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Why is my coral cactus growing leaves? A grafting story!

Is your coral cactus growing leaves? Let’s talk about the anatomy of this plant, what is going on, and what to do about it!

Coral cactus plants are eye catching with their wavy pink and purple fan shaped tops. They are commonly sold in the succulent section at big box store nurseries and are fun and easy to care for.

What is a coral cactus?

Coral cactus is the common name for Euphorbia lactea. The notable part of a coral cactus – the crest – comes from this plant.

why is my coral cactus growing leaves

Why is my coral cactus growing leaves?

Coral cacti shouldn’t grow leaves! If your plant is growing leaves, it is because it was actually grafted onto the top of another type of (leaf-growing) succulent, and that plant (the “rootstock”) is growing up to form leaves.

This is super common and how most coral cacti are “made” for box store sales!

coral cactus with leafy growth

What is a coral cactus grafted onto?

Coral cactus is really Euphorbia lactea (White Ghost) crest grafted onto a Euphorbia neriifolia (Oleander Spurge) base.

Euphorbia neriifolia naturally has big, green, oval leaves.

Euphorbia lactea is fan shaped with pink and purple coloration.

coral cactus

Should I cut the leafy growth on my coral cactus or leave it?

This is 100% up to you. It doesn’t hurt the plant either way. The main benefit of leaving the leafy growth is that it can lead to more photosynthesis and more growth of the plant overall.

The root stock bud growth can grow quite tall and almost overtake the coral cactus itself, so if that’s not your jam, pop it off.

Beware – the sap that comes out of this plant can be toxic, so don’t touch it and certainly don’t let it near kids or pets.

I encourage you to let the cutting sit in open air for 24-48 ours until it dries out/callouses over and then stick it in soil! It should root itself and grow into it’s own plant!

leafy growth on coral cactus

Any more questions about coral cacti?!

Thanks for reading!

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