Succulents

Euphorbia Obesa Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Baseball Plant”

Read our guide to the Euphorbia Obesa for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing & caring for the “Baseball Plant”
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Euphorbia Obesa, otherwise referred to as Baseball Plant thanks to its peculiar shape, is a subtropical species of succulents in the Euphorbia genus. This chubby succulent comes from the Cape Province of South Africa and is indigenous to the arid Karoo desert.

Baseball plants have been discovered in the late 1800s. Since then, they were highly harvested by many people for ornamental purposes. Due to their popularity as low-maintenance and adorable-looking plants, they have become endangered in their natural habitat at the beginning of the 20th century.

Nowadays, these plants are highly spread almost anywhere around the world as houseplants. They can also be found in many botanical gardens or greenhouses around many plant-lovers who admire them in all their splendor.

About Euphorbia Obesa

  • Euphorbia Obesa plants are a great example of convergent evolution. Living in similar environmental conditions, they closely resemble Astrophytum Asterias, which is a cacti species from Mexico.
  • Besides their common name, these plants are also known as Basketball Plant, Baseball Cactus, Golf Ball, Sea Urchin, Gingham, and Living Baseball.
  • Euphorbia Obesa plants can be found growing under the protection of tiny shrubs or among boulders in sandy soils.
  • They are easy-care plants that do not require regular repotting and are not frequently bothered by pests. Less work for you!
  • Baseball plants are dependent on light. They prefer warm conditions similar to those from their natural habitat, but they can also withstand cooler temperatures.
  • Indoors, these plants do well in a sunny place, while outdoors, they will appreciate the morning sun and some partial shade in the afternoon.
  • They prefer to grow in a slightly acidic soil that has good drainage. A mix designed for cacti and succulents is an excellent medium choice.
  • These plants produce a white, milky sap called latex. Like all Euphorbia species, their latex is toxic to cats, dogs, and humans.
Euphorbia Obesa
Euphorbia Obesa

Euphorbia Obesa Features: An Overview

  • Euphorbia is a large genus that contains about 2000 species, not all of which are succulents.
  • Although Baseball plants are often mistaken for cacti, they are succulents that have many similarities with cacti regarding their characteristics and needs.
  • Euphorbia obesa species are semi-dwarf plants that can reach up to 8 inches (20 cm) in height. Depending on their age, these plants grow between 2 and 6 inches (6-15 cm) in diameter.
  • When they are young, Baseball plants stay in perfect spherical shape. Once these bloaty succulents get older, they tend to become slightly elongated and cylindrically-shaped.
  • These plants do not have any spines, but they produce minuscule leaves that usually drop off so fast that they remain mostly unnoticed.
  • In terms of blooming, these plants are dioecious. They exhibit either male or female tiny blooms called cyathia that are somehow insignificant in apex.
  • Their flowers grow in fork-branched peduncles on the stem tips. They are cup-shaped, finely hairy, and delicately scented.
  • To produce seeds, Euphorbia obesa requires cross-pollination between a female and a male plant. This process is generally carried out by pollinators such as birds and insects.
  • Baseball plants bear small fruits that explosively release the seeds when ripen.
Baseball Plant
Baseball Plant

Growing Euphorbia Obesa

Euphorbia obesa plants are relatively easy to grow and care for as long as you pay attention to their basic demands. Known for their slow-growing behavior and high lifespan, they will be your chubby companion for more time than you would hope.

In their natural habitat, these plants are used to plenty of bright and direct light. They are light lovers that do well indoors when they receive at least four hours of full sunlight each day.

For optimal growth indoors, make sure you place your plants in a location where they are exposed to adequate light, such as in front of a south-facing or east-facing window. When growing them outdoors, they are best planted in a spot where they can receive bright light to partial shade.

A young Euphorbia Obesa
A young Euphorbia Obesa

If their light requirements are not properly met, they will start losing their shape, pattern, and their color will be less vibrant. A plant that will grow somewhat leggy may be another indicator that it does not receive enough sunlight.

