Euphorbia tithymaloides: Guide To Care Devil’s-Backbone plant

Euphorbia tithymaloides

Care and Propagation of Euphorbia Tithymaloides.

Euphorbia Tithymaloides, also known as the Devil’s Backbone, is a succulent plant found in Southern Africa. The name “devil’s backbone” comes from the plant’s spiny appearance, which resembles a spinal zigzag column. In 1887, Norwegian botanist Vahl named this plant Euphorbias Tithymaloides after a Greek word meaning “fiery spine.”

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malpighiales
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Genus: Euphorbia
Species: E. tithymaloides

Euphorbia tithymaloides have a history of use in traditional medicine in South Africa, where they were used as an antidote for snake venom. In addition, this houseplant was used as a dye to colorfabrics in the past. Euphorbia tithymaloides can be found growing along roads and in dunes, as well as on rocky outcrops. It grows to about 4 inches (10 cm) in height and has thick, woody stems that support a large number of small, oval-shaped leaves. The leaves are greenish-yellow in color. The plant blooms from June to July with reddish-purple flowers.

Pedilanthus tithymaloides


Table Of Contents show


This devil’s-backbone  dates back to the time of the Phoenicians, who traded the plants for other items. However, the first known reference to Euphorbia tithymaloides was made by the Greek author Dioscorides, who described the plant as a source of dye in his book “De Materia Medica.” written sometime around A.D. 70.

Habitat & Range.

Conversely, Euphorbia tithymaloides is not found in the North American range of the species, but in the wild, it grows in southern Africa (especially on rocky outcrops). It is most common in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. This is the most northern place the plant grows naturally in South Africa. The species is also known to grow in arid environments. 

Euphorbia Tithymaloides Care.

The Euphorbia Tithymaloides does not like to be left in water, but it can tolerate damp conditions. If you notice that the leaves are turning yellow, make sure to water the plant and feed it more often. It is crucial to keep the soil moist but not wet at all times. It requires a temperature of at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can tolerate temperatures up to 85 degrees. The plant does not like it if the soil is dry. You need to water the plant at least once a week.

Devil's Backbone

Tips for growing Euphorbia tithymaloides

Variegata Euphorbia Tithymaloides Benefits:

This succulent is used in traditional medicine in South Africa to treat snake venom, although it is not currently used for this purpose.

Euphorbia tithymaloides

This plant contains several chemicals that are thought to have similar properties to the chemical found in the latex of the rubber tree, which is a popular treatment for snake bites in the United States. The leaves of the plant contain an alkaloid known as kokusaginin. Kokusaginin is believed to be an antivenom, and it is also a potent antioxidant. Also, thisplant is said to improve digestion, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress.

Devil’s backbone plant losing leaves:

The Devil’s Backbone plant loses leaves when they become too old or damaged. This happens when the plant becomes stressed or when the plant is cut down. 

If you notice that the plant’s leaves are turning yellow, it may be a sign of nutrient deficiency. You can take care of this by adding fertilizer or plant food to the soil and watering the plant regularly.

Devils backbone plant varieties:

If you are looking to plant the devil’s-backbone as a gardener, there are three main types of Euphorbia tithymaloides:

  1. Variegata, which has leaves with a white pattern.
  2. Pulcherrima, which has red-purple leaves.
  3. A hybrid called the “flaming” type.

The flaming type has a mixture of leaves with colors like pink, purple, yellow, and orange. 

Other names for this plant include “devil’s backbone” which comes from the plant’s spiny appearance, which resembles a spinal column.

In a Field

Planting Devil’s backbone (euphorbia tithymaloides) plant outdoors:

When planting Euphorbia tithymaloides, make sure you are planting it in an area with full sun exposure. This succulent needs full sun to thrive. It will also benefit from plenty of light throughout the day and will do best in well-draining soil. If it is planted in heavy soil, it will be prone to rotting, wilting and may need to be fertilized more often than other plants.

The plant is not very cold-hardy and is best grown in areas with a Mediterranean climate. It will tolerate temperatures of about 50 degrees F. However, if the temperature drops below 55 degrees F, the plant will struggle. Therefore, it is best to keep the garden or container indoors during the winter months.

Outdoors planting tips!!!!

1. Choose an area that receives full sun exposure.

2. Dig a hole that is twice as deep as the diameter of the root ball.

3. Set the plant in the hole.

4. Fill the hole with good-quality, fast-draining soil, such as organic matter.

5. Water well to allow for good drainage.

6. Prune to keep the plant in check.

7. Fertilize when the soil needs it, usually in spring.

8. Keep the soil moist but not wet.

9. Prune again in the summer.

10. Water more frequently in the summer.

How do I care for my Devil’s Backbone plant?

