Pencil cactus

Asked March 1, 2019, 5:43 PM EST

Hello, I have a pencil cactus that is over 10 ft tall. I inherited it. I would like to cut it down to about 6ft tall. I know I can’t do it all at once, but if I cut about 2 ft off the top, will it live? It’s a succulent, so I’m not really sure. Also, how long should I wait before I can trim it again? Thanks!

St. Mary's County Maryland pruning houseplants

5 Responses

Thank you for your question. Before proceeding further, I want to confirm the plant you are describing, which is not a true cactus, and whose toxic characteristics may be dangerous if cut, as the following article details: https://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/pencil-cactus.aspx Please write back and let me know if we’re discussing the same plant. Thanks!

Yes, that looks like my plant.

As I suspected. I can find no Extension articles with information about pruning this plant, except for ones such as I shared about the potential effects (dermatitis, anaphylactic shock and potential blindness) if the ‘milk’ gets on or in you. I would suggest you look for a new home for it whose ceiling height will acommodate this large plant, rather than trying to limit it to your environment. Just be extremely careful moving it. Good luck!

Thank you.

You're welcome. I think it would make a wonderful addition to a place where little, curious hands didn't get exposed to its 'latex'!