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Pedilanthus tithymaloides smallii ‘Variegatus’ (photo courtesy of Rob Cardillo)
Pedilanthus tithymaloides smallii ‘Variegatus’ (photo courtesy of Rob Cardillo)

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Zones H2
Partial Sun
Minimal Water
Milky sap can cause stomach upset

Pedilanthus tithymaloides smallii ‘Variegatus’

Devil’s Backbone, Jacob’s Ladder
Evergreen, Shrubs


All of these odd-looking plants have decorative stems, but those of P. macrocarpus are bare most of the year. Inconspicuous red flowers are concealed in tubular or slipper-shaped red bracts. Some botanists consider Pedilanthus to be a part of the genus Euphorbia.

Pedilanthus tithymaloides smallii ‘Variegatus’

This Caribbean native grows to 1–2 ft. tall, with somewhat fleshy, zigzagging stems and 2–3-in., oval mid-green leaves. Has grayish stems and leaves marked with white and pink; it is fairly common as a houseplant. Under good growing conditions, it may produce 1/2-in. bracts in summer. Partial shade. Give houseplants bright indirect light; fertilize every couple of months during warm months, and keep soil barely moist.

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