More cuttings, easy

In a post a few weeks ago I mentioned taking Euphorbia tirucalli 'Sticks on fire' cuttings, and Loree at Danger Garden wondered what I did to get good success when propagating this plant.

The truth is I never did anything special, so never really paid attention to what exactly I had done. Recently I took more cuttings of this "pencil cactus", and this time documented the process.


Even though I have the huge mother plant in the garage and I could easily find a dozen branches to prune from it and turn into cuttings, I instead decided to prune the cutting I had just rooted. Its growth pattern was weird, with several horizontal branches supporting all of the new growth at the tips. (You can see this in that first photo -- there is one "clump" still remaining in that shot.)

So I cut all of those bushy tips off.

Each of these will make a nice, full plant I hope!

Then I just left the cuttings on the table for a day or two, to let the ends dry out a bit -- "heal over". I don't know if this step is essential, but I did it last time so wanted to be consistent.

Next I made some well-draining potting mix (like I did last time) by adding sand to regular peat-based potting mix. I used general purpose builder's sand, and ended up with about a 1:1 ratio of mix to sand -- maybe a bit less sand than mix.

A dip into some water, then into the rooting hormone powder:

I don't know that the hormone is necessary, but I bought this stuff 10 years ago or so and the jar is still half-full, so I don't mind using a little every once in a while.

Then into the mix they went under my probably-need-new-bulbs grow lights:

I buried them deeply because I wanted to end up with strong, multi-stemmed plants, then watered a bit to moisten the mix.

It's warmer than I thought under these lights, although I'm not convinced that thermometer is completely accurate. I don't use a heat mat, although that would probably help if you your plant table is not as warm as mine.

I think heat is the key to getting these to root quickly.

Oh, I almost forgot: after I took these cuttings those horizontal branches on the donor plant were still too long, so I cut a couple of inches off each of them:

Then as an experiment I put those straight cuttings (with cuts on both ends now) into some water, as I want to see if they'll root that way too. Rooting cuttings in water is so easy when it works, so I'm always interested to see what plants will root that way.

I'll let you know soon what I find: how many of these root, how long it seems to take, and if the water test worked.

Hope this helps Loree! (Although maybe I should wait to see my results before saying that.)


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danger garden  – (February 23, 2013 at 11:23 PM)  

I do love detailed post, thank you Alan! I'll be watching to see how these do. In a strange coincidence I bought a lovely Euphorbia tirucalli today for just a few dollars, so whatever knowledge you can bestow upon me will be used next fall to keep it going.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (February 26, 2013 at 6:02 PM)  

I need to get another one this year. They're not hardy, even here in tropical Davis, so I treat them as annuals. From now on I'll take cuttings in the fall, like you do.

Alan  – (February 26, 2013 at 10:01 PM)  

Gerhard: I actually overwinter this in the garage. The cuttings were just to make more plants. I'll gladly send you one if you want.

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