Star euphorbia is easy to confuse with cacti or other exotics. Its unusual ribbed shoots form intricate geometric shapes at the top of the caudex trunk. And for every fan there are plants to their liking: sometimes they look like extravagant trees, sometimes they look like “stones” or plexus of roots crowned with a cascade of ribbed shoots; euphorbia can not be confused with any other plant. And although they do not have varieties and decorative forms, these euphorbia still offer to evaluate the uniqueness of each individual plant. It is easy to guess about belonging to succulents at first glance. But the unpretentiousness, endurance and ease of care of this type of milkweed match its decorative effect.
Star euphorbia (Euphorbia stellata)
The whimsical barrels of the most unusual of the caudex
Spurge star (Euphorbia stellata) – one of the most fashionable types of indoor milkweed. Today it is placed on a par with the crested form of milkweed and is offered in flower shops as a special plant. Despite the fact that the cultivation of this type of milkweed practically does not differ from any other species, it has its own characteristics that have caused the growth in popularity in recent years. It is truly one of the most original caudex and succulent plants you can find. And one of the most unforgettable.
Euphorbia star-shaped offer to admire their non-standard beauty. Thanks to juicy, fleshy, albeit tough-looking shoots, milkweed accumulate water and are able to be content with minimal maintenance. But still, the main advantage is their quirky appearance. It is a caudex succulent with an exotic thickened trunk combined with cactus greens. Young plants look like a rosette of ribbed, V-shaped, curved succulent shoots, in which the caudex is almost completely hidden in the ground. This euphorbia develops in the same form in nature. But the older the plant, the more the caudex becomes compacted, starting to rise above the soil and protrude from the pot.
Gradually, the plant transforms, only turnip roots and the base of the thickening remain in the soil (and sometimes the roots also partially come out). The caudex of this milkweed, unlike its competitors, most of all resembles not various vessels or balls, but a turnip or a radish, and each plant has its own, unique. But at any age, on the main stem of this milkweed, leafy ribbed stems grow radially in all directions, which seem to lie on top of the caudex. The edges of the shoots are decorated with thorns, which somewhat complicate plant transplantation.
The shape of the branches practically does not change, they still bend and flaunt with a V-shaped section, the same dense and unusual. The deep green color of the “cap” contrasts beautifully with the light caudex. From a distance it even seems as if one species of milkweed is grafted onto another. To many euphorbia stellates outwardly resemble palms, baobabs, the heads of fabulous creatures with unusual green hair, or stones on top of which a bizarre shock of shoots grows.
The flowering of milkweed stellata usually occurs during almost the entire growing season, but the flowers are almost invisible and inconspicuous.
The variety of star euphorbia allows you to choose between larger and more spectacular forms, as well as miniature plants. Small young euphorbia star-shaped with not yet formed caudex will show their true beauty only years later. But the plants sold already with a powerful “trunk” cost a lot and offer a choice between fancifully intertwined or single-barreled forms, different shades of light bark color: either whitish and “pebble”, or more creamy-sandy.
Like any representative of the euphorbia genus, the stellate is also a poisonous plant. The toxicity of milky sap should be considered if you have small children and pets, or when transplanting a plant.
Star euphorbia is an original plant that is more suitable for those who love and collect succulents. This euphorbia can become a real star of the collection, overshadowing the original cacti, and bokarnea, and their congeners. Thanks to the unusual silhouette, stellates look great in splendid isolation, suitable for pot culture and dry florariums. But even in groups with spiritually related cultures, they will not get lost, successfully fitting into any company of succulents.
Caring for star milkweed at home
Regardless of its shape, the star euphorbia is a photophilous plant. For this plant, you should choose sunny, well-lit areas. The spurge is not afraid of the direct sun, but even with a slight penumbra it will not be able to cope.
For star milkweed, any room with a normal room temperature range is suitable. The heat does not affect the decorativeness of the plant; in the warm season, the minimum permissible temperature is 15 degrees. In winter, it is sometimes recommended to keep the stellate spurge in cool conditions, but such a decrease in temperature is not at all necessary (the flowering of stellates is unattractive, so you should not move the plants specifically for this and remove them to cooler places). But even if you want to achieve flowering, in winter, temperatures should not fall below 10 degrees Celsius. Optimum performance during the rest period is from 15 degrees.
In summer, stellates can be taken out into the fresh air, but only in places protected from precipitation and drafts. These plants also need stable conditions indoors.
Watering and air humidity
The ability of the star milkweed to be content with minimal watering allows it to be grown even by those who often travel. This plant, like the best of succulents, will forgive the lack of regular treatments. The milkweed is watered very carefully, after the substrate dries out, not only in the upper, but also in the middle layer (soil moisture should be light). This plant prefers frequent watering with a small amount of water, rather than more rare and abundant ones. Since September, the milkweed is transferred to minimum watering after the substrate has almost completely dried out, and they return to the previous regime only in March.
When watering, you need to ensure that even the slightest droplets of moisture do not fall on the aerial parts of the star milkweed.
Euphorbia stellata feels great in dry air. No measures should be taken to increase the moisture content for this plant. Humidity and spraying are dangerous and increase the risk of spreading rot
Supplementary food for star milkweed
Fertilizers for this type of milkweed are rarely applied, in half in reduced doses. From March to the end of August, feeding is carried out 1 time in 2-3 weeks. For this plant, only special fertilizers for cacti and succulents are suitable.
Transplant and substrate
The transplant of this milkweed is carried out only when it is really needed, the plant becomes cramped in the previous container. At the same time, it is important to transplant as early as possible, in February-March.
For this type of milkweed, it is preferable to use a special type of soil mixture – a substrate for cacti and succulents. The soil should be light, permeable, with a high content of sand and loosening additives. If you mix the substrate yourself, it is better to combine equal parts of peat, sand and sod soil with the addition of perlite, vermiculite or brick chips. For stellate euphorbia, a substrate with a pH in the range of 5,5-7,0 is suitable.
This milkweed sometimes has roots protruding from the ground, not to mention the fact that the caudex constantly rises and changes. Such “growths” are the main decoration of the plant, which look very attractive. But even if it seems to you that the small appearing root interferes with the aesthetics of euphorbia, in no case hide it. During the procedure for changing the container, it is impossible to deepen the lignified roots back and even slightly deepen the caudex to increase stability: the euphorbia is set at the same level at which it grew in the previous pot.
After planting, it is advisable to mulch the surface of the substrate with stone chips or fine decorative soil.
Diseases and pests
Like all milkweed, stellates demonstrate enviable stamina and endurance. The only thing that threatens the health of the plant is rot, which easily spreads not only when the substrate is waterlogged, but also when water gets on the trunk and shoots during watering.
Reproduction of euphorbia stellata
Star euphorbia can be propagated by cuttings and seeds. The method of separation of branch processes is considered to be simpler (cuttings with parts of green shoots, which are cut into small fragments with a sharp knife and rooted in wet sand in greenhouse conditions after processing and drying the sections). They gradually form a rosette and caudex, with the transformation into a familiar silhouette usually taking less time than when grown from seed.
Seeds of star euphorbia are sown in a disinfected substrate or a mixture of sand and sod soil with the addition of brick chips. Moistening is carried out after sowing, sprinkling seeds from above from a spray bottle. They are not covered with soil. Seeds are germinated at a stable temperature of 21-22 degrees, in bright light, always under glass or film, subject to daily airing. Seedlings are fragile and very sensitive to the moisture regime: they must be protected from both waterlogging and drought.