Family : Plantae
Order : Malpighiales
Family : Euphorbiaceae
Genus : Euphorbia
Scientific Name : Euphorbia rigida
How to grow, care, prune a Gopher plant? Are they poisonous to pets like dogs or cats? Learn here
Gopher Plants are succulent plants that mean these plants have thickened, fleshy, and engorged body parts, these are to retain water in arid regions [A region with a severe lack of water].
The succulent word is derived from the Latin word ‘sucus’, which means ‘sap’ or ‘juice’. Gopher plants can store water in their body.
The length of a fully grown gopher plant can vary between 20 to 30 cm and can spread up to 150 cm (diameter).
Light yellow coloured flowers appear on the floral branches during early Spring.
It requires full bright sunlight to grow properly but sometimes you are in need to shade the plant parts. Too much watering is not required as it is succulent.
It should not be exposed too much in warm weather because it can’t grow properly in warm weather.
If it is taken care of properly it can grow fast.
Are gopher plants poisonous? Yes, these are poisonous if it is eaten. So keep it away from domestic animals, pets and children.
HOW TO GROW A GOPHER PLANT?
If someone is in search of a toxic plant like Gopher or any of the members belonging to Euphorbia genus it is usually due to beautify his or her garden or due to some other uses like keeping the rodents away from the garden.
For gardeners, the crucial question is “How to grow a Gopher Plant in my garden?”
- Plant the seed in the soil
Gopher Plant is tolerant to a large variety of soils types such as clay soil, loam soil, chalk soil and sandy soil. It is better to plant it in rock gardens because there it looks better.
The pebble-mulch garden can also be used as a good option because applying mulch on the garden soil improves its fertility, helps in retaining the soil moisture and reduces the growth of weeds in the garden.
- Watering the seed and plant
As we said earlier that plants belonging to the Euphorbia genus are succulent plants i.e. they are highly drought tolerant and can survive in an arid environment, it is not required to water the plant frequently.
You can weigh for monsoon.
But, Watering once a month or a week is better. But why?
This is because the cuticles of their leaves are very thick and a lot of leaves had converted into thorns during the span of evolution.
Due to the decreased amount of leaves and conversion of leaves into thorns, only a very low amount of water can evaporate from their leaf’s surface and the major amount of water is stored inside its body, therefore less amount of water is actually needed just like cactuses.
As Gopher plants are highly tolerant to adverse environments fertilizers are usually not required.
But, if you want faster growth or your plant is not looking naturally perfect, you can use fertilizers.
You can use ‘Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food’ fertilizer with 0.5–1–1 strength or ‘EarthPods Premium Cactus & Succulent Plant Food’ fertilizer with 2–2–4 strength.
But, ‘Schultz Cactus Plus Liquid Plant Food’ with 2–7–7 strength and ‘Grow More 3130 Cactus Juice’ with 1–7–6 strength are also good options.
When the Gopher plants start growing, it becomes profusely branched and becomes sprawl and odd-looking in appearance.
So It is better to trim the straggling stems to get a compact, upright plant body.
While trimming the plant its sap will start slouching out of the stem that can cause skin allergy and irritation, therefore, wear gloves while trimming the plant.
Apply insecticides not pesticides
Because of being toxic, the Gopher plant itself resists pests such as rodents i.e. it works as a natural pesticide without any bad effects to the environment.
But, some insects such as aphids, spider mites, nematodes etc. can rupture the plant, therefore, insecticides such as ‘Take Down Garden Spray’, ‘Acephate’ or ‘Pure Neem Oil’ have good results but any kind of insecticides have very bad effects to the environment.
Using bio-insecticides and genetically modified crops as natural insecticides can help in getting rid of environmental problems.
This idea is widely used in organic farming.
- Appropriate Weather
Gopher plants are highly adapted to cold climates with low humidity. It starts flowering during spring and continues blooming throughout winter.
But, It is quite intolerant to warm weather and high humidity, therefore, during the summer provide some additional water and shade.
But, don’t water the plant too much.
- Gopher plants repel Gophers, a disturbing pest for gardeners.
- Being poisonous (if eaten) it repeals other pests too and therefore Chemical pesticides can be avoided. The plant will itself work as a natural pesticide for your garden.
- It also has medicinal uses. In folk medicine, the Gopher plant is used as a remedy for cancer, warts, corns.
- It can induce skin boils.
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