Euphorbia lactea: How to Grow and Care for Coral Cactus, Crested Elkhorn, Crested Euphorbia

Euphorbia lactea Coral Cactus, Crested Elkhorn, Crested Euphorbia

Scientific name: Euphorbia lactea

Common name: Coral Cactus, Crested Elkhorn, Crested Euphorbia

It is a misconception to call a cactus a cactus as it is actually two Succulent transplants. The wavy, coral-like top of the fan-shaped succulent is a variation of a plant called Euphorbia lactea, which was cloned onto the root stock of another plant. There is a range of colors from blue-grey to silver. The edges of the crests can turn pink.

Quick Look at Euphorbia lactea

  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Typical water needs for a succulent
  • Plant grows up to 36″ (91 cm) tall
    Plant grows up to 24″ (61 cm) wide
  • Zone 10a (Minimum 30° F | -1.1° C)
  • Not cold hardy
  • Propagation by grafting
  • Can be toxic to humans and animals
  • Winter Dormant

General Care for Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’

It is a great plant for indoor and beginner growers. While Euphorbia lactea has smaller branched stems, it does have a rare defect which causes it to fan out, and is loved by collectors.

It doesn’t flower often, if ever. They typically have pink or purple flowers. It is not foreign to Africa.


The watering needs of a euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’ are typical. The “soak and dry” method will allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. During the winter, water is less.

Where to Plant

If you live in a zone that gets colder than 20 F, it’s best to plant this succulent in a container that can be brought indoors. To grow outdoors, be sure to plant in partial sun to partial shade. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, place a room that gets a lot of sunlight near a southern-facing window.

Additional information

Cristata is a Latin word.

How to Propagate Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’

It is not easy to spread Euphorbia lactea. The root stock of Euphorbia neriifolia is sometimes referred to as the root stock of the crested Euphorbia lactea. The best time to transplant is in the summer when the plant is growing.

There is a toxic latex sap that can cause irritation. Gloves and goggles are required for handling this succulent.

Cut a V into the top of the plant after selecting a good root stock. Cut the stem of ‘Cristata’ to make an arrow. Place the two succulents together and secure them with twine or butcher’s string.

Allow the plant to sit in a warm room for a few weeks. If the plants have healed and joined, you can carefully move it to where you will be growing it. The water is as usual.

If the graft is not completely healed, tie fresh twine around it and allow it to sit for another week or two.


  1. Euphorbia lactea (Coral Cactus, Crested Elkhorn, Crested Euphorbia) – Wikipedia

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