8 Best Soil for Pencil Cactus (Its characteristics, Facts, and Propagation)

What Is a Pencil Cactus?

Euphorbia tirucalli or Indian Tree Spurge is a succulent, spineless tree or tree with a hefty trunk and brown primary branches and pencil-like, green new branches.

The leaves cluster near the top of the branches. They also have small flowers that appear in bracts and the tips of branches change brightly colored after being planted in bright light.

It is semi-tropical to tropical by nature and it is reliably winter-hardy all the way to USDA Zone 11.

It is now thriving in the southern areas of Florida and California in Zone 10.

It’s drought-resistant, and, when planted outside in warmer climates it can grow to the height of 30 feet. It is usually used to create a hedge or a barrier.

If it is grown in warmer conditions, it is reduced in size and used as an indoor plant.

About the pencil cactus

  •  The pencil cactus (or Euphorbia tirucalli), unlike its aquatic relative, enjoys bright light conditions and meals of frequent water rather than one large watering session. This makes it the perfect addition to your office, bedroom, or living space. They have striking foliage, blooms, and other features but are not hard to care for as long as they have enough light and water.
  • Pencil cacti aren’t quite as hardy as other succulents, but they won’t need overwatering nearly as often either. They store a large amount of water in their fleshy branches, enough for a long time.
  • Euphorbia Tirucalli bushes benefit from soil that is slightly sandy that is well-drained. The bushes are susceptible to root decay therefore it is best to let the soil dry before you overwater.
  • In order to ensure that your plants grow equally It is recommended to change the Euphorbia Tirucalli plants frequently. They’re slow-growing and require transplants every 2 to 3 years.
  • Another important aspect that should be taken into consideration when choosing a Pencil Cactus planting pot is the material in which it is made. Although you can plant your pencil cactus in an unglazed container, it will be the ideal option for you if it is an unglazed container that has excess drainage.
  • The pencil cactus is a species of hydrophilic plant characterized by its physical properties and appearance. It produces latex which can be an excellent alternative to fuel. The sap of the pencil cactus is considered poisonous. It is very irritating and can cause blindness so it is important that you handle it with care.
  • The sap of this plant is what makes it so dangerous. If eaten directly from the plant, it can cause serious reactions in dogs, cats, and humans alike (it’s recommended to wear protective glasses and gloves while handling them). In fact, it’s been known to kill small animals such as dogs, who have been attracted by the smell of its fruit or flowers.

What are the characteristics of a pencil cactus?

Pencil Cactus is cultivated as a big houseplant that can grow to ceiling height if it is placed in a large container. They typically have a narrow, upright shape with branches that begin to shrink as they increase in size.

  • While these species were claimed to be beneficial in combating cancer before, recent research suggests that they prevent cancerous cells from developing by suppressing your immune system.
  • They are shrubs or tiny trees that can reach as tall as 9 meters when in the natural environment. When the environment is right they can grow upwards of 1.8m high when they are planted in the container.
  • Euphorbia Tirucalli Plants are also called “milk bush” because they release toxic, milky, white latex sap out of their stems.
  • Pencil cacti feature slender, succulent, green branches 7mm in thickness, that alter color throughout the cooler months, changing to either pink, orange or yellow. That’s why they’re often referred to as “Burning Sticks”.
  • They are great planted alongside Sedum Angelina and Sedum Firestorm species since they showcase their vibrant colors. In addition, they can be paired with succulents and cacti due to their similar environmental needs.
  • In rare instances, they can produce small yellow flowers at the end of the stems. They are quite tiny and are only noticed if you pay attention enough, which is why they usually are not noticed.

8 Best Soil for Pencil Cactus

Soil is an important part of any plant’s growth and overall health. But how can we know what soil to use when it comes to the pencil cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli, for all you botany aficionados). The short answer is that it depends on who you ask. A well-draining, composted soil mixture that contains both sand and clay is best.

