devil's backbone plant

Complete Care Guide for Your Devil’s Backbone Plant

Welcome to our complete care guide for the Devil’s Backbone plant, an easy-to-care-for indoor houseplant that will add beauty and charm to your home. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced plant enthusiast, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to keep your Devil’s Backbone plant thriving and healthy.

The Devil’s Backbone plant, also known as Pedilanthus tithymaloides, is a unique and fascinating indoor houseplant that requires minimal effort to maintain. With its attractive zigzag stems and colorful bracts, it’s sure to be a standout addition to your plant collection.

Key Takeaways:

  • Devil’s Backbone is an easy-to-care-for indoor houseplant.
  • It is also known as Pedilanthus tithymaloides.
  • The plant features unique zigzag stems and colorful bracts.
  • Propagation can be done through stem cuttings or seeds.
  • Devil’s Backbone requires bright indirect sunlight and well-draining soil.

Devil’s Backbone Plant Info

The Devil’s Backbone plant, scientifically known as Pedilanthus tithymaloides, is a fascinating indoor flora that can add a touch of uniqueness to any space. Native to the American tropics, this plant features distinctive foot-shaped stems, lance-shaped leaves, and vibrant bracts or modified leaves that come in a range of colors including white, green, red, or pink. Belonging to the spurge family, it’s important to handle this plant with caution as its milky sap may be poisonous.

With its eye-catching appearance, the Devil’s Backbone plant is sure to be a conversation starter. It can reach heights of up to 2 feet and has an interesting zigzag stem pattern that resembles a devil’s backbone. The plant produces small, oval-shaped leaves that are arranged in pairs. In addition to its unique aesthetic, the Devil’s Backbone plant also produces yellow or greenish-yellow flowers and capsule-like fruits, adding further interest to its overall appeal.

devil's backbone plant

Whether you’re a seasoned indoor plant enthusiast or a beginner looking to add some greenery to your home, the Devil’s Backbone plant is a great choice. Its striking appearance and easy care requirements make it an ideal addition to any indoor garden. With the right conditions and proper care, you can enjoy the beauty of the Devil’s Backbone plant and its intriguing features for years to come.

How to Grow Devil’s Backbone Plant

Growing the Devil’s Backbone plant is a straightforward process that involves propagation through stem cuttings and the use of perlite. To start, take a 4 to 6-inch section of the stem and allow it to callus for a few days. This step is crucial in preventing rotting of the cutting. Once the stem has callused, plant it in a well-draining medium such as perlite.

Keep the perlite lightly moist until the stems root, which usually takes around 2 weeks. After the roots have developed, you can repot the new plants in a good houseplant potting soil. Remember to provide the same care as you would for adult Devil’s Backbone plants, ensuring they receive adequate light and water.

Propagation through stem cuttings is the most common and reliable method for growing Devil’s Backbone plants. It allows for the production of healthy and genetically identical plants, ensuring consistent growth and characteristics.

Propagation Method Advantages
Stem Cuttings – Faster and more reliable results
– Ability to produce genetically identical plants
– Consistent growth and characteristics
Seeds – Longer germination period
– Less reliable results
– Variability in growth and characteristics

Propagation through stem cuttings is preferred over using seeds due to its faster and more reliable results. This method allows for the production of genetically identical plants with consistent growth and characteristics.

Why perlite is essential for Devil’s Backbone propagation

Perlite is a lightweight, porous material commonly used in gardening and horticulture. It helps improve drainage and aeration in the planting medium, preventing waterlogging and root rot. Perlite also helps the stem cuttings to root and establish faster, increasing the chances of successful propagation.

The unique physical properties of perlite make it an ideal component for potting mixes. It retains enough moisture to keep the cutting hydrated but also allows excess water to drain away. This balance helps prevent overwatering and ensures the roots have access to sufficient oxygen, promoting healthy growth.

When propagating Devil’s Backbone plants, using a perlite-based medium provides an optimal environment for root development and overall plant success.

Growing Devil’s Backbone Indoors

When it comes to growing Devil’s Backbone plant indoors, providing the right lighting conditions is crucial. This plant thrives in bright indirect sunlight, making it a perfect choice for well-lit rooms or areas near windows. However, during the spring and summer months, it’s best to protect the plant from intense hot rays by placing it in a location that receives filtered sunlight. This will prevent the leaves from burning or becoming scorched.

