Pencil Cactus: an Indoor or Outdoor Plant?

The Pencil Cactus is a succulent that is classified as an indoor or outdoor plant. Most people keep it indoors so they can enjoy the beautiful colors and variegated leaves.

The pencil cactus, also known as the Euphorbia tirucalli, is a succulent native to parts of Africa. It gets its name from its long, thin leaves that resemble pencils. The cactus is one of the most popular houseplants because it is relatively easy to care for and can tolerate a bit of neglect. However, many gardeners are unsure whether they should keep their pencil cactus indoors or outdoors.

So, is the pencil cactus an indoor or outdoor plant? The answer to this question largely depends on your climate. If you live in an area with warm weather year-round, your pencil cactus will do fine outside.

However, keeping your pencil cactus indoors is recommended if you live in an area with cold winters. This is because the cold weather can damage the plant’s leaves. When keeping your pencil cactus indoors, place it in a spot where it will get plenty of light. The ideal location is near a south-facing window. You should also water your plant regularly, allowing the soil to dry out completely between watering sessions.

This blog post discusses everything you need to know about the pencil cactus as an indoor and outdoor plant. Read on to learn more about this popular succulent.

The Pencil Cactus: Classification

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of whether the pencil cactus is an indoor or outdoor plant, let’s take a quick look at its classification.

The pencil cactus falls under the genus Euphorbia and the family Euphorbiaceae. It is a succulent, meaning it has thick, fleshy leaves that store water. The plant is native to Africa, specifically Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. It gets its name from its long, thin leaves that resemble pencils.

A person holding a pencil cactus in a pot.
It is a succulent, meaning it has thick, fleshy leaves that store water.

Typically, the succulent thrives in arid climates with little to no rainfall. It is a relatively easy plant to care for and can tolerate some neglect. This makes it a popular choice for household gardens.

The Pencil Cactus as an Indoor Plant

The pencil cactus is mainly grown as an indoor plant in countries with cold climates. The plant is not frost-resistant and can be damaged by freezing temperatures. Keeping your pencil cactus indoors is best if you live in an area with cold winters.

When keeping your pencil cactus indoors, place it in a spot where it will get plenty of light. The ideal location is near a south-facing window. You should also water your plant regularly, allowing the soil to dry out completely between watering sessions.

Over-watering is one of the most common causes of death for indoor pencil cactus plants, so be sure to err on the side of caution.

If you notice that your plant’s leaves are starting to turn yellow or brown, this is a sign that it is being overwatered. Allow the soil to dry out completely, and then reduce the frequency of your watering sessions.

A pencil cactus at the table exposed to the sunlight.
The plant attracts positive energy and can help to improve your financial situation.

Some people believe that growing pencil cactus indoors brings good luck. According to this belief, the plant attracts positive energy and can help to improve your financial situation.

Whether or not you believe in this superstition, there’s no denying that the pencil cactus is a beautiful and easy-to-care-for indoor plant.

You can keep it on your home office desk or use it to liven up a dull corner of your living room. The most important thing is to ensure that it gets plenty of light and is not overwatered. With a little bit of care, your pencil cactus will thrive indoors.

The Pencil Cactus as an Outdoor Plant

In areas with warm weather year-round, the pencil cactus can be grown outdoors. The plant does best in full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. It is important to note that the plant will not survive in temperatures below the freezing point.

If you live in an area with cold winters, it’s best to bring your pencil cactus indoors or grow it as an annual. This is because the plant is not frost-resistant and can be damaged by freezing temperatures.

When grown outdoors, the pencil cactus does not require much watering. Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering sessions to prevent root rot.

During summer, consider applying a layer of mulch around the base of the plant. This will help to retain moisture and protect the roots from heat. You can also provide shade in the form of a thin cloth or screen if the plant is in an area that gets direct sunlight for most of the day.

Fertilize your plant once a month during the growing season with a cactus fertilizer. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package, as too much fertilizer can damage the plant.

