Plant Care Red Pencil Tree

Red Pencil Tree

4.8 out of 5 (20 experiences)

Red Pencil Tree has a Fast grower plant personality Fast grower
Red Pencil Tree has a Survivor plant personality Survivor

About Red Pencil Tree

Plants in the Euphorbia genus have poisonous, milky, white, latex-like sap so be sure to keep them far from curious pets and children ⚠️ You may hear them referred to as cacti, but they're actually completely unrelated! They belong to a group of plants known as spurges.


Euphorbia tirucalli

Also known as

Pencil Cactus, Pencil Cactus, Sticks on Fire and Firesticks

How to care for Red Pencil Tree

💦 Water

How often to water your Red Pencil Tree

Water needs for Red Pencil Tree
0.5 cups
every 12

Red Pencil Tree needs 0.5 cups of water every 12 when it doesn’t get direct sunlight and is potted in a 5" pot.

Use our water calculator to personalize watering recommendations to your environment or download Greg for more advanced recommendations for all of your plants.

Calculate water needs of Red Pencil Tree

Water 0.5 cups every

Does your plant get direct sunlight?

Select the pot size

☀️ Light

Finding light for Pencil Cactus in your home

Light needs and placement for plant Red Pencil Tree: 1ft from a window
1ft or less from
a window

Red Pencil Tree love being close to bright, sunny windows 😎.

Place it less than 1ft from a south-facing window to maximize the potential for growth.

Red Pencil Tree does not tolerate low-light 🚫.

Select your region to see how the current weather in your area affects the placement of Red Pencil Tree in your home 🏡.

🪴 Nutrients

How to fertilize Red Pencil Tree

Nutrient, fertilizer, and repotting needs for Red Pencil Tree: repot after 2X growth

Most potting soils come with ample nutrients which plants use to produce new growth.

By the time your plant has depleted the nutrients in its soil it’s likely grown enough to need a larger pot anyway.

To replenish this plant's nutrients, repot your Red Pencil Tree after it doubles in size or once a year—whichever comes first.

💡 FAQs
⭐ Difficulty Level

Red Pencil Tree is generally easy to care for, though some plant parents report facing challenges with growing it. Check out the reviews down below to read more about their experiences!

Benefits of Growing Pencil Cactus →

Common Pencil Cactus Problems →

💦 Water Needs

Red Pencil Tree thrives in dry soil and should be watered sparingly. Use our water calculator to personalize watering recommendations to your environment or download Greg for more advanced recommendations for all of your plants.

Pencil Cactus Water Frequency →

Pencil Cactus Root Rot →

☀️ Sunlight Needs

Red Pencil Tree requires abundant, bright and direct light. Place it less than one foot from a window to ensure it receives enough light to survive 💪. Select your region to see how the current weather in your area affects the placement in your home 🏡.

Pencil Cactus Light Requirements →

Pencil Cactus Direct Sunlight Needs & Tolerance →

🐶 🐈 👶 Toxicity

Red Pencil Tree is not safe to consume. If you, a family member, or a pet has ingested any amount of plant material contact Poison Control, US (800) 222-1222, or your veterinarian. If you have children, cats, or dogs in the home, we suggest keeping this plant out of reach.

💨 Humidity

Red Pencil Tree enjoys lots of humidity. Provide humidity for your plant by watering regularly and thoroughly, since plants absorb most water through their root system rather than their leaves. They may also benefit from being placed next to a humidifier.

Pencil Cactus Humidity Needs →

🪴 Soil

Red Pencil Tree is very sensitive to wet soil, so choose a potting soil that drains very well and doesn’t retain too much moisture. A good soil will have lots of perlite or vermiculite for drainage and some organic matter for nutrition. A few handfuls of perlite added to regular store-bought cactus soil will do the trick!

Best Soil Mix for Pencil Cactus →

When and How to Successfully Repot Pencil Cactus →

💩 Fertilizer

Red Pencil Tree grows very slowly and doesn’t require added fertilizer. Replacing your plant’s potting soil once a year should provide them with more than enough nutrition. Remember, plants get their energy from sunlight, not fertilizer!

How Much and When to Fertilize Pencil Cactus →

❄️ Dormancy

It’s common for Red Pencil Tree to go dormant in the wintertime and you may notice their growth slow down. Waterings should be spaced out more during this time.

