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Pencil Tree

Euphorbia tirucalli

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Pencil Tree (Euphorbia tirucalli) at Van Atta's Greenhouse

Pencil Tree foliage

Pencil Tree foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Pencil Tree (Euphorbia tirucalli) at Van Atta's Greenhouse

Pencil Tree

Pencil Tree

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  30 feet

Spread:  10 feet

Sunlight:  full sun  partial shade 

Hardiness Zone:  10

Other Names:  syn. Euphorbia laro, Milk Bush, Finger Tree

Description:

An upright, nearly leafless succulent with brownish old growth; small clusters of yellow flowers appear in late spring to early summer at the end of bright green stems; an interesting textural plant for dry sunny areas

Ornamental Features

Pencil Tree features dainty clusters of buttery yellow flowers with red overtones at the ends of the branches from late spring to early summer. It has attractive green foliage. The succulent narrow leaves are highly ornamental and remain green throughout the winter. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Pencil Tree is a dense multi-stemmed evergreen tree with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its relatively fine texture sets it apart from other landscape plants with less refined foliage.

This is a relatively low maintenance tree, and should only be pruned after flowering to avoid removing any of the current season's flowers. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Pencil Tree is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Container Planting

Planting & Growing

Pencil Tree will grow to be about 30 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 10 feet. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 4 feet from the ground, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 60 years or more.

This tree does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers dry to average moisture levels with very well-drained soil, and will often die in standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for xeriscaping or the moisture-conserving landscape. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in sandy soils. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This species is not originally from North America, and parts of it are known to be toxic to humans and animals, so care should be exercised in planting it around children and pets. It can be propagated by division.

Pencil Tree is a fine choice for the yard, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. Its large size and upright habit of growth lend it for use as a solitary accent, or in a composition surrounded by smaller plants around the base and those that spill over the edges. Note that when grown in a container, it may not perform exactly as indicated on the tag - this is to be expected. Also note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden. Be aware that in our climate, this plant may be too tender to survive the winter if left outdoors in a container. Contact our store for more information on how to protect it over the winter months.

This plant is not reliably hardy in our region, and certain restrictions may apply; contact the store for more information.

 
 
Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Characteristics
Accent  Massing  Garden  Container 
Applications
Flowers  Foliage Color 
Ornamental Features