You may also need to prune your plant occasionally to keep it from getting too large. When pruning, be careful not to damage the plant’s stem. Pruning should be done after the blooming season, typically in late spring or early summer.

Consider pairing your pencil cactus with other heat-loving plants such as yucca, agave, or aloe when grown outdoors. These plants have similar watering and growing requirements, making them a good match for the pencil cactus.

Your pencil cactus will thrive in an outdoor garden with a bit of care. The plant is relatively easy to care for and can tolerate harsh conditions. Just be sure to protect it from frost and excessive sunlight.

Does the Pencil Cactus Bloom Indoors?

One of the most exciting things about growing pencil cacti is that the plant blooms indoors.

Unfortunately, the blooms only last for a few days before they start to wilt. This is normal behavior for the plant and is not cause for concern.

The pencil cactus blooming season typically occurs in late spring or early summer. The plant will produce small, white flowers with a sweet fragrance during this time.

A flowering pencil cactus.
Be sure the cactus receives plenty of sunlight and is fertilized regularly to encourage blooming.

While the blooms only last a few days, they are beautiful and add a touch of elegance to your indoor space. After the blooms fade, small brown fruits will begin to form. These fruits are not edible.

If the blooming season arrives and you don’t see any signs of your pencil cactus blooming, it’s essential to provide it with the proper care.

Be sure the cactus receives plenty of sunlight and is fertilized regularly to encourage blooming. If you still don’t see any flowers, it’s possible that your plant is not yet old enough to bloom. Typically, the pencil cactus will not bloom until it is three years old.

Allowing the soil to dry out completely between watering sessions is also essential. Overwatering can prevent the plant from blooming. With some patience, you should eventually see your pencil cactus bloom.

Taking Care of a Pencil Cactus

As mentioned earlier, the pencil cactus is generally a low-maintenance plant. However, there are a few things you need to do to ensure that your plant stays healthy and blooms each year.

Here are some tips for taking care of a pencil cactus:

  • Be sure to plant the cactus in well-draining soil.
  • Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering sessions.
  • Fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season.
  • Prune the plant after it blooms in late spring or early summer.
  • Provide the plant with plenty of sunlight.
  • Protect the plant from frost and excessive heat.

Pencil cactus is generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, mealybugs and scale insects can sometimes be a problem. These pests can be controlled with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

If you notice any discoloration or deformities on your plant, it may be infected with powdery mildew or root rot. These diseases can usually be controlled with fungicides.

A person spraying insecticide to the plant.
The pencil cactus is generally a low-maintenance plant.

Furthermore, the plant can sometimes be affected by root rot caused by overwatering. If you notice that your plant’s roots are soft or mushy, it’s essential to check for the possibility of root rot.

If you think your plant has suffered root rot, remove it from the pot and inspect the roots. If they are black or brown and mushy, they are probably rotten. You must cut away the affected roots and replant the cactus in fresh, dry soil.

How Do I Propagate a Pencil Cactus?

If you want to propagate your pencil cactus, it is the best time to do it in late spring or early summer. This is typically the same time that the plant blooms.

To propagate the plant, cut a stem that includes at least two nodes (the small bumps where leaves emerge). The stem should be about four inches long.

A close up image of a pencil cactus.
It typically takes four to six weeks for the cutting to take root.

Next, allow the cutting to callous over for a few days. Once it has calloused, you can plant it in well-draining soil. Be sure to keep the soil moist but not wet until the cutting has rooted.

It typically takes four to six weeks for the cutting to take root. Once it has rooted, you can care for it like a regular pencil cactus.

Wrapping Up

Pencil cactus can thrive both as an indoor and outdoor plant. It has recently gained popularity for its low-maintenance needs and beautiful appearance.

To take care of a pencil cactus, water it sparingly and keep it in a relatively sunny spot. To propagate a pencil cactus, cut off a stem from the mother plant and place it in the soil.

Thanks for following our series on the pencil cactus!

Last update on 2022-11-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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