Baseball plants are subtropical species that enjoy warm or very warm conditions. They are at their best when temperatures range from 81 to 95 °F (27-35 °C). During their active growth period, from spring to early autumn, these plants will thrive in average room temperatures that are also comfortable for you. In winter, Baseball plants can tolerate cooler temperatures that drop to 40-50 °F (4-10 °C). They are quite sensitive to frost, so bring them inside if the temperatures drop.

Euphorbia Obesa Soil Requirements

For these plants to thrive, they require well-draining potting soil. Plant your Euphorbia Obesa in a store-bought potting mix that is specially made for cacti and succulents. If you do not have garden centers or nurseries in your proximity, you can prepare your own by mixing one part perlite, two parts coarse sand, and three parts regular potting soil.

Like most succulents and cacti, Euphorbia obesa plants do well in a soil that is poor in nutrients. These plants do not need regular fertilization, but they will benefit from it during the spring. Feed your plant with a succulent or cactus fertilizer to ensure healthy growth and blooming.

Euphorbia obesa Basketball Plant, From Amazon

Because they have a habit of growing at a pretty slow pace, Baseball plants can remain in the same container for years. If your plant starts to get fatter than its pot, you should consider repotting. Keep in mind that their latex can be very irritating to your skin, so it’s best to use gardening gloves throughout the process to protect yourself.

Look for a pot that is one or two inches larger than the current one and fill it with fresh potting soil. Transplant your Euphorbia obesa plant and wait a few days before watering it to allow a good root establishment.

Baseball plants are not very attractive to pests, but they may occasionally suffer from insect invasions. If you notice any strange organisms on your plant, you can remove them using a cotton pad dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Watering Euphorbia Obesa

Thanks to their gigantic succulent stems, Euphorbia Obesa plants can store large quantities of water. It’s safe to say that they don’t usually need frequent watering and can even tolerate some periods of drought. The only time when these adorable species need more water than usual is during their active growth period.

From early spring to late summer, water your Baseball plant every time the soil feels dry to the touch. Keep in mind that you should always check the soil in-between waterings to avoid over-watering your plant.

Once the autumn has settled in, the amount of water should be reduced gradually. During the winter, these plants can thrive in a dried-out soil without any complaints. However, it is better to water them once in a while, to prevent the soil from drying out completely.

Baseball plants can grow healthy and happy in dry conditions that mimic those of their natural habitat, so they won’t appreciate a humid environment. Make sure you protect your Euphorbia obesa plants from high humidity by placing them in a room that has air vents. If the humidity levels are still high, you can use a room dehumidifier to prevent your chubby plant from rotting.

Euphorbia obesa in a 3 Inch Terracotta Pot, From Amazon

Propagating Euphorbia Obesa

As mentioned earlier, Euphorbia Obesa plants were somehow prone to extinction until succulent nurseries intervened. Nowadays, you can simply buy new specimens without endangering their spread. You can’t seem to find new Euphorbia obesa plants in nurseries or stores around you? No worries! You can propagate them at home in just a few minutes!

If you want more of these odd-looking species, you can easily multiply them with seed.

The seeds respond well to propagation in spring or summer. Fill a standard seed tray with fresh, well-draining sandy or rich in gravel potting soil. Sow the seeds in each section and cover them with a thin layer of sand. Place the tray in a sunny, warm location, and make sure you keep the soil constantly moist.

Germination typically occurs within three weeks after planting. The seedlings grow at a slow to medium rate and can be transplanted into their own pots once they are large enough to handle. Expect your baby Baseball plants to produce flowers after 5 to 8 years. But they are worth the wait!

In Conclusion

Growin and caring for Euphorbia Obesa plants is piece of cake. They are easy-going plants that thrive in environmental conditions that mimic their natural habitat. Their only demands are sunny locations with warm temperatures, well-draining cacti, and succulents potting mix, and a little extra attention during their active growth period. As long as you provide them with a little love and proper care, these plants will produce tiny and cute flowers that will brighten your day with their sweet fragrance.

If you are a busy bee and don’t spend a lot of time at home, Euphorbia obesa plants are an excellent companion for you and for your other low-maintenance plants. Forgot watering them? No problem at all! Thanks to their bloated shape and succulent stems, they weren’t counting on you anyway.

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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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