Cactus and Succulents forum: Why aren't my Firesticks turning orange?

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Los Angeles, CA (Zone 10b)
rkkm
Jan 22, 2017 9:37 PM CST
I have five healthy Firestick plants (e. tirucalli), planted in good draining soil with a southern exposure. They grow well, but are not turning orange. Is it possible that 1) I have the wrong kind of Firestick - one that remains green; or 2) the plants are getting too much water; or 3) ?? This is very frustrating as I they are an integral part of my landscape plan. I paid $20 per plant, so I am not eager to rip them up and replant an orange-type Firestick if that is not necessary. HELP! Thanks!
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Jan 22, 2017 10:14 PM CST
Where do you live? Firesticks won't turn orange without sufficient cold weather and they require intense sun.
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[Last edited by plantmanager - Jan 22, 2017 10:17 PM (+)]
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
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mcvansoest
Jan 22, 2017 10:49 PM CST
I agree with Daisy: where are you located? Without that information it is really hard to help you make an assessment. From my perspective it is hard for me to confirm what Daisy writes regarding lack of exposure to intense sunlight, because my E. tirucalli 'Firesticks' is almost always in intense sunlight and is therefore almost always some form of yellow/orange/red, but it has on occasion gone almost green during the height of our monsoon season - despite still being in intense sunlight, but getting a relative (for Arizona) boatload of rain. So if you are getting a lot rain or are irrigating them really well that might turn them green, but if they have been getting good intense sun exposure they should have turned color at some point (when were they planted?).

All that said my regular E. tirucalli almost never goes anything further away from green than light green-yellow regardless of sunlight/water stress and the top part of my 'Firesticks' is almost always some form of vivid yellow/orange/red. I have read that with age 'Firesticks' will loose the ability to turn the vivid orange/red that it is named for - but at that point we are talking it being full on tree size.

From my experience the 'Firesticks' is way more bushy than the regular E. tirucalli, which grows more upright - clearly trying to be more of a tree.

Given that you have planted them in your landscape I have to assume you are somewhere where it rarely if ever freezes - as the 'Firesticks' definitely do not like sub-freezing temperatures (I still cover mine if there is a chance of frost, while the regular version appears less sensitive), and I have seen some plants that were not protected be ravaged by even a very minor amount of time spent at below freezing temperatures.

Here is my E. tirucalli 'Firesticks' in early-mid December (it still looks like that right now):
Thumb of 2017-01-23/mcvansoest/bcf91b

It has been flowering on and off since at least November (when I first noticed it), and still going a short while ago:
Thumb of 2017-01-23/mcvansoest/2e8c99

For reference here is my regular E. tirucalli, going on 8 feet a selfie with me in front of it (I am 6'2") taken about a week after the first picture of the 'Firesticks':
Thumb of 2017-01-23/mcvansoest/519a46

So it might take some sun and water stress to bring out the colors in your plants, but from my possibly extreme experience with this plant in terms of growing environment it has not been hard to have this plant be its vivid orange/red self.
Los Angeles, CA (Zone 10b)
rkkm
Jan 23, 2017 9:20 AM CST
Thank you so much for your responses, especially the photos! I really appreciate the effort and thoughtfulness!

Sorry - I forgot to cite my location: Los Angeles, California. Should be a perfect geographic location for this plant, especially as I have planted it in full, all-day sun.

Every other Firestick plant in my neighborhood is a gorgeous orange/red on the upper branches. Mine are a deep green; not a hint of orange, red or yellow. They are currently four-feet tall; growing well with new flowering being greenish - when I bought them a year ago, they were two and a half to three feet tall.

My plants are planted along the front of my house, receiving intense direct sun for the entire day from their southern exposure. The lowest temp we have experienced this winter is 48-degrees. Other than not turning orange/red, they appear to be quite happy and healthy.

Too much water, maybe?


Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jan 23, 2017 10:00 AM CST

Moderator

There is a pretty good range of colors on the database page for this plant, mostly depending on exposure....