Soil is a very important thing when you want to grow pencil cactus from seeds. You should take your time and read this article if you want to understand better how you can choose the best soil for pencil cactus. I have used some of the topsoil brands including Miracle-gro, Fox Farm, and Hoffman potting mix. At the end of the article you will get my recommendation, but don’t forget that every type of soil has its benefits and negative sides.

Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix, 4 Quarts, Brown/A—-Best Overall

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  • Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix are perfect for virtually any cacti and succulent plant. Succulents are extremely popular right now so this soil is going to come in handy.
  •  This is quality soil that won’t cause unnecessary worry of clumps of dust. 
  • Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix is going to make your job of watering a lot easier, too! I
  • . This specialized soil mix is made specifically for cactus and succulents, providing essential nutrients that promote healthy growth.
  • Additionally, it is composed of materials that help to stabilize moisture levels within the soil, thereby improving drainage and controlling over-watering.
  • Complete package directions provide useful growing information.
  • This product measures 4 quarts.


This product contains some sand and very little perlite.

The price is quite reasonable too. 

Perfect soil for pencil cactus!

 No bugs.

Very light which made it easy to plant small plants like pencil cactus. 


This soil has great drainage but a little more organic matter to hold a little bit more water. 

 It is a fast-draining/pumice/rocky mixture.

Why Best

No large sticks or bark pieces, no chemical fertilizers, and drains very efficiently. 

Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix 6 qt., Grows beautiful Houseplants, 2-Pack—2nd Best

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  • Meet Miracle-Gro® Indoor Potting Mix. Designed for a wide variety of container plants, this balanced blend of peat and vermiculite is ideal for keeping your prized indoor potted plants happy, healthy, and growing bigger, stronger, and more beautiful than ever before.
  • Feeds up to 6 months.
  • Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix is potting mix designed to provide your plants with great growing conditions, without offering shelter to fungus gnats (adult stage of fruit flies).
  • This lightweight indoor potting mix is blended with coconut coir and holds and releases water while helping soil easily rewet ensuring healthier roots.
  • Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix is your solution for growing plants indoors. With Miracle-Gro®, you can grow more houseplants, with less work and worry.


The soil is fine. 

No more gnats, or those little black things.

The fact that this soil doesn’t dry easily.

No giant pieces of unknown substances.

100% success rate.


This indoor mud is indeed very loose and very light.

Why Best

This potting mix allows easy water of pencil cactus.

It is mainly bark, the ingredients, mainly peat, are fairly slow to decompose.

FoxFarm Ocean Forest Potting Soil Mix Indoor Outdoor for Garden and Plants | Plant Fertilizer | 12 Quart + THCity Stake–3rd Best

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  • With a name like FoxFarm, you’re sure to get your hands on quality ingredients. Let’s start with the Ocean Forest potting soil mix. The mix includes different boost packs which combine to create the perfect environment for your plants.
  • Ocean Forest is pH adjusted at 6.3 to 6.8 to allow for optimum fertilizer uptake. FoxFarm also adds Micronutrients directly to the soil mix at the manufacturer’s mill to ensure that they are in the proper form for plant nutrition.
  •  Vibrant and luxurious, Ocean Forest® is one of our most popular botanically-based fertilizer blends. Its light, aerated texture makes it perfect for indoor plants and outdoor plants that require moisture. It also aids in the prevention of many common plant diseases and disorders.
  • The product may arrive in a WHITE bag that was added as an extra layer of protection for shipping


Potting soil is designed to be used exclusively in containers. 

There aren’t any bugs in this soil. 

Fox Farm has excellent ingredients and provides excellent value for your money.


It is expensive for the amount.

Why Best

The perlite found in FoxFarm soils makes air spaces within the soil which facilitate drainage.

It has an extra layer of protection for the Fox Farm packages within. 

Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix: Indoor/Outdoor Container Soil with Fertilizer for Plants, Flowers & Vegetables, 8 qt.

