Propagation of African Milk Tree 9 starts

African Milk Tree Too Tall- Time To Propagate -Making A Forest

I sure can’t complain when one of our houseplants gets too large. That is a wonderful thing to have to deal with, isn’t it? But right now, my daughter has a 3-foot tall African Milk Tree or Euphorbia trigona and it’s time to propagate!

potted African Milk Tree plant
Tall limbs are in danger of breaking.

We have had this Euphorbia since Spring of 2019 and it certainly has grown. But now it needs to be propagated before the long and thin branches are accidentally broken. Side eye to my daughter’s new kittens.

striped kitten in sunglasses
Kittens consider all flat surfaces a challenge

I have more information on the African Milk Tree in a couple of posts here on the site. Be sure to check them out. and also Growing African Milk Tree

Cautions With African Milk Tree

Of course, the first things that one would see when looking at this plant are its Wicked Thorns. And these are not friendly thorns. They hurt. So be ready with gloves to protect yourself.

thorns on 3 sides of African milk tree
Those are hard and thick thorns.

As all euphorbias do, these plants have a toxic sap that will run when they are cut or pierced. This sap can irritate your skin and really be painful to your eyes. Be careful with this plant around children and animals.

Quite a bit of sap poured from the stems as we cut them. You can see that in the video.

A Forest of African Milk Trees! Cutting a Three Foot Plant into Pieces -Propagating A Forest

Be sure to have ready some paper towels or other absorbent cloth to soak up the sap so that it won’t run all over. You can even rinse it under a water faucet if that is available.

3 African milk tree stems in clay pot

Choosing a New Pot for Our African Milk Tree

We chose a larger pot since we planned for the propagation to be for multiple stems. As it turned out, we cut nine new pieces to root so hopefully we’ll have a “candelabra’ form. These succulents are sometimes called Candelabra Cactus.

The new pot will be heavier and a wider base to offset any tipping tendencies as our Euphorbia develops its many extensions. It can get top heavy!

wiping Milk Tree sap with paper towel

Choose a pot deep enough to bury the cut ends about one inch deep. Be sure to keep track of the bottom and top of the cutting so that you can be sure to plant the bottom into the soil. That’s where new roots will form.

Fill the pot with good cactus/succulent soil that is well draining. As for all succulents, good drainage is essential. Use a clean knife or cutting tool to make smooth cuts. Don’t smash the stem as you cut it.

9 cuttings of Euphorbia trigona drying on cutting mat
9 cuttings of Euphorbia trigona drying on cutting mat

We allowed our cuttings to dry for 6-8 hours but needed to get them planted. Allow yours to dry overnight or several days. Adjust your first watering to fit how long they dried/calloused. Shorter period means little to know water for the first 3-5 days.

If you allow them to callous for a week or more, then water in as you would any plant.

New forest from propagation
New forest put in front of the window

Keep plant in bright light for up to six hours a day and water only after the soil is dry. Be sure to turn the plant frequently to keep the growth upright.

Enjoy your new forest of African Milk Tree! It can flower but it is very rare for this to occur indoors. But never say never! I sure didn’t expect my snake plant to bloom either, but it did.

tape measure showing 34 inch plant


  1. How to stake an African Milk Tree. Mine is about 4 feet tall. I just want to secure it so it does not fall over. The pot is ceramic…so it’s heavy.

    1. You might want to try a slender bamboo pole or something similar alongside the plant to help support it. If there is enough room for the pole to go into the soil to seem to offer support. Sorry, that’s all I can say.

  2. Thank you for letting me know how it went – it gives me courage to give it a try 🙂

    1. I took photos today and I will put them on Community Page on YouTube.

  3. Hello – I just found your website while looking for info on propagating my African Milk Plant. I’ve propagated other succulents but never this guy that I’ve had for about 11 years. I’m hesitant to mess with it but though it’s over 4ft tall there are side “arms” primarily on one side, that go up close to 6 ft.

    My question is how successful was the propagating of your daughter’s plant? Did the “forest” cuttings grow OK? Did the mother plant have any issues following the “beheading”? Thank you!

    1. It went really well. Of the eight or so we ended up with, 2 never rooted and rotted. But the rest are doing really well. Just took a photo the other day. I will add it to the post real soon.

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