How to propagate african milk tree

How to Propagate African Milk Trees | Home Guides

By SF Gate Contributor Updated September 22, 2020

All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti.

Such is the case of Euphorbia trigona 'Rubra', commonly called the African milk tree, African milk bush or candelabra cactus. Hardy only in U.S. Department of Agriculture planting zones 10 through 12, this spiny shrub can attain a height of six to eight feet.

The plant tends to become top-heavy but tolerates pruning well. Despite its exotic appearance, the milk tree is surprisingly easy to propagate with cuttings. For best results, you should propagate this plant during spring or summer when temperatures are around 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

  1. 1. Prevent Injury During Euphorbia Trigona Propagation

    Put on heavy gloves to propagate Euphorbia trigona 'Rubra'. Consider wearing eye protection to prevent any of the plant’s toxic white latex sap from coming into contact with your eyes. One of the most challenging aspects of euphorbia trigona care is dealing with the irritating sap, according to the University of Washington. Handle the plant and its cuttings with several thicknesses of newspaper.

  2. 2. Take Your Cuttings

    Cut off a healthy, unblemished stem end of your Euphorbia trigona 'Rubra' plant to about 5 to 7 inches long. Use a clean razor blade or sharp knife to minimize scarring of the mother plant.

  3. 3. Stop Sap Flow

    Hold the cut end under cool running water to stem the flow of white sap. According to Euphorbia International, a key part of euphorbia trigona propagation is making sure the latex is washed away after cutting. Spray the cut on the mother plant with cool water until the sap stops oozing.

  4. 4. Dry Your Cutting

    Set the cutting on a paper towel in a warm, dry spot with good air circulation to dry completely for 3 to 7 days. This will allow a callus to form over the cut end and prevent the cutting from rotting. Don’t expose it to direct sunlight. The key to proper euphorbia trigona care is making sure your plant gets moderate amounts of light, according to Plants to Grow.

  5. 5. Select Euphoriba Trigona Propagation Medium

    Remove the small spatulate leaves from the bottom half of the cutting. Plant it 1 inch deep in a 4-inch pot. Use a well-drained medium such as Perlite, commercial cactus mix or a 1:1 mixture of sand and peat moss. Cover the surface of the medium with a ½-inch layer of coarse gravel to hold the cutting upright.

  6. 6. Further Euphorbia Trigona Care

    Set the cutting in a warm, brightly lit location out of direct sun. Maintain a temperature between 65 and 75 degrees F. Your African milk tree should root in about two months, when you should notice new growth.

  7. 7. Transplanting Euphorbia Trigona

    Transplant the African milk tree in a 6-inch planting pot when it shows signs of new growth. Use a good commercial porous, well-drained cactus mix. Let the plant settle for a few days before watering.

  8. 8. Keep Plants Warm

    Locate the succulent in a warm, sunny spot where it will receive at least a least six hours of full sun daily. You can place it in a dry, well-ventilated room on a sunny windowsill or in a sunny spot outside in the succulent garden. This plant grows best in temperatures above 55 degrees F. Protect it from frost.

  9. 9. Water Thoroughly

    Water thoroughly to evenly moisten the soil surface when it feels dry to the touch during the growing season. Allow the milk tree to dry out between waterings, and don‘t water more than once weekly. Water lightly during the winter to barely moisten the surface if the soil is exceedingly dry, but no more than once every two weeks. Never water so much that the soil is soggy or wet.

  10. 10. Fertilizing Euphorbia Trigona

    Feed the African milk tree a complete 20-20-20 commercial fertilizer or cactus food two or three times monthly throughout the growing season. Don’t fertilize this plant during the fall and winter.

    Things You Will Need
    • Heavy gloves

    • Eye protection

    • Newspapers

    • Razor blade or sharp knife

    • Perlite, cactus mix or sand and peat moss

    • Coarse gravel

    • 4-inch pot

    • 6-inch pot

    • Porous, well-draining cactus mix

    • Complete 20-20-20 fertilizer or cactus food


    The sticky white latex sap found inside the stems of all Euphorbias is toxic. Protect your skin and eyes from exposure. Keep this plant away from pets and small children.


