The Euphorbia genus is incredibly underrated and deserves a lot more recognition from plant parents and green thumb enthusiasts. Euphorbias can bring life and vibrancy into various gardens and plant collections with succulents in every imaginable color, shape, and size.
If you’re looking for an easy-going houseplant or border plant, you will find one that ticks all your boxes within this diverse genus!
Table of Contents
What Are Euphorbia Plants?
The Euphorbia genus (Euphorbiaceae), or Spurges, consists of over 2000 flowering plants. The genus consists of trees, perennials, annuals, biannuals, shrubs, and herbaceous species.
Over 1200 varieties fall into the category of succulents. With this many different plants, spurge species are one of the most versatile plant genera in the plant kingdom!
Even though there is a wide variety of species inside the family Euphorbiaceae, the one characteristic they all share is the presence of a milky white sap produced inside the plant’s thick stems and leaves.
This toxic milky sap is highly irritating when it comes in contact with the skin. Be sure to wear gloves if you prune or cut your Euphorbias to protect your hands from the toxic sap.
Euphorbia blooms are either male or female flowers, and you can differentiate them by gently touching the flowers. If yellow dust (pollen) falls from the bloom, it’s male!
However, the sex of a flower is only of importance if you wish to reproduce and pollinate the plants. Just be sure to consider any pollen allergies before bringing them into your home.
Euphorbia Care Instructions
Every plant in the Euphorbia genus is suitable for beginner gardeners and plant owners, and one of the main reasons for this is their low-maintenance care requirements.
These plants thrive off neglect, especially if planted outdoors in a suitable climate! That’s why these succulents are always extensively used in gardens and pool landscaping.
Watering Your Euphorbia
During the plant’s active growing season, you’ll need to water the soil when the top few inches have dried.
Check the soil with your finger every couple of days, and water only when it is brittle to the touch. These drought-tolerant plants are prone to overwatering and root rot if they receive too much water!
During winter, cut back on watering and allow the plant to dry out completely. If you notice the stem or leaves starting to wrinkle and shrivel up, provide some extra moisture to help the plant perk back up.
Euphorbia Light Requirements
Most Euphorbias enjoy being in full sunlight, especially the succulent varieties. However, certain species can tolerate more sun than others.
Opt for bright, indirect sunlight to ensure that your Euphorbia receives enough light but is not at risk of sunburn from direct sun exposure.
I recommend aiming for a few hours of direct sunlight in the morning, then lighter exposure throughout the day when the sun is at its harshest levels.
When grown indoors, your Euphorbia will grow best when placed in a south or west-facing window.
If your Euphorbias are growing in containers, use a well-draining succulent or cactus-specific soil mix.
Potting these plants into containers with drainage holes in the bottom is also crucial to allow excess water to drain from the pot.
When planting your Euphorbias in your garden, amend the soil to make it suitable for drought-loving succulents.
Add pumice and sand to your garden soil for better drainage and aeration for your Euprhobias!
Fertilizing Your Euphorbias
Euphorbias in your garden will benefit from compost and organic material added to the soil to provide essential nutrients and boost healthy growth.
Container-grown plants must be fed monthly during the growing season using a succulent-specific plant fertilizer.
Many Euphorbias can be grown from stem cuttings, but some varieties produce ‘pups’ that can be taken from the mother plant and separated to create a new plant.
The suitable propagation method will depend on the species of Euphorbia, so your best chance of success is to research your variety before you take action!
Euphorbia Pests and Diseases
Like all plants, Euphorbias can fall prey to several pests and illnesses. The most common pests include spider mites, scale, and mealybugs.
My top tip to prevent pests is to use a neem oil solution to keep pests at bay. Neem oil is all-organic and won’t harm the beneficial insects in your soil or garden.
Still, the most seen disease among Euphorbias is root rot, by far.
Root rot is a disease of the root system caused by overwatering and lack of airflow to the roots – so good ventilation is key for indoor environments.
