Variegated Devil’s Backbone (Euphorbia tithymaloides ‘Variegatus’) is an erect, perennial, succulent spurge grows up to 8 feet tall and up to 60 cm wide. The leave is 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.
Scientific Name: Euphorbia tithymaloides ‘Variegatus’
Synonyms: Euphorbia tithymaloides f. variegata, Pedilanthus tithymaloides ‘Variegatus’.
Common Names: Variegated Devil’s Backbone, Japanese Poinsettia, Slipper Spurge, Redbird Cactus.
How to grow and maintain the Variegated Devil’s Backbone:
It prefers full to partial sunlight. Provides good sunlight at least 3-5 hours of the day, and turn it regularly so that your plant doesn’t begin to grow lopsided.
It grows well in well-draining, gritty soil or cactus potting mix. They are not particular about soil pH, but they cannot tolerate wet soil.
You can allow the soil to dry out between each watering. Before watering the plant check underneath the pot through the drainage holes to see if the roots are dry. If so then add some water. Do not water too often to prevent overwatering, that can potentially kill it off.
It prefers an optimal temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit – 85 degrees Fahrenheit / 16 degrees Celsius to 29 degrees Celsius.
Fertilize every two weeks with a diluted balanced liquid fertilizer during its growing season in the spring and summer. Avoid fertilizing your plant during the fall and winter months.
It can be easily propagated by cuttings. Take cutting in spring, which needs to be dried out for a couple of weeks in shade before potting. This can be tricky, because of the exuding sap. Rooting hormone is recommended with Euphorbias. Also can be propagated from seed, but they can be difficult to germinate.
Pests and Diseases:
Euphorbia may be susceptible to mealy bugs, scale insects, occasionally spider mites.