Euphorbia milii is native to Madagascar where the succulent grows on rocky soils. The plant can spread up to 1700 m of altitude.
Euphorbia milii is a beautiful succulent belonging to the Euphorbiaceae botanical family. The plant has a semi-prostrate habit, branches from the base and can reach up to 1 m in diameter. The stem is cylindrical, fleshy, thick and can reach up to 1.8 m in height. The bark is greyish brown and is covered with many sharp grey spines. The leaves are alternate, spirally arranged, obovate to lanceolate, dark green to greyish green in color and fall during the summer in dry conditions. The leaves have straight and long stipular spines. Blooming occurs all year when conditions become favourable. Cyathia are the typical inflorescence of the Euphorbia, it is an inflorescence consisting of a cuplike cluster of modified leaves enclosing unisexual flowers. This species has small, bright red or rarely yellow cyathia normally being all male on some plants, or all female on others. Because there are male plant and female plant, cross pollination is required that is normally carried out by insect. The fruits are fleshy, red containing smooth grey seeds.
The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand are 8° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Using a perforating pot, you can drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. About fertilization, for this plant is sufficient to fertilize moderately during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents and stop fertilizing during the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
Species of the Euphorbiacee family normally if are damaged, exude a white milky sap, called latex. Many plants produce latex, but in the Euphorbiacee this latex is often poisonous and may irritate skin. The poisonousness is due to some alkaloids so it is best to keep the plants away from children or pets. The stems of the plant are used in Sudan to treat scorpion stings. The specific epithet honors Baron Milius, once Governor of Réunion who introduced this species into cultivation in France in 1821.
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