Euphorbia Spiralis (The Spiral Euphorbia)

Euphorbia Spiralis is commonly known as the Spiral Euphorbia. It also goes by the scientific name Euphorbia Septemsulcata. This plant is primarily found in Yemen, particularly the Island of Socotra, but its unique appearance has made it popular in homes globally. Its growth season extends from summer to fall. It remains primarily dormant for the rest of the year except mid-winter, when it may bloom.

Euphorbia Spiralis Characteristics

1. The Stem

This plant is one of the slow-growing euphorbias, which reaches a maximum height of 6-12 inches. It thus has the size to become the ultimate potted houseplant since it runs no risk of ever outgrowing the pot. However, the rate of growth is mainly dependent on the conditions. If the soil is rich and the temperature right, alongside other requirements, the plant is likely to grow faster than if the conditions were not as good.

The Spiral Euphorbia’s appearance is unique, and, as its name suggests, it grows spirally in nodes so that every new growing season is marked with a new node. The lower part of the plant is often narrow before increasing in girth to form a bibulous appearance just before it narrows again at the top. Euphorbia spiralis doesn’t have branches. Its stem is greenish-grey; it is a relevant source of chlorophyll because the plant’s leaves are too narrow to support photosynthesis sufficiently.

2. Leaves

It has small, narrow leaves that appear at the top; the leaves look like the beak of some fat, alien warm. They appear on the plant in early spring and remain until late fall when it sheds them—the stem tapers towards the top. Leaves seem to even out the difference in circumference with the rest of the stem because they spread out. When the leaves fall off within the season, they leave behind spines. These leaves grow in spirals, and the spines appear so and thus the plant’s name.

These spines, a typical characteristic of most plants in the Euphorbia family, become more and more like studs the longer they have been on the plant. Thus the ones towards the bottom of the plant appear more like pimples.

3. Flowers

This plant produces flowers in mid-winter. The flowers are greenish-yellow in appearance, and they grow from woody stalks that extend from the stem. These stems are typically about two millimeters wide, and they tend to have a few bends. The flowers are unisexual, but each cluster has male and female flowers to facilitate pollination. However, this reproductive process rarely concludes, and it is challenging to find Euphorbia spiralis fruits or seeds.

4. Latex and Toxicity

All plants in the Euphorbia family produce white sap when injured. This sap is known as latex or lumber, and it is toxic. It can lead to blindness if it gets into your eyes, causes blisters on the skin, and is highly toxic when swallowed. The toxicity can be quite severe, and in light of that, you should keep the plant away from children and pets and always have protective gear when working on it.

Euphorbia Spiralis Care

Euphorbia Spiralis Care
Photo by @casanndras_garden via Instagram

The plant doesn’t require intensive husbandry. It has no branches, and it is pretty drought resistant. It would help if you took the following measures to keep the most from it.

#1. Light and Placement

Euphorbia Spiralis requires substantial light. It can thrive under direct or indirect sunlight, depending on your location. You can, therefore, as quickly grow it outdoors for xeriscaping as you would keep it indoors as a decorative plant.

When you plant it indoors, keep it near a western or southern window that allows direct sunlight. Keep the plant within a foot of the window to enjoy as much sunlight as possible. Avoid planting Euphorbia Spiralis outside if your area has experienced freezing winters, it isn’t frost-hardy. In such an environment, the best you can do is plant it in a container. You can permanently keep it under house culture or move it indoors in winter. The lowest recommended temperature for it is -1.1oC.

The pot where you plant this Euphorbia should be big enough to allow for growth, but it shouldn’t be wasteful—eight inches in diameter and ten inches deep. Repotting is necessary if your plant outgrows the previous pot. Euphorbias do best when their roots are free in loose soil and have vast space in the pot.

#2. Soil

This plant can’t survive waterlogging because, as a succulent, it is susceptible to roots rot when it remains in the water. The best soil for your Spiral Spurge should be well-draining; it can be a commercial cactus mix obtained from a local plant shop. If you use the plants for Xeriscaping, you should ensure it is on sandy soil or an equal blend of loamy and sandy soil. Also, you can drain your soil by making French drains along where you have planted them.

