A wide variety of species can be found in the genus Euphorbia, which belongs to the family Euphorbiaceae. More than 5,000 euphorbia species have been identified, though only about 2,000 have been formally recognized by scientists. The genus includes everything from small trees and shrubs to herbaceous plants of all shapes and sizes. Many of the species are succulents, and even a few resemble cacti. The Christmas Poinsettia is a member of this genus that is well-known for its showy red leaves. This article will provide a high-level overview of Euphorbia pruning, including when it should be done, how it should be done, what tools should be used, and so on. We’ll also examine the best practices for nurturing these crops to ensure their continued vitality and productivity.
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1. How to care euphorbia plant
Pruning euphorbia is the focus of this article, but before we dive in, let’s review some of the basics of taking care of this plant, as it is really just another method of maintenance.
Remember that there are thousands of species within the euphorbias family, so the care that we will cite below is general, and there may be small variations for some species.
- Lighting: they prefer bright, sunny spots, so if you must move it somewhere less hospitable, do so gradually.
- For optimal growth, these succulents need temperatures between 16 and 25 degrees Celsius.
- Fertilization and substrate are not strictly necessary; they prefer soils with a good mineral substrate. The best soils have a high capacity for water drainage. Fertilizer, such as that made specifically for cacti, can be used and should be applied during the final two or three weeks of flowering.
- When watering, remember that fungus is the main enemy of these plants, so try to avoid soaking the soil. Reduce the amount of water you’re applying to the soil so that it remains slightly damp.
- Pruning: in euphorbia, pruning is not something fundamental, but it does need to be done in order to help with its aesthetics and healing.
2. Tools needed for pruning euphorbia
As we’ll see below, cutting back this family of plants is a breeze. As is usually the case, only a few tools are required for simple pruning.
In many cases, especially with the smallest species, you can get away with using just a pair of hand pruners. It’s important to remember that the moment you make the cut is prime time for transmitting diseases from one plant to another, so it’s important to disinfect the blades before pruning and whenever you switch plants.
Many euphorbia species have thorns, so be sure to protect your hands if you bring any of these plants into your home. The last thing we want is for you to get licked.
Most of these plants, however, not only have thorns but also release a thick, milky sap when branches are cut. It’s important to wear protective gear, such as gloves and goggles, when handling this sap because it can cause irritation to the skin and eyes.
2.1 Needed care of pruning tools
Use these maintenance tips to keep your pruning tools in good shape for as long as possible.
- Never force a tool to do more than it was designed to do, and never twist or strain it.
- Regularly wipe blades and other surfaces with an oiled cloth to keep tools clean and oiled.
- Regular use of an oilstone will ensure that your knives always have a keen edge.
- Handles made of wood need to be varnished or oiled regularly to prevent splitting.
Remember that if you can keep your tools working for longer, you won’t be doing anything other than saving money.
What follows is some information about pruning that you might find interesting.
- This is a Photinia red robin.
- The grass of the Pampas
3. How and when to prune euphorbia
Pruning euphorbias will follow the same general guidelines as care, as there are so many different species within this genus that it would be impossible to provide specific instructions for each.
It’s easier to prune euphorbias if we categorize them according to whether they have evergreen, deciduous, or biennial stems. To keep things straight, we’ll be looking at each case independently.
3.1 Pruning deciduous euphorbia
For this discussion, we’ll focus on deciduous euphorbias, which shed some or all of their leaves each winter. Poinsettia is the best-known member of this genus of euphorbia.
This pruning should be done when the plants have no more flowers or leaves. Exposure to higher temperatures could shorten or lengthen the time.
Poinsettias are a special case in which the weakest and most delicate branches must be removed during pruning. Also, choose at least four out of the remaining branches to keep for the coming year. Each chosen one should be lopped off at the third bud’s height from the ground.
In other circumstances, it may be necessary to perform more extreme pruning, including the complete removal of all lower branches. Many perennial herbaceous euphorbia, such as euphorbia cyparissias, euphorbia dulcis ‘Chameleon,’ euphorbia epithymoides, etc., also require this kind of severe pruning.
3.2 Pruning evergreen euphorbia
First, we’ll go over how to prune evergreen euphorbias, such as:
- Rainbow euphorbia.
- Specifically, the flowering plant Euphorbia mellifera.
- Silver swan euphorbia.
The only pruning these euphorbias require is a light trimming after flowering.
When the previously yellow bracts have turned completely brown, it is time to prune. Once you reach that point, you should prune it back to the first ring of leaves.
