Succulents are popular houseplants, but not all of them thrive indoors. On social media, one often sees sad, etiolated cacti, stretched into unnatural shapes due to lack of light. While some succulents, like Aeonium, grow like weeds outdoors here in California, I find they languish indoors. Beginners may opt for common big-box store succulents, such as Aloe vera, Kalanchoe Mother of Millions, and jade plants, but there is a deep and captivating world of more interesting succulents that make great houseplants. One such plant is Euphorbia francoisii, a succulent native to Madagascar. Here are a few reasons why it makes a delightful houseplant:
The new hybrids of Euphorbia francoisii are unique and show variation from plant to plant. A seedling you buy will be different in appearance and genetics from other plants.
Euphorbia francoisii prefers the cushy houseplant lifestyle, thriving on a sunny windowsill more than in a greenhouse or outdoors.
Euphorbia francoisii is low maintenance and won't suddenly die on you, as a lithops inevitably will.
Here are some general guidelines for growing Euphorbia francoisii:
Soil: Use a well-draining soil mix. My soil mix contains pumice, coir-based soil mix, decomposed granite, slow-release fertilizer, and some mineral amendments, works well. The main difference between the mix I use for Haworthia and E. francoisii is that the francoisii mix has slightly more coir to retain moisture slightly longer.
Light: Euphorbia francoisii prefers bright, indirect sunlight and can tolerate some direct sunlight, especially in the morning or late afternoon. It also grows well under LED and cool fluorescent lights.
Watering: Water Euphorbia francoisii once a week to once every two weeks, and less in winter. Make sure it's not sitting in water saucers, as it may send out thick roots from the drainage holes that can rot if the pot is sitting in a saucer of water.
Temperature: Euphorbia francoisii prefers warm temperatures between 60°F (15°C) and 85°F (29°C). For this reason, it's better suited for indoor houseplant living than for the greenhouse or outdoors, where temperature extremes are more likely to occur.
Euphorbia francoisii can eventually get large and form a caudex (a thick underground stem) that can be raised above the soil for aesthetic effect. The size and shape of the caudex will vary from plant to plant.This picture is of an older plant with the caudex raised: