January 1st, 2021
Euphorbia Dragon Bone
Hey plant friends!
This week we are talking about the Euphorbia. Specifically Euphorbia lactea 'Dragon Bones'' [yoo-FOR-bee-uh, lak-TAY-uh].
Euphorbia lactea is a species of spurge native to tropical Asia, mainly India. It belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family which is a ginormous plant family with members across the globe. In our area, we enjoy Cushion Spurge Euphorbia as perennial with yellow blooms, and Euphorbia pulcherrima which is your everyday holiday plant – the Poinsettia.
For the purpose of this blog, we are mainly talking about Euphorbias that share characteristics with cactus: spines, thick, waxy foliage, and drought tolerance. Euphorbia are not cactus, but their care requirements are similar. Just like cactus, well-drained potting mix. We like the Espoma Organic Potting Mix (the one in the orange bag) but recommend adding a generous sprinkle of perlite to the mix. Check out the cool ingredients in our favorite cactus mix: 35-45% sphagnum peat moss, aged forest products, humus and/or composted rice hulls, perlite, limestone to adjust pH, yucca extract, and endo-/ecto-mycorrhiza.
You are going to want your soil to dry almost completely between watering. Unlike cactus, Euphorbias don’t handle drought as well and will show signs of wilting when they are really thirsty. It’s best to keep Euphorbia structures turgid – firm and full of water. In the summer if your plant is outside you may need to water weekly. In the winter Euphorbia could go a month without watering, but keep an eye on the soil and water accordingly. Euphorbias need a brightly-lit environment inside our homes but will tolerate a partial shade outside during the summer months.
Back to Dragon Bone. Look closely for the beautiful rectangular structures that almost mimic variegation. If you are looking for an easy care, rarity this is the one.
Buyer beware: All varieties of euphorbia produce a whitish latex sap. The sap extruded is often toxic, but the toxicity varies between and within species. Symptoms can range from mild skin irritation to extreme eye irritation requiring medical intervention. Not the best choice for curious pets and adventurous toddlers.