Pedilanthus: home care, types and reproduction, photo

Pedilanthus: home care, types and reproduction, photo

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Plant pedilanthus (lat.Pedilanthus) belongs to ornamental flowering shrubs and small trees of the genus Euphorbia of the Euphorbia family. The homeland of the plant is the tropics and subtropics of South, North and Central America. Because of the zigzag shape of the stem, the aborigines called the pedilanthus flower "the devil's backbone", and the Europeans called the "Jacob's ladder".
The scientific name comes from the Greek words meaning "shoe" and "flower" in translation: pedilanthus inflorescences resemble a shoe in shape. A total of 15 plant species are known, some of them are grown in indoor culture.

Planting and caring for pedilanthus

  • Bloom: in the second half of autumn.
  • Lighting: bright diffused light with shading in the afternoon, the most successful place is on the southwestern and southeastern windowsills.
  • Temperature: in spring and summer - 20-26 ˚C, in winter - 13-15 ˚C.
  • Watering: during the period of active growth - 3 times a week, as soon as the topsoil dries out. In winter, the plant is watered only once a week.
  • Air humidity: in extreme heat, it is recommended to spray the flower with cold water, but it is better to keep it on a pallet with wet pebbles.
  • Top dressing: from April to September, once every 3-4 weeks with complex mineral solutions with a low nitrogen content. Can be fed with succulent and cactus fertilizer or a weak mullein solution.
  • Rest period: from about January to March.
  • Transfer: in the spring, only if absolutely necessary.
  • Cropping: regular, after a dormant period, in order to restrain growth and maintain a high decorative quality.
  • Reproduction: seeds and cuttings.
  • Pests: mealybugs, whiteflies, aphids and spider mites.
  • Diseases: stem and root rot.

Read more about the cultivation of pedilanthus below.

Botanical description

In nature, representatives of the Pedilanthus genus are medium-sized trees up to 3 m high or abundantly branching shrubs. Their stems are cylindrical, painted in a dull gray or dark green. In pedilanthuses growing in culture, the diameter of the stem can reach 2 cm, and in height they grow up to 2 m.The leaves of pedilanthuses are ovoid and wavy, with pointed ends, green with a waxy bloom, short-petiolate or sessile, up to 3 wide and up to 10 long see The leaf plates of some species are covered with pubescence. During the dormant period, the plant may be completely without leaves. Small red or pink flowers, similar to shoes or bird heads, with two bright red pointed bracts are collected in dense apical umbrellas up to 3 cm long.

Home care for pedilanthus

Conditions of detention

Indoor pedilanthus unpretentious, undemanding to the composition of the soil: it can grow in any soil, as long as there is a drainage layer in the pot - pieces of foam, pebbles or coarse sand. You can prepare the substrate for pedilanthus yourself: thoroughly mix equal parts of leafy soil, sand and sod land, warm this mixture for 15 minutes in a water bath.

It is necessary to ensure that the drainage holes in the pot are not clogged, and if this happens, clean them with a knitting needle or a toothpick: pedilanthus roots do not tolerate stagnant water.

As for the location, the plant needs a lot of light, however, prolonged contact with direct sunlight for the pedilanthus is destructive, and therefore the best place for the plant is the window sills of windows facing southwest or southeast. If you are keeping the pedilanthus on a southern windowsill, shade it with a light curtain.

Pedilanthus prefers to spend late spring and summer outdoors - on a veranda, terrace, balcony or loggia. The optimum temperature for a plant at this time of the year is 20-26 ºC. In winter, the temperature must be lowered to 13-15 ºC, otherwise the plant stem will stretch, the leaves will fall off, and flowering pedilanthus next season may not take place. However, keep in mind that for this plant, slight leaf fall and some slowdown in growth in winter is common.

Pedilanthus is afraid of cold drafts and sudden temperature changes.


