Succulents

Euphorbia flanaganii Guide How to Grow & Care for “Medusa’s Head” Succulent

Our Guide to Euphorbia flanaganii - Everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting and caring for "Medusa’s Head" Succulents
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What do Greek mythology and succulents have in common? A few unique succulents that are called ‘Medusa’s Head Euphorbias’, ‘Medusoid Euphorbias’, or ‘Snake-leaved Medusa Succulents’. These adorable plants were named this way because of their resemblance to Medusa, one of the three horrifying gorgons.

Despite being associated with a mythological being that can turn those who gaze upon her into stone, Medusa’s Head Euphorbias are very friendly, beautiful, and easy to grow.

Medusa’s Head Euphorbia plants are incredibly exotic and unique-looking succulents. Their halos of tentacles that radiate out of a hypnotizing central caudex make them fascinating and amazing showpieces in any home.  

This type of plant belongs to the Euphorbia genus of plants, which is very large, including over 2,000 species. About 1,200 of these species are succulents that have bizarre and unique shapes, just like Medusa’s Head Euphorbia has. 

Want to learn more about how to grow and care for Medusa’s Head plants? Keep reading our guide to find out!

About Medusoid Euphorbia

  • Medusa’s Head plants are part of Medusoid Euphorbias, a group of succulents native to South Africa. The botanical name of the Medusa’s Head species is Euphorbia caput-medusae, which makes it the only species that actually refers to Medusa, the Greek mythology figure, in its scientific name. 
  • Other popular Medusoid Euphorbia species include Euphorbia arida, Euphorbia crassipes, Euphorbia decepta, Euphorbia esculenta, Euphorbia falanganii, Euphorbia foruita, Euphorbia fusca, Euphorbia gamkensis, Euphorbia gorgonis, Euphorbia inermis, and Euphorbia procumbent. These happen to be some of the easier Euphorbias to grow.
  • Medusa’s Head plants can be fantastic greenery decorations in all indoor environments, including offices and homes. They look really cool, especially when displayed in a hanging basket. 
  • Medusa’s Euphorbias thrive outdoors as well. So, you can also plant them in your garden if you want a unique focal point. Two great examples of Medusoid Euphorbias that do well outdoors are Euphorbia esculenta and Euphorbia inermis.
  • These plants have the specific needs of most succulents so if you already have a few succulents, you won’t find it very difficult to grow them. 
  • Medusa’s Head plants need lots of bright but indirect light to grow. These plants need about six hours of bright light every day to thrive, but shade in the afternoon, especially in hotter climates, because extreme heat can stress the plant. It’s essential to avoid placing your succulents in spots with direct sunlight because this may cause scorched leaves. 
  • Medusa’s Head plants are generally moderately cold-tolerant, but, like most succulents, they prefer warmer temperatures. 
  • The optimal temperatures for Medusoid euphorbias are between 50-80°F (10-27°C). If you live in an area where with winters temperatures that go below 50°F (10°C), we recommend keeping your plant indoors.
  • Plants from the Euphorbia genus, such as Medusa’s Head plants, are generally far less prone to root rot. However, this is rather a generalization and not a “rule.” It’s best to treat your Medusa’s Head plant the same as any other succulent when it comes to watering. So overwatering and root rot should be avoided. 
  • To avoid overwatering, we recommend allowing the soil to dry between waterings. 
  • Medusa’s Head plants are drought tolerant for short periods.
  • Like most succulents, Medusa’s Head plants require well-drained soil, so a cacti and succulents soil mix will do the trick. It’s best to use a well-drained potting mix such as a mixture of pumice, coarse sand, and potting soil for your Medusa’s Head plants. 
  • These plants are particularly vulnerable to mealybugs and spider mites, which you can remove with medical alcohol. Use a moistened cotton wool to wipe the plant and remove these pests. 
  • Medusa’s Head plants are toxic to humans and pets. Their sap is poisonous and irritant. So, if you keep your plant indoors, keep it out of the reach of kids and pets.
Euphorbia flanaganii
Euphorbia flanaganii

Medusoid Euphorbia Features: An Overview 

  • You can easily recognize Medusoid euphorbias thanks to their unique-looking (or should we say serpent-looking) bracts.
  • Medusa’s Head plants have many spreading cylindrical arms that can grow to about 3 feet ( 90 cm) long, which grow from a central head that can be lost among the tangle of stems. 
  • The length of the arms of these plants can depend on the growing conditions, such as exposure to sun and water. For example, if you grow your plant in a pot and water it well, it will grow long arms that can get twisted and extend several feet from the caudex. If you grow your plant in full sun, as it can happen if you plant it outdoors and not water it that much, the plant will likely be more symmetrical and have shorter and more closely spaced arms.  
  • Medusoid euphorbias flower in late winter or early spring, producing white or yellow flowers grouped at the ends of the stems.

