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Grow Beautiful African Milk Trees With My Care Tips

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The African milk tree plant is a unique-looking succulent that is pretty easygoing on the care front. Learn all about how much light it needs, when you need to water it, and why it just might bring you good luck. 🙂

How to grow beautiful African milk trees with my care tips!

African milk tree care is super straightforward and rewarding. Although this plant may look like a cactus, it’s actually a succulent and is very easy to grow. Below is everything you need to know about growing the African milk tree, otherwise known as euphorbia trigona. 

Large african milk tree
closeup of an African milk tree

African milk tree care: Euphorbia trigona tips

The African milk tree is a perennial plant native to Central Africa. It’s also commonly known as a good luck plant, likely because of how quickly it grows. As a houseplant, the African milk tree typically grows between 2 to 4 feet tall. If left to grow outside, however, this hearty plant can reach up to 8 feet high. Here’s a picture of my dad’s African milk tree that he has potted in his shop!

The stem of the African milk tree is typically a dark green color and it’s covered in small thorns about 5 millimeters long. The thorns grow in pairs and a single leaf grows between them. This plant is very popular because it stays lush and green throughout its whole growing season and new growth comes in as a pretty, light green color. 

closeup of an African milk tree
African milk tree

African milk tree light requirements

The euphorbia trigona likes indirect, bright sunlight, so a southern facing window is an ideal location for this plant. At least four hours of indirect sunlight every day will keep your African milk tree happy and healthy. If you do put it in direct sunlight, you may need to water it a little more often to keep it from completely drying out. 

Some people like to move their African milk tree outside for part of the year, too. If you decide to do this, make sure you place the succulent in a shady area so it doesn’t overheat in the hot sun.  

a shelf with beautiful plants

For more succulent posts, check out my tips on how to fix stretched out succulents, the easiest succulents for beginners, and the succulents I’ve bought on Etsy.

Water and soil needs

The two biggest mistakes most people make with their African milk tree are overwatering and poor soil drainage. This succulent cannot stand sitting in wet soil and will quickly develop root rot if watered too often. It’s best to use sandy soil that will drain quickly and only water the plant when the dirt feels dry a couple of inches down. Typically, about once a week. 

large euphorbia trigona
closeup of an African milk tree
closeup of an African milk tree
I feel like he is waving at me.

Temperature and humidity

Dry, arid climates are the best option for this drought-tolerant plant. While the African milk tree can easily withstand hot temperatures, it does not do well in the cold. In fact, if temperatures drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, your plant will likely start dying.

That being said, even though this succulent enjoys warm weather, it’s not a fan of humidity. Growing in an area that is too humid can cause pest and fungus issues for this arid-loving plant. 

beautiful euphorbia trigona
small euphorbia trigona

African milk tree replanting

You’ll likely have to repot this plant every two to three years. Whenever replanting or taking a cutting for propagation, make sure you wear protective gloves and handle your African milk tree with extreme care. It’s called a milk tree because of the poisonous white sap that drips from the plant whenever it’s been cut or broken.

This information is important to remember because it’s likely you’ll want to propagate this plant simply because it’s so low-maintenance and easy to grow. Not to mention, sharing this plant with your loved ones is said to bring good luck (yet another reason it’s also known as the good luck plant).

My taller green African milk tree plant was actually grown from cuttings I got from my dad’s large plant. I took three cuttings, let them callous over for a day or so, and then planted them in sandy soil. One cutting didn’t make it, and the other two didn’t look so hot for about a week or two. But now they are totally rooting, looking gorgeous, and shooting off new growth! 

propagating an african milk tree
Three propagated cuttings right after planting. The one on the left is the one that didn’t make it.
propagating an african milk tree
Beautiful healthy plant with fresh growth a few months later!

For more succulent propagation, check out my posts on how to propagate succulents from leaves and cuttings, how to grow succulents from seeds, and how to propagate string of pearls.

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African milk tree care
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