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Devil’s Backbone Plant: The Perfect Addition to Your House Plants Collection


Houseplants are a pleasant source to keep city dwellers busy. You need a foot-shaped flower in your house if you have a green thumb! Pun intended!

We’re talking about none other than the Devil’s Backbone plant, although there’s nothing devilish about it. It’s quite the opposite!

Devil’s Backbone plant is a type of perennial succulent. The scientific name of this Plant is Pedilanthus Tithymaloides which means “foot-shaped flower.” Thus, it is also known as a Shoe Flower. There are many Devil’s Backbone plant benefits.

It is native to Florida and Venezuela and has also been spotted in southeast Brazil. This plant also grows in tropical rock gardens and has thousands of varieties ranging from small succulents to tall trees. You can expand the Devil’s backbone plant for many medicinal uses.

If you’re still wondering about the name, Devil’s Backbone plant consists of tall, fleshy stems and short shoe-shaped green and white leaves that develop a rosy blush tint during the hotter months.

It also produces purple beak-shaped inflorescence flowers in late spring to early summer. But the Devil’s Backbone Plant does not usually bloom in indoor conditions.

If you have a thing for vibrant flowers, you can plant them in the open or get a plant that blooms indoors. The Devil’s backbone plant is poisonous to humans. You should consider Devil’s backbone plant care before growing it.

Apart from producing flowers, they can be quickly grown indoors for most of the year. Being a succulent plant, it is deficient in maintenance and does not require regular grooming and pruning. Keep reading this article to learn more about this plant and how to grow it in your home!

Features of Devil’s Backbone Plant 

Here is an overview of the Devil’s Backbone plant: 

Origin Americas to Mexico 
Scientific Name Euphorbia tithy maloides, Pedilanthus tithymaloides
Common NamesShoe plant, Devil’s backbone plant, zigzag plant, mystery plant 
Temperature60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit
WateringRegularly water to keep the soil moderately moist (moist soil not soggy)
LightBright Indirect light (partial shade)
HumidityLow humidity 
ToxicityClassified as a toxic plant
PropagationPropagation through stem cutting and root division
FloweringWhite, red, and pinkish flowers in bloom time (March-May)
Maximum Size5 feet tall and width 30 inches or more

How to Propagate a Devil’s Backbone Plant

You can grow new Devil’s backbone plants by using root cuttings. The whole propagation time—from taking a cutting to transplanting the new plant—will take about two months. To propagate a new plant, follow these steps:

Take a cutting

Take a cutting about four inches in length from a piece of new growth stem on your Devil’s backbone plant in the spring or early summer. Take the clean and sterilized scissors and cut the plant between leaves.

Allow the cutting to dry

After that, Leave the cutting undisturbed on a windowsill or a counter for a few days so the cut end scabs over.

Plant the stem cutting

Then dip the cut end in rooting hormone if you want before planting the cutting in the well-draining potting soil of succulent mix and perlite. Before you attempt to transfer it to a new container, allow the stem to develop a new root system.

How To Take Care of The Devil’s Backbone Plant?

Devil’s Backbone plant is very tolerating as it favors moderate sunlight, watering, and temperature levels. Hence, you can grow it indoors where the temperature range is reasonable. However, just like every plant, it also requires a little love and cares to thrive, for which you should take care of the following factors:


This plant prefers indirect bright light to grow indoors. If you want this plant to blossom in summers, move the pot outside where it will get bright light but remember not to put it in direct sun, or else the leaves will burn. Here is a complete guide on How Much Light Does Your Plant Need?


When placed indoors, you must water this plant regularly, like 2-3 times a week. Make sure you allow the plant’s soil to dry before watering again. Spray the leaves to prevent dryness if you live in dry conditions and to remove dust. Don’t overwater because this can lead to root rot.


Devil’s Backbone plant is a tropical succulent that requires low or moderate humidity. So, you won’t have much to do in this department. Also, you can gain more information here about What is High Humidity and How to Increase Humidity for Your Houseplants.


Devil’s backbone will thrive in low to moderate temperatures between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to take good care of this plant, please don’t expose this plant to drafts and heating vents.


As the Devil’s Backbone is a succulent plant, a well-draining potting soil will be ideal to keep it thriving.


Feeding a plant is essential as plants are also living things and require nutrition. If you want your Devil’s Backbone plant to blossom, feed this plant with liquid fertilizer monthly during the active growth period.

Maintenance and Grooming

For such plants, pinch out the tips of the plant occasionally. Pinching the tips helps persuade thicker growth. Besides pinching, plants need no particular grooming tasks.

Let’s look at Jacob’s Ladder Care Tips; what To Do Month by Month.


Devil’s backbone plant rests during winter, so you need to water sparingly. Do not fertilize. Provide the plant with as much bright light as possible.


Then start to water more and start feeding every 3-4 weeks. Keep the plants in plenty of bright lighting, even some direct sun. Be careful with more intense sunlight in spring which can scorch leaves.


Provide an abundance of bright light and lots of water. Don’t add fertilizer near the end of July. It is the perfect time to start new plants from cuttings.


At this time, slow down on watering as Jacob’s ladder prepares for its winter rest.

Potting and Repotting Devil’s backbone plant

You can repot your plant every three to five years or as needed in a rich houseplant mix with plenty of sand. It helps to increase drainage. It would also help if you soiled for a potting mix that includes perlite to help with water drainage and air circulation around the roots.

You must repot your Devil’s Backbone every 2 or 3 years to avoid diseases and rot. A pot with drainage holes is a good pick for the plant to stay healthy and grow. Here are step-by-step instructions for Repot Your Plant in 15 Minutes Max.

