Everything You Need To Know About the Small Geophytic Succulent ‘Euphorbia Stellata’

Euphorbia stellata is a geophytic succulent that falls under the sub-category of the euphorbia genus known as Medusoid Euphorbias. Medusoid euphorbia is derived from the creepy Greek goddess known as Medusa, who was said to have snakes protruding as hair from her head. The branches of these euphorbias proceed, prostrate, from the stem in all directions like crawling snakes. However, they are pretty beautiful, and thus people use them for decoration in homes. It is commonly known as the jerry fish head.

These branches have spines, typical of most plants in the Euphorbia genus. The spines appear at both ends of the prostrate stems, which are about six millimeters apart. These spines are also referred to as sinuate teeth, and they are greyish in appearance, sometimes with red edges. Also, the branches have distinct feathery white markings. All these attributes combined make the plant a sight to behold.

Physical Description of Euphorbia Stellata

The plant grows up to 15 cm (6 inches) high. Its stem has a diameter of about three inches. This stem is more of a woody caudex which plays a pivotal role in the storage of water for this plant. The plant has dark green stems and virtually no leaves. The plant blooms and produces yellow-green flowers.

Natural Habitat of Euphorbia Stellata

The plant’s natural habitat is in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. It grows best in USDA hardiness zones 9b-11b. The best temperatures are between 25oF to 50oF, equal to -3.9oC to 10oF. This shows that the plant isn’t cold-hardy. Like many other plants in the Euphorbia genus, it does enjoy a lot of sunlight. Thus, the USDA zone where grows as much sunlight.

Toxicity of Euphorbia Stellata

When wounded, the plant produces whitish sap known as latex. This latex is poisonous, and it can cause blindness if it gets into the eyes. It is toxic when ingested and causes blisters on the skin when it comes into contact. Therefore, you should keep this plant out of reach of children and pets. Always put on protective gear when working on it.

Euphorbia Stellata Care

The following are some of the best practices you need to take to get the best outcome for your domesticated Euphorbia stellata.

#1. Lighting and Placement

This plant can’t survive without adequate sunlight. If it persists, it won’t give you the perks in appearance you would otherwise enjoy when the plant grows as it should. One of the things that happen when the light is insufficient is that the pigmentation of the plant changes. The shade of green may become lighter or yellowish in extreme cases. The plant won’t produce flowers when it isn’t getting enough light.

Make sure you place your Euphorbia stellata at a place where its access to direct sunlight will be unencumbered. Indirect sunlight works too, but there has to be plenty of it. With this in mind, the best place to place your plant is outdoors, where it gets adequate sunlight. This doesn’t mean that it is impossible to grow it indoors.

You can keep it indoors but on a porch where it can access direct sunlight. Also, you could place it next to a window, western and southern windows, because these are the positions from which the plants can get direct sunlight. Keep the plant within one foot of the window to ensure sufficient sunlight. You can enhance the access to light by your indoor plant by painting the room where you keep it in bright colors. The colors will reflect the sunlight and increase its intensity in the room. By doing this, you will have given your plant sufficient light to grow to its full beauty.

This succulent prefers warm temperatures. The lowest temperature under which it can thrive is -3.9oC. It, however, prefers temperatures that are above 0oC. This is where it thrives. If you live in an area where you experience long freezing winters, this plant may not do well, and you are better off planting it in an indoor setting. Alternatively, you can keep them outdoors in pots and move them outdoor during winter.

Suppose your plant is in an indoor environment. You can take it outside in winter when there is some sunshine and take it back inside. This will mitigate the lack of adequate sunlight in the house during winter.

#2. Soil

Euphorbia stellata does best in well-draining soil. Your soil’s drainage is the most critical consideration when deciding. The importance of drainage is because the plant can survive the lean ground, but it can’t survive waterlogging. Like all succulents, having the roots stay in water causes them to rot. Rotting roots leads to the death of a plant.

When potting this succulent, ensure you have a succulent mix blended with some pumice or ground coconut shells. This soil will allow water to pass through easily while at the same time retaining some moisture that is necessary for the plant’s good health.

If you want to use this plant for xeriscaping outdoors, it would be better if you lived where the soil is sandy. If you live where the soil doesn’t dry well, you can either introduce some gravel into the ground you are planting or make French drains to drain off any excess moisture in the soil. Ultimately, the focus isn’t the type of soil; it is how well drained it is; euphorbia stellata can grow on any soil provided it is well-drained.

Once you take care of the drainage, you can turn to the fertility of your soil. Having some organic matter gives the minerals and nutrients that keep the plant healthy. The nutrients are a good addition since the plant is quite drought-resistant and can survive pretty depleted soil. A later of brick or charcoal pieces enhance the plant’s growth.