🌎 Native Region

Red Pencil Tree is native to Worldwide.

🌸 Flowers

Red Pencil Tree produces flowers in the wild, but does not flower when kept as houseplants.

Pencil Cactus Flowers →

⬆️ ⬇️ Growth Pattern

Red Pencil Tree grows vertically and new growth will emerge from the top of the plant.

How and When to Prune Pencil Cactus →

🌦️ Growing Outdoors

USDA Hardiness Zone
Red Pencil Tree can be grown outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 10-12b. Find your local hardiness zone here.

Pencil Cactus Temperature Tolerance →

🌱 Propagation

Red Pencil Tree can be propagated by the stem method. To propagate:

  • Make a cut just above the node. The node is the break in the stem where the leaf emerges.
  • To get the cutting to root, you can either:
    • Place the cutting in water until roots emerge and are ~2” long and then transplant into well-draining soil, or
    • Place the cutting directly into well-draining soil and water when dry.

How to Propagate Pencil Cactus →

🧐 Troubleshooting

When troubleshooting a sad-looking houseplant, start by checking for signs of distress in its leaves, such as yellowing, browning, or drooping, which can indicate overwatering or nutrient deficiencies.

Inspect the soil moisture; too dry or too wet soil can cause problems.

Ensure the plant is getting the right amount of light, as too much or too little can stress it.

Finally, consider environmental factors like temperature and humidity, and adjust care routines accordingly to revive your plant.

😖 Common Issues

Overwatering is a likely cause of issues with Red Pencil Tree. These plants are very sensitive to wet soil so if you notice your plant becoming squishy or translucent, overwatering is the likely culprit.

Cut your plant just past where the rot ends and allow it to callus over for a few days before replanting it in fresh, dry soil. Download Greg to make sure your plant never gets overwatered again!

Care Summary for Red Pencil Tree

Red Pencil Tree

Red Pencil Tree

Greg recommends:


0.5 cups every 12 days


< 1ft from a window


Repot after 2x growth

Based on the 4” pot your plant is in, and that it doesn’t get direct sunlight.

What other plant parents say

Red Pencil Tree has a Fast grower plant personality Fast grower 10
Red Pencil Tree has a Survivor plant personality Survivor 9
Red Pencil Tree has a Easy to propagate plant personality Easy to propagate 5
Red Pencil Tree has a Large, lush leaves plant personality Large, lush leaves 1
Red Pencil Tree has a Blooms easily plant personality Blooms easily 1
@dana.yelee avatar
leaf-1 4 Plants
xp 74 XP
globe Auckland

This little guy is a trooper! Grows so easily and very easy to maintain

Fast grower Fast grower
Easy to propagate Easy to propagate
Survivor Survivor
@AshinByAlex avatar
leaf-1 66 Plants
xp 4,630 XP
globe Vallejo, CA

Stuck a stick in the dirt and it gave me more sticks.

Matt avatar
leaf-1 8 Plants
xp 91 XP
globe Wrightsville Beach, NC

Shit is dope son

Large, lush leaves Large, lush leaves
Survivor Survivor
Fast grower Fast grower
@egotopia avatar
leaf-1 66 Plants
xp 9,716 XP
globe Jacksonville, FL

Give this guy the light it needs and it’ll be growing little baby fingers in no time

Fast grower Fast grower
@Joel avatar
leaf-1 4 Plants
xp 100 XP
globe East Lansing, MI

I have had experience with many different varieties of pencil cactus. They are all extremely hardy. Sometimes it can be tricky to figure out the best propagation method, but once you have that down, you can multiply your plant without limit. With a proper pot and lighting, it will grow as large as the room you keep it in. My oldest plant reached the ceiling (about 8’) from a 3” propagation after about 8 years. I have a variety of other pencil cactuses. One is about 18 months old and about 3 feet tall. They don’t grow much in the winter unless you have a grow light. There is such a thing as too much light, but they are usually happy in spurts of direct sunlight. They don’t need much water, but they can handle quite a bit as long as they have proper lighting. Repot whenever the growing lulls during the growing season to keep it happy.

Easy to propagate Easy to propagate
Fast grower Fast grower
Survivor Survivor

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