5/5 - (17 votes)

The Euphorbia horrida is one of the plants that you should consider if you are looking for something that adds a unique vibe to your home garden. The beauty of this plant is in the spines that lace the surface of its leaves.

Euphorbia Horrida

This article presents information from different professional plant caretakers on how to take proper care of this plant. If you want to care for the Euphorbia horrida like an expert, continue reading.

Quick Overview

Here is a handy table of this plant’s requirements.

Requirements Euphorbia horrida
Light Grows well under full light, but does much better when under a light shade
Water Water twice every week in the summer and once every week in the autumn and spring
Soil Soil that is sufficiently well-draining
Temperature Needs warmer temperatures
Fertilizer Add fertilizer ideally two times a year, during mid-spring and early summer

What Is Euphorbia Horrida?

The Euphorbia horrida is a succulent that belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family of plants that is also referred to as the African milk barrel or African milk bush. The Euphorbia horrida is native to South Africa and exists as perennial shrubs that have a milky sap.

The Euphorbia horrida is characterized by erect, clumpy stems, whose color varies from grey-green to blue-grey. Each stem can grow up to 4.9 feet in height and 6 inches in width.

The stems of the Euphorbia horrida have heavy ridges, and the edges of these ridges are laced with thorns, which are the remains of flower stalks that would have dried up.

The Euphorbia horrida produces purple or greenish-yellow flowers during summer. The flowers of the Euphorbia horrida are held in bracts that are colored and colorful.

Euphorbia Horrida Care

The first few days of caring for Euphorbia horrida are a bit demanding as far as taking care of your plant is concerned. However, once the plant is established, the Euphorbia horrida is an easy-to-care-for plant. Just a quick tip 一 too much watering is more dangerous for your Euphorbia horrida than neglecting it.

– Water Requirements

The water requirements of Euphorbia horrida are highly affected by climatic and environmental conditions. While most succulents are relatively drought-tolerant, the same cannot be said for the Euphorbia horrida.

You should water the plant twice every week in the summer and once every week in the autumn and spring. Each time you water your Euphorbia horrida, thoroughly water it and let any excess water drain through the drainage holes of its pot.

To avoid overwatering, do not water your succulent when its topsoil is still wet. Check to see if the first few inches of the topsoil are completely dry before you give your plant a drink. The Euphorbia horrida goes into rest during the winter so you should reduce watering during this season. Watering your plant every 20 days would be ideal in winter.

Use rainwater and any other type of water that is suitable for human consumption when watering your Euphorbia horrida. If you can’t find that, tap water will still do as long as you allow it to sit overnight.

– Light Requirements

The Euphorbia horrida can grow well under full light. However, this plant does much better when you grow it under a light shade. Make sure not to expose your plant to direct sunlight during the central hours of the day when the sun is too hot. The Euphorbia horrida can only sustain occasional frosts but extended exposure can damage your plant.

If your Euphorbia horrida is part of your indoor plants, make sure you put it in a room that has windows. Place your plant near these windows so that it can receive as much natural light as possible. However, avoid putting the plant right in front of the windows.

Make a 180-degree rotation of the plant every day so that all sides of your plant will receive relatively the same amount of light. This promotes an even growth of your plant, making it look gorgeous and balanced.

– Soil Requirements

Provide your Euphorbia horrida with soil that is sufficiently well-draining. Commercial substrates for succulents will do well. To create your own potting mix, we recommend that you mix pumice with 40 percent peat. You can also replace pumice with fine gravel.

The Euphorbia horrida can thrive well in neutral soil, but it tolerates saline and alkaline soil as well.

– Temperature Requirements

You can grow your plant outdoors during the summer months when the temperatures are warmer. Grow your Euphorbia horrida as an indoor plant when the cold seasons approach so that you won’t expose it to frost. 

– Fertilizer Requirements

There is no harm in adding some fertilizer to your plant to give it an extra boost of health. To do this, simply create a planting hole, add the fertilizer, and then transplant your plant after buying it. You can use mineral cactus fertilizer or any half-strength fertilizer of your choice.

