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The euphorbia family. Homeland - the subtropics of Africa, America, Madagascar. This vast family of succulent plants includes about 2000 species. Many of its representatives are huge in size and therefore inaccessible for growing at home. Those of the milkweed that are grown as indoor plants deservedly enjoy the love of their owners, primarily for their durability (most of them live and retain decorative attractiveness for many years), unpretentiousness and originality or beauty of their appearance. All representatives of the Euphorbiaceae family, on the cut or break of stems and leaves, secrete a poisonous milky sap, which, getting on the mucous membranes, can cause a rather severe burn.
Types of milkweed
Euphorbia is the most beautiful Euphorbia pulcherrima - or poinsettia- received the name of the Star of Bethlehem in honor of the fact that it blooms colorfully on Catholic Christmas. It has bright green tender large leaves, the leaves located under the inflorescences in some varieties are bright red, in others - pink or white, the flowers themselves are small and inconspicuous. This type of euphorbia needs a sunny place, but in the hottest hours in summer it will need shading. Winter temperature minimum for poinsettia is 8 ° C. In the summer, it is regularly sprayed. When transplanting, the poinsettia is cut to about half the length of the branches. Poinsettia is usually kept as an annual plant, and thrown away after flowering, since this spurge is very difficult to keep at home in winter. With the onset of the heating season, with too dry indoor air, it sheds leaves and loses its decorative appeal. Besides,poinsettia very poorly tolerates drafts and sudden temperature changes. Read more about poinsettia in Pansy's article "Poinsettia".
Euphorbia obese or plump Euphorbia obesa is a succulent plant with a spherical stem, like a cactus, which has weakly pronounced ribs, along the edge of which there is a strip of warty, non-prickly growths.
Euphorbia leuconeura is one of the most widespread in recent years. In nature, up to 1.5 m in height, it has a clearly defined ribbed trunk. The leaves in the lower part of the trunk gradually die off and remain on the crown, from which this plant is often called "palm". The leaves are long, oval-ovoid, dark green with pronounced veins. It blooms with small inconspicuous flowers. The fruit is a capsule, the seeds from which often "shoot" when ripe and fly away. Like all milkweed, it does not tolerate waterlogging of the soil - the leaves turn yellow and fly around.
Euphorbia Mila Euphorbia milii - also called the crown of thorns - is a small thorny shrub with powerful grayish stems and bright green oblong leaves. The flowers are very small, the bracts are bright red and are often mistaken for real flowers. Bracts can be red, salmon, bright yellow, white-pink, yellow-pink. This spurge needs maximum sunlight in summer, crown formation by pruning and cool maintenance in winter at a temperature of about 13 ° C. Mille spurge is planted in more nutritious soil than other species (by adding compost or sod land). Another name for this species is Euphorbia splendens.
Euphorbia triangular Euphorbia trigona is a bushy plant with fleshy stems. In nature, a tall, spreading shrub, forms clumps - many trunks. At home, it can grow up to 1.5 m in height. Pronounced ribs with small spines and oblong leaves at the tops of the shoots. The root system of the triangular milkweed is small, and the plant is very tall, therefore, for stability, either a deep pot with a high drainage layer or a garter to a support is required.
Cereus euphorbia Euphorbia cereiformis is a succulent plant with erect, fleshy, branching stems reaching about 1 m in height. On the ribs of the stem are brown or grayish spines. At the tops of the stems, there are small oblong leaves, pointed at the end.
Euphorbia large-horned Euphorbia grandicornis is a succulent plant with erect, fleshy, branching stems. In section, the stems are triangular, have pronounced ribs that are not evenly cut. Along the edge of the rib, large spines of yellowish brown or gray color are located in pairs at right or slightly obtuse angles to each other. On this milkweed, leaves appear on young shoots, but they quickly fall off. The flowers are small, yellow, collected in complex inflorescences.
Euphorbia multifaceted Euphorbia polygona is a bushy plant with fleshy, rounded, ribbed stems. The ribs can be from 7 to 20, they are sharp and wavy, with dark warty outgrowths along the edge and single spines almost even with a purple tint. The flowers are small, yellow, collected in complex inflorescences.
Euphorbia tirucalli is a succulent very bushy plant, as if consisting of numerous fleshy sticks - stems as thick as a pencil. It has no leaves or thorns. Blooms profusely with small yellow flowers.
Euphorbia tithymaloides, better known as Titimaloid Pedilanthus - differs from many Euphorbia, read more Pedilanthus.
