Monday, November 25, 2013

Houseplant of the Week: Devil's Backbone

They say the devil's in the details and it would seem to be so with this week's plant, Devil's backbone.   The really cool thing about it is the way its stems zigzag back and forth, doing so each time it grows a new leaf.  That's what first attracted me to it, but I also like it because it's super easy to grow.  There are variegated leaf varieties that are especially nice.

Photo: Costa Farms


Common Name: Devil's backbone, Zig zag plant, Slipper spurge
Botanical Name: Euphorbia tithymaloides (formerly Pedilanthus tithymaloides)
USDA Hardiness zones: 9-11
Size: 1' - 3' tall and about 1' wide
Light Requirements: High
Water Requirements: Low to average (do not overwater).  Let dry out between watering. 
Soil Requirements: Well-drained
Flower: Small red flowers at the tips of the stems. 
General Description: This is a poinsettia relative and likes similar growing conditions, although it's much easier to grow, in my opinion.  It is a native of tropical areas in North and Central America, including Florida.  When used there as an outdoor plant, it is drought tolerant, once established.  Inside, it may not bloom, but the interest is in the quirky stems anyway.  It has a smaller footprint, due to its upright habit, making it suitable for small spaces.

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