image of African Milk Tree leaves, thorns, columns

Growing African Milk Tree – 3 Tall Columns In <2 Years!

My daughter and I purchased a tiny African Milk Tree or Euphorbia trigona in April of 2019. It was just a baby then, only about 5-6 inches tall or less.

Now those three columns of the African Milk Tree are almost 36 inches tall! Wow, when they say these houseplants grow pretty fast, it is the truth!

image of Growing African Milk Tree. 36 inches high

I have a video of that Plant Shopping Haul and grabbed a screen shot of that small plant. This angle makes it look larger but it was a small triple-column Trigona plant.

As it has grown taller, it does seem skinnier than I thought it would be, but perhaps if it had more light, it would have grown a substantially thicker stem.

image close up of my African Milk Tree plant growing in small nursery pot

My daughter and I made quite a Plant Haul that day. If you are interested in seeing that shopping trip, check out how much it has grown since purchased in this video. It is located at about 18:45 in that film.

At the time of purchase, the small columns were only about 5-6 inches high but it had beautiful coloring. I think this one is the Euphorbia Trigona “Rubra” due to its column and leaves being a red color.

image of very branched growing African Milk Tree plant

What I Learned Growing African Milk Tree

As I have said earlier and in other posts, growing this African Milk Tree is easy and it grows fast so you end up quickly with a larger plant. But be warned! She is a little temperamental.

For instance, she will get used to a certain place in your home where she will seem content, good color, good growth, etc. But if she likes it there, beware of moving her!

image upclose of dropping leaves on a growing African Milk Tree

It seems to me that she adapts to her surroundings when she has good light and not too much water etc. But if you re-arrange and decide that you’ll change her to the downstairs window or something, she will pout and fling off some of her leaves.

Dropping her leaves seems to me to be a display of her displeasure, but if she quiets back down, and accepts her situation, she will grow leaves again in the spots where she discarded them during her tantrum.

How to Transplant African Milk Tree

Based on how quickly a growing African Milk Tree will outgrow its pot, you will probably need to transplant your Euphorbia Trigona. And here is where you will encounter some of the problems.

image of thorns on a growing African Milk Tree

Even though this Euphorbia does not really have very much of a root ball, the African Milk Tree may need to be transplanted because it has outgrown the size of the pot in which it is planted relative to its height.

Also as the plant gets taller and more top-heavy, you may want to transplant it into a slightly larger but heavier pot to guard against it being toppled in wind or just in generally moving it around.

image of foxtail fern in hypertufa pot
This would be a great pot, the Foxtail Fern needs a larger one now anyway.

I would like to plant mine in a taller hypertufa pot like this one in photo above. Perhaps this much depth is not needed, but I do think the heaviness of the hypertufa will compensate for the larger weight in its columns.

It may make it easier to transplant if you loosely tie the tall columns together to prevent breaking one of the long columns. But all is not lost if one of the columns breaks. Just propagate the piece or pieces.

Propagating The African Milk Tree Plant

Start by allowing the pieces that have broken (or you may take cuttings) to dry or callous for a few days. Then press the lower end into soil and don’t water for about a week or 10 days.

Growing African Milk Tree - 36" Tall in Less Than 2 Years! Euphorbia Trigona "Rubra" Large Plant!

Roots should grow and you can gradually add a bit of water to stimulate the roots to reach into the soil. Bottom watering is best if your planter is not too deep. If it is really deep, you may want to carefully water from the top. Soil must drain well.

But there above is a video of my growing African Milk Tree or Euphorbia Trigona “Rubra.” Well, it really is my daughter’s houseplant and she keeps it in her room sitting in front of an east window. I think it is doing well there.

Are you growing one of these houseplants? How do you like it?


  1. I woke to find my 6’ candelabra on its side! (It’s an indoor house plant in Montana). It was just too too heavy. I’m not sure how to help the mother stem?. The candelabra was massive. I can attest to their temper tantrums, she loved her spot by the window and got upset it rotated .

    1. How horrible! A 6 footer! Maybe if it is a clean break, you could level it off by cutting it evenly across and see if the base will regrow branches? Does the bottom section still feel firm and not soft or rotted? Hopefully you can save it and have a lot more babies from it. Will you try and re-root the upper portion? I hope it all works out for you.

  2. Kathy Harrison says:

    Thanks for the info and view of your Rubra. I had one about 12 feet tall when I lived in San Antonio. They do grow fast! I have moved to central Nebraska, and have another now in my garage greenhouse with fluorescent light. She is now about 10 inches tall. So colorful and majestic. Kathy

    1. Wow, I can only imagine what a 12 foot tall one would look like. Probably branched a lot too. Lovely! Hopefully you were able to take cuttings with you to Nebraska.

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