devils backbone plant

Devil’s backbone plant has such a fresh and distinctive look that it is added to the collection of houseplants for accent. This plant, if well cared for, will brighten up a corner of your home, especially in the blooming season.

In general, taking care of the devil’s backbone plant is not too difficult as this is not a fragile plant. However, it’s vital to understand its needs like soil, soil pH levels, etc., to keep the devil’s backbone plant healthy and produce the most beautiful flowers.

Keep reading to learn more about the care process.

What Is A Devil’s Backbone Plant?


Devil’s backbone plant is also known as redbird flower, zigzag plant, or fiddle flower. The botanical name of this plant is Euphorbia Tithymaloides, but it used to be called Pedilanthus Tithymaloides in the past.

Even though this plant lives in the American tropics, it normally stays hardy and grows well in USDA zone nine to ten. The most common size is around two feet, but sometimes, it can even grow up to three feet when reaching maturity time.

People choose the devil’s backbone plant as a houseplant because it does not need constant daily care. Moreover, this plant also has a fresh and green look to cool our house. The leaves are lance-shaped, and the flowers can appear in different colors like white, red, and pink.

To keep the best shape of this plant, you need to put it in an area with enough sunlight, or it will gradually lean forward to the direction of the sunlight and lose the up straight look. A really important thing to keep in mind is that the devil’s backbone plant’s sap is poisonous for humans and animals. For this reason, people who have children or playful animals should consider putting this plant out of their sight or choosing another plant instead.

Detailed Description Of Devil’s Backbone Plant

Common Nameredbird flower, devils backbone plant, zigzag plant, fiddle flower
Scientific NameEuphorbia Tithymaloides (used to be known as Pedilanthus Tithymaloides)
Original LocationsTropical Central and North America, Subtropical Central, and North America
Type of PlantTropical Succulent
Hardiness ZonesUSDA zone 9 to 10
Type of Soilwell-drained, nutrition-rich, not too acidic
Sun ExposureIndirect sunlight, lot of sunlight
Blooming TimeSummer
Soil’s pH Levelfrom 6.1 to 7.8
SizeAround 2 to 3 feet (60 cm to 91 cm)
Flower ColorsPink, White, Red
WarningThis plant’s sap is toxic for both humans and animals

How To Grow the Devil’s Backbone Plant?

Short-Term Caring

Like we mentioned early on, taking care of the devils backbone plant is not exhausting. However, you need to follow a few rules to keep the plant alive, stay healthy, and give the best look possible.

One of the most important needs of the devils backbone plant is sunlight. If your space doesn’t get too much sunlight, this plant will only endure for a certain amount of time.

However, the devil’s backbone will eventually grow and lean toward the light’s side and lose its attractive straight look. So, we recommend you pick a location with enough sunlight to keep it in.

Besides the light, water is also a vital element for this plant. As the devil’s backbone can live well for a long time without water, people might forget that it also needs water when the soil becomes too dry. Without enough water, the plant will drop its leaves, starting with the lower ones first.

This tropical plant can be a good fit for busy people as it does not need pruning to grow properly. Unless you want to shape the plant in a certain way, you can prune it. Fertilization is not even needed. But if you want the plant to grow faster, you can enrich its soil once or twice a year.

Long-Term Caring

Devil’s backbone plants often do not need pruning or fertilizing, but you should consider these cares for the plant after three years. You can do it by adding fertilizer to the soil, put it in an unglazed pot to avoid rotting the root. You can also cut off unnecessary leaves or branches to keep the plant in good shape.

What Are The Factors To Care When Growing Devil’s Backbone Plant?

Size and Growth

Devils backbone plants do not grow fast and need several years to reach mature size. When the plant is still growing and not mature yet, its leaves can be not so thick. If you want to speed up the growing time, a reasonable amount of fertilizer will help.

Flowering & Fragrance

The flowers of this tropical plant are small in size and can come in a variety of colors, such as white, red, or pink. Unlike most flowers, the flowers of this plant do not have any scent.


Devils backbone plants can grow under direct, indirect, or low sunlight levels. However, it would help if you put it in a bright place but with indirect sunlight to have the best form.

Temperature & Humidity

Similar to other tropical plants, devil’s backbone plants also need both moisture and the right temperature. The best temperature for it is around 60°F to 70°F. The plants can live in a little bit hotter or colder temperatures, but you need to take it inside if the weather is too cold in the winter.


The soil used for devils backbone plants should not be too wet or dry. You can add some sand and a little bit of peat moss to the solid to keep the soil wet enough. A pot with a drainage hole is also helpful for draining excess water.


Do not give too much water to this plant because too much water can negatively affect the plant, especially the root. Only give it more water when the soil is too dry or when you see the lower leaves are falling.


It is not required to add fertilizers to this plant often, but you can give it a little bit in the blooming season – summer. In winter and autumn, stop fertilizing it.


Pruning is not a must for this plant. You can only do it to cut the branches and leaves you do not want.

How To Propagate And Repot Devil’s Backbone Plant?


To propagate properly, cut a one-inch stem that does not have flowers. The best time to do this is in summer.


Repotting should be considered after three years as the roots already at this point have become larger. The new pot needs to be roomy enough for the entire base to fit in.

What Are The Common Pests and Diseases On Devil’s Backbone Plants?

As the devil’s backbone plant is poisonous, most pests do not target it. However, you might have an issue with mites. To remove the mites, you can clean the affected leaves with some moistened cotton balls. If there is mildew in the leaves, dip a small cloth in diluted vinegar and clean the leaves.

Final Thoughts

Devil’s backbone plant can be a good houseplant for decoration if you give it enough crucial care.

To help the plant grow well and achieve the best form, ensure you always check different elements like sunlight, water, moisture, fertilizers, and more. If all of these factors are properly given to the plant, it will give you more beautiful flowers in summer and an all-year fresh look.

Last Updated on March 25, 2022 by admin