  • International Euphorbia Society: About Euphorbiaceae -- Cultivation -- Vegetative Propagation
  • Plants to Grow: Euphorbia trigona -- African Milk Tree
  • University of Washington Botanic Gardens: Gardening Answers Knowledgebase

How To Propagate African Milk Tree (Euphorbia Trigona) | 5 Easy Steps

Propagating an African milk tree from a cutting is very easy to do. The steps are:

  1. Safety. Wear correct safety equipment (gloves and glasses) to protect your skin and eyes from the thorns and the toxic white sap.
  2. Get your cutting. Using a clean pair of secateurs or a utility knife, get a healthy cutting from an existing African milk tree plant. The cutting length should be at least 4-6 inches long.
  3. Prepare your cutting. Before potting the cutting, the cutting will need to sit in indirect light for 3-7 days to allow the end of the cutting to callus over. This will reduce the likelihood of the cutting rotting.
  4. Pot the cutting. Fill up a pot with cactus/succulent potting mix and plant and plant the African milk tree cutting 1-1.5 inches deep.
  5. Cutting care. Give the cutting and potting mixture a good soaking on the first day. Then afterwards water the cutting when the top inch of potting mix is dried (watering schedule will be once every 1-2 weeks). Place the cutting out of direct sunlight, where it will receive at least 6 or more hours of indirect/filtered light.

I have had a 100% success rate following the above method when propagating African milk tree cuttings. I hope you have the same success rate as me!

Watch my video from YouTube below to see me propagate the African milk tree.

My video explaining how to propagate an African milk tree with a cutting.


The first plant I remember owning as a kid was an African milk tree (euphoria trigona). That was over 20 years ago now. When I recently saw and recognised the African milk tree I really wanted to get another one to replace the one I had as a kid.

Fortunately propagating the African milk tree plant is easy. Follow these 5 steps to do the same for yourself.

How To Propagate African Milk Tree in 5 Easy Steps

  1. Safety

    When getting a cutting from an African milk tree you should wear the following protective equipment:
    1) Thick gloves to protect your hands from the thorns and the toxic white sap when getting your cutting, and
    2) Glasses to prevent any toxic white sap from getting into your eyes.
    The toxic white sap can be irritating to some people when it comes into contact with your skin or eyes.

    The toxic white sap can be irritating to some people when it comes into contact with your skin or eyes.

  2. Get Your Cutting

    Before taking your cutting you will need to prepare your tools. You will need to clean and disinfect your pair of secateurs or utility knife to reduce the chance of infecting your cutting with a disease.

    Then identify a healthy stem on your “mother” African milk tree, then do a clean cut.

    The ideal cutting length will be anywhere from 4-8 inches long.

  3. Prepare Your Cutting

    Before the cutting can be potted, it needs to sit for 3-7 days to allow the end of the cutting to callus over. If you skip this step there is a higher chance that the African milk tree cutting will rot.

    I did this for my cutting by sitting it on a paper towel in a tray and positioning it so it would only receive indirect/filtered light for at least 6 hours of the day. You do not want it to get direct sunlight as this might damage the plant.

  4. Pot The Cutting

    Fill up a grow pot or any plant container that has good drainage with cactus/succulent potting mix. Then make a hole in the top of the potting mix that is 1-1.5 inches deep and wide enough to fit the cutting.

    Insert the cutting into the hole and then lightly press around the cutting to secure it in the potting mix.

  5. Cutting Care

    Once the cutting is placed in potting mix, it will need a good watering to get it started. Make sure each area of the pot and the potting mix gets watered.

    After this initial water, it will need to be watered once every 1-2 weeks. A way you can check if it needs to be watered is if the top inch or so of the potting mix is dry. If dry then give it another good water.

    Position the cuttings in filtered/indirect light. Once they start to grow roots and can better support themselves, they will be able to be moved outside or into direct light.


  • Utility knife or secateurs

Materials: Plastic grow pot Cactus/succulent potting mix Water

Progress Update (8 Weeks)

Here is a photo of one of my cuttings root development after 8 weeks from taking the initial cutting.African milk tree root development after 8 weeks.

