All About Devil’s Backbone

Devil's Backbone leaves

Pedilanthus Tithymaloides

Devil’s Backbone, scientifically known as Pedilanthus tithymaloides, is an intriguing plant that captures attention with its unique features and minimal maintenance requirements. This versatile species, distinguished by its zigzag-shaped stems and attractive foliage, adds a touch of elegance to any indoor or outdoor setting.

Whether you’re an experienced plant enthusiast or just starting your green journey, this article will provide you with valuable insights into Devil’s Backbone. From its origins to optimal growing conditions, join us as we delve into the world of this captivating plant and discover how to care for it effectively.

Large Devil's Backbone plant

How To Care For Devil’s Backbone

Devil’s Backbone is native from Florida to Venezuela and grows naturally in Zones 9 and 10.

Water when the soil is dry.

Devil’s Backbone grows best in bright, indirect light, but can tolerate anything from full shade to full sun.

Full shade to bright indirect light

will grow full, deep green leaves. If it is in full sun the leaves will be smaller and turn pink.

If you move the plant into full sun it needs to be moved slowly over a month to avoid causing it to go into shock or get sunburned.

Use a commercial cactus mix for potting or create your own potting mix by combining regular potting soil and perlite.

This plant tolerates all humidity levels

Fertilize every three months during the growing season with Green Grub Insect Frass. You can either make a compost tea to water with or sprinkle a layer of fertilizer on top of the soil.

Care Summary

Devil's Backbone Cuttings

How to Propagate Devil’s Backbone

Devil’s Backbone is a really easy plant to propagate! The best time to trim these plants is in the spring or early summer. You can cut them all the way back and there are several different things you can do with the cuttings:

1. Plant the cuttings directly back into the soil of your Devil’s

Backbone to make a fuller plant. If you do this you will need to keep the soil moist to stimulate root growth.

2. Put the cuttings in a jar full of water and sit it on a window that gets good sun. They will continue growing and the roots will grow out as you watch. You can keep them like this for as long as you need to make an existing plant more full or to start a new plant! When the jar gets low on water just pour some more in.

3. Put the cuttings in a new pot to make a new plant. If you’re going to start a new plant from cuttings you can use a soilless cutting mix or perlite and coconut coir for potting. Make sure to keep the soil moist to stimulate root growth. Once roots have been established move to watering less and less.

Common Problems with Devil’s Backbone and Simple Solutions

Overwatering: One of the most common issues faced by Devil’s Backbone is overwatering. This can lead to root rot and yellowing leaves.

Solution: Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Stick your finger about an inch deep into the soil, and if it feels dry, it’s time to water. Ensure proper drainage by using well-draining soil and pots with drainage holes.

Insufficient Light: Devil’s Backbone thrives in bright, indirect light, but low light conditions can cause leggy growth and pale foliage.

Solution: Place your plant in a location that receives bright, indirect sunlight for a few hours each day. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves. If you have limited natural light, consider using artificial grow lights to supplement.

Pests: Devil’s Backbone is occasionally susceptible to pests like aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites, which can cause damage and hinder growth.

Solution: Regularly inspect your plant for signs of pests, such as webbing, sticky residue, or distorted leaves. Treat the infestation by gently wiping the leaves with a damp cloth or using insecticidal soap. For severe cases, consult with your local garden center for appropriate treatments.

Temperature Sensitivity: Devil’s Backbone is sensitive to extreme temperature fluctuations and cold drafts, which can lead to leaf drop and stunted growth.

Solution: Keep your plant away from cold drafts and maintain a consistent temperature between 60°F and 80°F (15°C to 27°C). Avoid placing it near heaters, air conditioning vents, or open windows during chilly weather.

Nutrient Deficiency: Inadequate fertilization can result in pale or yellow leaves and poor overall growth.

Solution: Feed your Devil’s Backbone with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted according to the package instructions. Apply the fertilizer every two to four weeks during the growing season, typically spring and summer. Be careful not to over-fertilize, as it can damage the plant.

By being aware of these common problems and implementing these simple solutions, you can ensure the health and vitality of your Devil’s Backbone plant. With proper care and attention, this fascinating plant will thrive and bring joy to your indoor or outdoor space.

Purchase your own Devil’s Backbone here: Devil’s Backbone

Purchase Devil’s Backbone Cuttings here: Devil’s Background Cuttings



We are here to spread our love of houseplants! There are many different varieties of plants that we keep in our homes. All of them with different needs and preferences. This blog is to share our knowledge about all kinds of houseplants and help people care for their own plants.

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