Euphorbia Lactea: How to Grow & Tips (Dragon Bones Tree)

The Euphorbia lactea (also called Dragon Bones Tree) is a very interesting succulent plant that is native to India and Southeast Asia. It is a member of the Euphorbiaceae family and is closely related to the poinsettia.

In this post, I will tell you everything you need to know about this unique and beautiful plant.

Caring for and maintaining the Euphorbia lactea is fairly straightforward, making it an excellent choice for both beginner and experienced gardeners. So, let’s get started!

euphorbia lactea

About Euphorbia Lactea

Where It Grows?

Euphorbia Lactea originally hails from tropical parts of Asia, primarily India. In its natural habitat, this plant enjoys warm and humid conditions.

It is also very drought tolerant, so it can survive in areas with low rainfall. This makes it a great choice for those living in dry climates.


Imagine a sturdy, erect shrub, reaching heights of up to 5 meters (around 16 feet). Its succulent branches stand out with their unique ridges, almost resembling a triangular or rhombic pattern.

The ridges have tiny spines, making the plant look a tad fierce but interesting.


The leaves of Euphorbia Lactea are quite minute. Don’t get too attached to them though, as they drop off quite quickly.

Special Mention

The plant exudes a milky latex, which looks interesting but comes with a caution – it’s poisonous. So, if you have curious pets or children, you might want to place this plant out of their reach.

The Best Environment for Thriving Euphorbia Lactea

Euphorbia lactea (dragon bones tree), with its unique appearance and mesmerizing patterns, can be a real show-stopper in any garden or indoor setting.

But, like all plants, it has its preferences. So, let’s discuss the ideal environment for this beauty to thrive.

Euphorbia Lactea loves a good dose of sunshine. Whether it’s soaking in the full summer sun or basking in partial shade, this plant is quite versatile.

If you’re growing it indoors, placing it near a window with bright, indirect light will keep it happy.

Mottled Spurge (Euphorbia Lactea) isn’t a fan of wet feet. To keep those roots healthy and prevent rot, ensure your soil drains well. While it’s tolerant of different soil types, it’s the drainage that’s key.

You might think of mixing in some perlite or sand to improve drainage if you feel your soil is too compact.

In the next section, you will find many more important tips for caring for and maintaining your Euphorbia Lactea.

Euphorbia Lactea Care Tips

Below you will find everything you need to know about growing and caring for Euphorbia Lactea. By following these tips, you can ensure your plant is healthy and happy:

Lighting Needs

Sunlight: Euphorbia Lactea loves a good dose of sunlight. Find it a spot where it can get bright, indirect light. If you’ve got a south or east-facing window, that’s perfect.

Intensity: While it’s a sun-lover, direct and intense sunlight can cause sunburn. So, filter the sunlight or move it a little away from the window to avoid any damage. Moderation is key!

euphorbia lactea c plant

Watering Routine

When it comes to our lovely Euphorbia Lactea, getting the watering routine down pat is essential. Let’s dive into everything you need to know to keep this unique plant happy and thriving!

Like their close relatives, the cacti and other succulents, Euphorbia Lactea is designed to conserve water. This ensures survival in their natural habitat where water is a rare luxury.

These plants sport shallow root systems. In the wild, they benefit from morning dew or minor showers, enabling them to absorb small amounts of water frequently.

How Often and How Much To Water Them?

Less is More: Don’t be fooled by their hardy appearance. Euphorbia Lactea doesn’t need a deluge. Overwatering can be harmful.

Guideline to Follow: For a plant in a 4″ pot, a good rule is 1 tablespoon of water, two or three times a week. Remember, we’re mirroring those natural, light watering instances they’d get in the wild.

Consistency is Key: Like how desert plants absorb condensation during temperature drops, a light, consistent supply helps Euphorbia Lactea store water effectively without causing harm.

Watch for Signs

Overwatering Woes: If you give too much water, Euphorbia Lactea can become oversaturated. This can lead to the plant getting mushy or, worse, rotting.

Thirst Signals: On the other hand, if they’re not watered enough, they’ll deplete their internal water reserves. You might notice your plant starting to shrivel or develop brown patches.