You can see that there has been a lot of root growth in such a short amount of time. Remember to not more your cutting outside into direct sunlight until it starts to grow its own roots.

Final Thoughts

Propagating an African milk tree from a cutting is very easy to do, you just need to be able to find someone willing to let you take a cutting from their plant.


How long does it take for an African milk tree cutting to grow roots?

After a month your cutting will have some roots growing. Below is a picture of my cutting after 8 weeks, showing good root growth.

Can an African milk tree grow roots in water?

I have not done this myself yet. I will do this when I can get another cutting and update my blog accordingly with the results.

Triangular Euphorbia: Care and Propagation

Triangular Euphorbia is a very hardy, exotic houseplant. Its botanical name is Euphorbia trigona. Sometimes it is also called the African milk cactus. And although this plant looks really like a cactus, triangular spurge is not a cactus at all and belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. In nature, it is found in subtropical regions of Africa, America and on the island of Madagascar. Often it is grown as a houseplant because of its unpretentiousness.

Growing Euphorbia

Triangular Euphorbia can grow up to 2-3 meters, sometimes even higher. Indoors, the plant does not bloom, but is valued for thick, fleshy, triangular stems with small (about 0.4 - 0.5 cm) spikes along the edge. The branches grow straight, parallel to the main stem, and small leaves cover the edge of the plant. There are many varieties of triangular milkweed. So, there is triangular euphorbia "Rubra". Outwardly, this variety differs from triangular milkweed in beautiful, red leaves.

Euphorbia trianguli likes bright sunlight. A south-facing window would be the perfect place to place it. But on the east or west windows, it will also grow. A bad placement for the plant is only the north window, because for the successful development of triangular milkweed, at least four hours of bright lighting is needed. In the warm season, triangular euphorbia can be taken out into the open air.

Since the plant comes from arid Africa, it should be watered very moderately. In the warm season, triangular euphorbia (and this is the time of active growth) must be regularly watered after the soil in the pot has dried. But in the cold season, watering should be reduced, because triangular euphorbia reacts very poorly to waterlogging.

As a succulent, the plant is not demanding on soil, but it is better to use special, well-drained succulent soil for planting. Often it is not necessary to replant the plant. It is transplanted once every 2 to 3 years.

Euphorbia reproduction

Euphorbia triangular reproduction. Euphorbia triangular propagates by apical and lateral shoots in spring or early summer. Putting on gloves, a side shoot is cut off at the base with a secateurs. Then the cut point must be washed under running water and left to dry a little for 2 to 3 days. You can sprinkle the cut with activated charcoal. After the cut point has dried out a little, the cut shoot is placed in well-drained soil and watered regularly. When triangular euphorbia is just taking root, it should not be kept in bright sun. The plant takes root for 2-3 weeks, after which it can be placed in a well-lit place.

The light soil that Euphorbia trianguli needs can provide the right balance of moisture, but not nutrients. For active growth, the plant should be fertilized with universal fertilizer every two weeks during spring and summer. Euphorbia is not fertilized in autumn and winter.

Euphorbia care

Euphorbia triangular pruning. For this houseplant, pruning is not a mandatory procedure when caring for the plant. Mostly pruning of triangular milkweed is required due to personal preference or if the plant has damaged branches. Trimming is done with a clean, sharp knife. After a few days, the cut site is tightened. Triangular pruning encourages the plant to branch more.

Is it true that triangular poisonous spurge?! Indeed milkweed juice is poisonous. In case of contact with hands or other unprotected areas of the skin, it can cause burning and very severe irritation. Therefore, care for milkweed should be in rubber gloves. It is also necessary to limit the access of children and animals to this houseplant.

Triangular spurge is rarely damaged by diseases and pests. But if the plant sheds a leaf, then the plant is overflowing. In this case, the plant should be transplanted and drainage improved. Sometimes milkweed leaves turn yellow. This reaction occurs when there is a lack or excess of nutrients. Such a plant should be fertilized. Of the pests, triangular euphorbia is occasionally affected by aphids and spider mites, which can be avoided by treating the plant with insecticides.