You can use unglazed pots, which allow excess moisture to evaporate and prevent wet root damage freely. If you don’t look after plants, they may get up to 5 feet (1.5 m.) in height.

Enhancing the Look of Your Home with Devils Backbone Plant

Plants make any space look zen and refreshing. They have always been a massive element of interior design. Similarly, the Devil’s Backbone plant is fun and easy to keep, with the slipper-shaped leaves of this plant giving out a cute look.

So, get ready to add some shoe-shaped greenery to your home!

Here are some valuable tips and hacks on where to place this houseplant in your home:

Fill an Empty Corner

If you place this plant in the corner of a room, its fleshy stems and slipper-shaped leaves will give an aesthetic look. Make sure you get a taller grown plant to fill up the corner.

Place on Window Sill

Add a cute little pot of Devil’s Backbone plant to your window sill. The green and white leaves will add dimension and color to your dull window.

Keep Wherever You Like

Devil’s backbone is a versatile plant that can be placed anywhere. That’s great about plants; they fit into any space and design aesthetic. The dark green leaves of this plant are so beautiful that they would add a fresh and natural look anywhere you want to keep them.

Get Colorful Baskets 

Even though the Devil’s Backbone plant itself is enough, if you want to take it up a notch, pot it in a colorful basket. It will add a more creative look to your home.

Put It on A Stool

You can also put it on a white or black stool in a corner; the dark green and white leaves in a plain pot and stool would look great together in any corner of your living room.

Shelf it Up 

Place pots of different succulents like the Devil’s Backbone on floating shelves or bookshelves.

There are many other ways to decorate with plants, but for now, this is all you need to set up your house with the Devil’s Backbone!

Common Plant Diseases Associated with Devil’s Backbone Plant 

Every living being is susceptible to diseases and illnesses. Here are some conditions and issues associated with the Devil’s Backbone plant:

Burning and Root Rot

Too much sunlight can burn the leaves while overwatering the plant will cause root rot. Cold Injury can also occur when the temperature is freezing. It will cause yellowing leaves, and the plant may die.


This plant often gets mild powdery mildew, creating a white powder covering the stems, leaves, and flowers. To prevent this, don’t place the plants close together and remove the infected part right away.


When it comes to the Devil’s Backbone plant, you will need to worry about scale insects and pests. They are small bumps that appear on the leaves. You can easily wipe them off with clean damp cotton or alcohol swabs. Also, look out for spider mites, especially if the plant has turned dull.

Benefits of having Devil’s Backbone Plant in Your Home 

Here are some astounding benefits of having the Devil’s Backbone in your home:

Low Maintenance 

Devil’s Backbone plant is a super strong plant that does not die very quickly. They are pretty undemanding, and even if you don’t care for them a lot, they’ll shine as bright as a star. However, unlike other plants, this plant offers meager resistance to pests.

Air Purifier

Having a Devil’s Backbone in your home is like having an air-purifying machine. It will remove toxins like toluene, benzene, and formaldehyde from the air. If you’re a non-smoker and live with someone who smokes, this plant will purify the cigarette smoke air for you!

Medicinal Plant

The healing property of the Devil’s Backbone is well studied in Ayurveda. It works as a bone mender and helps in repairing tendons and ligaments. It also cures joint pain and inflammation and prevents osteoporosis.


This plant is a tough succulent plant that can adapt and survive in most environments. Its ability to grow in low sunlight, humidity, and water conditions has made it increasingly popular over time.

Risks of Devil’s Backbone Plant for Humans and Pets

For Humans

It would be hard to guess, but Devil’s Backbone is a toxic plant. If ingested by humans, it can cause vomiting, kidney problems, heartache, and respiratory problems. Exposure to the plant’s sap for a very long time can cause mild skin irritation, bloodshot eyes, Conjunctivitis, blindness, watery eyes, itchiness, and a burning sensation in some people.

For Pets

This plant is also toxic for pets like dogs and cats; if they swallow the leaves, it can cause them to vomit, drool, or have problems swallowing.

How to Prevent Risks?

To prevent ingestion risks, keep the Devil’s Backbone plant where it is out of reach of children and pets. You can place it on a stool, on a shelf, or hang it on a wall. In case of ingestion, seek medical advice as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Devil’s Backbone plant poisonous?

Yes, it is poisonous. The leaves and roots of Devil’s Backbone are toxic and can cause gastrointestinal problems and even death if ingested.

Can Devil’s Backbone plants be planted indoors?

Better not to. It’s not recommended to grow a devil’s backbone indoors. It’s a tropical plant that tolerates bright light but grows best in sunny, warm, and humid conditions. The leaves can get scorched if the plant is placed in a location that receives a lot of sunlight.

Because of the invasive roots and delicate leaves, it can be challenging to maintain the plant’s health. But it’s still possible to grow the Devil’s Backbone indoors if you are vigilant about its care and watering needs.

Can you propagate the Devil’s Backbone plant in water?

Devil’s backbone can be propagated in water. The roots are the part of the plant you will put in water, then add some soil or sand on top of the roots and put it in a pot with water.

Keep changing the water until the roots are good and healthy. Then you can plant them in your garden.

Note: Devils backbone is a perennial plant that does not need to be replanted yearly. It will keep growing for many years if well taken care of.


Add the Devil’s Backbone plant to the collection of your houseplants. It is an affordable, low-maintenance plant with many great benefits for your home. Its dark green and white rick rack foliage will look super attractive and give your home a great look. So, get a Devil’s Backbone plant to add greenery and fresh vibes to your home for all the plant-enthusiasts out there!”

Written by Chris Buckland

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