How well your pot drains is a critical determinant of the soil’s drainage for a potted plant. The bank should have suitable drainage holes at the bottom. It is even better if the pot is breathable, as this would allow water from the soil to evaporate quickly. This is why Terracotta pots are ideal for Euphorbia plants and other succulents.

#3. Watering

Euphorbia Spiralis is both drought-resistant and root-rot-prone. You should, therefore, water it with care. It requires more water during summer and fall, which are its growing seasons. However, it can do without additional watering in winter and spring, especially if the plant is already well established.

It would help if you were careful when watering, even in seasons when the plant needs the most water because root rot is the greatest danger to the survival of this succulent. As earlier mentioned, the condition is caused by waterlogging, and you should avoid too much water at all costs.

With this in mind, it is advisable only to water your plant when the humidity from the previous drink has already dried up. The easiest way to tell your water is dry enough for the next watering is by putting your fingers in the soil. Water only if the top three inches of the earth are dry. Don’t water if you encounter moisture; the ground is still too wet.

#4. Fertilizer

This plant is slow-growing and drought resistant. It, therefore, requires minimal fertilizer and feeding it thrice a year is enough. You should give it a well-balanced, slow-releasing fertilizer from a reputable brand you can trust. Going for a well-known brand might also mean higher costs, but it is worth it. The heavy salts in less well-made fertilizers accumulate in the soil leading to the death of the plant. Avoid feeding the plant with extra fertilizer in its dormant season. The fertilizer might build up and be harmful to your plant.

Pests and Diseases in Euphorbia Spiralis

Euphorbia Spiralis isn’t too prone to pests and diseases. Problems don’t usually attack it due to its toxicity, and when you plant it outside, it is entirely deer resistant. It can, however, be attacked by mealybugs. You know the mealybugs have attacked your plant when tiny white cotton ball-like substances start forming on the stem.

You can get rid of them by spraying the plant with water under high pressure to dislodge the bugs. Also, you can use liquid detergent mixed with water to spread the infected plant to kill them. Other interventions include spraying with plant bases pesticides such as neem or pyrethrum. You can also clean up the infestation with a piece of cotton dipped in alcohol.

Root rot is the leading disease affecting the plant, and the best way to deal with it is to take preventive measures in your choice of soil and your watering practices.

Pruning of Euphorbia Spiralis

This plant has no branches or much growth, so there isn’t much to do by pruning. However, the woody stalks on which flowers grow dry off at the end of the season make the plant untidy. The stalks are challenging to break since they have a somewhat rubbery disposition. When you bend it, it just bends instead of breaking. Therefore, the best way to get rid of them is to cut them off with clippers. Sometimes dry leaves remain attached to the stem. You can easily remove these by breaking them off. Unlike other Euphorbia plants, pruning this plant doesn’t require you to injure the plant extensively. You will need to put on protective gear when grooming it, but you aren’t in as much danger as you would be with some others in this genus.


Propagation of Euphorbia Spiralis

Propagation of Euphorbia Spiralis
Photo by @sharrontmp via Instagram

Each Euphorbia Spiralis plant rarely pollinates successfully, primarily when domesticated. This makes viable seeds rare. The easiest and most standard propagation method is, therefore, through cuttings. You also note that the plant doesn’t have branches, and to propagate from stem cuttings would mean wounding the plant, sometimes mortally. The next best option is to reproduce it using leaf cutting.

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. Planting pots depending on the number of plants you want to propagate

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.
  3. Cut a healthy leaf on the lower part with your now sterilized tool. It would help to cut it precisely where it connects with the stem. 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 leaf to dry off by keeping it under a shade for two days.
  5. Put your potting mix into a propagation tray with some potting mix. Take the hardened-off leaves and put one in each of the slots in the tray.
  6. Place the cutting away from direct sunlight in a warm place and moisten the soil.

Give the leaves time to root, and then move them to the pots, where you will nurture them and keep them until they are strong enough to withstand the elements. Propagation by leaf cuttings takes a long, but it is the primary way.

Final Thought

This Euphorbia is easy to manage. Its small size presents a much lower risk of poisoning than the other plants because the exposure is every day, especially when grooming the plant. It is, however, important to always have in mind that the plant is toxic. Could you keep it away from children and pets?


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!

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