Over the last few weeks as I walk and drive around I keep seeing these spectacular fiery red-orange succulent plants. This plant is called Euphoria tirucalli and is also known as Fire Sticks or Red Pencil Tree. The stems on the plant are as thin as a pencil and have a reddish-yellow color, which in the cooler winter temperatures turn to the fiery red-orange color that we who live in Southern California get to enjoy.
Fire Sticks is an African succulent and an ornamental plant which can be grown in a container. The plant can develop a woody trunk and be trained into the shape of a tree. I read a couple of stories that stated in Mexico the plant has been used as a natural fence and can grow up to 20 feet tall. It can be grown indoors too, but you will find that it probably stays green as indoor temperatures won’t get cool enough to cause the change in color. In the warmer temperatures, you can bring the plant outdoors to get some sun and water it less.
The plant is easy to care for and along with being drought-tolerant, it is also fast growing so it might need replanting more frequently than other succulents. It is an excellent plant for use in xeriscaping. The plant performs best in well-drained soils and you can fertilize it once a month but only when the soil is wet. You will find the plant is resistant to pests and diseases, as well as deer and rabbits. The plant is hardy in zones 9 – 11 and while it requires cooler temperatures to change in color it can’t tolerate freezing weather.
While Fire Sticks is an eye-catching plant you should always wear protective wear including gloves and goggles as the sap can burn you. I have heard it is very painful. The white sap from the plant is toxic so if you have children or pets – take extra care.