Home Plants Euphorbia Xylophylloides – A Plant With Leafless Branches

Euphorbia Xylophylloides – A Plant With Leafless Branches

by gardeningit
Euphorbia Xylophylloides

Euphorbia Xylophylloides is a unique plant from the tropical regions of Madagascar. It is popular as an ornamental plant due to its exotic, leafless branches and stem. Due to its uncanny resemblance to cacti, most people confuse it for a cactus plant. However, this evergreen plant belongs to an entirely different genus.

It is a low-maintenance species that can grow in a wide range of conditions. This is why it is grown widely as a houseplant. It stays happy outdoors as well as indoors as long as you provide it with its basic needs. Here are some care tips and unknown features of this robust species.

Common Names

  • Enterophora.


  • Family: Euphorbiaceae
  • Subfamily: Euphorbioideae
  • Genus: Euphorbia

About the Genus Euphorbia

Euphorbia is one of the largest genera of flowering plants containing around 2000 species. These species range from small shrubs to large trees. These are native to Southern Africa, Madagascar, and America. Most of these plants are widely grown as ornamental plants.

Origin and Distribution

This plant originated in Madagascar and spread to Eastern and South Africa. Currently, it is grown in many parts of the world as an ornamental houseplant.

Euphorbia Xylophylloides Features

Foliage and Stem

This plant has leafless branches that are reddish in color. These branches grow erect and give a shrub-like appearance to this plant. The color of the branches changes from red to green as they mature. Upon maturity, more lateral branches grow and give an irregular shape to the plant.


It is an evergreen species of the Euphorbiaceae family. This means its foliage remains functional throughout the year.


This plant can grow as tall as 20 meters. This is the mature height of Euphorbia Xylophylloides in its natural habitat. Inside a home, this plant grows as tall as 5 feet tall.

Temperature Tolerance

This plant can tolerate high temperatures to freezing colds. It is also frost-hardy to some extent. This is why this plant is known as the tough guy of the plant world.

Humidity Tolerance

This plant can tolerate low and moderate humidity levels, but high humidity is a big No-No for this plant. This is because when the humidity level increases, this plant becomes more susceptible to fungal diseases.

Drought Resistance

The thick branches and stem of this succulent plant are drought-tolerant. These parts retain water and use it on days of low water availability.

Disease and Pest Resistance

Although this plant is not susceptible to many diseases, it still gets affected by powdery mildew. This disease shows symptoms in the form of white or grey portions of the plant. You can treat this infection by rubbing the foliage of this plant with neem oil.

Spider mites, mealybugs, whiteflies, and scales are most likely to inhabit this plant’s foliage. You should prevent these pests at all costs as these are difficult to get rid of. Keep the branches and stem dry to keep these pests at bay.


Euphorbia Xylophylloides is a fast-growing plant that produces new growth in no time. If you prune its old branches from time to time, its growth rate will increase even more. However, its growth rate tends to slow down indoors due to less ideal conditions.

The USDA plant hardiness growth zones best suited for this plant are 9 to 11.


The sap present in the stem and branches of this otherwise good-looking plant is quite toxic. If contact with skin, this milky-white sap can cause irritation and allergic reaction in humans and animals. This is why you should keep your pets and toddlers away from it. You should wear gloves while handling this plant as well.


This robust plant is a low-maintenance species. This plant actually thrives on neglect; if you care for it more and keep watering or fertilizing it, it will die. Just provide it with its bare minimum needs and watch it grow fast.


Like other plants, Euphorbia Xylophylloides goes dormant in winters. As soon as the temperature and light levels fall below average, this plant slows down its growth rate and enters its resting stage. It does not need to be fertilized during these days. Also, water this plant less in the dormancy period.

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Euphorbia Xylophylloides Care

Euphorbia Xylophylloides care is as easy as cake. It should be watered once a week in summers and after every two weeks in winters. It needs to be planted in fast-draining, acidic soil (pH 5.0-7.0). The ideal temperature range is 50 to 95°F, and it thrives in low to moderate humidity.

Water Requirements

As this plant has requirements similar to cacti, it does not like being watered much. It should be watered only when its soil gets completely dry. If you do not check the dampness of the soil before watering the plant, this plant can actually die of overwatering. Check the soil’s dryness by inserting your finger in it.