To prevent root rot, you must allow the soil of your Euphorbia to always dry out before watering and use a well-drained soil mix, as mentioned above!
My Top 25 Favorite Euphorbia Succulents
The following list includes my favorite types of Euphorbia succulents to grow at home. But be sure to read our guide on the best succulents to pair together if you want to create a flourishing succulent garden.
1. Euphorbia milii (Crown Of Thorns)
Legend has it that the crown Jesus wore at his crucifixion was made from this plant, which is why it got named ‘Crown of Thorns.’
The species originated in Madagascar but can be found all around the globe these days!
E. Milii grows long, succulent stems with thick spines; at the top, you will find thick, tear-shaped, fleshy leaves.
The plant can produce adorable flowers in pink and red throughout the year but only bloom in the best possible conditions.
2. Euphorbia trigona (African Milk Tree)
If you’ve ever wondered what a sculptural plant looks like, this is it. The African Milk Tree is an authentic statement piece if you put one in your home!
Like other succulent Euphorbias, this plant can withstand long periods of drought and appreciates a spot in the sunlight!
3. Euphorbia tirucalli (Pencil Cactus)
The name ‘Pencil Cactus’ comes from the plant’s long, thin, pencil-like foliage. But even though people call it a Euphorbia cactus, it does not belong to the family of Cactaceae.
Euphorbia Tirucalli is sometimes called ‘Milk Bush,’ named after the milky white latex sap its leaves are filled with!
If you are a forgetful plant parent, this plant is an excellent choice for you!
It thrives off neglect and can go without water for a long time. This shrub can grow up over 6 feet when grown indoors, making it an authentic statement plant.
4. Euphorbia ammak (Candelabra Spurge)
The Candelabra Spurge grows in a unique, wave-like pattern unique to this plant. It can be grown outdoors in USDA zones 8-11, making it a great addition to any garden plan.
But you can grow Euphorbia indoors if you don’t live in warm temperatures. Ensure to provide plenty of light and water sparingly.
I’ve seen this Euphorbia grown in an indoor garden underneath a sunroof. And let me tell you; it looks mesmerizing!
5. Euphorbia lactea (Mottled Spurge, Dragon Bone Tree)
The Dragon Bone Tree is native to the tropics of Asia, such as India. The plant grows in a cactus-like pattern with spines along its margins, so it’s often mistaken for a cactus.
Euphorbia Lactea comes in different varieties, such as variegated, White Ghost, or the Euphorbia Lactea ‘Cristata,’ which is often grafted onto a Euphorbia Neriifolia!
I once gave a Euphorbia Lactea Cristata to a friend, and the poor succulent did not last long! These plants need full sun and minimal watering, which my friend sadly did not provide.
Consider adding artificial grow lights if your home doesn’t get much natural sunlight and only water when the soil is dry. It may save your Euphorbia from meeting the same fate as my friend!
6. Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia)
You will see this beautiful Euphorbia everywhere during the holiday season. Also known as Christmas Star or Christmas Flower, the Poinsettia is one of the most popular Euphorbia species to grow.
This popularity is due to its showy, colorful bracts in late winter! With good care and maintenance, this Euphorbia can rebloom every Christmas season. However, getting the plant to rebloom can be much work and effort.
7. Euphorbia amygdaloides Var. Robbiae (Wood Spurge)
This Euphorbia makes for a great garden perennial if you’re looking for a low-maintenance plant that adds color and texture to your garden.
It grows lime-green, showy blooms during late spring and Summer. It is an excellent addition for anyone who likes to grow a woodland-inspired garden.
Like other perennial Euphorbias, Wood Spurge thrives in dry, warm climates.
This plant can be grown outdoors in USDA zones 6-9, making it an excellent low-maintenance border plant for drier areas.
8. Euphorbia ingens (Candelabra Tree)
Euphorbia Ingens is native to Southern Africa and grows in arid environments. This succulent is a popular choice for gardeners who live in dry areas, as the plant can reach over 30 feet and is very low-maintenance.
If you choose to grow your Candelabra Tree outdoors, it may bloom during the Fall and Winter months!
