The Baseball plant, scientific name Euphorbia obesa, is a succulent perennial in the genus Euphorbia that can reach up to 3 feet in height. It has a thick, singular stem instead of leaves or trunks. The stem is perfectly spherical in young plants, a carbon copy of a baseball.
The plant becomes more cylindrical with age, but it retains the ribs on the stem that resemble stitching on a baseball. It is also called Sea Urchin Plant and Gingham Golf Ball.
The Baseball plant is native to South Africa, but it’s under threat of heavy poaching. As a result, finding it in its natural habitat has become harder, and the government has enacted policies to prevent its extinction.
On the other hand, it is widely available throughout the world in nurseries and garden centers. It can be grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 11.
- Euphorbia Obesa Main Characteristics
- Baseball Plant Care
- Propagating Euphorbia Obesa
- Potting and Repotting Baseball Plant
- Common Pests
- Common Problems
- How to Grow a Baseball Plant – Step by Step Instructions (Video)
Euphorbia Obesa Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Baseball Plant, Gingham Golf Ball, Sea Urchin Plant|
|Botanical Name||Euphorbia obesa|
|Native Range||South Africa (Graaff Reinet area)|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||10 to 11|
|Mature Size||Height: up to 8 inches, Spread: up to 4 inches|
|Propagation methods||by seeds, by cuttings|
Baseball Plant Care
The Baseball plant is a popular choice for indoor gardens because of its unique shape that immediately draws the eye. On top of that, the plant is not difficult to care for and can be kept alive with minimal effort.
Light and Location
The Baseball plant thrives in a sunny location with some protection from the hottest midday sun. It will tolerate some shade, but it may stunt growth. Therefore, place the plant in an area where it gets at least a few hours of sun a day. Any less than that results in a leggy plant with paler than normal colors.
Since these plants remain small throughout their lifecycle, they’re perfect as desktop plants. If your personal space doesn’t get enough light, a sunny windowsill is also a great choice.
The Baseball plant is a succulent and does not need much water to survive. In fact, too much water can be detrimental and cause the roots to rot. Wait until the topsoil has dried out completely before watering again. During the winter months, reduce watering even further.
Temperature and Humidity
The ideal temperature range for the Baseball plant is between 60°F and 75°F (15°C – 24°C). These plants can tolerate higher temperatures, but it may result in stunted growth. The plant is frost-tolerant to below 30°F (-1°C), but don’t let it stay at temperatures that low for an extended period.
Humidity is not a concern for the Baseball plant. It can tolerate average room conditions but prefers dry air as much as possible. Treat like a regular cactus.
The Baseball plant is a slow grower and doesn’t need fertilizer. Cacti, in general, don’t need fertilizer as they’re accustomed to harsh conditions. But for the best possible growth, fertilize once a month during the spring and summer with a cactus fertilizer diluted to half-strength.
Propagating Euphorbia Obesa
The Baseball plant propagates by seeds or cuttings.
If you’re growing the plant from seed, sow them in a well-draining cactus mix in late spring or early summer. Sow the seeds just underneath the surface of the soil and press down gently. Water with a spray bottle to avoid disturbing the seeds. Keep the soil barely moist, and place it in a warm location with plenty of indirect sunlight. The germination process can take up to four weeks.
(Note that the seeds are only produced when male-female cross-pollination occurs. This process is only viable for nurseries and other large-scale productions. Amateur gardeners rarely obtain seeds.)
Euphorbia obesa are globose, single-stemmed plants. They can’t really be propagated using the usual cutting techniques. Rather than cutting the plant in half, it is instead separated from the roots at the soil level. A sharp, sterile knife is used to make the cut. New growth or offsets appear from the already established roots. These offsets can then be removed and placed in individual pots. Treat them as you would a fully grown plant after they’ve formed roots.
Potting and Repotting Baseball Plant
When potting, choose a fast-draining potting mix. A safe choice would be a standard cacti/succulent mix. Make sure it’s coarse and fast-draining. Drainage holes are essential to allow the water to spill out after every watering session. Root rot is one of the only ways to harm the plant in cultivation.
The Baseball plant is slow-growing and doesn’t need to be repotted often. In fact, it’s best to leave the plant in its pot for as long as possible as it doesn’t like being disturbed. Once you see the roots spilling out of the pot, only then is it time for a fresh container. Use a well-draining cactus mix and a pot with drainage holes.
The Baseball plant is considered mildly toxic. Keep away from children and pets. All plant parts contain a white sap that can irritate the skin on contact.
Baseball plants are relatively pest-free but may be susceptible to mealybugs. Check the plant weekly for any signs of pests and treat with an approved insecticide if necessary. Horticultural oil is also known to work.
Washed Out And Leggy Plant
If you see your Baseball plant starting to stretch out and get leggy, it’s a sign that it’s not getting enough light. Move it to a brighter location and make sure it gets plenty of direct sunlight. You may also notice the plant has become dull and washed if this is the case.
Euphorbia obesa are quite disease-free but may be susceptible to root rot. These problems are usually caused by overwatering or poor drainage. Inspect the plant regularly for any signs of rot and treat accordingly.
How to Grow a Baseball Plant – Step by Step Instructions (Video)
Is Obesa Euphorbia Rare?
No, it’s not rare. It’s actually quite easy to find in nurseries and online retailers. However, it is slow-growing, so it takes a long time to reach its full size.
How Can You Tell If An Obesa Is Male Or A Female?
These plants are either male or female. Males produce a cluster of flowers in the cyathia, whereas females have a single flower in each cyathium. Seeds are only produced if pollination occurs between the two.
Is Euphorbia obesa A Cactus?
No, it’s not a cactus. It’s actually a member of the Euphorbia family (Euphorbiaceae). However, it shares many habits with cacti.
How Long Does It Take Euphorbia obesa To Grow?
It’s a slow-growing plant, so it can take several years to reach its full size. If you’re propagating by seeds, it takes about eight years for the plant to be able to produce flowers.
How Big Is Euphorbia obesa?
The plant can grow up to 8 inches tall and about 4 inches wide. However, it remains spherical as a young plant and only becomes elongated as it ages.