Euphorbia grows in summer at normal temperatures, although 22-25 ° C is optimal for growth. As a succulent plant, it easily tolerates higher temperatures. In winter, it is advisable to observe a rest period at a temperature of about 14 ° C, at least 10-12 ° C.
Bright lighting in winter and summer. Euphorbia love a lot of light, but it is necessary to accustom them to the direct sun in spring and summer gradually so that no burns remain. The best place for milkweed is the sill of the south or southeast window. Make sure that there is enough lighting in winter, if necessary, arrange additional lighting with fluorescent or LED lamps. Some types of milkweed grow quite large at home and no longer fit on the windowsill, in this case they must be placed near the window, without shading or with supplementary lighting. All types of milkweed, similar to cacti with thick fleshy stems, are very light-requiring, they need direct sun. And some, like euphorbia white-veined or triangular, are relatively shade-tolerant, but grow better when they see the sun in the morning or evening.
Moderate in spring and summer, the soil should have time to dry well before the next watering, but not completely dry out. In winter, when the temperature drops, watering is very rare, the soil should be dry before the next watering. Euphorbia is easier to dry out than overflow. But leaf euphorbia (poinsettia, white-tipped euphorbia), due to the larger evaporating surface of the leaf mass, needs more abundant watering than, for example, fat euphorbia, and other euphorbia that does not have leaves. Water for irrigation is soft, room temperature.
During the period of growth and flowering, the spurge is fed with a special fertilizer for cacti or succulents, feeding every two weeks. For flowering species of euphorbia, fertilizers for decorative flowering plants (fertika-lux) can be used, but when feeding euphorbia with fertilizers for ordinary indoor flowers, the dose is taken 2 times less than the recommended one. You can not feed milkweed, especially with thick spherical stems with nitrogenous fertilizers, from excess nitrogen, the skin may crack. But fertilizers are suitable for orchids or bromeliads.
Milkweed are resistant to dry air, do not need spraying, except for hygienic purposes.
Soil - 1 part of garden (greenhouse) land, 1 part of leaf or peat land, 1 part of sand and 1 part of brick chips, several pieces of birch coal. Brick chips can be replaced with vermiculite. For large milkweed, such as white-necked, poinsettia, 1 part of well-rotted compost should be added to the soil mixture. Young plants are transplanted annually or in a year, old ones in two to three years. The soil should be well-drained, allow water to flow through instantly and dry out quickly. Drainage must be poured at the bottom of the pot.
Cuttings, for this they are dried in the air, and cuts on the mother plant are sprinkled with crushed coal. Seeds. The seeds are sown in a mixture of universal peat soil (for example, Terra vita) and coarse sand sifted from dust, taken in equal amounts, in wide bowls. The seeds of the euphorbia are round, not dusty, like many cacti, but about 2 mm in diameter, with about such a layer of sand they must be sucked in, or deepened into the substrate by about 2 mm. Then thoroughly moisten the substrate with a spray bottle and cover with glass. Air regularly, avoiding excessive moisture, but not allowing the soil to dry out. Some of the most unpretentious euphorbia, such as white-veined, actually reproduce by self-sowing - ripe fruits shoot out with seeds that germinate in almost any soil.
Problems of growing milkweed
If we describe the requirements of the milkweed to the conditions of detention in a nutshell, then we can say this: they need good lighting, coolness in winter and moderation in watering. Actually, if these conditions are violated, all the troubles happen. First of all, milkweed are succulents, with the exception of poinsettia (caring for it as for an ordinary house plant), which means that they are able to store water in their fleshy stems. Excessive moisture leads to root rot and plant death. The soil of the euphorbia can dry out completely, and is in a completely dry state for 2-3 days in summer (in the heat, one day is enough), and in winter for a week or more.
Another problem is associated with an incorrectly selected substrate, it is bad if it is too heavy, slowly passes water, or, on the contrary, is too loose, contains little soil, but a lot of loosening, slowly wetting components. In some milkweed, from contact with constantly damp earth, in the area of the root collar and slightly above, corking is formed - when the stem turns brown, as if covered with bark. Corking can also appear when watering in cold weather. To avoid this, the root collar of the milkweed is sprinkled not with earth, but with fine gravel, which dries quickly and does not allow water to come into contact with the stem.
And one more problem of euphorbia, like other succulents, is poor lighting in winter in the absence of cold wintering. Ideally, for many milkweed, the optimum winter dormancy temperature is + 5-8 ° C, while they do not need any additional lighting or watering. But rarely, when these conditions are met, at best, if it is possible to organize 12-15 ° C, there will be no growth at this temperature. But if the temperature is higher, the plants can grow, so that there are no twisted and ugly stems, you need to make sure that there is enough light.