Methods to Consider

Misting: Some gardeners swear by misting their Euphorbia Lactea lightly every day. This simulates that morning dew effect. If you choose this method, ensure it’s a light misting to avoid oversaturation.

Direct Watering: Others prefer adding water directly to the soil in small amounts, following the above guidelines.

Seasonal Adjustments

Winter Care: During colder months, the Euphorbia Lactea tends to go dormant. This means they won’t need as much water. Consider cutting back the watering by half to avoid over-hydrating.

Watering might seem like a simple task, but with Euphorbia Lactea, it’s a delicate balance.

The key is consistency, moderation, and observation. Your plant will often tell you what it needs if you pay attention.

Soil & Potting

Soil Selection

Drainage is Key: Euphorbia Lactea loves well-draining soil. This ensures its roots aren’t sitting in water, which can lead to rot. A cactus or succulent mix is ideal.

Moisture Balance: While these plants love their soil on the drier side, it’s important not to let them completely dry out, especially in the warmer months.

Choosing the Right Pot

Drainage Hole: Make sure your pot has a drainage hole. This ensures any excess water can escape, preventing root rot.

Material: Terracotta or clay pots are a great choice. They’re breathable, allowing excess moisture to evaporate, which Euphorbia Lactea will appreciate.

Size: Begin with a pot that’s slightly larger than the root ball of your plant. Giving too much space can cause the soil to stay wet for longer, which isn’t ideal.

A Few Potting Tips:

Re-potting: Every couple of years, consider re-potting your Euphorbia Lactea. This gives you a chance to refresh the soil, check on the root health, and move it to a larger pot if needed.

Indoor Living: If you’re living in a region that gets frosty, remember that our friend here doesn’t appreciate the cold.

In such cases, consider keeping it potted so you can move it indoors during the colder months. Or, if you’re a fan of houseplants like me, you can have it as an indoor resident year-round!

euphorbia lactea

Temperature & Humidity

Euphorbia Lactea, sometimes fondly referred to as the “Dragon Bone Tree”, has quite specific temperature needs that help it thrive:

Ideal Range: This plant loves warmth! It’s happiest in temperatures that mimic its tropical homeland. Ideally, you’ll want to keep it in conditions ranging from the mid-60s to the high 80s (°F).

euphorbia lactea care

Tolerance Threshold: A little chill won’t harm it, but be wary of letting it get too cold. The lowest temperature it can comfortably handle is around 42°F. Any colder, and you risk damage to its beautiful stems.

Protection from Frost: If you’re in a region where frost is a concern, it’s crucial to protect your Euphorbia Lactea. Frost isn’t a friend to this plant, as ice can harm its stems quite quickly. If winter rolls in and you’re expecting frost, consider moving your plant to a warmer spot.

Being a tropical delight, Euphorbia Lactea loves a bit of moisture in the air:

Ideal Humidity: High humidity is where it’s at for this plant. Think about those tropical climates with lots of moisture in the air. If you can, try to maintain a humidity level of around 60-80% for your plant.

Managing Dry Conditions: If you live in a drier climate, don’t fret! There are ways to give your plant the humidity it craves. Consider placing a tray filled with water and pebbles near the plant, or regularly misting its surroundings.

These methods can help increase the moisture level in the immediate vicinity of your Euphorbia Lactea.

Key Takeaways for Success

Warm & Cozy: Keep your Dragon Bone Tree in a warm environment. Avoid letting it experience temperatures below 42°F to ensure its stems remain healthy.

Humidity is Key: This plant thrives in high humidity. Whether it’s natural humidity or you’re artificially increasing it, make sure it’s moist enough for your Euphorbia Lactea to feel at home.

Stay Vigilant: Always be on the lookout for signs of temperature or humidity stress. If your plant seems unhappy, reassess its environment and make necessary adjustments.


First off, you need to know that plants, like us, sometimes need a little boost in the form of nutrients. But not all soil is made equal. If your garden soil isn’t offering your Euphorbia Lactea the richness it craves, that’s where fertilizer comes in.

