Plant Sheet: Madagascar Jewel (Euphorbia leuconeura)

The Madagascar Jewel is a true jewel for your indoor jungle with its lush crown of strikingly green leaves, its unique looks, and curious behavior. It is an entertaining plant to have at home. Keep reading to find out why!

The Madagascar Jewel (Euphorbia leuconeura) grows in the undergrowth of the forests in Northern Madagascar on rocky soil. With its succulent stem, it grows into a shrub of 6-8 ft (1-2 m) and prefers bright indirect light as well as regular watering.

As for maintenance, the Madagascar Jewel is very tolerant. There are only a few things it doesn’t appreciate. Let’s find out what needs this plant type has when kept indoors!

Origin and Natural Habitat of Euphorbia leuconeura

As its common name suggests, Euphorbia leuconeura is endemic to northern Madagascar. It grows in the undergrowth and shade of bigger trees on rocky ground.

Though the Euphorbia leuconeura looks like a palm tree, it is not a palm but part of the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae) and is a succulent shrub that in the wild can reach up to 1-2 m (6-8 ft) in height. Indoors, it doesn’t usually grow taller than 1 m (3-4 ft). It is a stem succulent that stores water in its trunk.

The young plants look quite different from mature plants. Young plants lose their white veins as they grow older and the leaves become more leathery and pointy with a beautiful intense green color. With its propeller-like leaf crown and twisting stems it is quite a fascinating and interesting plant to look at.

Brighten Up Euphorbia’s Day: Light and Water Requirements

Do not expose the Madagascar Jewel to intense direct sunlight as this will cause sunburns on its leaves. It prefers bright indirect light or early morning and late afternoon suns at the max. Do not place it in dark spots either, as it needs some light to grow well.

Even though it has a succulent stem, as an indoor plant it can be a little tricky to water it right. It is not one of those drought-resistant succulents. In summer, it needs a fair amount of water during hot days and can be watered once to even twice a week. In winter though, it prefers cooler temperatures and less water.

It is important to have well-draining soil to make sure the Euphorbia leuconeura never sits in the water. Otherwise, you risk root rot.

Root rot is one of the most common plant issues caused due to overwatering and inappropriate drainage. Check out this post on why drainage is essential and how to create adequate drainage in any type of pot.

A Euphorbia’s Guide to Happiness: Care Tips

Here is some advice on how to care for and handle the Madagascar Jewel:

  • Toxic latex sap: Wear gloves when handling the plant. As part of the spurge family, it has milky poisonous sap that can cause allergic reaction on our skin. Also, make sure it is out of reach of your pets and children.
  • Turn it regularly: It tends to grow fast towards the light. By turning it regularly, you prevent it from becoming too heavy on one side and toppling over.
  • Give mature plants a support pole: The taller they grow, the more top-heavy these plants become. Give a mature and tall plant a support pole to secure its big leaf crown.
  • Use a well-draining soil mix: This plant is used to rocky grounds where water flows down fast. Click through to my post about how to create the best soil mix for indoor plants to find out how to make your own well-draining soil mix.
  • Droopy leaves are a sign to water it: If you are unsure about how much water it needs, watch out for drooping, hanging leaves. When the Jewel needs water, its leaves become droopy, a clear sign it is ready for watering.
  • Do not keep it outdoors: Even if you live in a warm climate where you could potentially keep it outdoors year-round, do not keep it outdoors as it can become invasive with its huge seed production and shooting them meters wide around it.
  • Yellowing leaves at the lower end of the crown: If your Jewel lets go of the lowest leaves on its crown, that is completely normal and nothing to worry about. What you should worry about is rather if it stops producing fresh leaves at its tip. If that is the case, it can be a sign of overwatering or not enough light.

How to Propagate Euphorbia leuconeura

The easiest way to propagate Euphorbia leuconeura is to collect some of the seeds it regularly catapults out of its capsules and put them a fingertip below the soil to germinate. The seeds are very fertile and germinate very easily into a young Jewel.

Stem cuttings are also possible. These take longer to take root and the new plant will have a different look as it starts with a succulent stem at its base instead of slowly growing into a woody stem first.

I have also grown this plant in hydroculture. In hydroculture, it grows more slowly than in soil but it works very well, too. Especially for stem propagation, it is a great way to check whether it is rooting well or not.

Curious to know more about keeping plants in water or soil? Check out my post on the pros and cons of keeping plants in water vs. soil through this link!

Euphorbia Superpowers

It is probably the most productive houseplant I know. As soon as it grows flowers, you will hear the seeds being catapulted out of their capsules almost daily. When it is quiet, you can literally hear the seeds pop out and bounce off the floor or windows.

With its habit of shooting seeds meters wide around the whole room, this plant is a real entertainer in the plant show business. A Madagascar Jewel rarely remains alone for a long time: Apart from its entertaining skills, this plant is your in-house gardener as its catapulted seeds sometimes fall into other plant pots and with time, you will have a tiny forest of these Jewels growing in your living room.

Another superpower of this plant is storing water in its succulent trunk. This makes it very hard to kill. Even if most parts of the plant have dried out, it is still able to shoot out anew from its trunk.

Euphorbia leuconeura is also known to be a very sociable plant that thrives in the company of other plants (and you as its plant owner). It grows more dense and lush with other plants around it. A mature Euphorbia with many tiny Jewel seedlings growing in its pot certainly looks a bit like a mother hen protecting all its little chicks.

The plant catapults its seeds out of the seed capsules below the tiny white flowers on its crown

More About Plant Care

What is the Best Soil for Indoor Plants?

Most indoor plants need a mix of nutrient-rich compost and other matter used for drainage. Depending on what the natural habitat of a plant type looks like, more of one or the other is needed.

Make your own soil mix and know what drainage matter can be added by checking out my post about the best soil for indoor plants and how to mix your indoor plant soil!

What Indoor Plants Are Good for Beginners?

The Madagascar Jewel is quite a tolerant plant that delights beginners as well as plant pros. A lot of other common indoor plants do not need much maintenance either and are good for beginners.

Check out 9 beginner plant types in my post linked here including many helpful starter tips for your indoor jungle! I hope you enjoy life with houseplants as much as I do!

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