Pencil Cactus: 4 Steps to Growing the Perfect Houseplant

pencil cactus
Photo credit: Thinkstock

One of our favorite plants to grow at home is the pencil cactus. Despite its name, it’s actually not a cactus; it is a member of the Euphorbia group of succulents. The pencil cactus is easy to grow and does well in containers, making it a fabulous houseplant. Check out our steps below to find out how you can grow your very own cactus plant.


  • Gardening gloves
  • Fertilizer
  • Clay Pot
  • Potting soil suitable for cacti
  • Pruners
  • Grit

How to grow a pencil cactus

1. Pick a spot to grow your pencil cactus that receives a lot of sunlight. Like any part of nature, this plant develops best when it has direct exposure to the sun’s UV rays. That’s because the sun allows the pencil cactus to receive all of the necessary nutrients to thrive like vitamin D. We recommend that you store this plant on a windowsill.

2. Fill a large clay pot with soil. This lets the moisture found in the soil to evaporate, which in turn keeps the plant healthy. Next, add grit — such as pulverized granite, limestone or oyster shells — to the soil. Also, plan ahead. Make sure the pot you are using now is big enough to hold the plant when it grows much taller in the future.

3. Fertilize in the spring. Then water the pencil cactus every two to three weeks, but make sure to let the soil dry out between each time. You do not want to overwater the plant because that will kill it. If you want though, you can prune the pencil cactus. This will help you control the size and keep it from becoming unruly.

4. Avoid any kind of contact with the plant and its sap. When a branch breaks, the milky sap inside it leaks out. If that sap touches your skin, it can cause an allergic reaction which ranges from a mild itch to a severe reaction resulting in hospitalization. That is why it is crucial you wear gloves when handling a pencil cactus and wash your hands thoroughly when you are done working with it. See a doctor immediately if you get any of the sap into your eyes.