What Are Firestick Succulents
Firestick succulents are among the most sophisticated succulents you can find right now. Also called stick cactus, pencil cactus, pencil plant, and fire plant, the firestick succulent seemed to get its name from how it looks. It features clumps of stems that look like a pencil and exhibit a vibrant orange-red color, which resembles fire.
The color usually develops when it gets exposed to sufficient light. It is as appealing as the attractive bunny ear succulents, though the firestick still differs because its stems are slender and tall without any obvious leaves.
Benefits of Firestick Succulents
The firestick succulent is one of the world’s best full sunlight succulents that continue to impress people because of its visuals. This succulent boasts of impressive growth and its predominantly red shade, which makes it look like a sea coral from time to time. This further adds to its already attractive nature.
Easy to Grow
Another advantage of the succulent firestick is that it is not hard to grow and maintain. It is even one of the easiest plants to take care of. The only things it needs to survive are low humidity, bright sunlight, and warm temperatures. These succulents dislike too much moisture, so well-draining soil is also necessary.
This plant is also very versatile in the sense that you will enjoy its plenty of uses. For one, you can keep it indoors to serve as a houseplant, which can form part of your interior décor. You may also plant it outdoors or make it part of your landscape.
How Do Firestick Succulents Work
Firestick succulents work by growing into a rugged yet attractive succulent with brightly colored stems. It can add a great visual appeal to any place you decided to put it in. With its ability to grow new red branches, especially during the winter, it will also work in heightening the interest and color in your succulent garden.
Pros and Cons of Firestick Succulents
- Unique and attractive.
- Can be grown and cultivated indoors and outdoors, proving its versatility.
- Does not require a lot to grow and maintain.
- Can grow as landscape plants during dry and hot climates.
- Has an irritating and toxic milky sap.
Features of Firestick Succulents
Firestick succulents also have plenty of endearing features that make them unique and distinguishable from the others. These include the following:
The leaves of this succulent are often thin and tiny. It is also highly likely that you will miss the presence of such leaves as they tend to fall off immediately after they appear. Once they fall off, you will notice some scars on the leaves. These scars can make the succulent even more interesting.
This succulent can have a moderate height of around 6 feet when you keep it indoors or in an outdoor container. If you grow it as a landscape plant, expect it to grow to around 15 to 30 feet, provided it is exposed to ideal conditions.
Dolphin succulents can lessen your stress and the same is true for firestick succulents – thanks to their attractive and stress-relieving flowers. This succulent can bloom small and yellowish flowers that tend to grow in clusters, particularly on the branches’ angle or apex.
Aside from the flowers that make the firestick as valuable as premium rose succulents, it can also grow pinkish and fuzzy fruits on its short stocks. These fruits usually grow in three-part clusters, often with a diameter of around ¾ inch.
The toxicity of the firestick succulent is something you must consider before you decide to grow one and take care of it. It is toxic not only to humans but also to pets, like cats and dogs. This toxicity comes from its milky sap, which may also trigger mild to severe cases of skin, eye, and nose irritation.
You will be surprised to know that the firestick succulent has plenty of uses. If you are having a colorful arrangement with Haworthia succulents, then it is also possible to achieve similar results with a firestick. It makes for great interior décor. Just keep it indoors as one of your houseplants. You may also want to plant it outdoors so its flowers can supply pollen for bees and seeds that birds can eat safely.
It also makes for an incredible landscape plant, thanks to its unique colors. It would be the same as when echeverias have all the colors from the rainbow, as making the firestick succulent part of your landscape can further enhance the area’s visual appeal.
Firestick Succulent Requirements
Generally, the firestick succulent does not have complex requirements to thrive. You just have to familiarize yourself with what it needs in the following areas:
The firestick succulent requires lots of sunlight exposure in order for it to grow and survive. Note that inadequate lighting can cause the succulent plant to lose its leaves, so ensure that you give your firestick succulent enough sun. If you grow it indoors, put it at the brightest spot in your home, preferably in a window facing the south.
Also, make sure that your firestick receives a minimum of five to six hours of sunlight daily if it is indoors. If you are living in a place with poor lighting or insufficient indoor lighting, then take note that grow lights can produce a full spectrum of light colors that are good for your succulents. With that, the lights definitely make great investments if you feel like your firestick will not receive enough natural light.
If it is outdoors, then remember that full sun is what it needs to grow at its best. It may tolerate partial shade, provided it still meets its required amount of sun on most occasions. Do not let it stay in the shade for an extremely long period. Let it receive natural sunlight to bring out the vibrancy of its colors.
Temperature and Humidity
The firestick succulent usually thrives best in temperatures of around 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that it seems to do well all year round, even when placed indoors at normal temperatures in the household. When outdoors, it can thrive up to around 25 degrees Fahrenheit. This succulent also loves to be in a place with low humidity.