Adding fertilizer to your plant is ideally done two times a year, during mid-spring and early summer. You can also use organic matter for this purpose.



You can propagate Euphorbia horrida from seeds or cuttings. However, using seeds is tedious and time-consuming. The seeds are also difficult to find.

– Cuttings

This method is the most used because it is relatively easier, faster and it presents better success rates in propagating your plant. Cut a healthy stem off the mother plant using a sharp, well-disinfected knife.

Leave your cuttings to dry away from direct sunlight for about eight days. Dip the cut end of the stem cutting in a rooting hormone.

Plant the cutting in a sandy substrate so that it can take root. Remember to wear your gloves when doing this to avoid coming into direct contact with the latex of the plant, which can irritate your skin.

You should see the roots of your cutting developing within the next three weeks. Care for this cutting just as you would the mother plant.

– Seeds

Prepare equal parts of peat and perlite and mix them. Sow the Euphorbia horrida seeds by slightly burying them in the mixture. Lightly water the seeds and place them outdoors, under a partial shade.

Keep the substrate moist but not wet. Expect your seeds to germinate within a period of three weeks if all conditions are conducive.


Caring for and growing Euphorbia horrida is generally coupled with very few possible problems. However, to keep you alert of these few problems that you should anticipate as you parent your plant, we have provided a list of these more common issues.

– Toxicity

All parts of the Euphorbia horrida are toxic if they are eaten. With this being said, keep this plant out of the reach of children and pets. The sap of the Euphorbia horrida can cause irritation if they come into contact with your eyes and skin. For safety purposes, wear protective clothing when you are handling this plant.

– Parasitic Fungi

Overwatering your plant makes it susceptible to attacks by parasitic fungi. These fungi will initially affect the roots and then the stems of your Euphorbia horrida.

Fungal infections are better avoided than treated. Therefore, be sure to follow the watering recommendations as described in his article. Also, use a potting mix that is well-draining to prevent waterlogged conditions that support the development and proliferation of fungal infections.

If the fungal attack on your plant is mild and the plant still looks relatively healthy, simply remove it from its pot, disinfect it, and repot it in a net pot with a new potting mix. If the attack is severe, cut off the affected part using a disinfected knife, leave the wound to dry for about a week, and then replant in another pot.

– Pests

Mealybugs and scale insects are the pests that mostly affect the Euphorbia horrida. Spider mites can also occasionally attack your plant. All these bugs are sucking pests that survive by drawing the sap of your plant. This destroys the vitality of your plant, causing it to droop with time.

The easiest way to deal with mealybugs, scales and spider mites is by checking your plant regularly so that you can detect them earlier. Don’t forget to check the hidden parts such as under the leaves. Start dealing with the pests the moment you detect their presence.

Immediately isolate the affected plant from the rest of your indoor plants and disinfect where the plant was. If the infestations are low, use a strong stream of water such as from a garden hose to wash the pests off.

You can also dab the pests with 70 percent alcohol if the infestation is still low or spray the plant if the pests already exist in larger numbers. Insecticidal soaps and Neem Oil are other effective alternatives for destroying mealybugs, scales and spider mites.

euphorbia horrida in pot with white background


As you might have noticed, caring for the Euphorbia horrida is pretty easy and enjoyable. Before you start to apply the tips and tricks you learned from this article, let’s go through the main points once more:

  • The Euphorbia horrida can survive limited exposures to direct sunlight, but it does better under partial shade.
  • Water your plant twice a week during the summer and once a week in the spring and autumn.
  • Provide well-draining soils by buying commercial substrates for cacti. You can make your own potting mix by combining pumice and 40 percent peat.
  • You can grow your plant outdoors when the temperatures are warm and indoors during colder seasons.
  • Adding fertIlizer can boost the growth of your plant.
  • Propagating the Euphorbia horrida is done either by seeds or cuttings. The latter is more preferable because it’s faster, easier and more efficient.
  • Watering your plant too much can make your Euphorbia horrida susceptible to attacks by parasitic fungi.
  • Beware of pests like scale insects and mealybugs as these can easily attack your plant.

You now have all it takes to give your Euphorbia horrida the excellent care that it needs. We wish you all the best!