Zig-Zag Plant

Pedilanthus tithymaloides is also known as the Zig-Zag Plant for obvious reasons, but did you know that another name for it is the Devil’s Backbone? Maybe because it’s poisonous?

It’s in the Euphorbia family (Euphorbiaceae) and recently some have tried to eliminate the entire genus of Pedilanthus and move all the poor unattended species into Euphorbia proper. But that will not work with me! The Euphorbia genus is already large enough that it doesn’t need to completely subsume this nice Caribbean species too.

We find these to be semi-hardy here in Northern California if you have it in a protected spot. Generally that means it’s hardy to about 32F. Indoor it’s prone to spider mites, so I recommend keeping it dry. But then it grows outdoor in hotter and more humid locations, so clearly I don’t know enough about this species. All I know is what I’ve seen with my own two eyes – spider mites indoors! Fewer spider mites when kept dry.

As for sun – they do best with very bright all day light, and some direct morning sun. But they can handle a full day blast of hot sun too, although I recommend afternoon shade if it’s getting over 95F regularly where you live. Why do I recommend this? After all, I don’t live where it gets that hot. It just seems like the right thing to do for a plant that grows prettiest without afternoon sun here at the coast.

  Cactus and Succulents
  Carnivorous Plants

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October 2023

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