Euphorbia Tithymaloides Care “Devil’s Backbone”

Euphorbia tithymaloides

Last updated on July 30th, 2022 at 11:28 pm

The Euphorbia tithymaloides, also known as the Devil’s Backbone, Christmas tree spurge, or milkweed euphorbias plant, is a flowering perennial succulent. This species of plant has white flowers that are rich in nectar and pollinated by bees. The flower buds open up into red-tipped petals and can grow to be anywhere from six to nine inches in diameter.

There are more than 1000 species of Euphorbia, all originating from Africa and South America. In the desert regions where these plants thrive, it is often difficult for them to get enough water so they evolved their taproot system which can grow deep into the ground well below the surface level to find water.

This plant is one of the most widely cultivated succulents in North America and Europe for its ornamental value, as well as medicinal purposes. The milky sap has been used to treat a variety of ailments such as asthma, hemorrhoids, cysts, skin irritations, boils, and warts. It can also be taken internally or applied to the skin to help with pain relief.


Euphorbia tithymaloides is a succulent plant that needs little water and can survive in very dry climates. The euphorbias are often used as ground cover or to provide low-maintenance landscaping, but they also make excellent houseplants for those living in humid environments. Euphorbias require moderate levels of fertilizer, and they should be fertilized with a low-nitrogen formula.

Euphorbia tithymaloides propagation

Euphorbia tithymaloides

The Devil’s backbone is a succulent and can be propagated in the following ways:

Stem Cuttings

This method involves cutting off sections of stems and then burying them up to their neck into the ground. The buried stem will form roots, which may take anywhere from one month to six months. It is important that the stem cuttings are at least six inches long.

Titanopsis calcarea (Concrete Leaf Succulent)


Devil’s backbones can be propagated by dividing up a plant into sections and potting them separately in individual pots, filling them with soil mixed for cacti or succulents. Devil’s backbone is also known as an easy plant to propagate because of the numerous ways it can be propagated.

Euphorbia tithymaloides care

Euphorbia tithymaloides

Light requirements

Euphorbia tithymaloides is a species of succulent plant that thrives in high-sun or partial shade. It has been observed to be more vigorous when grown in direct sunlight, but will also do well with indirect light exposure.

Soil/potting mix

Euphorbia tithymaloides can grow in a wide variety of soil types, but it is not tolerant to drought conditions. It prefers soils that are well-drained and alkaline with high levels of organic matter.

The most common potting mix for Euphorbia tithymaloides includes perlite, peat moss, and bark chips.


Fertilizing the plant with a nitrogen fertilizer encourages cell division, which causes the leaves to be plump and succulent. If you want to fertilize regularly for best growth, use an organic or natural fertilizer that is not harmful to plants including fish emulsion.

To avoid decreasing water retention of your soil, mix fertilizer in with the top layer of soil before planting. You can also fertilize every time you water by using a diluted solution of fertilizer such as fish emulsion or seaweed extract, according to the manufacturer’s instructions on the package.

To avoid over fertilizer, use one tablespoon per gallon and only apply after watering.


Euphorbia tithymaloides is indigenous to the Mediterranean region, but it will also grow in some other warm and humid areas around the world. It can tolerate temperatures from 30°F to 100°F with an ideal temperature range of 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Euphorbia will thrive in temperatures ranging from 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It prefers warmer climates but can survive cooler temps with protection such as a heated house or greenhouse for the winter months. The plant is succulent and stores water so it needs more frequent watering than other plants that have less storage capability if you live in a cooler climate.

Ariocarpus fissuratus (Chautle Livingrock Cactus)

If you live in an area where the temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s recommended to bring your plant indoors or increase the watering frequency so that the soil doesn’t dry out.

If you live in a warmer climate, it’s recommended to move your plant indoors during the winter months for protection from frigid temperatures or decrease watering frequency so that soil doesn’t dry out.


Euphorbia tithymaloides

Humidity is a very important factor to consider when growing this plant. In general, it requires the humidity level of your home or office to be between 40% and 60%. This can be achieved through using humidifiers in the winter months and dehumidifying during summer days. If you have an exceptionally low-humidity dwelling then you might consider using a humidifier year-round.

In the colder months, you should also consider purchasing an indoor plant dehumidifier to maintain higher levels of humidity. If your home does not have any air conditioning and is very dry during summertime, then you will need to use dehumidifiers as well in order to lower the humidity level.

If you are unable to maintain the correct levels of humidity for this plant, then it will start showing signs of stress.


Euphorbia tithymaloides should be repotted every two years. If you start to notice that the roots are circling and growing out of the drainage holes, then it is time for a new pot. The best type of soil to use when re-potting this plant is one with peat moss as well as perlite. This will provide the perfect balance of moisture and drainage, as well as nutrients for your plant to grow healthy.

Repotting should be done in spring or early summer so that it is not too hot outside when you transplant it into its new pot. Make sure that the bottom of a newly repotted euphorbia tithymaloides plant is not in contact with water, otherwise, it will rot and die.

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If you are unable to find a suitable pot for your plant, then try using something that has drainage holes at the bottom so some of the excess moisture can drain out.


Euphorbia tithymaloides

Pruning this plant is very important because it will help promote new growth and maintain the symmetry of your plant. It should be pruned once a year in late winter or early spring so that you don’t risk damaging the green tissue around its base during warmer months.

The best time to do this is when new shoots are starting to form, as this will help create a more symmetrical shape in the long run.

Pruning should be done carefully by cutting off any dead or dying branches with shears. Be sure not to cut into live tissue and make sure that your cuts are clean so you don’t damage the plant’s healthy tissues.

Pruning this plant will not only make it more attractive but also help control the height.

Hardiness zone

This plant is hardy to USDA zones 8 and 9.

Are euphorbia tithymaloides poisonous? (Toxicity)

Yes. The juice of euphorbia tithymaloides, even in small amounts, is poisonous and known to cause nausea and vomiting by irritating the mucosal membrane.

Pests and diseases

The most common pest for this plant is the spider mite and mealybugs. If you notice your euphorbia tithymaloides have been infested with spider mites, then it will need to be treated by spraying it with water three times a day and using an insecticide-based spray in between every two days.

If your plant starts showing signs of rot, then it is most likely due to the soil being too wet. The best way to solve this problem is by trimming off any dead or dying branches and repotting your plant into a pot with better drainage.

If you notice fungus on your euphorbia tithymaloides, then try using an organic fungicide such as neem oil or horticultural oils to help treat it.

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If you notice that your plant is infested with scale, then try using an insecticide called pyrethrum to get rid of them.


The euphorbia tithymaloides is a plant that grows in the Mediterranean region. It has four leaves at its base and produces flowers during the summer months. The Euphorbia family of plants contains over 2500 species found throughout the world. There are two subfamilies within this genus: those with a milky latex, which includes Euphorbia tithymaloides, and those without.

The Euphorbia family has many uses in traditional medicine. Many of these plants are used to make remedies for skin diseases or other types of ailments by applying treatments externally on the body through topical applications. The milky latex that can be extracted from this plant is also used as a medication.

This plant has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and it is used for treating skin problems such as wounds, burns, eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis erythematosus. It also is used in several countries of Africa to treat hemorrhoids due to its soothing qualities on inflamed tissues. There are few side effects from this plant for topical applications.