Its watering schedule is normally one to three times a week in summers and only once in two weeks in winters. All this depends on the heat and how fast the soil dries according to the outside’s temperature.

Soil Requirement

As it is a succulent plant it does not like excessive moisture in its soil. It prefers fast-draining, acidic soil. You should regulate the pH of the soil to around 5.0 to 7.0. You can use the regular cacti potting mix for this plant. If you want to prepare your own potting mix at home, it would be well and good.

You should mix two parts of peat moss and one part perlite to make its potting mix. A potting mix that has large particles is preferred for this plant. You can also use a mixture of charcoal pieces and sandy loam with a base layer of bricks.


As this plant is native to deserts, it prefers more sun. This plant loves bright spots where its foliage can receive bright light exposure. You can place it near an east-facing window indoors. This plant can also be grown outdoors, but make sure it does not get exposed to direct sun for too long. Extended hours of direct sunlight can scorch and burn its branches. We recommend you cover this plant with a shade cloth outdoors on a hot sunny day.

This plant grows pretty well in partial shade as well. You can place its pot on your kitchen tabletop or in your living room’s corner.

Temperature Tolerance

Euphorbia Xylophylloides is a hardy plant that can thrive in a wide range of temperatures. The optimum temperature range for this plant is 10 to 35°C. If you live in tropical regions, this plant will stay happy indoors as the indoor room temperature stays in this optimum range. Luckily, this plant is winter-hardy, so it can tolerate low temperatures too. You can also grow it outdoors as long as the temperature stays above 0°C.


Euphorbia Xylophylloides thrives in low humidity. Its branches do not need extra moisture in the surroundings for healthy growth. Even if you do not do anything to regulate the humidity levels around this plant, it will still stay happy and keep growing. Make sure you do not mist its branches, as misting and high humidity can make this plant susceptible to several problems.


Euphorbia Xylophylloides care involves fertilizing it four times a year in the growing season. It should never be fertilized during its dormant days. This is because this plant has stunted growth in dormancy, and all the fertilizer will collect in its soil as a salt layer which will kill this plant eventually.

You should use a slow-release, liquid fertilizer for this plant. This fertilizer is readily available to the plant and stays available to the roots for an elongated period. You can also use the regular cacti fertilizer for Euphorbia Xylophylloides. Add the fertilizer several inches below the base and water the plant before fertilizing it. This practice will protect its roots from burning. Also, dilute the fertilizer to half its strength before adding it to the plant soil.

Grooming and Pruning

Yearly grooming and pruning maintain the healthy shape and appearance of this plant. At the beginning of each growing season, take a pair of sharp gardening shears, disinfect them by holding them under fire and then prune the leggy branches. You must cut the old branches and those at the bottom of this plant. This will also promote the growth rate of this gorgeous fella.


Euphorbia Xylophylloides does not ask for occasional repotting. It should be re-potted only when it seems larger than its present pot. You should also re-pot this plant when its roots start to grow out of the drainage hole.

Repotting is not as difficult as it seems. All you have to do is take out the plant from its pot, shake off old soil, put it into a new bigger pot, and fill it with soil. The best time to re-pot this plant is in spring or summer when it is actively growing.

Euphorbia Xylophylloides Propagation

As this plant adds a classy appearance to indoors, it looks great as indoor decor if grown in bulk. This does not mean you have to buy 10s of Euphorbia Xylophylloides plants to increase your collection; you can also propagate them yourself. This plant can be propagated through stem cuttings or seeds. As seeds take ages to grow into a mature, healthy plant, we recommend you go for stem cuttings. Here is how you can propagate this handsome species:

  • Take a sharp knife and free it from any bacteria by disinfecting it.
  • You can use ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol to disinfect it.
  • Use this knife to take a stem cutting of 5 to 7 inches long.
  • It would be best if you take a cutting just from the joint of the main stem and a branch.
  • Let this cutting get dry for a week until callus formation.
  • After a week, dip it into growth hormone and plant it into a pot.
  • Water the plant and keep it in a bright spot.
  • Keep taking care of this baby Euphorbia just like you take care of the mother plant.


Euphorbia Xylophylloides is an evergreen shrub-like plant with leafless branches and erect stems. This cactus-looking plant is a unique addition to indoors. If you have never grown a plant before, you must try growing this plant as it is, so easy to care for and almost hard-to-kill!

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