#3. Fertilizer

This plant blooms in spring and grows in summer. It grows throughout the year but mainly in spring and summer. The growth and flowering process might cause the plant to need a little boost in nutrients, thus applying fertilizer in spring and summer. Feed it with a well-balanced liquid cactus fertilizer mixed to half strength.

It would help if you fed it once per month, but you should observe its reaction. If the pigmentation changes, go slow on feeding; you might be applying too much fertilizer. Always go for good-quality fertilizers manufactured by reputable companies. Low-quality fertilizers usually lead to the accumulation of salts that may, in turn, cause serious harm to your plant.

#4. Watering

Your watering of this plant should be typical for succulents. It doesn’t require much water due to waterlogging, which causes root rot. You should, therefore, only water the plant when the soil is dry. You can tell the ground is dry by dipping your fingers from the top. If there is moisture in the first two inches, avoid watering. On the other hand, if the soil has no water in those two inches, it is ready for the next drink.

The key to proper watering of this plant is understanding your plant’s rhythm. Durations between drinks will vary from place to place and season to season. For example, the plant will require more water in summer due to evaporation and spring since that is the plant’s growing season.

#5. Humidity

Keep the humidity between 30-50%; this humidity range can be categorized as moderate.  Maintaining it at that level is vital for your plant’s survival because Euphorbia stellate doesn’t do well in low humidity.

Therefore, you will need to humidify your house if you live in a low humidity area and intend to keep this plant. Buying a humidifier is the easiest way to increase your household humidity, but you can use local methods like placing open water bowls in strategic places near the plant.

#6. Ideal Pot

The pot in which you plant this succulent is a vital consideration because the plant has a caudex. The pot should be wide enough to support the plant, including the additional weight the caudex brings to bear.

You should plant this plant in a pot that allows for water to drain out as the waterlogging causes root rot in the plant. Therefore, the pot should have drainage holes at the bottom to drain off any excess water. We shall discuss that further underwater and watering and soil.

#7. Pests and Diseases

Mealybugs are the most common pest affecting this succulent. You can get rid of them by spraying them with liquid soap mixed with water or plant-based pesticides such as neem and pyrethrum. Wiping off the infested parts of the plant with a piece of cotton wool dipped in alcohol also works. In some instances, you can spray the plant with water under high pressure to dislodge the bugs.

Remember, this plant’s stems run prostrate. Therefore, you should make an effort to lift them and check if there is an infestation on the underside of the branches. This way, you ensure you get rid of all the bugs. Root rot is the most common disease in this plant. You manage it by providing soil drainage and by avoiding overwatering by all means.

#8. Grooming and Pruning

Euphorbia Stellata doesn’t require too much grooming. Allow the stems to grow prostrate from the pot. Increasing the plant on a suspended pot may be possible and allow the stems to grow. Wherever you grow it, this plant can grow beautifully without grooming. Remove any dead or diseased branches to enable others to grow. Always put on goggles and gloves when working on the plants.

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Propagation

The best time to propagate this plant is at the beginning of spring so that the new plant can coincide with the growing season and thrive quickly. You can reproduce it using cuttings, offsets, or seeds.

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 fluid to thicken fast.
  5. Once the cut is closed off, gently plant the Euphorbia Stellata in well-draining soil and water. It would help if you were vigilant not to let the earth be ever parched.

Propagation by division /offsets

Propagation through division is the easiest method to reproduce the Euphorbia Stellata. 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 Stellata produces any pups at the root level.

Propagation by seeds

This plant is a slow grower and takes several years to mature, so this method, while viable, can take a bit of time. Plant the seeds in a well-draining soil mixture to propagate from the sources. You can use this method outdoors. In more excellent areas, indoor propagating is recommended.

Repotting

There are three main reasons for repotting Euphorbia Stellata.

  1. To improve porosity
  2. Increase the nutrients available to the plant
  3. Increase the space available to your plant’s roots.

Your soil can lose its porosity after anchoring the plant for a while. Remember, the pot must have drainage holes on the underside to allow excess water to pass through the pot easily. The water will carry a little of the grit as it leaves the pot. Eventually, the particles will get depleted to the level where the soil is not as porous as it used to be. The soil will then expose your plant to the possibility of root rot.  When you notice that the leaves have started dropping, it could signify that the roots are rotting. It’s advisable to report it immediately to prevent the plant from dying. You can also move it to a bigger pot if the plant becomes big.

Final Thought on Euphorbia Stellata

Euphorbia Stellata is an intriguing plant with a beautiful appearance. It doesn’t require much effort to maintain. Make sure the plant is planted on suitable soil and watered. Remember to keep it out of children’s and pets’ reach due to its toxicity.

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Posted in Succulents