Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’ - Firesticks
Looking around the landscape in the middle of winter can be a rather dreary proposition. The cold night temperatures take their toll on frost-sensitive plants and even plants that are considered cold hardy can start to look a bit rough around the edges. Until you come across this show-stopper! Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’ has actually gotten better looking with the cooler temperatures. The yellow, orange and red colors of this plant have intensified and it truly looks like ‘Sticks on Fire.’
The Red Pencil Tree is native to Southern Africa but grows in all major warm regions of the globe. These succulents have no spines, very small leaves and flowers and look more like staghorn coral you’d see underwater in a tropical coral reef rather than something growing at our nursery or in your landscape. They are definitely grown for their color and interesting pencil-thin branching patterns.
Give this plant well-draining soil, full sun and little water. It won’t get as large as the Green Pencil Tree but it can get up to 8-10’. ‘Sticks on Fire’ are easy to propagate, low-maintenance and drought-tolerant. They are colorful additions to a desert, succulent or rock garden.
Use caution when pruning these plants. The sap is highly irritating to skin and can cause a severe burning sensation if gotten in the eyes. This may be a time when you want to wear goggles and pretend you’re diving! Obviously, ingesting this sap is advised against since it can cause vomiting and upset stomachs. Red Pencil Tree would be a good choice for your landscape if you have deer or rabbits coming over for dinner (uninvited, who do they think they are?) and munching on your plants. Once they get a taste of the latex sap, they won’t bother coming back for more.