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Euphorbia tithymaloides 'Variegatus' – Variegated Devil's Backbone


Scientific Name

Euphorbia tithymaloides 'Variegatus'

Common Names

Variegated Devil's Backbone, Japanese Poinsettia, Slipper Spurge, Redbird Cactus


Euphorbia tithymaloides f. variegata, Pedilanthus tithymaloides 'Variegatus'

Scientific Classification

Family: Euphorbiaceae
Subfamily: Euphorbioideae
Tribe: Euphorbieae
Subtribe: Euphorbiinae
Genus: Euphorbia


Euphorbia tithymaloides 'Variegatus' is a popular, erect, perennial, succulent spurge up to 8 feet (2.4 m) tall and up to 24 inches (60 cm) wide. The leave are oval, slightly glossy, variegated, medium green and white edged. They flank the zigzag stems to resemble a crooked backbone with ribs. Although flowering in flushes year round in warm tropical regions, it blooms most heavily in summer. At the tip of the stems, small, starry, red flowers protrude from a cluster of reddish bracts (modified leaves). When flowering or chilly winter temperatures occur, the leaves may blush pink. An extended drought or winter cold spell may cause the leaves to completely drop off.

Euphorbia tithymaloides 'Variegatus' - Variegated Devil's Backbone

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USDA hardiness zone 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. They 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 they cannot tolerant 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 with a half-strength fertilizer monthly.

Euphorbia can be grown from seed, but they can be difficult to germinate (or even find). It is 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… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Euphorbia


Garden origin.


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