Euphorbia species: A genus of plants with impressive diversity

Euphorbia species: A genus of plants with impressive diversity

Basic characteristics of milkweed species

This genus of plants is anything but uniform, because euphorbias are often:

  • herbaceous or woody to shrubs and trees
  • annual or persistent
  • have alternate, opposite or arranged in whorls leaves
  • are thorny or unreinforced

also read

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  • What to do with the Euphorbia in winter frost?

Around half of all euphorbia species get by with very little rainfall or irrigation, which is called “xerophytic” in technical terms. Plant species of the genus Euphorbia are often succulent and, like the pencil bush, which is easy to propagate, have thick-fleshed branches on which small-format leaves can only be discovered when new shoots have emerged. All milkweed species require a certain amount of care when caring for them, as the toxic and skin-irritating milky sap escapes when pruning.

Prominent representatives among the indoor plants

Since most of the Euphorbia species come from tropical or subtropical regions, they are usually only cultivated in this country as a houseplant or partially as a container plant with the summer outdoor season. Particularly prominent representatives of the genus are, for example:

  • the triangular milkweed (Euphorbia trigona)
  • the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
  • the Christ thorn (Euphorbia milii)
  • the spit palm (Euphorbia leuconeura)
  • the pencil bush (Euphorbia tirucalli)

Care instructions for common species of Euphorbia

Most euphorbias prefer a bright, if not full sun, location. Since the majority of these are succulent plants, care should be taken to ensure that the watering is particularly cautious. During the winter months, the respective location should be frost-free, but the temperature should be a bit cooler. In addition, the euphorbias are kept drier than usual during this resting phase.


The toxic effects of the milky latex sap of the euphorbias should not be underestimated. With all types of milkweed, pruning measures should therefore only be carried out with protective gloves and special care. Since harmful effects are even possible via the air we breathe, larger specimens should only be cut in the greenhouse with adequate ventilation.