets.

More interesting facts about Euphorbias? The next and previous Euphorbia plants are right below:

Succulent City chief editor


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