How and when to prune euphorbia


Euphorbia is a genus of plants of the family Euphorbiaceae, very extensive, variable and distributed around the world. There are more than 5000 known euphorbia species, although some 2000 are approved scientifically. The genus is very diverse in terms of shape and size, they exist from small trees, shrubs, to herbaceous plants. A significant percentage of species are succulent, some seem cacti. Among the most popular plants of this genus is Poinsettia, known for its beautiful reddish leaves that decorate Christmas. In this article we will analyze in a general way everything about pruning Euphorbia, how and when to carry it out, what tools to use, etc. We will also take the time to see how to take care of these plants so that they are healthy and strong.


Note: Please note that the advice given here is general, this blog is consulted from many countries in the world, with totally different characteristics, what not all tips will be adapted in the same way in all cases. Once you finish reading the article it will be necessary to analyze all the information and apply what you have learned in the best way. If you have any questions, remember that you can contact us to make your inquiries.

1. How to care euphorbia plant


Before getting fully involved with the main theme of this article, euphorbia pruning, and since it is nothing more than a maintenance technique for this plant, we will see in this section the key points for caring for it.

Keep in mind that as we said at the beginning there are thousands of species within the euphorbias family, therefore the care that we will cite below are general, and there may be small variations for some species.

  • Lighting: they usually like to be in places with good sun exposure, if you are going to change it to a less sunny place do it with a slow transition.
Euphorbia milii flower
Euphorbia milii flower
  • Temperature: a range that could be called as ideal for the development of these succulents is between 16 – 25 ° C.
  • Substrate and fertilization: they like soils with a good mineral substrate, they do not practically need organic matter in it. They should preferably be soils with good drainage capacity. As for fertilization, cactus fertilizer can be used, and must be placed during the 2 or 3 weeks of flowering.
  • Irrigation: the evil that most affects this type of plants is the fungus, so try never to flood the soil. Make little abundant watering to keep the soil with a small degree of humidity.
  • Pruning: in euphorbia pruning is not something fudamental, so and everything needs to be carried out certain tasks to help in its aesthetics and healing.

2. Tools needed for pruning euphorbia


In the next sections we will see that pruning this genus of plants is not complicated at all. And as often happens, easy pruning needs a small amount of tools.

In the case you can manage with simple hand pruning shears, it is more in many species (the smallest), you can perform pruning with stationery scissors. Keep in mind that the moment you make the cut is ideal to transmit diseases from plant to plant, that is why you must disinfect the blades before pruning and every time you change the plant.

Remember that many species within the genus euphorbia have thorns, if that is the case you have at home they will wear a pair of gloves. We don’t want you to end up licked.

On the other hand, in addition to thorns, most of these plants spread a thick and milky sap when their branches are cut. This sap is irritating to the skin and eyes, so be sure to use not only gloves but also glasses.

2.1 Needed care of pruning tools

Try to perform the following care in your pruning tools to extend useful life.

  • Use the right tool for a job and avoid twisting or straining it.
  • Clean and oil tools regularly by wiping an oily cloth on blades and other surfaces.
  • Keep cutting edges sharp by regularly using an oilstone.
  • Wooden handles should be varnished or regularly treated with linseed oil to keep them from cracking or splintering.

Keep in mind that if you extend the life of your tools you will not be doing anything other than saving money. 😉

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3. How and when to prune euphorbia


As in the previous section, where we talked about care, we said that given the large number of species within the euphorbias, you would give general tips, the same will happen here when we talk about pruning euphorbias.

In the case of pruning we will divide the euphorbias into those of evergreens, those of deciduous leaves and varieties with biennial stems. We will analyze each case separately to avoid confusion.

3.1 Pruning deciduous euphorbia

Let’s talk about the euphorbias of the deciduous type, that is, those that do not keep all their leaves during the winter. The most recognized euphorbia within this type is Poinsettia.

When these plants have run out of flowers and leaves, it is the exact time to perform this pruning. The time may vary depending on the temperature to which it is exposed.

In the special case of Poinsettia, pruning consists in cutting all the finest and weakest branches. At the same time select at least four branches that will be the ones that will remain for next year. Take each of the selected ones and cut them at the height of the third bud counting from the ground.

For other cases, more drastic pruning may be necessary, eliminating all branches at ground level. This type of drastic pruning is also needed by many perennial herbaceous euphorbia, some examples are: euphorbia cyparissias, euphorbia dulcis ‘Chameleon’, euphorbia epithymoides, etc.

3.2 Pruning evergreen euphorbia

Let’s start by talking about the pruning of euphorbias that remain green throughout the year, some examples of these species are:

  • Euphorbia ascot rainbow.
  • Euphorbia mellifera.
  • Euphorbia silver swan.

This type of euphorbias do not need large pruning, but rather a light pruning after flowering.

Pruning euphorbia ascot rainbow
Euphorbia ascot rainbow

The right time to perform this pruning is when the yellow bracts have turned a completely brown color. At that point, remove them and cutting back to the first ring of leaves below.

3.3 Pruning varieties with biennial stems

This last case we will analyze is that of those euphorbias with biennial stems. This type of plants has two types of shoots: those of the previous season, in which the flowers appear, and the new bortes of the current season.

In these euphorbias we must perform a pruning of its flowering stems at ground level. The appropriate time to make these cuts is between summer and autumn, with the aim of allowing the buds of the new season to flourish the following year.

4. Pruning roots in euphorbias


Many varieties of euphorbias are characterized by generating large numbers of roots, something that should not interest us if it is planted in the soil, but it will influence if we have it in a pot. A clear example of the great root production is poinsettia.

Finished the pruning of euphorbia stems is an appropriate time to assess the state of its roots. Since in one season the pot of roots can be filled the control must be done quite regularly, if nothing is done, strangulation will occur, something that will cause it to suffer.

If once the plant has been extracted from the pot we notice that there are too many roots we have two options:

  • Transplant: this is usually the most recommended. Just look for a new pot, larger than the previous one, and perform the transplant. Keep in mind that next year the plant will come bigger.
Transplant of  euphorbia (poinsettia)
Transplant of euphorbia (poinsettia)
  • Root pruning: if we are satisfied with the current size of our plant, and we don’t want it to develop further, root pruning is a good option. Use scissors and proceed to thin the roots a little. This will give space to the remaining roots and prevent strangulation.

No matter which of the two options you choose, after doing so place the pot in a place with good lighting, to help the recovery of the plant.

5. Special advice for indoor pruning


Do you have your euphorbia in a pot? Is that pot inside your house? If so, you should know that the milky sap that leaves a large part of these plants when cut is very difficult to clean.

I already advised you that in front of the sap that will be generated during pruning you take care of yourself with gloves and glasses, now it is time to take care of the floor of your house. First of all consider taking out the pot to prune outside your home. If that is not possible, cover the floor with a blanket, nylon or any element that prevents staining. Believe me, you will thank me for following this advice if you have to do the cleaning. 😉

6. How to prune euphorbia video


To close the post we leave a video of the Burncoose channel, where you can graphically understand several things that we saw so far. I hope it helps you.

You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:

So far we have come up with this brief article about how and when to prune your euphorbia, I hope that everything seen up to here has been very clear, otherwise or do not hesitate to contact us. 😉

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