Project Description

Euphorbia lactea 'Cristata' Coral Cactus Crested Elkhorn succulent care and propagation information card

Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’

Coral Cactus, Crested Elkhorn, Crested Euphorbia

Calling ‘Cristata’ a cactus is a misnomer, as it is actually two succulents grafted together. The wavy, coral-like top of the fan-shaped succulent is a mutation of Euphorbia lactea, and then grafted onto the root stock of another succulent. “Coral Cactus” ranges in color from blue-grey to silver. The edges of the crests can turn pink when happily stressed.

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Quick Look:
  • 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

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Care and Propagation Information

General Care for Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’

Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’ is great for indoor and beginner growers. While Euphorbia lactea is not mutated, and has smaller branched stems, ‘Cristata’ has a rare mutation which causes it to “crest” or fan out, and is loved by collectors.

‘Cristata’ does not flower often, if ever. Those that do typically have pink or purple flowers. It is native to Africa.


Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’  has typical watering needs for a succulent. It’s best to use the “soak and dry” method, and allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Water less during the winter.

Where to Plant

‘Cristata’ is not cold hardy, so if you live in a zone that gets colder than 20° F (-6.7° C), it’s best to plant this succulent in a container that can be brought indoors. When grown outdoors, be sure to plant in partial sun to partial shade. If planting indoors, place in a room that gets a lot of sunlight, such as near a southern-facing window (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere).

Pairs Well With

Kalanchoe luciae “Flapjack”

How to Propagate Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’

Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’ is not easily propagated. The crested Euphorbia lactea is grafted onto the root stock of Euphorbia neriifolia or sometimes Euphorbia canariensis. The best time to graft your succulent will be in the Summer, when it is actively growing.

Caution: Euphorbias contain a toxic latex sap that can cause irritation. Please use gloves and goggles when handling this succulent.

After selecting a healthy root stock, cut a “V” into the top of the plant. Trim the stem of ‘Cristata’ to form an arrow. Places the two succulents together, and secure them together with twine or butcher’s string.

Allow the plant to sit in a warm room with bright sunlight for several weeks. Check your graft after this time; if the plants have healed and joined, you can carefully move it to where you will be growing it. Water as usual.

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

Additional Information

Cristata is Latin for “crested.”

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