African Milk Cactus

John.Gamesby at John.Gamesby at
Wed Jun 25 13:03:07 EST 1997

On Tue, 24 Jun 1997 02:55:16 GMT, kbonnici at
(Kellie_Bonnici) wrote:

>In article <5ok68b$2fa$1 at>, schneck at (schneck) writes:
>>This may not be the NG I need, but I need help with a 20 year old African
>>Milk Cactus.  I got her when she was six inches tall...and she is now 4
>>1/2 feet tall and feels like she weighs over 70 pounds.  I really have no
>>good place in my house for her...she just barely survives the winters
>>before I move her outside to a east facing patio, shielded from the North
>>by an L of our home.  

First I doubt this is a Cactus as the only native South African cactus
are Rhipsalis which this clearly is not. From the name African Milk
cactus I would say it is one of the Euphorbia's some of which do look
like Cactus. 
>I'd suggest putting the cactus in the absolute brightest most light 
>intense area you can find.
Yes I would agree but when you first put it outside it will need some
aclimatisation to the sun, for over a week or two otherwise the bright
sun might cause your plant to scorch. Keep it in a bright spot but not
where it will get the full gare of the sun but a little shade.

>>Is it possible to keep this beast outside all winter...I live on the
>>border of NC/SC, in the Piedmont (Charlotte area).  
No way if your plant will only just survives indoors over winter it
will it will not survive outside. A min. temperature of 45 Deg F is
needed if it is one of the Succulent Euphorbia's. A little water in
the winter will help it if the stems show any signs of shrinkage in
winter. Only a little, half a pint in 3-4 weeks, and only if the
temperature is 45 or above.

>If it is, can she be
>>transplanted to our clay soil or should she be kept in her pot.  

Keep it in a pot stay clear of Clay dirt, and also peat based potting
compost/dirt. Peat causes all sorts of other problems unless you want
to re-pot every year. Go to a garden center or store there arer plenty
of choices of different mixes. Get one for cactus or native mix if in
doubt ask at the store.  

>>How can I correct her drunken list.  She has a pronounced curve in her main
>>trunk.  Unless I brace her against a wall, she tips over.  As it is, she
>>has listed so long that she has exposed the roots on one side.

When you re-pot stand it as straight as you can you may have to put in
a long stick / cane and tie your plant to it for four to six weeks
till the roots have taken hold again. then the string can bu cut and
the Stick taken out. If there is still a list then turn the plant so
the list is facing away from the sun ie turn it to list to the north.
The sun will do the rest as your plant will grow towards the strongest
light. When you take it back indoors for winter turn it clockwise a
quarter turn each week. As the plant is growing towards the light or
window which has caused it to lean in the first place.

>>I am not a "plant" person...but this cactus appeals to me....and I'd hate
>>to lose her by doing something stupid.
I agree easpecially as it appears to be such an old plant.
One other point if it is a Euphorbia wear gloves as the latex or white
milky sap is poisonous and can even cause burns if it gets on delicate
skin, upper arms, lips, eyes etc. Wash any sap off imediatly with warm
water and it will be ok, if it gets into the eyes wash out imediatly
and seek medical help. This goes for pointsetias as well, the same

Good luck and good growing


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