Triangular Euphorbia: how to care for and propagate

Triangular Euphorbia is a tropical flower native to Africa. Many consider it a cactus, but it is not. This is a succulent plant that brings good luck and does a good job of dealing with unpleasant odors in the house. Read all about caring for him and breeding here.

If you want to have a beautiful unpretentious exotic plant in your apartment, then the Triangular Euphorbia is for you. He is not demanding in terms of maintenance and care, so he will forgive you for forgetting about him for a while. 9Ol000 to house , and it also breeds easily. It will be possible to share good luck with friends and relatives. After all, everyone needs it! Also, its usefulness is that it is removes unpleasant odors well .

More about this African flower

The botanical name of Triangular Euphorbia is Euphorbia Trigona or Euphorbia Trigona. It is also sometimes called the Triangular Euphorbia, the African milk tree, the cactus of friendship, the plant of happiness, and the cactus of good luck. And although this flower looks like a cactus, in fact it is not. This succulent plant is native to Africa.

This Euphorbia can grow up to 2-2.5 meters in height . The plant has thick, tricuspid stems with spines along the edges. Cactus-like branches grow vertically upwards, have petioles on the sides. Small leaves are also placed on stems and grow along with spines.

Rubra - rare triangular Euphorbia. Photo used as an illustration. Source: Yandex. Pictures

Euphorbia Rubra or Royal Red Euphorbia also belong to this species. In fact, it is very similar to the usual green species, but as a result of a DNA change, it has beautiful dark red leaves. This is a pretty plant that adds color to any room. We want to note: Rubra requires exactly the same care as regular Euphorbia Trigona .

Triangular Euphorbia home care

  • Triangular Euphorbia love bright sunlight. Therefore, windows on the south side are the ideal place for its location . East and west windows of the apartment are also a good option, as these plants require at least four hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day.
  • If you keep these plants on your windowsill or porch from early spring until late autumn, do not leave them at temperatures below 13-15°C.
  • These flowers are succulents and require well-drained soil that allows moisture to pass through easily. The soil of Trihedral Euphorbia should dry out between waterings 2-3 cm deep. Pierce the soil with a stick and if the soil is damp, delay watering.
  • One feature: young plants need to be transplanted once a year, adults - every 2-3 years.

How to Propagate the Euphorbia Tree

Triangular Euphorbia has thorny spines and secretes poisonous sap. Therefore, to protect your hands, it is best to use thick gloves coated with a moisture-proof layer.

Any cut on this flower exudes a milky-white sticky sap (latex). It causes irritation, redness and rash on the skin. Also note: to avoid harm to yourself, do not allow the latex to come into contact with mucous membranes and eyes .

There are cases when, when this juice got into the eyes, a person lost his sight for several days. So take your safety seriously, and if latex gets on your skin, immediately flush the affected area with water.

Propagation order

  1. Use scissors or secateurs to cut off the top of the stem (10 cm is enough).
  2. Rinse the shears (secateurs) under running water, and also rinse the cut on the seedling with warm water.
  3. Some people recommend waiting a couple of days before planting, treating the cut with activated charcoal, and using cactus soil, but many growers don't. Seedlings are placed in nutrient soil and take root well.
  4. Just keep the soil moist. The cuttings will root in 1-2 weeks.

A couple of care tips

Since these plants can be quite tall (up to 2.5 meters high) and have a weak root system, they sometimes fall under their own weight. Use props to hold them up. But is better to trim the tops of : although, sometimes, people are afraid to trim the stems, because they think that in this case the plant will lose its beauty of appearance. In fact, this is not so: leaves will grow on the cut part and it will become invisible.

A large number of leaves indicate the health of the flower. Photo used as an illustration. Source: Yandex. Pictures

Another one of the causes of falls is excessive watering . In this case, you should also prune the Triangular Euphorbia (to eliminate excess weight) and also reduce the frequency of watering. If necessary, change the pot (if it does not have a drainage hole).

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