The firestick succulent also requires a well-draining potting soil that has a pH level of 6.0. An example would be a cactus potting mix that has perlite in it to improve its draining capability. You may also want to use sandy soil, which you can make by mixing potting soil or cactus with coarse sand. The ratio should be 2:1.
What’s great about the firestick is that it does not need to be watered too frequently to grow and thrive. You only need to water it once a week during its growing period. You can then lessen it to once a month once the colder season arrives.
For indoor firestick succulents, you can use a controlled-release fertilizer for them. Use it to feed the plant seasonally. Another option would be a liquid houseplant food with a somewhat weak formula that you can feed to your succulent once every week. If your succulent is still young, ensure that the fertilizer you give has low nitrogen.
For outdoor firestick succulents, the best fertilizer would be worm castings or compost spread on top of the soil. You can offer this fertilizer only once every year as such would be enough to nourish the plant.
Pests and Diseases
Some of the houseplant pests that may negatively affect the growth of your firestick succulent are aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs. Fortunately, the majority of these pests do not come close to the succulent because of their toxic sap. Despite that, you should still know about the usual sign of bug infestation. If that happens, then you can take the pets out of your firestick with the help of neem oil or insecticidal soap.
In terms of diseases affecting the firestick succulent, the most common one is root rot. You can prevent that from happening, as well as any other potential diseases, by watering it appropriately. Avoid watering the succulent if it still has moisture. Let it dry completely to ensure that the roots do not decay nor sit on soggy soil.
Growing cacti means having great addition to your home. You can also enjoy such a benefit by learning the basics of repotting firestick succulents. One thing to note about this succulent is that it tends to grow rapidly. With that in mind, it may be necessary to repot it yearly or every couple of years. Let the soil dry completely before repotting, though.
You should then take the plant out of the pot then shake off the remaining potting soil. In case of damaged roots, you can use a fungicide to treat the affected spots. This can already help in preventing root rot.
After that, you can put the succulents in a new pot or container. Put a well-draining and light soil mix. If you want, you can also put light and finished compost as it can nourish the plant, saving you from the hassle of adding fertilizers. Once repotted, you should avoid watering it for around one week. It can help in stimulating the growth of roots and preventing them from rotting.
Propagation is also an easy task if you decide to grow a firestick succulent. You can actually propagate this plant from cuttings. You can get such cuttings from healthy and new stems. Such cuttings are capable of developing small roots.
Ensure that you let these cuttings dry completely prior to planting them again in another cactus mix. Note that if they are not completely dry, then there is a high risk of the cut ends rotting before they even get the chance to develop new roots.
You do not have to prune the firestick succulent too frequently. In case it grows too big, the best thing you should do is trim some branches. The goal is to trim them so they will display a more manageable shape.
How to Grow Firestick Succulents
Step 1 – Cut a stem from the branch
Do this of a healthy firestick succulent using a clean and sharp razor blade or knife. Soak the specific end of the stem where the cut appears in a container with cold water. This should help in preventing the sticky white sap from flowing.
Step 2 – Use paper towels to pat the cutting dry
Put it on a paper towel, (a dry one), then place it in a room that is well-ventilated, dry, and warm. It should be away from direct sunlight. Let it stay there for around 3 to 7 days. It should be able to develop a callus over the end where the cut is made before planting it.
Step 3 – Start planting
Plant it at around three inches deep, if you are using a 6-inch pot containing cactus mix. Firm the soil surrounding the stem gently. Add gravel or small stones to the pot. It should be around half an inch layer over the potting medium. This should help in keeping the cutting steady and preventing it from tilting.
Step 4 – Put the container in a warm and well-lit location
It should be close to a window but away from direct sunlight. The temperature should be around 70 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. You can expect the succulent to root within 4 to 8 weeks, which signifies the emergence of new growth.
Step 5 – Water thoroughly once you notice new growth
It should be just enough to add even moisture to the soil without making it too wet or soggy. You can then transfer it into a window with direct sun exposure. This should help acclimate the plant to the direct sun.
Step 6 – Plant it outdoors
Do this if the soil temperature goes over 65 degrees. Pick a spot that drains well. It should also be a place that allows the succulent to receive a minimum of 6-hour direct sunlight exposure daily.
Step 7 – Water it adequately
It should be just enough to moisten the soil’s surface evenly. You can do it once every week but make sure that the soil is indeed dry before watering.
Step 8 – Fertilize the plant
In this case, you can take advantage of the balanced 20-20-20 cactus mix. Use it every other week the entire summer and spring. Avoid feeding the plant when the fall and winter seasons arrive.
How to Care for Firestick Succulents
Step 1 – Allow the cuttings to dry completely
This is important before you replant them. This helps in ensuring healthy propagation.
Step 2 – Plant them in small pots
The pots should have a soilless medium. This should support the new growth of the succulent.
