En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - July 12, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Shrubs
Title: Planting Candelilla from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Good Morning and thank you for answering my question!! I am interested in planting a Candelilla plant (it looks like small bamboo plants growing only a 2-3 feet tall. I heard it is supposed to be very hardy and drought resistant), but is it cold hardy or will I lose it in the winter? It gets a few hours of afternoon sun in the space where I want to plant it.


We always think of Euphorbia antisyphilitica (Candelilla) as being a succulent because it is usually sold with the succulents at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Sales. However, it is considered a subshrub, if rather an odd one. This USDA Plant Profile Map does not show it growing naturally in Travis County, but this member of the Mr. Smarty Plants Team can tell you it grows nicely on an apartment porch. It has been through several winters that were about as severe as they get in Central Texas, does fine with 4-5 hours of pretty intense afternoon sun and shade the rest of the day. I have never been able to see the leaves but in May it bloomed! Tiny, tiny exquisite white and pink flowers and they have persisted and even increased, still going strong in mid-July. I water it seldom and have it in a large pot in succulent soil. Mine are about 1-1/2 ft. tall, not counting the pot, would probably get bigger in the ground. From our webpage on this plant, here are the growing conditions:

"Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, limesone soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay, Limestone-based, Caliche type.
Conditions Comments: This is an effective accent plant because of pale color and columnar shape. Often associated with sotol and lechuquilla in its natural habitat. Makes a good focal point in a small garden or a nice potted specimen. May be toxic; use with caution around children and animals."

Your question about surviving the cold forces me to admit that the pot is on a porch with three heated walls around it and a roof over it, so I can't swear it is cold tolerant. This article from Fine Gardening does say it is sensitive to frost, so be warned. Perhaps if it were rooted in the soil, instead of a pot, that would increase its cold resistance because of the insulation of the earth around it. Clay pots and potting soil are not very good insulation.


From the Image Gallery

Euphorbia antisyphilitica

Euphorbia antisyphilitica

Euphorbia antisyphilitica

More Propagation Questions

Grafting to a cherry laurel for edible fruit in Austin
July 01, 2010 - I was the one who asked earlier about grafting to a Cherry Laurel. I will happily graft a local plum on it, say a Mexican Plum or American Plum or one of the naturalized peaches (a friend has an India...
view the full question and answer

How to transplant agarita in Floresville, TX.
March 10, 2010 - How is the best way to propagate Agarita? I have acres of them in the pasture but want some for the house landscape and to grow. I was told they go dormant for a year if you dig them up to transplan...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of possumhaw from Austin
May 22, 2014 - I planted a possumhaw holly plant about 3 months ago and am really excited to watch it grow from its current 3-foot height. It is starting to berry right now. My question is about those berries: (Cle...
view the full question and answer

Propagation of Asclepias tuberosa
June 18, 2012 - Re: Asclepias tuberosa, "butterfly weed" bush -- I have a bed in a mix of Shoal Creek well-drained caliche, soil, and some enrichment of mulch that gets almost full sun and low water. After 4 yrs a...
view the full question and answer

Assuring berries on Viburnum dentatum
October 27, 2008 - I just purchased 2 blue muffin viburnum bushes-I live in Kansas-How many years will it be before they get berries? They are full size(3-4 ft) Do I need to trim them down for winter or just mulch the...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center