Growing Medusoid Euphorbia

Despite being associated with a monstrous figure from Greek mythology, Medusa’s Head plants aren’t scary at all. It’s relatively easy to grow these plants as long as you provide them with the ideal growing conditions, which are the typical requirements most succulents have.

Medusa’s Head succulents require a lot of bright light, for at least six hours every day, to grow happy. Yet, you should protect your plants from direct sunlight because it may scorch their delicate bracts. Find a spot in your home or office where the plants will have light in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon. 

If you are growing your Medusa’s Head outdoors, keep in mind that in the afternoon, you must protect it from extreme heat because it may stress the plant. 

"Medusa’s Head" Succulent
“Medusa’s Head” Succulent

Like most succulents, Medusoid euphorbias love warmer climates and temperatures. These plants prefer temperatures between 50-80°F (10-27°C). Depending on your area’s climate, it’s best to keep your Medusa’s Head plant indoors if, by keeping it outdoors, it may be exposed to temperatures below 50°F (10°C).

Medusa’s Head plants are pretty strong, especially since their central thickened stem acts as a reservoir for nutrients and moisture in times of stress such as extreme drought. Yet, it’s best to support your plant with some feeding to help it grow healthy and to encourage it to flower. 

We recommend fertilizing your medusoid euphorbias monthly during the spring and summer. What fertilizer to use? A water-soluble fertilizer mixed to half strength should be enough to help your plant grow healthy.

How to Plant Medusoid Euphorbia

Planting Medusa’s Head plants isn’t much more complicated than it is with most succulents. Since they have the same typical needs, if you already have an indoor or outdoor garden of succulents, you should treat your Medusa’s Head plant similar to the plants you already have.

These plants can be grown successfully both indoors in containers and outdoors. As mentioned above, Medusa’s Head species are actually among the few Euphorbias species that thrive when grown outdoors. However, you need to make sure you provide it with the ideal growing conditions, including well-draining soil, warm temperatures, and protection from frost.

If you are planting your Medusa’s Head succulents in containers, we recommend using a well-drained potting mix such as a mixture of pumice, coarse sand, and potting soil to make sure you protect it from root rot.

If you plant them outdoors, keep in mind that you must find a spot in your garden that gets enough light but not direct sunlight and that during the afternoon, your plant will get partial shade to protect it from the hot summer sun.

Important thing to keep in mind: be careful when planting Medusa’s Head plants because they contain a sap that can irritate eyes and the skin.

Closeup of Medusa's Head
Closeup of Medusa’s Head

Watering Medusa’s Head

Medusa’s Head plants are drought-tolerant, meaning that they can survive even if you forget to water them for short periods of time. In fact, it’s more likely to kill a Medusa’s Head plant by overwatering it than by not providing it enough water. 

Like you do with most succulents, it’s best to use the ‘soak and dry’ technique and to allow the soil to dry between waterings. This way, you make sure that you don’t overwater your plant. 

Medusa’s Head plants need regular moisture during the warm season. We recommend watering your plant once a week during summer.

During the winter, if you keep your Medusa’s Head plant in a container, you shouldn’t water it at all. The only sign that your plant may need some water during the cold months is if its ‘tentacles’ begin to look shriveled.

Medusa’s Head Euphorbia Flanaganii, From Amazon

Propagating Medusa’s Head

Want more Medusoid euphorbias in your home or garden? The good news is that propagating Medusa’s Head plants is really easy as you can do it via arm cuttings. However, unlike other succulents that propagate by cuttings, these plants will need more time before they get used to their new environment and actually start growing.

To propagate your Medusa’s Head succulent, remove a cutting and allow it to dry for a few days until it develops a callus. After that, you can plant the cutting and start taking care of it as you do with your mature Medusa’s Head plant.

In Conclusion

These unique-looking succulents are a must-have if you are a plant-lover and a Greek mythology enthusiast. Medusoid euphorbias can be impressive showpieces in indoor environments. Caring for them isn’t complicated at all, and they will repay you by being unique, and by impressing your guests.

Are you a fan of Medusoid Euphorbias? Let us know in the comments!

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Miruna Secuianu

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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