Step 3 – Allow the cuttings to stay in low light
You need to do this to prevent the root from rotting. Do not forget to mist the cuttings to retain their moisture.
Step 4 – Lessen the misting
Increase the light’s brightness slowly at around two weeks. After you are one hundred percent sure of the stability of the new cuttings, you can start caring for the firestick succulent as you normally do and based on recommendations.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
No, you do not have to spend a lot to grow high-quality and attractive firestick succulents. Note that just like other succulents, the firestick will thrive provided you care for them appropriately and correctly. This means that spending a lot of money will not matter that much. The only things they need would be proper care and cultivation.
Do’s and Don’ts With Firestick Succulents
- Use each branch removed from the succulent for new growth. Just allow the end to dry completely for around one day then put it into appropriate soil. Wait for it to grow.
- Give them enough sunlight and just the right amount of water. Doing so can already help in making the firestick survive and grow healthily.
- Add finished compost, some loam, and light to the soil when you plant the succulent outdoors – The added elements can improve the draining and aeration capacity of the soil.
- Do not plant the firestick succulent close to public walkways. The reason is that they have tender stems that tend to break easily.
- Do not expose yourself directly to the succulent’s sap. Note that the sap is toxic so wear gloves as much as possible when handling your firestick.
Quick Tips on Firestick Succulent Safety Precautions
- Wear protective gloves, clothing, and goggles. The gloves, goggles, and clothing you wear should be thick and protective enough. The goal here is to prevent exposing any skin to the succulent’s toxic sap.
- Protect your eyes. In this case, wear protective goggles all the time. This should protect your eyes from the sap that may cause mild to severe cases of irritation.
- Be aware when trimming. This means being extra cautious every time you trim the foliage of this succulent. Also, do the trimming only as a means of controlling the size or whenever you notice dead leaves. Watch out for the milky sap that oozes out of the plant. It should not touch your skin or else you will be at risk of irritation.
- Keep firestick succulents away from kids and pets. If you have kids and pets at home, then ensure that your firestick succulent is placed in a spot that is out of their reach. That way, you can lower the risk of them being exposed to the milky sap that is extremely toxic and poisonous for them.
FAQ About Firestick Succulents
Are firestick succulents poisonous to dogs and cats?
Yes, they are. They are toxic to dogs and cats, as well as humans. It is mainly because of the toxic sap of the plant, which can trigger serious skin and intestinal injuries.
Do firestick plants need full sun?
Yes, they need full sun, especially if you plant them outdoors. They will still grow in partial shade, but they will grow even better if you put them under full sun. Also, note that sufficient sunlight exposure is significant if you intend to make the stems of your firestick plant turn into the distinguishable vibrant orange-red shade during winter. If you decide to grow this succulent indoors, you can consider it as a high-light plant.
Why do the tips of the firestick succulents appear in red?
Chlorophyll is the reason behind the green shade of this plant. When it encounters stress, though, the level of chlorophyll present in it may change. This causes the firestick succulent to explode with color, especially during the winter when it experiences stress. While they can glow in colors pink, orange, red, and green, some plants start to stress in places with nighttime temperatures of around 40s or close to the freezing point. The result is the rosy shade of the tips.
Do firesticks wear out?
Yes, especially if you don’t give them sufficient sun. You also have to avoid overwatering this succulent as it may only lead to it rotting or wearing out.
Is it safe to grow a firestick plant indoors?
Yes, it is generally safe to grow the firestick plant indoors. Just make sure to provide it with the sun it needs and water it depending on its needs. Also, to make everyone safer, put it in a place where pets and kids can’t easily reach them as it has a toxic sap that may put them in danger.
How often should I water my firestick?
If you have just newly planted this succulent, it would be ideal to water it once a week, though, you have to make sure that the soil is fully dry before pouring water into the plants. Avoid giving it too much. Once it grows, you can cut back on watering. You can do it once a month. When the weather is cool, once every two months or so would be enough.
How big do firestick plants get?
If the plant is indoors, it can grow to around 6 to 8 feet. If you make it part of your landscape, it can grow around 15 to 30 feet when the perfect conditions are met.
How long should a firestick last?
The lifespan of a firestick succulent will actually depend on the kind of care it receives. If it receives sufficient and appropriate care (ex. the right amount of water, full sun, correct temperature, well-draining soil, etc.), then expect the plant to be with you for several years. It can last similar to the lifespan of other healthy succulents, usually around 5 to 25 years.
With the impressive quality and features of firestick succulents, they are definitely fantastic additions to your succulent and plant collection. What’s even better about them is that you will never have a difficult time taking care of them. Firestick succulents are easy to look for, cultivate, and maintain while also versatile and pleasing to the eyes, thanks to their attractive look and nice colors.
Photos from: NataliaLeen / depositphotos.com, pundit2006 / depositphotos.com, OKGraphic / depositphotos.com, Suloletta / depositphotos.com and sasimoto / depositphotos.com.