The large family of spurge plants inspires hobby gardeners all over the world with convincing attributes such as frugality, location flexibility and undemanding care. The Euphorbia obesa is no exception. The little green ball looks so amazingly like a cue ball that it’s often referred to as baseball spurge. Of course, this does not detract from their cult status for plant collectors. On the contrary, the Euphorbia obesa was so diligently collected in the wild in its home country that it is now a protected species. Nevertheless, the little ball will not die out, because as the following instructions on care and propagation show, it is easy to cultivate them successfully.


  • Plant family Spurge family (Euphorbiaceae)
  • Scientific name: Euphorbia obesa
  • Native to South Africa
  • Brief sub-zero temperatures are tolerated
  • Growth height up to 10 cm to 20 cm
  • Maximum diameter 9 cm
  • Spherical habit with weakly defined ribs
  • Rib edges are bluntly serrated
  • Tiny, yellow flowers and leaves from June to August
  • The plant develops either female or male flowers

At a young age, the baseball spurge impresses with its symmetrical, round habit. This changed over the years towards a cylindrical shape. Botanists consider this unusual shape to be the result of evolution in an arid region with a permanent lack of water. Considering the long lifespan of more than 20 years, a Euphorbia obesa keeps its spherical shape for a very long time.


The more sun rays reach the Euphorbia obesa, the more beautiful their epidermis turns reddish. Thus, the plant joins the numerous sun worshipers among the spurge plants .

  • Sunny to partially shaded position
  • Shade behind glass in the blazing midday sun
  • Place in indoor culture no further than 100 cm from the window

Throughout the spring and summer, the succulent thrives in the open air from 12 to 15 degrees Celsius. On the balcony and terrace, the chosen location should be protected from the pelting rain.


A Euphorbia obesa may appear to be a cactus at first glance; it is, however, attributed to the spurge family, which are also succulent. With regard to the choice of substrate, it is nevertheless legitimate to use special cactus soil. This is precisely tailored to the needs of water-storing plants, regardless of which plant family they belong to. Hobby gardeners who cultivate a larger amount of spurge plants and cacti prefer to mix the soil themselves.

  • Seasoned humus from the garden
  • Coconut fibers or peat moss
  • fine loam
  • quartz sand and perlite

In the mixing ratio of the components, the humus dominates with approx. 50%, while the other ingredients are balanced in the dosage.

Tip: To ensure that the soil mixture is not contaminated by fungal spores or insect eggs, place it in a fireproof container in the oven for 30 minutes at 150 to 180 degrees top and bottom heat or in the microwave for 10 minutes at 800 watts.

watering and fertilizing

The growing season extends from March to October. During this time, the Euphorbia obesa needs your attention from time to time to cover the need for nutrients and water.

  • Water thoroughly once a week
  • The substrate must be dry, otherwise just wait
  • Apply liquid fertilizer for succulents every 4 weeks from April to September

If you want to minimize the risk of waterlogging, water instead of penetrating at longer intervals, better if necessary with a small sip of water. The liquid fertilizer is added to the irrigation water at the appropriate time and under no circumstances applied directly to the dried soil.


Give your baseball spurge a winter break from November through February. This measure maintains the vitality of the plant in an efficient manner. In principle, a consistent room culture is possible, with slightly modified care aspects.

  • Set up in a cool room at around 10 degrees Celsius during the cold season
  • The minimum temperature is 5 to 6 degrees Celsius
  • Don’t water and don’t fertilize

In the warmer place in the heated living room, the Euphorbia obesa gets a small dose of water every now and then. The administration of nutrients is generally avoided.

Note: The older the baseball spurge, the cooler the winter quarters should be. This delays the development of the columnar habit by years.


A Euphorbia obesa grows slowly – very slowly. As a result, repotting is only an option every few years. If the shoot pushes through the substrate or the roots grow out of the ground opening, it is time to move to a new planter. A good time is immediately after hibernation, before water and nutrients are resumed.

  • The new pot is only slightly larger
  • To prevent waterlogging, the floor has a gravel drainage system
  • Fill in the substrate and insert the milkweed
  • Do not plant deeper than the Euphorbia obesa has previously been cultivated

After the baseball spurge is poured on, she gets a window seat to recover from the stress of moving.


The only known method of propagating a baseball spurge is by seed. Suitable seed is available from specialist retailers. The fresher the seeds, the higher their germination potential. From the age of 2 years you should no longer use milkweed seeds due to the disproportionate failure rate. The germination phase is the only time in which the Euphorbia obesa needs a humid and warm climate. Knowledgeable hobby gardeners use the following procedure so that the procedure works quickly and smoothly.

