My Euphorbia has fallen and it can't get up
August 11, 2017 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Help, my Euphorbia Lactea Dragon Bones got too tall and now it's in danger of falling and puncturing a person hundred of times with poisonous sap. Here is the situation (it's now leaning against the counter, just waiting to fall on a curious child)

I had my Euphorbia in a nice corner behind the piano for ten years and watered it once a week, not really registering that it had grown to about 5 feet tall. It was only able to avoid falling during that time because it was heavily supported by the corner walls around it. Recently I had to move it out of that space, and it nearly fell all the way over, bleeding poisonous sap out of the damaged areas.

My goal is to train it to be stronger and stand on its own, because isn't that how it works in the natural world? Is there hope for repotting it in something larger and tying it to a stake or something? If so, how does one repot such an ungainly thing? It's always been in about 20oz of soil, is that ok?

Or should I just chop it off at, say 2 feet and hope that it branches out and gets a sturdier base?

Other ideas?
posted by oxisos to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
 
Find a bigger pot, and a lacy metal form, that will sit like a decorative sleeve in the pot, and help hold that plant up. Maybe cut the bottom out of a fancy umbrella stand, or something like that.

Or this
posted by Oyéah at 8:44 PM on August 11


Or should I just chop it off at, say 2 feet and hope that it branches out and gets a sturdier base?
-That's what I would do, except I'd go about 2.5' for halfsies, then root those six pieces and hand them out to friends. Or, combining with up-potting it, you can stick the pieces (after hardening off) in around the periphery of the new larger pot, and have a neat little hedge of 6 or 12 or (?) stalks.

My goal is to train it to be stronger and stand on its own, because isn't that how it works in the natural world?
-No, in the natural world it would have a) much more light, b) much more soil room c) wind and rain and herbivores and a zillion other things. Also in the natural world it doesn't have to look nice or even be tall, it just hast to hang on. It is conceivable that you can make is stronger by kicking the pot in vigorous bursts several times a day, every day, but to do that you should have started when it was 2.5' tall.

bleeding poisonous sap
-I mean you're technically right but it's just a mild irritant in my experience. Don't bathe in it or drink it or put it in your eye or use it as lotion and you'll be fine. It would indeed suck if the plant fell on you!

Is there hope for repotting it in something larger and tying it to a stake or something?
-Sure, with the common houseplants, most things are possible. Don't try to replant and stake at the same time unless you really know what you're doing, and know how to brace the root ball in the larger pot, secure the stake to the bottom of the pot, place the center of gravity where you want it, etc. Can also build or buy any manner of trellising or scaffolding. An easier solution is to tack loops of ribbon or twine to the wall and use those for support.

What is the end game here? If you want to keep it tall, you can. If you want to keep it small and safe, you can. If you want to have two potted plants of comparable size and appearance in a few years, you can. Lots and lots of options, if you want more detail on any of my possibilities just let me know!
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:48 PM on August 11 [6 favorites]


Thanks for the great suggestions, SaltySalticid. I like your idea of cutting the length down by half and repotting the main plant, sticking the cut pieces all around it. Is there something special I need to do to get the cut pieces to grow roots?
posted by oxisos at 9:27 AM on August 12


>Is there something special I need to do to get the cut pieces to grow roots?

No, don't think so. Most Cacti and Euphorbia and really succulents in general root out from cuttings just fine. If you want to hasten the process, you can buy a small packet of rooting hormone for a few bucks from any garden center, or many Home Depot type stores. You'd dust the bottoms of the cuttings with it before potting them.

The more important thing is to "harden them off", which means leave the cuttings in open air on a tray for a few days until the cut part is fully dry. You can expect plenty of that latex to pour out, so maybe put down some newspapers or paper towels, etc. When you root them, make sure the potting medium drains well. It won't even really need more water than normal, those suckers are built to go a year without. If you put them straight in to potting soil without hardening, what can happen is the moisture and wicking action of the soil prevents the would from sealing, and it will loose water very fast, decreasing rooting success.

Good luck, I think it will look nice, and in a year or two you'll be amazed by how it looks compared to the photo above!
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:36 AM on August 12


« Older What is Potchefstroom like to live in?   |   Do I still need AirPort Express on my Mac? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments