Cactus and Succulents forum: Firesticks a two-faced dude :)

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_Bleu_
Dec 25, 2018 7:57 PM CST
That's right, my Euphorbia tirucalli 'Rosea' has two faces. South-facing face:



North-facing face:

Thumb of 2018-12-26/_Bleu_/4139d2

I didn't notice this last year, when the plant was half the size it is now.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Dec 25, 2018 10:22 PM CST
The side getting the most sun is the colorful side, right? Your plant is very pretty.
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona Enjoys or suffers hot summers Cactus and Succulents Xeriscape Adeniums Hybridizer
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mcvansoest
Dec 26, 2018 12:02 AM CST
Yep, the coloration is very exposure dependent. Better get ready to decide if you want to let that plant grow...

Here is my 'Firesticks' in October - it had just rained a lot and it is not very fiery looking - in the left back of the picture:
Thumb of 2018-12-26/mcvansoest/77eb18

It is a lot more fiery looking right now, but the main point I am trying to make is that these plants in the ground in a mostly frost free environment, will get big and messy. I just pruned about 1/3 of that plant's mass away a week or so before that picture - the main stalk had gotten blown flat by a storm, which is now planted somewhere else - and it still looks massive (it was still at 6 feet tall or so) and a mess. I love that plant, but compared to the regular form of E. tirucalli, it is incredibly hard to keep from looking like a huge tangled up mess, unless you prune it hard to keep it fairly small, which comes with its own issues. The regular form is more likely to just grow a main trunk and therefore way easier to keep looking good.

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LCL
Dec 26, 2018 6:32 AM CST
Interesting plant and as others have commented it can grow quite large. Pretty colors and appropriately named since it does look like its burning or at least glowing. I agree
Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Dec 26, 2018 10:33 AM CST

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mcvansoest said:It is a lot more fiery looking right now, but the main point I am trying to make is that these plants in the ground in a mostly frost free environment, will get big and messy.


I put 2 of them in the ground here several years ago and they are both still very much under control, no mess. They are probably no more than 2-3 feet tall or so, and one is significantly less than that. Our climate is most forgiving, so I would credit the manageable behavior to limited water, essentially day-long sun, and very rocky soil.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Dec 27, 2018 2:09 PM (+)]
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Dec 26, 2018 11:35 AM CST
Mine was acquired as 'Firesticks', but the color has never been that vivid. It may be getting too much shade to color up since its place during the summer is under the edge of an oak tree and the house blocks the direct west sun. It does get quite a bit of direct sun and the south side does get more color.

It's getting difficult to move around. I'm wondering how much bigger it will get. Does growing it in a container limit the growth somewhat? Plus it's in a heavy ceramic container with nothing to grip. In a perfect world, containers would have some kind of built-in handle nodding so those of us that persist in acquiring plants that have to be moved from time to time have an easier time moving them.

@mcvansoest Thijs how much sun can it take? Is yours getting the full blast of the sun in your location? I manage to get some sunburn every year because by the time it spends so much time inside during the winter months, it loses too much resistance to the direct sun when it goes back out in the spring. Those oak trees are just beginning to think about waking up when it's warm enough for plants to go back out in the spring. Like light in the winter, there just isn't a good place to ease the plants into more sun gradually without excessive moving them back and forth. Not enough time for that with so many plants, so some sunburn is a seasonal event here. Unfortunately, the mid-summer sun can burn some plants even when they like full exposure in the spring. There are upper limits for some plants. I thought that might be the case with E. tirucalli, so I've never tried to locate in full sun.
Donald
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Dec 26, 2018 11:45 AM CST

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needrain said:Unfortunately, the mid-summer sun can burn some plants even when they like full exposure in the spring. There are upper limits for some plants. I thought that might be the case with E. tirucalli, so I've never tried to locate in full sun.


I realize you asked Thijs this question, but here in our mild climate the plant can take day-long sun without any problems. The burning you've observed is either due to some combination of heat and sun, or more likely the way you are introducing your plant to outdoor sun after it spends the winter months inside.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Dec 26, 2018 11:45 AM (+)]
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
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mcvansoest
Dec 26, 2018 11:56 AM CST
@needrain my plant gets full sun from about 11 AM onwards in summer till sunset, so the harshest part of the day. It sun burns a bit, but not much and interestingly if it gets water in the summer it tends to go pretty green despite the sun. In winter is when I get it to be all fiery - I will try and take a pic later today.

Pot culture limits these somewhat, but my regular one grew in a pot for about 5 years before I put it in the ground and got to be about 5-6 feet tall without me giving it much attention.

The two plants I have - the Firesticks and the regular one get water on the my regular watering regime so at most once a week in summer, almost nothing the rest of the year. The regular one gets run-off from the garage when it rains, so it sees periods of a lot of water.

The Firesticks cultivar is more frost sensitive than the regular one in my experience. I used to try and cover it if Ts were supposed to go near freezing. It is too big for that now, so it will have to fend for itself. We have had several very mild winters in a row, that is probably why it got so big. If we get some persistent near or below freezing Ts this winter I can see it getting damaged to the point of needing to be pruned back....

I can see how having to keep it inside for the winter makes it difficult to expose it to full sun when it is outside again. I will say that in my experience these grow through sun burn pretty quickly. You might try to gradually introduce it to more sun this coming year, but with a decent amount of additional irrigation, which may help it cope. While pretty xeric, I think since this will eventually grow to tree size, it can deal with quite a bit of water as long as drainage is good.

Edit: there are people in the neighborhood here that grow these in all day full sun - they are in south facing front yards without anything to provide them shade.
[Last edited by mcvansoest - Dec 26, 2018 11:59 AM (+)]
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_Bleu_
Dec 26, 2018 2:40 PM CST
My experience with the firesticks plant: I put it in the ground last May, when the plant was about a foot tall and only the top sticks had turned orange. Inadvertently, I underwatered it for about two months.

In early July, a two-punch heatwave hit our area (115 F) and not a cloud in the sky. July and Agust felt like a continuous heatwave, with temps in the 85-95 F range. I had to water daily and shower all my plants, including the succulents, two and three times a day to keep them from scorching yet four of the most delicate succulents (Pork and Beans, a Senecio, an Echeveria and an Aeonium) collapsed, though the Senecio and the Aeonium managed to come back.

The firesticks, however, showed no signs of stress; it and the Portulacaria afra braved the very hot weather the best. Very tough young plants.

Re: color, colder weather seems to be the factor. My firestick was still looking rather pale in October:

Thumb of 2018-12-26/_Bleu_/7d5898

Re: growth, before I joined the NGA, I knew very little about succulents so I would give them the same fertilizer as my other plants (at half strength) and that maybe the reason why some of my succulents have grown a bit more than expected but not by much. It does seem that less water keeps them from growing too large and, in the case of the firesticks and Calandrinia grandiflora, it may also trigger red pigmentation.

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Name: Baja
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Baja_Costero
Dec 26, 2018 2:52 PM CST

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I do not fertilize any of my landscape plants, and would recommend you skip the fertilizer too with plants like this which tend to get out of control when they are spoiled. (Also skip the fertilizer with landscape agaves.) Less water will also make a difference with your Firesticks, though the plant definitely needs some water over the summer to keep going strong.

The plants here are still pretty pink after our second rain of the season. They are always more orange than green, though.

Thumb of 2018-12-26/Baja_Costero/94749d Thumb of 2018-12-26/Baja_Costero/b47347
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
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mcvansoest
Dec 26, 2018 4:44 PM CST
Below is mine as it looks today. It has not had water since some rain in late October/early November. I have to water in the summer - we had several weeks of 112-115F+ temperatures in a row last June/July and if it had not been for a few days in the high 90s in August due to a relatively strong monsoon season we'd have had another ~4 month stretch of 100F+ temperatures in a row.
Even if I specifically did not want to water water it, since I am watering plants that are planted within a few feet of it, I know it will get water. This plant wants to be a tree it will with time develop quite an extensive root system, so unless you are not watering at all or have nothing growing within 10-15 feet of it, it will likely find its way to some of your irrigation water.

Thumb of 2018-12-26/mcvansoest/ea54bb
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_Bleu_
Dec 26, 2018 5:59 PM CST
Thijs and Baja, how old are your firesticks?

I acquired mine last May so I'm assuming it's a couple of years old? It's 26" tall and just as wide.

My plan is to water it only in summer or if I see its sticks starting to wrinkle and no more fertilizer or vitamins (SuperThrive) to any of my in-ground succulents.

And here's two giants we spotted yesterday on our walk around the neighborhood. I took the photo from a good 300' away so those plants must be at least 10' tall.

Thumb of 2018-12-26/_Bleu_/2b3986

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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Dec 26, 2018 6:17 PM CST

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Nice!

My plants went in the ground about 9 years ago from 6 inch pots. I water them (not very deeply) every 2 weeks year round.

I would not even begin to estimate the age of your plant.
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
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needrain
Dec 26, 2018 6:52 PM CST
Baja_Costero said:

I realize you asked Thijs this question, but here in our mild climate the plant can take day-long sun without any problems. The burning you've observed is either due to some combination of heat and sun, or more likely the way you are introducing your plant to outdoor sun after it spends the winter months inside.


I think it's the introduction to sun after the winter. I don't have a lot of choice. If I wait, the sun is only going to be stronger. Damage has been relatively mild. But it's behavior after the introduction has made me wonder if the heat and sun that follows after the trees have leafed out were too much for it. I've tended to move it back into more shade because it made me a bit nervous, so I haven't really tested to see if it can handle the intense light during the summer here. The problem with testing is that there's no going back on this sort of plant if it's a wrong move. It's getting a bit large to handle in the current container, so I'm considering putting it in a larger one that will be easier to move. Easier to move, but not really a lot of space to keep in the winter. A conundrum on how best to handle it. It's really easier, sometimes, when a plant simply croaks on you! No decisions to make.
Donald

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