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  • Gardeners everywhere are amazed by the results they are getting from Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix! They’re growing plants twice their size and everyone who tries it is getting amazing results. Tired of wasting money on expensive soil mixes that don’t perform? Miracle-Gro Potting Mix can help you grow plants faster and bigger than ever before, especially in containers!
  • Feeds up to 6 months.
  • This mix will protect against over-watering and is the only potting mix that will guarantee that your plant is properly watered.
  • This extra-premium potting mix absorbs up to 33% more water than basic potting soil (versus potting soil that does not contain sphagnum peat Moss, coir, and wetting agent), creating the optimum environment for root growth, reducing transplant shock, promoting strong growth and helping plants to thrive.
  •  The lightweight texture allows for easy handling and doesn’t compact in the bottom of containers, so it improves drainage.
  •  It helps roots to grow quicker and stronger so your plants can become established rapidly.


It’s cheap.

It helps correct for over and under watering.


Hopefully, the insects will stay in the soil, and won’t turn into a problem.

Why Best

Delivery is fast.

The bag is full but not heavy. 

Great potting mix usable even outdoors. 

Hoffman 10410 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix, 10 Quarts

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Hoffman 10410 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix is designed to loosen clay and reduce caking.
This soil mix provides adequate air space around each plant while retaining water.

Hoffman’s organic soil mix is an ideal choice for cactus and succulent plants. This product is formulated to meet local regulations for organic growers.

Hoffman’s 10410 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil is designed to start seeds, propagate by cutting or storing bulbs, and is ideal for blending with peat moss and perlite.

This plant potting mix is chemical-free, sustainably processed, and in a size perfect for handling volume orders.

It comes in an eighteen-quart size which offers the perfect amount of soil to fill multiple large pots.


This soil has no bark.

This soil is high quality.

 This mix is nice and fluffy and drains very well. 


The bags are much smaller than the single bag. 

Why Best

A very nutritious soil is super important. 

The smaller bags are 4 quarters each. 

This is not only an excellent container of soil for succulents and cacti as well. It is also great value for price when compared with other bags.

Hoffman 15503 Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss, 10 Quarts

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  • Canadian sphagnum peat moss.
  • Do you need an organic and eco-friendly soil additive to add to your potting mix or garden bed? Hoffman 15503 Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss is a premium grade of horticultural, 99.8 percent organic, and features a lighter, finer texture than traditional products commonly found in garden supply stores.
  • This rich peat is made from sphagnum moss harvested from rich bogs. Add this organic soil amendment to your garden to grow plants with more vigor, more blooms, and more fruit.
  • The main characteristic of Hoffman 15503 Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss is its ability to hold water, nutrition, and air when mixed with soil. It also has a great absorption rate which makes it one of the best substrate options for many types of plants available in the market today.


The best part about this product is that it is pre-wetted and no pre-soaking required. 

Soil PH a little more stable.

It helps keep the soil very moist so don’t have to water every day. 

Very soft and mixes well with soil to add aeration. 


Amazon does not put a packing slip in the box.

Why Best

Works well in potting soil mixes for house plants.

It’s perfect combined with perlite.

10 Quart Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mixed Potting Soil for Outdoor and Indoor Plants, [Bundled with Pearson’s Garden Gloves] (10 Quarts)

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  • We have a special soil for succulent plants. It drains well and has the right pH. You can use it right out of the box. You don’t need to mix it with anything else.
  • This product comes with complete and clear instructions. You will know how to use it as soon as you read them.
  • Organic Ingredients. Includes Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss, Reed Sedge Peat, Perlite, Sand, and Limestone.
  • There are garden gloves in the package. When you work in your garden, the gloves let you protect your hand from cuts and scrapes. The gloves also keep your hands clean.


Great quality and wonderful communication. 

 light and drainable.

It has moisture holding pieces and also drains very well.


This is difficult to find out of season locally.

Why Best

It is the lightest, fluffiest mix.

 It’s very easy to use by opening the top and scooping the soil out.

Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix – Premium Pre-Mixed Fast Draining Blend (2.5 Dry Quarts)

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  • PRE-MIXED & READY TO USE – Sifted Prior To Bagging – 1/4 Hard Japanese Akadama – 1/4 USA Pumice – 1/4 New Zealand Pine Bark and 1/4 Haydite.
  • We made a special powder that helps cactus and succulents grow.
  • The non-organic mix contains mostly non-organic material. This is soil that has not been grown or treated chemically. It makes it easy for water to drain, nutrients to be taken up by the plant, and air to reach the plant’s roots.
  • It’s good from an environmental standpoint because it reduces your eco-footprint.
  • The EASY ZIP RESEALABLE BAG can be opened and closed repeatedly, making it perfect for re-ordering more soil at a later date. Because it’s so easy to re-close, there is no need to put the soil into a plastic garbage bag or another storage container before putting it into your trash can.


Fast Draining Blend.

Soaks up extra moisture.

The soil/small rocks are very good for pencil cactus.


The only down side is the soil is a bit pricey.

Why Best

Small particle potting mix with 5% more perlite in it.


Making fresh Pencil Plants is relatively simple and best accomplished in the summer months.

  1. Be sure your sharp instrument for cutting (pruner or sharp knife) is sterilized to stop any infections caused by fungal or bacterial bacteria from the cutting.
  2. With gloves on, cut at least 6 inches off the plant.
  3. Allow it to dry and develop callus (typically four days to a week) on the paper towel or newspaper.
  4. Make sure to fill a small pot (4-6 inches) with soil that is already moistened and then make a hole using dowels or pencils.
  5. Insert your cutting in the soil (if you’d prefer, you can apply a rooting hormone, however, it’s not usually required) and then firm all-around your plant.
  6. Don’t water till the surface of 2 inches is dry or else rot will begin to develop.
  7. Within a month, you should see solid root growth and your plant is able to be moved slowly to the outside.

Is pencil cactus sap toxic?

Here’s the bad news. One of the most common terms for this Euphorbia is Milkbush which is a well-deserved name. Like other plants in the Euphorbia family, milk bush creates the well-known white latex when cutting the stem however, none of them produce the amount of sap these succulents produce. The poisonous components present in the sap are believed to be diterpene esters.

My troubles started when I went to the greenhouse to collect some cuttings of this intriguing plant for an upcoming sale of plants. I was able to find sap all over my hands, and around one eye.

Signs associated with an allergic reaction appeared within an hour after exposure. It started with a burning in the eye. The issue quickly spread to another eye, and finally, my lips began to numb around two hours after I had experienced the affliction. Around this time I had the most severe bout of fidgeting that I have ever experienced. The breath loss began within four hours. A quick trip in the hospital emergency department and an injection of an antihistamine, the recovery was nearly immediate.

My experience was one of the classic cases of anaphylactic shock. This is the same type of condition people who are allergic to peanuts dairy products, or soy products suffer from.

It is a fact that plant poisonings can occur however the rate of fatalities is so small that it’s not any different in terms of statistically comparing it to being struck by the impact of a meteor. However, a significant proportion of the 2.3 million instances of exposure to humans that were reported to the nation’s system of Poison Control Centers in 2000 were related to plants.

Most of them were toddlers who took an ingesting from the plant, and then an anxious parent ran to nearby hospitals. Although some ornamental plants can be poisonous, the probability of a child inhaling enough of them to trigger negative reactions is very low.

My own experience has highlighted the difficulty in constructing an entirely complete and widely accepted list of plants that are poisonous. Many would not think of peanuts as poisonous. For the vast most people the pencil Cactus poses no risk however, I consider it a danger and treat it with a good amount of respect. The plants all make a mix made of organic substances.

For children who are young, it is always best to keep plants away from reach and to instruct their children from the earliest age to only put food items in their mouths.


This is the best soil for pencil cactus because it comes in a large bag and is also fairly inexpensive. With its porous texture, Hoffman 10404 can hold ample amounts of water for your pencil cactus and other plants. It allows for good drainage which helps prevent over-watering, in turn extending the life spans of your plants. This soil can be easily mixed with potting soil if you want to add necessary nutrients, although it already contains some fertilizer that has been tested safe for cacti and succulents.




Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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