African milk barrel (Euphorbia horrida)

Image - Flickr / laurent houmeau

La horrid euphorbia It is one of the easiest succulent plants to find in nurseries, both physically and online. Although it is very sensitive to overwatering, it is a succulent suitable for beginners and for those who do not have much time to dedicate to their pots.

Its size also makes it a kind of the most interesting for rockeries, since new shoots usually sprout from its main stem, causing it to form a very beautiful group over time.

What is the origin and characteristics of the horrid euphorbia?

The Euphorbia horrida is a succulent

Image - Wikimedia / Stan Shebs

Known as the African milk barrel, it is an endemic species of the Cape Province, in South Africa. It looks a lot like cacti, which is why it is said to be a cactus plant. It reaches a height of up to 30 centimeters, with thick stems of up to 5-6 centimeters, armed with sharp, brownish spines.. During the summer it produces small flowers on the upper part of the stem, and they are green and yellow.

Like all euphoria, it contains a white latex that, when in contact with the skin, causes itching and stinging. For this reason, when handling it, the use of gloves is recommended, if possible waterproof ones.

What are their cares?

If you dare to have your own copy of horrid euphorbia, we recommend that you provide the following care:


It is a non-cactus succulent that needs a lot of light, even direct sun. But it is very important that, before exposing it to the star king, you get used to it little by little and gradually. This will prevent it from burning.

In the event that you want to keep it indoors, find a room where there are windows through which a lot of natural light enters, and put it near them (but not right in front of them). Rotate the pot about 180º daily so that all parts of the euphorbia receive the same amount of light.


View of the Euphorbia horrida in detail

Image - Flickr / laurent houmeau

  • Flower pot: being very sensitive to excess watering and waterlogging, it is highly advisable to simply use pumice (for sale here), or fine gravel (1-3mm thick) mixed with 40% peat.
  • Garden: grows on sandy soils, with excellent drainage. If yours is not, make a large, shallow hole, about 50 x 50cm, plant your Euphorbia horrida in a large pot, and then place it in the hole. Finally, finish filling with fine gravel or clay stone (for sale here).


escaso, but when it is watered, it is necessary to water conscientiously, soaking well all the soil or the substrate, depending on where it is. The frequency of irrigation will depend a lot on the climate and growing conditions, but in general it should be watered about 2 times a week during the summer season, once a week in spring and autumn, and every 15 to 20 days. in winter.

Use rainwater whenever you can; failing that, the one that is suitable for human consumption will do, and even the tap if you let it sit overnight.


From early spring to late summer can be fertilized with a specific fertilizer for cacti and succulents (on sale here) following the instructions specified on the package.


View of the Euphorbia horrida in flower

Image - Wikimedia / CT Johansson

La horrid euphorbia multiplies by seeds (difficult) and by cuttings in spring-summer. How to proceed in each case?


The seeds are sown in pots with equal parts peat mixed with perlite, burying them just a little. Then, it is watered and the seedbed is placed outside, in semi-shade.

Keeping the substrate moist, but not flooded, if all goes well they will germinate in about three weeks.


It is the method that is used the most, because it is easy, fast and effective. For this, what is done is cut a cutting, leave it to dry for 7 to 10 days in a dry place protected from the sun, and finally the base is impregnated with rooting hormones and then plant it (do not nail it) in a pot with peat mixed with perlite in equal parts.

In about two weeks it will root.

Plagues and diseases

It is quite sturdy in general, but if overwatered the parasitic fungi will attack your roots and then your stems. To avoid this, the irrigation must be controlled a lot, and use substrates that drain the water well.

If it feels a bit mushy but is still apparently healthy, remove it from the pot / soil, wrap its roots in absorbent paper for a day, and then plant it again in a pot with new soil.

In the event that it is very, very soft, almost like rotten, cut it clean with a previously disinfected knife, let the wound dry for a week and then plant it in a pot with a cheekbone.


La horrid euphorbia It is, from experience, somewhat colder than others of its kind such as Obese euphorbia. Ideally, it should never drop below 5 degrees, and if it does, the soil must remain completely dry. Anyway, it is very important to know that at -2 degrees it begins to suffer serious damage.

Euphorbia horrida looks great in a garden

Image - Flickr / Pamla J. Eisenberg

I hope it has been useful to you 🙂.

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