Euphorbia Lambii: Tree Euphorbia Plant Care

If you love the look of a lush, green landscape, you need to add a Tree Euphorbia to your yard.

This succulent is easy to grow, but there are a few things you need to know before bringing one home.

In this post, we will cover topics on how to care for an Euphorbia lambii plant in your garden.

What is a Tree Euphorbia (Euphorbia Lambii)?

The Tree Euphorbia is a succulent plant with a tree-like growth habit that can reach ten feet tall.

Its botanical name is Euphorbia lambii, but it is sometimes referred to as Euphorbia bourgaeana or even Euphorbia lambiorum.

It’s also sometimes referred to as the Truffula Tree because of the similarities in shape it has to the trees in the famous child books by Dr. Seuss.

Although it can grow tall, it is a skinny plant as the main trunk does not get thicker than a few inches.

What-Is-A-Tree-Euphorbia-Lambii

The way the plant sprouts its foliage makes the tree look like one of Dr. Seuss’ Truffula trees–hence, some call these plants Truffula tree plants.

Native to the Canary Islands, this particular species of Euphorbia is best grown in USDA hardiness zones 9b through 11.

It is hardy enough to be tolerant of some winter weather, though it performs best in temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Flowering

These plants bloom with flowers. Commonly used as an ornamental tree, Euphorbia lambii boasts unusual flowers and is a beautiful addition to any garden space.

The flowers grow like little pom-poms that are yellowish-green, giving them an elegant whimsy during the blooming season.

Euphorbia lambii blooms yellow-green flowers in the wintertime when most other plants are dormant.

The flower is cup-shaped with clusters inside, adding another visually appealing feature to covet while it is in bloom.

Because they bloom flowers when others don’t, they are an excellent addition to any landscaping in your garden or front yard.

Toxic

It is advisable to use caution when pruning and wear gloves and long clothes. The sap is also mildly poisonous and should not be accessible to pets or small children.

Plants in the genus Euphorbia generally are succulent, drought-tolerant, and contain a milky sap that can irritate the skin.

How to Care for Tree Euphorbia

Euphorbia lambii, also known as the Tree Euphorbia, is a succulent plant that can grow up to 10 feet tall.

This plant is easy to care for, requiring little water and no sunlight. It is a popular choice for landscaping because of its tender leaves and attractive flowers.

Light

Light-for-Euphorbia-Lambii

The Tree Euphorbia plant grows best in full sun to partial shade.

Sun exposure to the plants underneath it can be limited due to the canopy-forming nature of Euphorbia lambii,so keep in mind how much it will grow and what other plants you have under and around your tree.

To grow indoors, situate your plant in a south or west-facing window so it can get the amount of sun exposure needed daily to thrive.

Climate

Because Tree Euphorbia plants are native to the Canary Islands and Madagascar, they are used to tropical or coastal climates and are reasonably hardy and drought tolerant.

However, unlike other succulents, Euphorbia lambii does not tolerate desert-like heat very well.

It can be grown outdoors in the USDA hardiness zones 9a through 11.

However, in cooler climate zones, where it is not appropriate to grow outside (and if small enough), this plant can be brought indoors as a houseplant.

Soil

Soil-for-Euphorbia-Lambii

Euphorbia lambii grows best in well-drained soil, though some variances in soil type can be tolerated.

Good drainage is vital, as succulents do not fare well against soggy roots.

Indoors, this plant can be placed in a terracotta pot with soil designed for cacti or succulents

Watering

Watering-Euphorbia-Lambii

Water your Tree Euphorbia regularly when it is young or freshly planted in the garden.

Once your plant is established, you should water it regularly when it is very hot and dry outside. The average water accumulation during the rainy season should be sufficient.

To water an indoor plant, pour water evenly through the soil until the excess liquid flows out of the drainage hole. This will ensure you that the water reaches the roots.

Good drainage is essential here to facilitate water movement out of the plant’s system when it has absorbed all it can handle.

Any excess water will create an environment for fungus and bacteria to grow. These fungi may cause root rot.

Fertilizer

Euphorbia lambii plants are not heavy feeders and do not rely on fertilizer. So, fertilizing once a year at half strength during its growing season should suffice.

Excessive fertilizer use can result in a salt buildup in the roots, damaging the roots and hindering the normal functioning of the rest of the plant.

Repotting

You should repot your Euphorbia lambii once every year or two, or when you notice your plant outgrows its current pot.

If you do not repot a plant that needs a larger pot, it can lead to stunted growth and damage to the plant.

An easy thing to check is to gently lift your plant slightly out of its pot to check for curling roots taking the shape of the pot. Any curling roots indicate that your plant should be repotted into a larger pot.

Another easy thing to look for is if any roots come out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. If so, you should repot your plant into a larger pot.

As for the type of pot, clay or terracotta pots help wick away excess moisture, ensuring the soil dries in an appropriate amount of time.