Firesticks (Euphorbia tirucalli 'Rosea')

Winter cold is not required for the orange color. The most important thing as far as I can tell is sun. My plants are in full sun and they sometimes go a bit green when we get rain. But otherwise, and especially at the height of the summer drought, bright orange. Here's what they look like today:

Thumb of 2017-01-23/Baja_Costero/7262c6

Any part of the plant that's in the shade (like the part behind the agave, or the part shaded by the Euphorbia itself) is visibly greener.

If your plants stay green in the sun through the summer drought, then you have a green form of the plant and not the orange one. Which is good to be aware of, because the green plant (see Thijs' picture) is a proper tree, not really a bush. Very different dimensions, given time. The climate here is mild enough that regular green tirucallis can reach maturity and they really are trees, in the usual sense of the word. With a trunk and a canopy. From a distance you can't tell they are succulent at all.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jan 23, 2017 1:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jan 23, 2017 2:07 PM CST
mcvansoest Thank you for agreeing with me before I even posted. You are awesome!

Daisy
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[Last edited by DaisyI - Jan 23, 2017 2:12 PM (+)]
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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
Jan 23, 2017 5:09 PM CST
I guess, I know what is good for me ;-)

OK, seriously: Oops, I meant Plantmanager..... Clearly, I should look at the name of the poster rather than the picture, and then also take care to associate the right picture with the right name.... which I clearly did not do.
Name: Agavegirl1
South Sonoran Desert (Zone 9b)
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AgaveGirl1
Jan 26, 2017 8:51 AM CST
Not sure what variety you have or how big it will become but I wouldn't panic. Unless you're giving it an overabundance of water so that it stays permanently green or drowning it which results in a sickly yellow color---not pretty yellow, then I wouldn't worry.

I'm sure it is fine and just doing its 'plant thing' that plants do until it does what we think it should. I think it boils down to climate: temps, humidity, sun exposure, water, etc. that will effect the coloring

In the cool winter to spring months or with shade my fire sticks stay on the greener side with only a blush of color. Summer in AZ is well----summer in AZ meaning nose bleed hot and dry. The plant turns real red.

From late May through August mine were a blazing orange-red. The same plant in the photo was taken late September last year. Less color and more green since it cooled off a bit. At this present moment it is cold and my plant is much, much greener.

Thumb of 2017-01-26/AgaveGirl1/2c8dfb


Thumb of 2017-01-26/AgaveGirl1/70fcba

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Hamwild
Jan 26, 2017 10:41 AM CST
I never saw the bright orange on mine until the temperature dipped here. It seems everyone has different experiences!
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jan 26, 2017 7:07 PM CST

Moderator

I think the conclusion to draw from your experience and mine is that the cold is not necessary but may be sufficient for the color change. No contradictions there. Smiling I would imagine the original poster would be likely to experience effects similar to mine, given we share a mild climate and dry summers.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jan 26, 2017 7:10 PM (+)]
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jan 26, 2017 10:55 PM CST

Moderator

By the way, for fans of intense stress colors in succulents, these sorts of questions can be fascinating from a first person perspective. In part because of the unpredictability. Yesterday the plant was orange, today it's green. And also because of the mystery left behind, about what exactly caused the blushing behavior.

And of course whether the color may actually be the hue of impending doom, which is often one click beyond stressed on the absolute scale. Until you get to know a plant well, you don't know these things.

Aloes will go through some incredible changes depending on the presence or absence of environmental stress (sun, heat, drought, cold), depending on where exactly they are and what kind of conditions they are used to. The best way I have found to explain these changes is to look at the events that trigger them. Our seasonal rain turns a bunch of aloes from orange/yellow/brown back to green over the course of days, literally. Fun to watch.

Similarly some aloes will turn bright red or purple right after you repot them, if you have to handle the roots. As a way of indicating they didn't appreciate the disturbance. Just a different stress, and the result is remarkably quick to kick in. Here's a relatively common aloe on the orange side, just coming back from deep purple, and 3 more colorful plants.


[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jan 26, 2017 11:20 PM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jan 26, 2017 11:25 PM CST
My Pencil Cactus sits at the highest (sunniest and hottest) point in my greenhouse right beside the Adenia and Pachypodiums. Its orange. Nothing to do with cold as my GH never falls below 57*. So it must be the sunshine and heat.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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