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Pencil Cactus

The pencil cactus is a pretty ornamental plant, which is also quite easy to grow. Find out more about this plant and its growth requirements, in this article.
Gardenerdy Staff
Don't be fooled by its name. A pencil cactus is not actually a cactus plant. Then what is it? Well, a pencil cactus is actually a tropical plant that is native to parts of Africa and India. It is a good plant for landscaping and also for using as a houseplant. It is easy to plant and care for. It has a pleasing appearance and can liven up the atmosphere as an office plant too. If you want to use this plant in your home or in your office, you need to know how to grow it and how to take care of it. That's precisely what you'll get to know in the sections below. Read about it, and you can also gift this beautiful plant to someone.
Appearance
This plant, as mentioned earlier, is not actually a cactus plant at all. It is in fact, a regular tropical plant that just happens to bear a striking resemblance to a cactus plant. It is a member of the Euphorbia family. It does not have any leaves, which gives it the cactus-like appearance. It can grow as tall as 30 feet, but is normally kept short so as to fulfill its duty as an indoor tropical houseplant. It has thin pencil-like stems and branches, hence the name. The plant is generally green, but turns a shade of reddish orange when the temperature comes down. This gives it the appearance of a flaming bush, which looks rather nice in a landscape.
How to Care for It
This plant can be propagated very easily. All you have to do is clip a portion of the stem and place it in water for a couple of days till it develops roots. Once you see the roots, you can remove it from the water and plant it in soil. Either put it in a large pot, because it can grow to a considerable height, or plant it directly in the ground. Like a normal cactus, this plant too does not require too much water. You can water it around twice or thrice a month and the plant can survive. Let the soil get dry completely and remain like that for around ten days before you water it again. For feeding it, however, the soil can be made a little moist. Give it only a little fertilizer as it does not really require much. If you're using it as a houseplant, then place the pot in an area that receives a lot of sunlight. And if you're using it as a landscaping plant, then plant it an area that has ample supply of direct or indirect sunlight. If you want to maintain its height, then wear protective gloves and clothing while cutting it. If it is in a landscape, let it grow to its full height and enjoy its grandeur.
Dangers
The pencil cactus is a poisonous plant. But that should not deter you from getting one. The only way you can come in contact with the poison is if the plant's stem gets broken and its milk-like substance gets secreted. The effect of coming in contact with this can be different for different people. From allergies to severe burning of the eyes and itching, the symptoms may vary and can be quite serious if not treated in time. So it is better to be careful while cutting this plant. Keep kids and pets away from it at all times.
The pencil cactus is indeed one of the best plants to have as a decoration in your home or office. So get one today, but be careful about where you place it and how you look after it.