3.3 Pruning varieties with biennial stems
The euphorbias we will examine in this final section have stems that only live for two years. The flowers on these plants appear on the older shoots from the previous season, while the new bortes appear on the younger shoots from this season.
Here, we’ll be cutting back the flowering stems of the euphorbias to the ground. Cuts like these should be made between summer and autumn to give the new season’s buds the best chance of flourishing the following year.
4. Pruning roots in euphorbias
While the prolific root growth of many euphorbia varieties is of little consequence when the plant is set in the ground, it will have an impact when the plant is kept in a container. Poinsettia is a great example of a plant with massive root production.
Once you are done cutting back the stems of your euphorbia plant, you should check the health of its roots. The pot of roots can be filled in a single season, so regular control is required to prevent strangulation, which will cause it harm if it isn’t applied.
If we take the plant out of the pot and then realize there are too many roots, we can do one of two things:
- Transplantation is typically the first line of treatment suggested. Easily move the plant to a new container that is larger than the old one. Remember that the plant will grow even larger the following year.
- If we like the size of our plant as it is now and don’t want it to grow any larger, root pruning is a viable option. Cut the roots down to size using the shears. The remaining roots will be able to spread out and thrive as a result.
After either treatment, the pot should be moved to a bright location so that the plant can recover.
5. Special advice for indoor pruning
Is your euphorbia planted in a container? Does your home have a potted plant? The milky sap that flows from many of these plants after being cut is notoriously difficult to remove.
It’s time to take care of the floor of your home, just as I told you to protect yourself from the sap that will be generated during pruning. To begin, you might think about taking the container outside to prune. If that is not an option, use something that will not be stained, such as a blanket, nylon, or plastic, to cover the floor. If you end up having to do the cleaning, you will appreciate this advice, I promise.
6. How to prune euphorbia video
The post concludes with a video from the Burncoose channel, which provides a visual explanation of various concepts discussed thus far. I really think this will be useful to you.
You might be curious about pruning as well:
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This short article on euphorbia pruning is what we’ve come up with so far; if anything is unclear, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
Woody Euphorbia Pruning
Plants of the variety that form woody stems at their bases and then sprout new growth from them can become unruly and overgrown if neglected for too long. The Mediterranean spurge, or Euphorbia characias ‘Wulfenii’, can reach heights of 3–4 feet. According to Gardener’s World, the woody, biennial stems of Euphorbia wulfenii are pruned to the ground annually after flowering.
When older stems turn yellow, it’s a good idea to trim them, but remember that new growth is likely to be sprouting from the plant’s base. Each year, prune the oldest woody stems back to the ground to promote healthy growth and keep the plant in a dome shape. After flowering is complete, some evergreen euphorbias may only require a minimal trim. Whenever you notice that the once-bright yellow bracts have turned completely brown, it’s time to prune back to the first ring of leaves.
Euphorbia Has An Irritating Sap
All euphorbia species produce a milky white sap that can cause a painful rash and blisters if touched. Nature magazine states that all euphorbia species exude a white latex sap when sliced open, and that this sap is frequently poisonous. Toxicity, however, varies both between and within species. Any of the sap making its way into your eyes is going to hurt like hell and could potentially lead to permanent vision loss.
Do not hesitate to flush your eyes with water if any sap gets in them. Eating the plant will also poison you. To avoid skin and eye irritation, wear gloves and protective clothing when cutting back euphorbia. It’s true that some euphorbias are invasive, but they cause fewer problems in rainier regions. Keeping volunteers under control requires regular pruning of spent flower stems before they can produce seed.
Sanitize Your Cutting Tools
It is essential to sterilize your pruning shears or shears before each use when cutting back or pruning a plant. Diseases are easily transmitted from plant to plant via unclean pruning or cutting tools. Many common household products, according to Gardening Solutions, can be used to disinfect gardening implements. Remove any dirt and grime from your tools by hand first. The goal of disinfecting equipment is to eliminate all viable bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing microorganisms that may be lurking on the tools themselves.
Household disinfectants like Lysol, which are readily available, inexpensive, and do not corrode tools, can be used to clean tools. However, it is unclear whether or not disinfectants like Lysol effectively eliminate plant pathogens. Use chlorine bleach, but be cautious about inhaling the fumes. You can also use ethanol or isopropyl alcohol, but be cautious when using them because they catch fire easily. Wipe or submerge your tools in the disinfectant to clean them. Tools should be rinsed in clean water after being cleaned with a corrosive cleaner.