The cactus or succulent soil has extra perlite and bark added for drainage, though you can add your own soil amendment to any potting soil with perlite or sand to create better drainage.

We usually skip the DIY soil and just buy this succulent garden soil. We like it because it’s designed to be fast draining and, to be honest, it’s not that expensive.

Pruning

Prune your Euphorbia lambii in the spring before the growing season starts.

Focus on pruning bottom branches to help shape the plant or large, heavy branches that could risk eventually breaking off and causing potential damage.

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Propagation

Propagating-Euphorbia-Lambii

Euphorbia lambii can be propagated through seeds or stem cuttings.

If you have your plant outside in the garden, seeds will drop naturally and can be planted wherever you like.

To propagate by stem cuttings, use sterile, sharp scissors to cut a piece from the point where it branches off the main stem. Cold water can stop the sap from oozing.

Allow the wounded surface to scab over in a cool, dry, dark place for a day or two. Set it on top of potting mix in a warm area out of direct sunlight and wait for roots to form.

Roots usually sprout out in 4 to 5 weeks.

Once roots have formed, the stem cutting can be gently transitioned into the fresh soil and watered as normal.

After a few weeks, you can test the plant by gently tugging on the cutting to see if the roots have anchored themselves in the soil.

Pests & Diseases

Fortunately, Euphorbia lambii does not have many pest or disease issues, with the most commonly encountered issue coming from root rot.

As noted before, toot rot usually has to do with overwatering, which is more of a care issue than an external disease issue.

With that said, root rot can attract pests to the decaying plant matter and leave it more susceptible to other diseases.

An easy deterrent is to simply let the plant’s soil dry thoroughly between waterings.

FAQ

How fast does Euphorbia lambii grow?

Euphorbia lambii, or Tree Euphorbia, can grow from seed in about 5-8 weeks. However, it will take a few years to reach full maturity. The growing season for this plant is not in spring like most flowering plants, but instead during the autumn and winter months.

Is Tree Euphorbia lambii poisonous?

Yes, as with all Euphorbia plants, the Tree Euphorbia sap is poisonous as well. If eaten or comes into contact with your skin or eyes, it can cause toxicity and irritation in animals and humans. It is vital to keep all Euphorbia plants out of the reach of animals and young children. Further, if you plan to prune, propagate or repot your Euphorbia lambii, you should wear protective eyewear and clothing.

Does Euphorbia lambii need full sun?

Euphorbia lambii thrives in full sun, although it can grow, albeit not well, in indirect or slight shade. With full sun, the foliage will have more vibrant colors.

Can you cut back Euphorbia lambii in spring?

Euphorbia species, including Euphorbia lambii, can be cut back in the spring. By pruning the euphorbia plant’s stems back to their bases, when the flowers die in the spring and summer, you can keep the plant from getting too big and make sure it keeps blooming year after year.

Conclusion

Euphorbia lambii is a strange species in the genus Euphorbia that can add a unique, magical feel to one’s garden or outdoor space.

Suppose you are in a relatively mild climate and need some sprucing up in the garden.

In that case, this drought-tolerant euphorbia can add beauty through its blue-green foliage during the spring and summer seasons and surprise you with electrifying blooms during the winter.

Other Euphorbia Plants

Euphorbia lambii is only one variety of Euphorbia that you can plant in your landscaping and at home. There are so many more types of Euphorbia species to consider. Take a look at our other posts to give you an idea.

Euphorbia Trigona: The Euphorbia Trigona is known by a variety of names, most famously as the African Milk Tree, but also as the Cathedral Cactus, and Candelabra Cactus (not to be confused with the Candelabra Tree). It is a plant that grows vertically and does not grow wider than its base, making it appropriate for landscaping in warmer regions.

Euphorbia Tirucalli: The Pencil Tree (or Pencil Cactus) is a shrub (some say small tree) with pencil-thick, smooth, succulent branches that can attain a maximum height of 40 feet in the wild. Although it is commonly used for landscaping, it can be pruned and grown as a houseplant. It has beautiful golden blooms, but its milky, caustic, and poisonous sap can cause temporary blindness.

Euphorbia Ingens: Candelabra trees are resilient plants that require little maintenance to grow and thrive—perfect as a landscaping plant. These plants typically perish because they require too much care or water. It can reach a height of 40 feet and its branches continue to grow even higher!

References

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  • North Carolina State Cooperative Extension. (n.d.). Euphorbia. NC State University Extension, Gardener Plant Toolbox. URL: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/euphorbia/
  • The Jepson Herbarium (eds.). (2022). Euphorbia – Spruge. Jepson eFlora, University of California, Berkeley. URL: https://ucjeps.berkeley.edu/eflora/eflora_display.php?tid=9260
  • About/mentions: Euphorbia lambii, Euphorbia bourgaeana, Euphorbia, succulents

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