Devil’s Backbone Plant (zigzag plant)
The devil’s backbone plant (also known as zigzag plant, pedilanthus) is a pleasure to grow, despite its common name. In general, the shrub grows to a height of 1.8 to 2.4 meters and is about 45 to 60 cm wide. Located oppositely on the stem, the leaf is a simple angiosperm leaf. About 35 to 75 mm in length, each leaf is sessile (attached directly to the plant). Glabrous leaves are acuminate and smooth, with entire edges. Pedilanthus Tithymaloides are pinnately veined.
The root is well known for its emetic properties. Tea has been used in folk medicine for treating asthma, persistent coughing, laryngitis, mouth ulcers, and venereal disease using leaves brewed from the plant. A variety of skin conditions have been treated with latex, including calluses, earache, insect bites, ringworm, skin cancer, toothache, and umbilical hernias.
Classification Devil’s Backbone Plant
Scientific Name Pedilanthus Tithymaloides
Common Name zigzag plant, Devil’s Backbone
Plant Type Houseplant
Sun Requirements Full sun to partial shade
Soil well-drained potting soils
Soil pH 6.1- 7.8
Blooming time Summer
How to Grow and Care Devil’s Backbone Plant
An upright houseplant like Devil’s backbone looks stunning in a tall, upright container to highlight its shape. A container with a chevron or zigzag design can be really effective for showcasing stems since it highlights interesting shapes.
Propagation is as simple as growing the plant. Simply cut off a portion of the plant stem that is 4 to 6 inches long. Put the cut end into a perlite pot after allowing it to callus for a few days. Moisten the perlite lightly until the stems begin to root. The new plants will need to be replanted in good houseplant potting soil. Baby Devil’s Backbone plants are treated the same as adult plants.
Let this succulent plant receive plenty of sunlight. The best place for it to grow is in an area where the sun shines throughout the day without direct sunlight. When growing in fall and winter, place the plant directly in the sun, but give it protection from stinging hot rays during spring and summer. Use partial sun to partial shade. In the event that the foliage becomes scorched by too much sunlight, move it or create some shade.
Zig-zag plants are drought-tolerant, yet it is beneficial to keep the soil of the plants moist and watered regularly in summer and less water during winter. Provide moderate watering in the spring and autumn. If the top few inches of the soil feel dry, you should water it. You can help your plant stay healthy by misting it a bit if your house is dry. This mimics its natural environment.
The best way to maintain this plant is to use a commercial cactus mix or prepare your own potting soil mixture. To help absorb excess water, you might also add a little peat moss. It is best to use an unglazed clay pot with drainage holes on the bottom to ensure the soil drains well. Repotting should be done every two to three years in a well-drained soil mix. Be sure the new pot is ready before transplanting.
Temperature and Humidity
Unlike most tropical plants, the zigzag plant does not tolerate cold temperatures very well. Therefore, you should place it in an area away from draughty windows. Although it prefers temperatures of 60 to 70 F, it can tolerate temperatures as low as 50 F and as high as 80 F without major issues.
When it comes to humidity, Devil’s backbone is one of the easiest houseplants to maintain; low humidity is fine, as are average and high humidity levels.
Fertilizer solutions diluted by half will produce the best growth for the plant once per month. During the autumn and winter, the plant tends to go dormant, so discontinue any fertilizing during this time.
In terms of pruning, zigzag plants require very little care. Pruning troublesome branches with clean garden shears is as easy as trimming. However, you should be careful with sap. After sorting, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and wipe them. Touching your eyes without properly washing your hands can cause damage to your eyes.
Zigzag plants should be repotted every three years, and the potting mix and amendments should be replaced every year to avoid pest and fungus problems. Consider sizing up by 3 to 4 inches in diameter if the roots seem to have outgrown the pot. Wet roots can be prevented by using unglazed pots, which allow excess moisture to evaporate.
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