Rich vs. Poor Soil: Soil that’s full of nutrients and organic matter might not need extra fertilizer.

But if you’ve noticed your soil is a bit on the sandy or clayey side, or just seems depleted, then your Euphorbia Lactea could use a boost.

How Often and How Much?

Frequency: You don’t want to overdo it. A once-a-month treat during the spring and summer months is perfect for your Euphorbia Lactea if the soil is poor.

These are the months when your plant is in its active growing phase and will benefit the most from the added nutrients.

Strength: If you’ve got a commercial fertilizer, you might want to give it a second thought before pouring it straight from the bottle. Diluting it correctly is the key.

This ensures your plant gets what it needs without the risk of burning its roots or causing other damage.

Types of Fertilizers

While we’re talking about fertilizers, it’s worth noting there are various kinds to choose from.

Liquid Fertilizers: Easily diluted and quick to be absorbed, these are excellent for immediate use.

Granular or Slow-Release Fertilizers: These provide nutrients over an extended period. If you go this route, ensure you read the label and adjust your application rate accordingly.

Signs You’re Getting It Right

After a couple of applications, you might notice:

Lush Growth: A healthier-looking and faster-growing Euphorbia Lactea is a sign your fertilizing efforts are working.

Vivid Colors: If your Euphorbia Lactea has colored parts, they might appear more vibrant with the right amount of nutrients.

Monitoring Growth: Signs

Let’s dive into the specific signs you need to be aware of when keeping an eye on this plant’s growth:

Leaf Condition

Curled, Dried Edges: If you’ve noticed that the leaves on your Euphorbia Lactea are curling and developing dried brown edges, that’s your plant’s way of telling you, “Hey, I’m thirsty!” and “Whoa, too much sun!”.

Best to take action and find a shadier spot for your green friend and maybe give it a little more water.

Yellowing and Shedding: Ever had that one houseplant that suddenly went all yellow and started dropping leaves like it’s autumn indoors? That’s a sign that the plant might be getting too much water.

Yellow leaves are like your plant’s version of a white flag, signaling it’s had a bit too much to drink.

Temperature Sensitivity

The Euphorbia Lactea is a bit like that friend who always brings a sweater, even in summer. It doesn’t do well when the temperature drops too much.

If you start noticing yellow leaves and a bit of a slowdown in its growth, that’s your Euphorbia Lactea hinting that it’s feeling the cold.

Spot Checks

Corking: Ever seen light brown, hard spots on your Euphorbia Lactea and panicked? Don’t worry, it’s just corking.

As the plant grows and matures, these spots can appear. Think of them as your plant’s version of a wrinkle or two as it grows older.

Rotting: Now, if you see darker brown spots that are a bit on the squishy side, that’s a red flag. This could be a sign of rot.

If the affected area is small, you can try to remove the rot gently. But if the rot has spread, it might be time to get those shears and cut back to a fresh, healthy part of the plant.

By understanding these signs and being observant, you’ll ensure that your Euphorbia Lactea thrives and continues to be a magnificent addition to your garden or home.

Just remember to always keep an eye out, provide the right care, and enjoy the beautiful journey of growing with your plant.


At its core, Euphorbia Lactea contains a white, milky sap, also known as latex. The moment the surface of this plant is broken or cut, this latex tends to ooze out.

The latex isn’t just there for show; it plays a pivotal role in the plant’s survival.

In the wild, this sap acts as a deterrent. It keeps away those pesky animals and insects that might consider taking a bite out of the plant. Nature surely has its ways!

While the milky latex is an excellent defense system for the plant, it poses risks to us humans. This sap, when exposed to sunlight, undergoes a transformation. It becomes phototoxic.

In simple words, if by any chance this sap meets your skin and then gets introduced to sunlight, it could lead to blistering or even severe irritation.

Potential Health Concerns

Beyond skin contact, there’s a more pressing concern. Euphorbia Lactea, if consumed, could lead to significant discomfort.

Symptoms might include nausea and even vomiting. Therefore, this isn’t a snack for your pets either! Best keep it out of their curious reach.

