How to Prune a Pencil Cactus

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Pruning a pencil cactus is a great way to really get in there and encourage new growth. Prune a pencil cactus with help from an experienced professional gardener on a mission to make gardening stylish, fun and simple in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Gardening With Flowers & Succulents
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Video Transcript

Hi, this is Nell Foster, and today I'm going to show you how to prune a pencil cactus. This is my pencil cactus right here and most of them grow in this shape. They get a little bit heavier as they get to the top so there's no particular shape they have, there's is no topiary form or no way you really have to prune them you just have to be careful to not take off too much at the bottom because they get very top heavy. I have this plant staked. It actually weighs a lot even though it's not a big plant. So what you do and you do like any other plant, you go in and you take out the dead and diseased wood, this I don't even need to cut out it will just come out, I'm just going to put it down here. There's some that has, here's a big old piece of dead right here that I'm going to get off. And you are going to want to go around your plant and do that and it also grows very densely in the middle. So you might want to thin it out in the middle but be careful when you are pruning any of the growth that is alive because it secretes this milky white liquid. Another name for this plant is milk bush and this is very irritating. You don't want to get it in your eyes, your nose, your mouth. It will stain your clothing. Some people actually get a rash from it but you don't have to worry too much because it's a euphorbia and poinsettias are euphorbias so I don't think they have killed anyone. They are for sale in mass in the markets so don't worry about that, just keep it away from every place I have told you about. And you will want to clean your pruners after you prune this because they are going to be very sticky. I have alcohol and water here and you might want to actually given them an even better pruning in the house with like steel wool and a little scouring powder or something but they will stick up so you want to make sure that your pruners are nice and ready to use for your next pruning project. So it's very easy to prune a pencil cactus. You can prune it into the shape you want to, just don't take off too much of the lower growth because it could tip over because of all the weight up here and you want to make sure that the plant is balanced and then with all these cuttings, you can just propagate them to put in other parts of your garden or to give away to your friends.

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