As a gardener, if you’ve had success growing this plant indoors, it may be a good idea to try growing it outdoors.  However, if you are not used to outdoor gardening, it may be better to start with a small indoor garden

You can also give the plant a little bit of shade from direct sunlight. If you notice that the leaves are turning yellow, make sure to water the plant and feed it more often.  It is vital to keep the soil moist, but not wet, at all times. The first time the plant flowers, cut it back by about 1/3 to 2/3 of its original height.

Devil's Backbone - Euphorbia tithymaloides

Fertilizing and Feeding. 

Devils Backbone plant fertilizers: 

Most people like to fertilize their Devil’s Backbone plant with a fertilizer that includes nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and trace minerals. These are all essential nutrients that help plants grow. If you want to know what nutrients are in a Devil’s Backbone plant fertilizer, here is what you need to know:

  • Nitrogen: The main element in this fertilizer is nitrogen. Nitrogen helps promote strong, healthy leaves, flowers, and fruits. It also helps plants grow more quickly.
  • Phosphorus: The second most important nutrient in this fertilizer is phosphorus. Phosphorus is vital for the health of the root system of the plant. It also helps to prevent diseases and pests from attacking the plant.
  • Potassium: The third most crucial nutrient in this fertilizer is potassium. Alternatively, you may feed your plant with an organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen, such as bat guano or manure. The best time to fertilize is when you notice that the plant has produced new growth. Remember always to use a fertilizer that is designed for plants. 

Where can I find Devil’s Backbone plant?

The plant is easy to grow and can be found at nurseries. You can also order it online.

Cultivation & Propagation:

It is essential to know that the Euphorbia Tithymaloides grow best in well-drained soil. It also requires a lot of light to grow. To grow the Euphorbia Tithymaloides in the ground, you need to have a sunny location. The best time to plant this succulent is in the fall. However, you can plant it in the spring and summer as well. The best method to propagate the plant is through cuttings.

Devil's Backbone Closeup

This plant needs to be planted in a pot filled with a mixture of half-and-half and peat moss. It is vital to keep the pots moist but not wet at all times. If you notice that the leaves are turning yellow, make sure to water the plant and feed it more often. It needs a temperature of at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can tolerate temperatures up to 85 degrees.

Sowing and Germination.

Plant in the spring or fall. However, the best time to plant this succulent in the garden is in the fall. 

To start the seeds:

  1. Soak them in water for two to three days.
  2. Place the seeds on a damp paper towel.
  3. Keep them in a warm area, but not direct sunlight.
  4. Once the seeds have germinated, transfer them to a pot filled with a mixture of half-and-half and peat moss.
  5. Cover the pot with a plastic dome, but don’t cover it with soil.

The best time to transplant the Euphorbia Tithymaloides is after it has produced a couple of leaves. When it is time to plant the plants outside, make sure to water them thoroughly. As long as they have good drainage, they will be able to thrive outside.

Devil's Backbone Euphorbia tithymaloides - Plant

Light & Temperature: 

This plant needs full sun to grow well. It also needs at least six hours of sunlight every day. In addition, it can tolerate temperatures up to 85 degrees. The plant does not like temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or it will start to wilt and die.

Soil & Transplanting:

The best type of soil for this plant is loam and sand. It also does best when it is planted in partial shade but can tolerate full sun. It would be best if you did not plant this succulent in a place exposed to direct sunlight, especially during the hot summer months.

Flowering & Growth:

This plant produces a single flower stalk and one or two flowers. Several sepals surround each flower.

Is Devil’s Backbone plant poisonous?

Unquestionably, no!  The plant contains no toxic substances. It is very beneficial to humans.  However, it is possible that if you eat the plant or apply its leaves to your skin, it may cause skin irritation.

Devils Backbone plant pests and diseases:

The most common pest that attacks the Devil’s Backbone plant is aphids. Aphids eat the leaves of the plant, causing them to wilt and turn yellow. When you notice this, you can spray the plant with insecticidal soap to kill the aphids. The soap works by releasing a chemical that kills insects that eat the soap. Other pests that attack the Devil’s Backbone plant include whiteflies, spider mites, thrips, slugs, and ants.

Medicinal use of the Devil’s Backbone plant 

Uses for the Devil’s Backbone plant. It has been used as a decoration in some countries for hundreds of years. Also, it has also been used as a herbal remedy for skin ailments and also used in the treatment of arthritis, coughs, and bronchitis. In fact, in South Africa, the plant is considered to be a natural remedy for diabetes.

Devil's Backbone Leaves


This succulent is a popular addition to any gardenbecause of its stunning foliage. It is an excellent choice for areas that are shaded. It is an excellent ground cover for the patio or as a small edging shrub in the front or back of your home. It is also a good choice for a rockery or water feature. There are several varieties of this succulent, so you can pick the one that you like best. You can choose from plants that grow up to two feet in height or those that grow up to four feet. This plant is extremely easy to grow, and it takes very little time to establish.

Similar Posts