Dragon’s Bone Cactus


Dragon bone cactus is technically a succulent not a cactus. It is in the family Euphorbia or Spurge, a broad group of plants that include poinsettias and cassava.
The cactus also has several other names, among them candelabra cactus, false cactus, elkhorn and mottled spurge.

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Gardeners with unusual taste will go nuts for dragon bone cactus (Euphorbia lactea). The triangular branches form an eclectic scaffold upon which tiny green heart-shaped leaves and numerous reddish pink spines occur. This succulent produces latex milky sap, which may be toxic to some gardeners, so it is best to use gloves when handling broken stems. Here are a few tips on how to grow dragon bones as an in-ground plant or potted specimen for the home interior.

Dragon bone is indigenous to India but can be grown in United States Department of Agriculture zones 10 and 11. The plant may achieve 6 feet tall by 3 feet wide in containers but exceeds that in the ground, growing up to 12-15 feet in height. The tiny leaves fall off as the spines are produced and are only present on new growth.

Overall the plant is leafless, thorned and has numerous vertical branches rising from a stout central leader. The branches are mottled green with white lines. Flowers are rare, tiny and inconspicuous. Propagation is best accomplished through stem cuttings. These must be allowed to callus before planting.
Choose a container that will evaporate excess moisture, such as a clay pot. Use a cactus soil mix or add gritty sand and pebbles to a commercial plant formula. This euphorbia doesn’t mind being crowded in its pot. In-ground plants benefit from added grit or install the plant in a rocky area of the garden that has mixed loam.

Dragon bone prefers full sun with some protection from the midday light. Propagation of dragon bone is simple through stem cuttings. Use a sterile, sharp implement and allow to dry out for a few days and callus at the cut end. Use a soilless mixture to root the cuttings. Keep lightly moist but not soggy. Once the cutting has developed roots, transfer to a container with cactus mix.


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