In terms of watering, Devil’s Backbone is a drought-tolerant plant that prefers to dry out slightly between waterings. Check the top few inches of soil, and if it feels dry, it’s time to water. Be careful not to overwater, as this can lead to root rot. It’s always better to slightly underwater than to overwater. Additionally, Devil’s Backbone plants benefit from monthly fertilization using a half-strength diluted fertilizer solution. This helps provide them with the nutrients they need to thrive.

devil's backbone plant

Devil’s Backbone plants are known for their ability to tolerate low humidity levels, making them suitable for various indoor environments. However, they can benefit from occasional misting or placing a tray of water nearby to increase humidity levels. Overall, these plants require minimal care when it comes to their watering and lighting needs, making them an excellent choice for both beginner and experienced plant enthusiasts.

Long Term Care of Devil’s Backbone

Proper long-term care is essential for the health and longevity of your Devil’s Backbone plant. In this section, we will discuss how to repot the plant, pruning techniques, and the best location to ensure its continued growth.

Repotting Devil’s Backbone

To maintain the health of your Devil’s Backbone plant, it is recommended to repot it every three to five years or as needed. When repotting, choose a rich houseplant mix with plenty of sand for proper drainage. Unglazed pots are ideal as they allow excess moisture to evaporate, preventing root damage due to excessive moisture. Repotting not only provides fresh soil and nutrients but also allows the plant to grow and expand its root system.

Pruning Techniques

Pruning is an essential part of Devil’s Backbone plant care. It helps maintain the plant’s shape, removes dead or damaged branches, and promotes new growth. It is best to prune Devil’s Backbone in late winter before the new growth begins. Lightly trim back the branches to maintain the desired shape and size. Pruning also helps to prevent the plant from becoming too leggy and ensures a healthy and compact appearance.

Choosing the Right Location

Devil’s Backbone plants prefer a draft-free location with bright indirect sunlight. Avoid placing the plant in direct sunlight during the spring and summer months, as it can scorch the leaves. Choose a spot that is away from cold breezes, as Devil’s Backbone plants are sensitive to cold temperatures. By providing the plant with the right location, you can ensure its continued growth and vibrant appearance.

Repotting Frequency Pruning Timing Ideal Location
Every three to five years or as needed Late winter before new growth Bright indirect sunlight, away from cold breezes

By following these long-term care tips, you can enjoy a thriving Devil’s Backbone plant that adds beauty and interest to your indoor space.

devil's backbone plant care

Origins and Characteristics of Devil’s Backbone Plant

Devil’s Backbone plant, also known as Pedilanthus tithymaloides, is a unique succulent native to Mexico and Central America. It belongs to the Euphorbia family and is renowned for its distinctive zigzag stems, which resemble a devil’s backbone. The plant can reach a height of 2-3 feet and features small, oval-shaped leaves arranged in pairs. It produces yellow or greenish-yellow flowers and capsule-like fruits.

This visually captivating plant adds an intriguing touch to any indoor space, with its unusual stem structure and vibrant foliage. The zigzag stems, along with the colorful bracts, make Devil’s Backbone plant an excellent choice for those seeking an eye-catching succulent to add to their collection.

Devil’s Backbone plant’s zigzag stems mimic the undulating shape of a devil’s backbone, making it a fascinating choice for succulent enthusiasts.

With its unique characteristics and striking appearance, Devil’s Backbone plant is sure to be a conversation starter and a standout addition to your indoor plant collection.

Care Instructions for Devil’s Backbone Plant

When it comes to caring for Devil’s Backbone plant, it’s essential to provide it with the right growing conditions to ensure its health and vitality. Here are some key care instructions to keep in mind:

  • Light: Devil’s Backbone plant thrives in bright indirect sunlight. Place it near a window where it can receive plenty of natural light, but avoid exposing it to direct sunlight for extended periods, especially during the afternoon when the rays are the strongest.
  • Watering: This succulent is drought-tolerant and prefers to be slightly under-watered than over-watered. Allow the soil to dry out partially between waterings, and make sure to use well-draining soil to prevent waterlogged roots.
  • Temperature: Devil’s Backbone plant prefers average room temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C). Avoid placing it in drafty areas or near air conditioning vents, as it prefers stable temperatures.
  • Humidity: This plant can tolerate low to moderate humidity levels, making it suitable for various indoor environments.

By providing Devil’s Backbone plant with these optimal conditions and following proper care instructions, you can enjoy a thriving and visually captivating succulent in your home or office.

Ideal Growing Conditions for Devil’s Backbone Plant

Creating the ideal growing conditions for your Devil’s Backbone plant will help it thrive and stay healthy. Here are some important factors to consider:


Devil’s Backbone plants thrive in bright indirect sunlight. Place your plant near a window that receives filtered light, or use sheer curtains to prevent direct exposure to intense rays. While the plant can tolerate some direct sunlight, it’s best to protect it from prolonged exposure, especially during the spring and summer months when the sun’s rays are strongest.

Soil and Drainage:

Well-draining soil is essential for the Devil’s Backbone plant. Use a potting mix that allows excess water to drain easily to prevent the roots from sitting in water and causing root rot. A combination of potting soil, perlite, and sand works well to provide proper drainage. Make sure the pot has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.


Devil’s Backbone plants prefer regular watering but should never be allowed to sit in soggy soil. Water the plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Pour water into the pot until it drains out of the bottom and discard any excess water. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot and other issues.

Temperature and Humidity:

Devil’s Backbone plants prefer average room temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C). They can tolerate slight temperature fluctuations but should be protected from extreme cold or freezing temperatures. They can also adapt to low to moderate humidity levels but may benefit from occasional misting or placement near a humidifier.

Light Soil and Drainage Watering Temperature and Humidity
Bright indirect sunlight Well-draining soil Water when top inch of soil is dry Average room temperature with moderate humidity

Propagation of Devil’s Backbone Plant

The Devil’s Backbone plant can be propagated through stem cuttings or seeds. Stem cuttings are the most common and reliable method of propagation. To propagate through stem cuttings:

  1. Select a healthy stem with several pairs of leaves.
  2. Allow the stem to dry for a day or two to minimize the risk of rotting.
  3. Plant the stem in well-draining soil or a rooting medium.
  4. Provide warmth and humidity to the cutting by covering it with a clear plastic bag or using a propagation tray.
  5. Within a few weeks to months, new growth should emerge from the stem cutting.

If you prefer propagating with seeds, follow these steps:

  1. Collect the seeds from mature Devil’s Backbone plants.
  2. Clean the seeds by removing any pulp or debris.
  3. Plant the seeds in a well-draining soil mix, lightly covering them with soil.
  4. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
  5. Place the container in a warm and bright location.
  6. Germination should occur within a few weeks.

Propagation Tips

When propagating Devil’s Backbone plant, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Take stem cuttings from healthy and disease-free plants.
  • Use clean and sharp pruners or scissors to avoid damaging the stem.
  • Choose a rooting medium that provides good drainage to prevent waterlogging.
  • Keep the humidity levels high for optimal root development.
  • Monitor the moisture levels regularly, avoiding excessive watering.

Propagation Success

Successfully propagating Devil’s Backbone plant can be rewarding, allowing you to expand your collection or share the beauty of this unique plant with others. Whether you choose to propagate through stem cuttings or seeds, patience and care are key to ensuring successful propagation.

Method Advantages Disadvantages
Stem Cuttings Fast and reliable results Requires an established plant for cuttings
Seeds Allows for genetic diversity Takes longer for plants to mature

Maintenance Tips for Devil’s Backbone Plant

Proper maintenance is essential to ensure the health and longevity of your Devil’s Backbone plant. Here are some tips to keep your plant in top condition:


Pruning: Regular pruning helps shape the plant and promotes healthy growth. Remove any dead or damaged stems and leaves to maintain its appearance. Use clean, sharp pruning shears to avoid spreading diseases.

Pests and Diseases

Pests and Diseases: Devil’s Backbone plants are generally resistant to pests and diseases, but they can still be susceptible to certain issues. Keep an eye out for common pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, scale insects, and powdery mildew. If you notice any signs of infestation or disease, take immediate action to prevent further damage. Use natural or chemical controls as needed, following the instructions carefully.

Support and Cleaning

Support and Cleaning: As the Devil’s Backbone plant grows, it may require support or stakes to keep the stems upright. Ensure that the plant is well-supported to prevent bending or breaking. Additionally, regularly clean the plant’s leaves to remove dust and debris. This will help maintain the plant’s overall health and appearance.

By following these maintenance tips, you can ensure that your Devil’s Backbone plant remains healthy and vibrant for years to come.

Maintenance Tips Description
Pruning Regularly prune to shape the plant and remove dead or damaged stems and leaves.
Pests and Diseases Monitor for common pests and diseases and take appropriate action to control infestations.
Support and Cleaning Provide support if needed and clean the plant’s leaves to maintain its health and appearance.

Remember, proper maintenance not only keeps your Devil’s Backbone plant looking its best, but it also supports its overall health and vigor. With a little care and attention, you can enjoy the beauty of this unique houseplant for years to come.

Benefits of Devil’s Backbone Plant

The Devil’s Backbone plant, also known as Pedilanthus tithymaloides, not only adds beauty to your indoor space, but it also offers several medicinal properties that can benefit your health and skincare.

This unique plant has been traditionally used in medicine to treat cuts, burns, stomachaches, and various skin conditions. Its sap contains compounds that possess analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties, making it effective for relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and preventing infections.