When grown as an indoor plant, Euphorbia Ingens rarely flower due to the significant difference in light exposure indoors.
9. Euphorbia obesa (Baseball Plant)
The Euphorbia Obesa is a unique and fun plant to grow. Sadly, in their native habitat in South Africa, the Baseball Plant is considered to be endangered. However, You can find the plant abundantly in global garden centers.
Euphorbia Obesa is an easy-care and low-maintenance plant, and it will thrive if you provide it with plenty of light, sandy soil, and minimal watering. This plant does not grow leaves but may add some adorable flowers during spring and early summer.
10. Euphorbia Baioensis
This unique Euphorbia is often mistaken for a cactus as it grows spikes like cacti.
However, the main difference between the spikes on Euphorbias is that they are thorns, while cactus spikes are modified leaves. This bushy shrub originates from Kenya, named after the mountain Baio, where it was first discovered.
Euphorbia Baioensis is one of the lesser-known Euphorbia succulent types, but I think it’s worth purchasing for your rock gardens or indoor plant collection.
It has a unique, bush-like growth pattern. Each stem can reach up to a foot tall!
11. Euphorbia Abdelkuri ‘Damask’
Euphorbia Damask is one of the most widely sought-after succulent plants you can find, and when you see it, you will know why; this Euphorbia is fleshy pink!
The ‘Damask’ is a mutation of the regular Abdelkuri, which is grey and a true gem for any succulent collector.
If you get your hands on one, ensure to provide it with lots of bright sunlight. The more light this plant gets, the more vibrant and bright the pink shade will get.
You will often see the Damask grafted onto a green Euphorbia variety, which makes for an interesting-looking plant in your collection!
12. Euphorbia Abyssinica (Desert Candle)
This cactus-like Euphorbia succulent can grow up to 33 feet in its African natural habitat, making it one of the largest succulents on this list!
The Desert Candle Euphorbia is often mistaken for other Euphorbia succulent types, such as the Ingens or Ammak.
However, the Abyssinica is distinct because it grows a cluster of green leaves at the top of the plant and has a more vertical growth pattern.
13. Euphorbia Polychroma (Cushion Spurge)
When you see this plant, you will immediately understand where its common name, ‘Cushion Spurge,’ comes from.
This succulent shrub grows in a cluster that forms a type of dome, closely resembling a cushion or pillow!
This Euphorbia puts out showy yellow flowers during spring and invites a true fall feeling, as the leaves turn a burgundy red as the plant enters its resting period.
Cutting off the spent flower heads to keep the shrub looking fresh and promote new growth throughout the season is recommended.
14. Euphorbia Guiengola (String Of Stars)
The String of Stars is one of the few deciduous plants in the Euphorbia genus, meaning that it drops its foliage in the fall and grows back in early spring. However, it will keep its small white and red blooms year-round!
This rare Euphorbia is a unique plant that grows from a short trunk and puts out long succulent stems filled with many little flowers.
Because the String of Stars is quite rare, it can be hard to find.
But suppose you find one for your plant collection. In that case, you will not be disappointed by the unique and beautiful growth pattern of this Euphorbia!
15. Euphorbia Vulcanorum
The name ‘Vulcanorum’ comes from the origin of this Euphorbia in the vulcanic areas around Kenya.
The Euhprbia Vulcanorum is a relatively small tree, so if you have a small garden or limited space, this succulent Euphorbia may be an excellent pick! It only grows up to about 3.3 feet in height.
The flowers are showy, in red and yellow. They appear primarily in fall and spring, but you can see this plant blooming year-round when given the right conditions.
It thrives in partial shade but needs plenty of sunlight to encourage the production of flowers.
16. Euphorbia Myrsinites (Donkey Tail Spurge)
With blue-grayish colored leaves, the Donkey Tail Spurge is a unique but not uncommon herbaceous perennial that can be grown in gardens in dry, arid climates.
