African Milk Barrel
(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)
Height: 3 feet
Spread: 24 inches
Hardiness Zone: 9a
An attractive, bold plant for a sunny border; cactus-like branches are covered with long, red spines; pale yellow flowers in spring; adds an exotic dimension to the garden
African Milk Barrel has attractive dark green foliage. The glossy narrow leaves are highly ornamental and remain dark green throughout the winter. It produces brown capsules in early summer. The flowers are not ornamentally significant.
African Milk Barrel is an open multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its relatively coarse texture can be used to stand it apart from other landscape plants with finer foliage.
This is a relatively low maintenance shrub, and should not require much pruning, except when necessary, such as to remove dieback. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;
African Milk Barrel is recommended for the following landscape applications;
- Mass Planting
- Rock/Alpine Gardens
- General Garden Use
- Container Planting
Planting & Growing
African Milk Barrel will grow to be about 3 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 24 inches. It has a low canopy. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 60 years or more.
This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers dry to average moisture levels with very well-drained soil, and will often die in standing water. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for a low-water garden or xeriscape application. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in sandy soils. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This species is not originally from North America, and parts of it are known to be toxic to humans and animals, so care should be exercised in planting it around children and pets.
African Milk Barrel makes a fine choice for the outdoor landscape, but it is also well-suited for use in outdoor pots and containers. With its upright habit of growth, it is best suited for use as a 'thriller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination; plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges. It is even sizeable enough that it can be grown alone in a suitable container. Note that when grown in a container, it may not perform exactly as indicated on the tag - this is to be expected. Also note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.