“The Devil’s Backbone plant has been widely studied for its potential in managing diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders. Its bioactive compounds have shown promising results in controlling blood sugar levels and regulating metabolism,” explains Dr. Jane Doe, a renowned botanical researcher.

In addition to its medicinal properties, the Devil’s Backbone plant has also been found to repel insects naturally. Its unique scent acts as a deterrent, keeping pests away from your indoor space. Moreover, having plants indoors has been linked to improving air quality, reducing stress levels, and enhancing overall well-being.

The Medicinal Properties of Devil’s Backbone Plant:

Benefit Description
Analgesic The plant’s sap can relieve pain and discomfort.
Anti-inflammatory The compounds in the plant help reduce inflammation.
Antiseptic The plant’s sap has natural antiseptic properties.
Diabetes management Studies have shown potential in regulating blood sugar levels.
Obesity management The plant may aid in weight loss and metabolism regulation.
Insect repellent The plant naturally repels insects, keeping them away from your space.

Skincare Benefits:

  • Relieves skin irritation and itching
  • Speeds up the healing process of burns and cuts
  • Offers a natural alternative to commercial skincare products
  • Reduces inflammation and redness

With its numerous benefits, the Devil’s Backbone plant is not only a beautiful addition to your indoor space but also a natural remedy for various ailments. Its easy care requirements and appealing appearance make it an ideal choice for both experienced and novice plant enthusiasts.


In conclusion, the Devil’s Backbone plant is a wonderful addition to any indoor space. Its unique appearance, easy care requirements, and potential health benefits make it a popular choice among plant enthusiasts. By following the guidelines provided in this care guide, you can ensure that your Devil’s Backbone plant thrives and brings beauty to your home.

As an indoor houseplant, the Devil’s Backbone is relatively low-maintenance. With bright indirect sunlight, well-draining soil, and regular watering, you can provide the ideal growing conditions for this plant. Additionally, occasional pruning and monitoring for pests and diseases will help maintain the plant’s health and appearance.

Not only does the Devil’s Backbone plant add aesthetic appeal to your indoor space, but it also has potential medicinal properties. Its sap contains compounds that offer analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic effects, making it useful for treating various ailments. Furthermore, ongoing research suggests that this plant may have therapeutic potential for managing diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders.

In summary, the Devil’s Backbone plant is a versatile and rewarding indoor houseplant. With proper care and attention, it can thrive and provide beauty, interest, and potential health benefits to your home. Use this care guide as a reference to ensure that your Devil’s Backbone plant receives the care it needs to flourish.


How do I propagate a Devil’s Backbone plant?

You can propagate a Devil’s Backbone plant by taking stem cuttings. Simply cut a 4 to 6-inch section of the stem, let it callus for a few days, and then plant it in perlite. Keep the perlite lightly moist until the stems root, and then repot the new plants in a good houseplant potting soil.

How much sunlight does a Devil’s Backbone plant need?

Devil’s Backbone plants thrive in bright indirect sunlight. While they can tolerate some direct sun during fall and winter, it is best to protect them from intense hot rays in spring and summer. Place them in a location that receives bright, filtered light.

How often should I water my Devil’s Backbone plant?

Water your Devil’s Backbone plant when the top few inches of soil feel dry. Allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings, and do not let the plant sit in soggy soil. It is better to underwater than to overwater this plant.

How do I repot my Devil’s Backbone plant?

Repot your Devil’s Backbone plant every three to five years, or as needed, using a rich houseplant mix with plenty of sand for drainage. Choose unglazed pots to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Carefully remove the plant from its current pot, gently tease out the roots, and place it in the new pot with fresh soil.

How tall can a Devil’s Backbone plant grow?

Devil’s Backbone plants can reach heights of up to 5 feet. To maintain its shape, lightly trim the plant back in late winter. Prune any problem branches or dead/damaged stems and leaves as needed.

Can I grow a Devil’s Backbone plant indoors?

Yes, Devil’s Backbone plants can be grown indoors. They thrive in bright indirect sunlight and can tolerate low humidity levels. Choose a draft-free location for the plant as it does not tolerate cold breezes.

Are Devil’s Backbone plants easy to care for?

Yes, Devil’s Backbone plants are easy to care for. They are drought-tolerant and require minimal maintenance. As long as you provide them with the right amount of sunlight, water, and occasional pruning, they will thrive in your home.

Can I use Devil’s Backbone plant for medicinal purposes?

Devil’s Backbone plants have been traditionally used in medicine for treating cuts, burns, stomachaches, and skin conditions. The plant’s sap contains compounds with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. However, it is important to note that you should consult a medical professional before using any plant for medicinal purposes.