African Milk Tree

8 Tips on How to Care for Your African Milk Tree (Euphorbia trigona Infographic)

African Milk Tree (Euphorbia trigona) is a succulent houseplant. It is a tall cactus-looking plant and makes a great addition to your cactus display. It has fewer spines than most cactus plants so it could be a better choice if you are looking for cactus-looking plants with less spine. However, know that African Milk Tree is toxic to humans and pets. Here are tips on how to care for your African Milk Tree. 

African Milk Tree Infographic
African Milk Tree Infographic

Tips on How to Take Care of Your African Milk Tree

1. Your African Milk Tree is Happiest in Bright Indirect Light. Can Tolerate Medium Light. 

African Milk Tree will be happy in a bright indirect light location. Your African Milk Tree is a sun-loving plant and it can tolerate partial direct sun. It will happily grow in a south-facing or west-facing window.

2. Low Water is Best for Your African Milk Tree

Your African Milk Tree is a succulent plant and has low water requirements. Let the soil dry out halfway down the pot. The best way to tell when it is time to water your African Milk Tree is to feel the soil. Stick your finger in the soil 2 inches deep. If it feels dry, it’s time to water your African Milk Tree. 

3. Get the Soil Right for Your African Milk Tree

Your African Milk Tree needs a well-draining, organic cactus potting mix.

4. Fertilize Your African Milk Tree

Your African Milk Tree should be fertilized once every month in the Spring and Summer at half strength. Don’t fertilize in the Fall and Winter.

5. Don’t forget to Repot Your African Milk Tree

Repot your African Milk Tree once every 2 years. Repot your African Milk Tree in a container with a diameter 2 inches larger than the current pot. Use cactus soil when repotting.

6. Drainage is Essential for Your African Milk Tree

Good drainage is important, you don’t want your African Milk Tree to sit in soggy soil. Make sure there are drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. After watering your African Milk Tree and you see water draining out of the pot’s drainage holes, make sure you empty out the accumulated water in the saucer. Don’t let your African Milk Tree’s pot sit in this puddle of water. It will cause root rot!

7. Get the Temperature Right for Your African Milk Tree

Your African Milk Tree needs to have a daytime temperature of 70F to 80 Fahrenheit (21-26C). The nighttime temperature should be at 60-70 Fahrenheit (15-21 C). 

8. Your African Milk Tree Can Tolerate Dry Indoor Air

Your African Milk Tree is a houseplant that can tolerate dry indoor air. It is a succulent so it does not need additional moisture on top of its regular watering.

3 Common African Milk Tree Problems

The common problems for African Milk Trees are mealy bugs, root rot, and yellowing leaves.

Fluffy White Growth In Between the Leaves and Stems of Your African Milk Tree

Problem: There are fluffy white growths in between the leaves and stems of your African Milk Tree. 

Mealybugs
Mealybugs

Cause: Mealybugs are causing the fluffy white growth on your African Milk Tree. It is a common houseplant disease. 

Solution: To get rid of mealybugs on your African Milk Tree, wash your plant with water. You can also use soapy water. Spraying rubbing alcohol on affected areas can also get rid of mealybugs. Horticultural oil and insecticidal soap are also effective in getting rid of mealybugs.

Check out our article on how to make your own homemade pesticides using baby shampoo: How to Make Horticultural Oil and How to Make Insecticidal Soap

Your African Milk Tree Looks Wilted (Soil is Wet)

Problem: Your African Milk Tree looks wilted even if the soil is wet. Check for root rot by pulling the plant out and examining the roots. If the roots of your African Milk Tree plant look mushy (healthy roots are firm) and the roots are gray to black in color, these are telltale signs of root rot. 

Root Rot
Root Rot

Cause: Root rot is caused by fungus and is a serious problem for your African Milk Tree. Root rot is a result of wet soil due to overwatering or poor drainage. 

Solution: When your African Milk Tree is afflicted with root rot the chance of survival is slim. Your best course of action is to throw your African Milk Tree out and start over with a new plant. This time don’t overwater your African Milk Tree and make sure there is good drainage in the pot.

Yellowing Leaves of Your African Milk Tree

Problem: If you see yellowing leaves on your African Milk Tree or your African Milk Tree leaves are falling off, that is a sign that something is wrong. 

Cause: If you see yellowing leaves it can be a result of overwatering or underwatering. Yellow leaves can also be a result of cold temperatures. 

