Devil's Backbone (Pedilanthus tithymaloides)

Devil's Backbone Plant Features

Despite its common name, devil's backbackbone (also called zigzag plant) is a joy to grow. If you have a bright spot, it's a wonderfully easy-to-grow houseplant, purifying the air and adding a dose of drama to indoor decor. Devil's backbone holds up to dry conditions well, so it'll survive if you forget to water it every now and again (or can't water it due to travel or other busy schedules). Devil's backbone earned its common names because the interesting pattern the stems make as they grow.

Devil's backbone is a dramatic upright houseplant that looks beautiful in a tall, upright planter to accent its shape. Containers that have a chevron or zigzag design can also be wonderfully effective for showing it off as they highlight the stems' interesting shapes.

Devil's Backbone Questions?
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Devil's Backbone Growing Instructions

Devil's backbone is a fun houseplant for a medium to bright spot. It can tolerate low light for extended periods, but eventually leans toward the light and gets lanky, becoming unattractive (so we don't recommend it for low light). Devil's backbone can take direct sun on its leaves indoors, and with enough light, you might even get to enjoy pink or bronze tones to the foliage. 

Water devil's backbone when the soil starts to dry. It can survive extended periods without water, but it tends to drop its lower leaves if it goes without water too long. Once it's watered properly again, the leaf dropping typically stops. 
Check out more low-water houseplant options!

Devil's backbone is one of the easier houseplants when it comes to humidity; low humidity is fine, as are average and high humidity levels. 

Pruning devil's backbone isn't necessary, nor is fertilizing. But you can fertilize it a couple of times per year if you want it to grow faster. In this case, we recommend using a houseplant fertilizer and following the directions on the product's label. 

Note: Devil's backbone is not intended for human or animal consumption. 
  • Water

    Medium water needs

  • Light

    Indoors: High light

    Indoors: Medium light

  • Colors


  • Special Features

    Purifies the air

    Super-easy to grow

Complement your Devil's Backbone

Give devil's backbone a splash of color with the outrageously variegated foliage of croton.

Snake Plant
Snake plant is another easy-to-grow houseplant with a modern, contemporary look.

Rex Begonia
Rex begonia's fantastic foliage pairs beautifully with the architectural look of devil's backbone.