Handling Tips

If you ever need to prune or repot your Euphorbia Lactea, be extra cautious. It’s not a game of speed but of care.

Should you get some sap on you, wash it off thoroughly and promptly. If exposed to sunlight, the aforementioned phototoxic effects can be harmful.

Considering the potential risks, it’s wise to use gloves when dealing with this plant.

Safe Placement
  • When deciding where to place or plant your Euphorbia Lactea, consider its toxicity.
  • It’s not just about how it complements your space but also about ensuring it’s away from the playful hands of children or the adventurous paws of pets.

How to Propagate Dragon Bones Tree

Propagation Methods for Euphorbia Lactea

Seed Propagation

This method involves sowing seeds to grow a new plant. But here’s a little tidbit for you: cultivated Euphorbia Lactea doesn’t flower often, making seeds a rare commodity. So, if you’re looking to propagate through seeds, you might have to buy them.

Cutting Propagation

This is where the real magic happens! Using cuttings from an existing plant is your golden ticket to propagating Euphorbia Lactea. And guess what? It’s simpler than you might think.

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Safety First: The sap of Euphorbia Lactea has a reputation for being quite irritable to our skin. So, always wear gloves and roll down those sleeves before diving in.

Safety goggles are also a smart choice. Always remember: A safe gardener is a happy gardener.

2. When to Cut: Timing is key. Spring and summer, when our green buddy is actively growing, is the perfect time to snip those cuttings.

3. Choosing the Right Stem: Use a clean and sharp knife (or pruning shears) and cut a stem right where it connects to the main branch. Aim for a stem that looks healthy and robust. Remember, this little piece will soon become its own plant!

4. The Magic Touch – Rooting Hormone: Once your cutting is sap-free, give it a dip in rooting hormone powder. This isn’t a mandatory step, but it’s like giving your plant a vitamin boost to promote root growth.

5. Patience: Allow your cutting to sit and dry for about a week. This lets the cut end form a protective callous, which increases its chances of rooting successfully.

6. Planting Time: Find a pot filled with well-draining soil and stick your cutting upright into it. Remember, it’s not too deep – just enough to support the cutting.

7. Warmth: Euphorbia Lactea cuttings love warmth. It encourages quicker root growth. If you have a heating mat, place your potted cutting on it. If not, a warm spot in your home will do just fine.

8. Misting and Waiting: A gentle mist around the soil keeps it from drying out. After this, all you need is a dash of patience as you wait for roots to form.

So, there you have it. Propagating Euphorbia Lactea isn’t just a gardening task- it’s a delightful journey. One where you, the gardener, plays a pivotal role in creating new life.

So next time you look at your Dragon Bones Tree, remember, with a little care, patience, and the right steps, you can bring many more such beauties to life.

Pests, Diseases, & More

Pests That Love Euphorbia Lactea

Aphids: These tiny insects, often green or black, are attracted to the milky latex substance in the leaves of Euphorbia Lactea. They suck sap from the plant and can weaken it over time.

Mealybugs: These white, cottony pests tend to hang out on the undersides of leaves. They too are fond of the plant’s milky latex.

Mites: These microscopic arachnids can cause the leaves to look speckled or bronzed. If you see fine webs on your plant, mites might be the culprit.

Nematodes: These are tiny worms that can attack the plant’s roots, affecting its overall health.

Diseases and Other Concerns

Toxicity: A word of caution – the Euphorbia Lactea has toxins. If any part of the plant is ingested, it may lead to irritation or worse.

It’s especially important to be cautious if you have kids or small pets, as their reactions could be more pronounced. Always a good idea to place the plant out of their reach.

Skin Irritation: That milky substance we’ve been talking about? It doesn’t play nice with the skin. If you ever need to handle the plant, slip on a pair of gloves. It’ll save you from potential skin troubles.

Tips for Dealing with Pests

Regular Inspection: The best way to prevent pests is to inspect your plant regularly. If you notice any unusual signs, take action before the issue magnifies.

Neem Oil: This natural insecticide can deter a variety of pests. Just remember to apply in the evening or early morning to prevent leaf burn.

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