Solution: Check to see if your African Milk Tree is being overwatered or underwatered. Also, check the temperature. Is the room too cold for your African Milk Tree? If so, move your African Milk Tree to a warmer spot and adjust your watering. 

African Milk Tree Houseplant Facts

NameAfrican Milk Tree
Scientific NameEuphorbia trigona
LightBright Indirect Light. Can Tolerate Medium Light.
Daytime Temperature70 to 80 F (21-26C)
Night Time Temperature60 to 70 F (15-21C)
WaterLow Water
HumidityCan Tolerate Dry Indoor Air
PottingWell-draining, organic, cactus potting mix
FertilizerOnce every month at half strength during its growing season ( Spring and Summer). Don’t fertilize in the Fall and Winter.
Toxic to Pets and HumansToxic
African Milk Tree Facts

African Milk Tree: Frequently Asked Questions

What are Other Names of African Milk Tree?

African Milk Tree (Euphorbia trigona) is also called friendship cactus, candelabra cactus, cathedral cactus, and good luck cactus.

African Milk Tree: Varieties 

A popular African Milk Tree variety is Euphorbia trigona ‘Rubra’ or Euphorbia trigona ‘Royal Red’. It is a popular African Milk Tree variety because of its attractive red and green leaves. 

Euphorbia trigona 'Royal Red'
Euphorbia trigona ‘Royal Red’

Is Your African Milk Tree Toxic to Pets?

Your African Milk Tree is toxic to pets and humans. The milky latex sap is toxic and can irritate the skin and eyes of pets and humans. Keep it away from your pets and children. If you suspect ingestion of your African Milk Tree, call poison control immediately. Also, contact your Vet or Pediatrician immediately.

How Can You Tell When It’s Time to Water Your African Milk Tree?

Water your African Milk Tree when the soil feels dry. The best way to tell when it’s time to water is by sticking your finger into the soil. Stick your finger in the soil 2 inches deep. If the soil feels dry, then it’s time to water your African Milk Tree.

If in doubt, it is best not to water your African Milk Tree. Your African Milk Tree will do better in dry conditions than in soggy soil.

Can You Use Cold Water When Watering Your African Milk Tree?

African Milk Tree can be watered with tap water but be mindful of the water temperature that you are using to water your African Milk Tree. Don’t use straight cold water from the tap to water your African Milk Tree. African Milk Tree prefers cool water that is not hot and not cold.

When you turn on the cold water from the faucet add a little bit of warm water. You can also get to this ideal temperature by filling a watering can or pitcher with water and leaving it out overnight until the water is at room temperature. 

What Fertilizer Should You Use for Your African Milk Tree?

Use cactus food to fertilize your African Milk Tree.

How Big Does Your African Milk Tree Get?

Your African Milk Tree is a tall succulent, it can grow up to 6-9 feet tall but usually less when grown indoors. It is a fast-growing houseplant. Prune to control your African Milk Tree’s growth.

Is African Milk Tree a Tree?

African Milk Tree can grow to 9 feet tall when grown outdoors. It looks like a big cactus tree. However, when grown indoors, it will not grow as tall but it is still a large houseplant.

Where Can African Milk Tree be Grown Outdoors?

African Milk Tree can be grown outdoors in places with a nighttime temperature that stays above 50 Fahrenheit (10 Celsius). African Milk Trees can be grown outdoors in parts of California, Arizona, Florida, and Texas. 

How Do You Propagate Your African Milk Tree?

African Milk Tree Plant is easy to propagate. You can propagate your African Milk Tree plant by stem cutting. Below are steps on how to propagate African Milk Tree Plant by stem cutting:

1. Take a Stem Cutting of African Milk Tree Plant

 Pick a stem or arm near the base of your African Milk Tree plant. Cut the arm.

 
2. Let Your African Milk Tree Stem Dry

Place your African Milk Tree stem (arm) on a paper towel and let it dry for 5-7 days. 


3. Plant Stem Cutting in New Pot

Plant the dry stem cutting of your African Milk Tree in a new pot. Use cactus potting mix. Allow it to grow roots. It will take 2 months to grow roots. You can check by gently tugging on your African Milk Tree cutting, if there is resistance, that means it has grown roots. You can transplant your African Milk Tree to its permanent pot afterward.

4. Place New African Milk Tree Plant in a Spot with Bright Indirect Sun

Place your new African Milk Tree plant in a warm spot with bright indirect sunlight. 

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