Euphorbias in the Desert

Dear Peter,

Hope you can help me out.

I got a “Euphorbia lactea” (not sure if it is correct) few months ago, but it took me long time to understand how I should take care of it, and now it is in trouble.

I have attached few pictures and I suspect it may have a stem rot fungus and some sunburn scars?

Yes, I know I really did not do a good job… it is my first experience with outdoor plants and I may have forgotten that I now live in Abu Dhabi and the weather here is really hot, until last month the average was around 42 degrees Celsius, reaching 48 during the day, this month it started to get better and rarely goes above 42.

Anyways, I used to overhead watering to clean the branches from the sand storm, common in this region, twice a week, or whenever the soil seemed very dry. It looked fine for a while, but as you said chicken comes home to roost. Two weeks ago one stem started to look bleached on the top and slowly it started to shrink and the discoloration moved downwards. I got worried and started to search the information on the web, now paying more attention to it I noticed that the same maybe happening on other stems.

What should I do?

Meantime, I moved the pot to an area where it does not get the full sun during the all day, stop watering like a crazy and put my Adenium away to avoid any contamination.

Thank you so much.

Abu Dhabi

I’m not really sure how to advise you on taking care of the Euphorbia in a climate where the cooler month is 42 degrees C (108F). We would water rarely, but you will have to water more regularly – only just letting the soil dry out between waterings. I would take it out of the sun completely, and only let it get indirect light, possibly indoor.

Overall the plant is looking OK, with just some of the branches having been damaged. It does look like they burned in the sun and heat.

I recommend removing the damaged branches. Since this is a Euphorbia, with poisonous milky white sap, wear protective clothing, gloves and eye protection, and wash thoroughly if you get any on you. Since the branches are not very big around, you can cut them with a pruner, or slice through them with a serrated bread knife. Make sure you cut below the damaged parts. Keep the exposed ends out of the sun until after they’ve healed over.


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