  • Fill small plastic pots with sand, perlite, or cat litter
  • Insert 3-4 seeds approx. 0.5 cm deep with the tip downwards
  • Place each culture vessel individually in a ziplock bag
  • Pour enough water into it so that the pot stands in a small puddle

After the bag has been sealed, place it in the partially shaded window. At temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius, germination begins after a few days. There is no watering during this time because the plastic bag prevents evaporation.

As a result, the cotyledons develop first, in the middle of which the small baseball ball will later thrive. The ziplock bag has done its job and is gone. If you sow several seeds, the plantlets will now be too cramped in the pot. Use a pricking stick to lift the strongest Euphorbia obesa out of the substrate. It is repotted in conventional substrate for adult plants and is cared for from that point on.

plants in the bed

Since the baseball spurge tolerates slightly below zero, there is nothing wrong with planting it in mild regions in the gravel bed, on the dry stone wall or in the rock garden. In the year after sowing, care in the pot is recommended first, in order to get used to outdoor conditions on the balcony. From April/May of the following year, the Euphorbia obesa moves to the bed.

  • Cut a cross into the weed film in the gravel bed or rock garden
  • If necessary, add a little sand or gravel to the substrate
  • Do not plant the spurge deeper than in the previous culture
  • Finally, water the plant

Lay the cross-cut pieces in the foil around the plant and spread out the gravel and grit so thick that nothing black can be seen. If you have planned a place for the succulent in the dry wall, a small plant bag is suitable in this case. It is filled with cactus soil, the milkweed is used and pushed into a gap within the wall.

diseases and pests

When a baseball spurge languishes, the problems are usually due to improper care. If the location is too dark, the plant takes on an undesirable cylindrical shape at a young age. Not getting enough sunlight, she deems storing water in her green sphere superfluous and instead stretches out toward the light. By far the most common mistake is overwatering. In its natural range, Euphorbia obesa is designed to survive weeks of drought. Anyone who means too well with the water supply causes waterlogging in the root area, which inevitably results in rot. The same applies to the nutrient supply. Overfeeding will result in fattening plants that will permanently become softer and more vulnerable. A rule of thumb, that in case of doubt, a low dosage makes more sense than an excessive one. In addition, infestation with the following diseases and pests can occur:


If small, white webs appear on the milkweed, reminiscent of cotton balls, it is mealybugs. The females lay hundreds of eggs on the plant parts. The resulting nymphs then suck off the plant sap. Depending on the extent of the infestation, the vitality of a Euphorbia obesa is so severely impaired that it turns brown and dies. How to fight mealybugs:

  • Isolate the infested milkweed to prevent spread
  • Press a systemically acting insecticide in the form of sticks into the substrate
  • Alternatively use the larvae of the Australian ladybird as natural predators

Fighting mealybugs on succulents with sprays makes little sense, since the moistening of the tissue is not good for them.

spider mites

The tiny pests multiply explosively in dry heating air. As a result, baseball spurges that overwinter in living rooms are particularly at risk of infestation. Spider mites are a maximum of 1 mm in size and appear in a wide variety of colors. Small, white cobwebs reveal the presence of the pests. They act in a similar way to mealybugs and are therefore fought in the same way.


If a white, floury coating spreads out on the Euphorbia obesa, powdery mildew is usually responsible for it. It is a widespread fungal infection that hardly spares a plant. While a spray of milk and water will do the trick for other houseplants and garden plants, this extra moisture isn’t recommended for baseball spurge. As a result, the diseased plant is either discarded or treated with a chemical that is injected into the substrate. If you can’t bring yourself to do this, dust the diseased plant with powdered rock for a while.

Note: Newly acquired Euphorbia obesa are first quarantined for 14 days to determine if they are infected with diseases or pests.

If rot diseases occur, such as Fusarium wilt, Phytophthora rot or damping-off, it is rarely worth the effort to combat them. Rather than risk spreading these infections further, dispose of infested plants in the trash.

Not only plant collectors enjoy a baseball spurge. The small, olive-green ball is a pretty decoration for the windowsill and the summery balcony. Since it is frugal and easy to care for, it is considered the ideal plant for hobby gardeners with little time. A little water every now and then in a sunny, warm place will largely satisfy the Euphorbia obesa. If a little liquid fertilizer is added every 4 weeks, it will thrive magnificently for many years. This is all the more true if you give it a winter break from November to February. The very easy propagation by sowing rounds off the likeable profile of the South African succulents.

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