Euphorbia tithymaloides L.
Devil's Backbone, Japanese Poinsettia, Redbird Flower, Slipper Flower, Zig Zag Plant,
Pedilanthus tithymaloides, Tithymalus tithymaloides, Euphorbia tithymaloides subsp. tithymaloides,
Euphorbia tithymaloides, formerly known as Pedilanthus tithymaloides, is an erect succulent shrub with simple green leaves arranged alternately on green branches with a zigzag shape. It grows up to 8 feet (2.4 m ) tall, branching profusely from the base. Leaves are smooth with midrib and 7 to 9 pairs of lateral veins and entire to slightly wavy margins. They are ovate, pointed at the tip, up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) long and 2 inches (5 cm) wide. The branches terminate in dichotomous cymes, with a peduncle supporting each flower. The floral leaves are bifid and ovate, while the involucral bracts are bright red, irregularly acuminate in shape, with a long, thin tube. The male pedicel is hairy, while the female is glabrous. Flowers generally appear in mid-spring.
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Euphorbias are very easy to care for. These plants require a little pampering to become established, but once they are, they are self-sufficient. In fact, more die from too much care and watering than from neglect. Euphorbias need well-draining soil and lots of sunlight. They are not particular about soil pH but cannot tolerate wet soil. Unlike most succulents, Euphorbia does not handle long periods of drought well. It may need weekly watering during the summer. Water whenever the soil is dry several inches below the surface. Water deeply, but don't let them sit in wet soil, which can cause root rot. Add some organic matter or fertilizer to the planting hole. If you are growing them in containers or your soil is poor, feed them with a half-strength fertilizer monthly.
These succulents can be grown from seed, but they can be difficult to germinate (or even find). They are usually propagated by cuttings. This can be tricky because of the exuding sap. Rooting hormone is recommended with Euphorbias. They tend to grow problem-free, but there are a few pests and diseases to be alert for.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia.
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