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How to Grow and Care for a Baseball Plant (Euphorbia obesa)

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Euphorbia obesa, commonly called Baseball Plant, is a succulent plant, almost spherical when young, but becomes more dome-shaped as it ages, with 8 to 10 vertical, stitched-looking ribs. Generally a gray-green or blue-green color, with rust or purple-hued bands for a plaid appearance, each plant is either male or female and can grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) tall and up to 3.5 inches (8.8 cm) wide. Because it requires dry winters, this succulent is most often grown in pots, though it can survive outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 11.

Light

As Baseball Plant often grows in partial shade in its native habitat, place it on a windowsill where it receives sun for only part of the day, preferably during the morning. If you move the plant outdoors during the summer, adapt it to the increased light gradually and position it under the high shade of a tree or shrub, where it will receive direct sunlight only at times of the day when the sun is not directly overhead. If it begins to lose its plaid coloring, it needs more light.

Soil

Like most succulents, Baseball Plant will rot in soggy soil, so keep it in a clay pot filled with a potting mix intended for cacti and succulents. Use a pot with at least one drainage hole. If you don't have such a mix available, you can create your own.

Photo via succulents.us

Watering and Fertilizing

From spring through fall, water the plant thoroughly about once a week, until water runs from the pot's drainage holes. At each watering, add a liquid 10-10-10 plant food at one-quarter strength, which should be about 2 drops of the plant food in 1 quart of water. Stop fertilizing the plant during its winter dormant period, and allow its soil to dry out before you water it again.

Pests

Baseball Plant's tiny leaves and equally minuscule, sweet-scented, greenish-yellow blooms appear in tubercles on the ribs, with male and female flowers being borne on separate plants. Because this succulent is mostly spherical stem, it seldom suffers from insect pests. If you see any, you should be able to remove them easily by dabbing them with a cotton swap dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Repotting

Only repot the plant when its girth grows large enough to press against the edges of its current container. Handle the plant carefully, preferably wearing gloves, because the white sap it exudes when broken can irritate the skin.

Planting and Protection

If you wish to grow Baseball Plant in the ground outdoors, set it in fast-draining gravelly soil in a position where it will be shaded for part of the day. Once it is well established, it should require watering only about once every 10 to 14 days during dry periods. A succulent in the ground generally doesn't need fertilizer, and you can easily dislodge any insects from its smooth surface with a blast of water from a spray bottle or hose. Only water or spray your plant in the morning to allow it to dry before evening. In Mediterranean-style climates with wet winters, you may need to protect the plant from excessive moisture during its dormant period by occasionally covering it with a makeshift plastic tent or cloche. Don't leave the covering in place too long or the buildup of humidity underneath it may cause the rot you intended to prevent.

Source: sfgate.com

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