In certain parts of the USA, these herbaceous plants are considered invasive species, as they proliferate and can cause damage to the natural vegetation in these areas.
Nevertheless, the Donkey Tail Spurge can be a great rock garden or flower bed addition. It will need regular pruning and deadheading of spent flowers.
You can also plant this Euphorbia in pots to keep it from invading your and your neighbor’s gardens.
17. Euphorbia Aphylla (Leafless Spurge)
The Leafless Spurge thanks its name to the tiny, insignificant leaves that drop off quickly, leaving the plant with long, bare, bushy stems.
The flowers on the Euphorbia aphylla are tiny and yellow-colored. As with most perennial plants, you can see this plant bloom again and again in the springtime.
18. Euphorbia Cotonifolia (Smoketree Spurge)
This beautiful variety grows stunning red or burgundy-colored foliage. This plant is native to Mexico and South America and grows in warm, tropical conditions.
The tree produces white flowers in late summer, but most gardeners grow it specifically for its colorful foliage!
19. Euphorbia Horrida (African Milk Barrel)
This spiny Euphorbia closely resembles cactus plants due to its enormous, aggressive spikes.
To make the plant even more threatening, it produces a toxic and irritating sap when cut! You’d not want to keep this plant around small children or pets!
Regardless of its intimidating appearance, the African Milk Barrel is a low-maintenance succulent and can make a great addition to your succulent collection.
Like all plants in the genus Euphorbia, it thrives off neglect and loves to be in brightly lit conditions.
20. Euphorbia leuconeura (Madagascar Jewel)
The Madagascar Jewel differs from most Euphorbias as it is less drought-tolerant, likes shadier locations, and does not look like the typical succulent you’d expect from this genus.
The Euphorbia leuconeura is commonly grown as a houseplant, and You can find it in many plant shops or garden centers worldwide.
If you grow one of these in your home, don’t be surprised if small Madagascar Jewels are growing in plants in surrounding pots. These plants multiply by ‘spitting’ their seeds a few feet away!
21. Euphorbia Marginata (Snow-On-The-Mountain)
Perhaps the most beautiful Euphorbia succulent types on this list, the Euphorbia Marginata, is a stunning plant with pale white variegated bracts and tiny clustered blooms at the top of the stems.
This ornamental plant originates from warm areas in North America, such as Texas or Colorado, where the climate is hot and dry.
This Euphorbia is one of my favorites, and I am sure that when you grow one of your own, you’ll surely love yours too!
22. Euphorbia Lactea Variegata ‘Ghost’
The Euphorbia Lactea Variegata ‘Ghost’ is a true unicorn for rare plant collectors. The regular Lactea is a standard green shade, but the ‘Ghost’ variety lacks chlorophyll, making the plant appear creamy white.
While it has mostly the same care requirements, the Euphorbia Lactea Variegata may grow much slower than its green counterpart.
Since it has much less chlorophyll, the plant won’t photosynthesize as effectively, significantly slowing its growth rate.
23. Euphorbia Cremersii
Unlike many other Euphorbias, the Cremersii grows from a caudex and has much leafy vegetation rather than stems and spines. The leaves are colorful and showy, reminding us of Begonia’s leaves.
Since the plant grows from a caudex, keeping an eye on its watering needs is crucial since it is prone to rot if the soil remains wet for too long. If you grow one of these in your home, let the soil dry completely to keep it healthy and lush!
24. Euphorbia Grandialata
This stunning cactus-like variety is an intriguing plant to see!
Euphorbia Grandialata undergoes rapid growth followed by slowed growth, resulting in a wavy stem with thick, broad sections and narrow sections alternating.
The stem has yellow striped variegation, giving the plant a unique look!
25. Euphorbia Mammillaris (African Corn Cob)
Originally from South Africa, the Euphorbia Mammilaris is a stunning chalky green succulent. It comes in a regular and a variegated form, and my favorite is the variegated one!
The creamy-white colored stems look their best when slightly sun stressed. When exposed to direct sun, these Euphorbia varieties produce a slight pink or red-toned hue.
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