In the hot season, pedilanthus is watered abundantly, about 3 times a week, as soon as the topsoil dries out. In winter, watering is carried out according to the same principle, just the soil dries out more slowly at this time, therefore, the plant is watered no more than once a week. If the leaves of the pedilanthus begin to fall, then it's time to moisten the soil in the pot. For irrigation, use settled or purified water at room temperature or slightly warmer.

You need to spray the flower only in prolonged heat, but it is better to place it on a tray with wet pebbles.

Top dressing

During the period of active growth, that is, from April to the end of September, pedilanthus is fed once every three to four weeks. In winter, the plant does not need feeding. Fertilizer for pedilanthus should contain as little nitrogen as possible, since this element is not useful for the plant. Pedilanthus responds well to organic fertilizers, for example, mullein, but a balanced complex of mineral fertilizers for cacti and succulents is also quite suitable.


Pedilanthus is transplanted only in case of emergency, when the roots of the plant have completely mastered the earthen lump and appear from the drainage holes. Transplant is carried out in the spring, before new leaves begin to develop on the pedilanthus. The plant does not need a spacious pot, it is enough to take a vessel with a diameter of 2-3 cm larger than the previous one. Do not try to completely clear the root system of the old substrate, just inspect the roots and remove the rotted areas, grabbing 2 cm of healthy tissue. Treat the sections with crushed charcoal or activated carbon. Use a sterile tool and gloves, otherwise you may get burned.

The pot is filled in a quarter with drainage material, and the soil is used the same composition as in the initial planting: leafy earth, sand and turf soil in equal parts. After transplanting, water the plant and place it in partial shade for the first time.

If the pedilanthus grows in a pot for a long time, but you do not find signs that it is cramped, you can simply replace the top layer of the old substrate with a fresh one. This is also done when a white or yellowish crust appears on the surface of the soil.


To restrain the growth of pedilanthus and give it the most attractive appearance, the plant is regularly pruned. When and how to trim the pedilanthus? It is better to do this in spring, after a period of rest and before the start of active growth, in a dry room with good ventilation at a temperature of 13-15 ºC: the shoots are cut by a third with a sterile instrument, leaving at least 2-3 buds on each. The sections are treated with charcoal or sulfur. Pruning pedilanthus promotes better branching of its shoots.

Reproduction of pedilanthus

Growing from seeds

Pedilanthus reproduces in the spring-summer period by seed method and cuttings, and it is much easier to carry out vegetative propagation, since at home pedilanthus seeds are very rarely tied. If you managed to collect or purchase seed, sowing is carried out in flat containers filled with a wet sand-peat mixture to a depth of 1.5 cm, after which the bowls are covered with foil or glass and kept at a temperature of 22-25 ºC. Crop maintenance consists in regular ventilation and moistening of the substrate as needed. Seedlings will appear no earlier than after 2 weeks, but as soon as the seeds germinate, the cover can be removed. Seedlings continue to be grown in a warm and humid environment. At the stage of development in young plants, four true leaves are planted in separate pots filled with soil for an adult pedilanthus.

Propagation by cuttings

The procedure for rooting cuttings is much faster and easier than germinating seeds. It is necessary to cut apical cuttings 8-10 cm long from an adult plant, free their lower part from the leaves, dry them for a day or two, plant them in wet sand at an angle and cover each cutting with a glass jar or a plastic bottle with a cut neck. Rooting should take place at a temperature of 22-25 ºC. The cuttings are covered from time to time to ventilate and prevent decay. The sand should be slightly moist during rooting. The root formation process is considered to be successfully completed when new leaves begin to appear on the cuttings. As soon as this happens, the jars and bottles are removed, and when the young pedilanthuses get stronger, they are seated in separate pots. In the future, the cuttings are looked after as for adult plants.

Cuttings can be rooted not only in sand, but also in water: cut apical cuttings are placed in a glass of warm water and kept under diffused light. The water in the glass should be changed daily, and as soon as the roots grow on the cuttings, they are seated in pots.

Cuttings should be carried out with gloves, since the milky juice of pedilanthus is poisonous. The cutting knife must be sharp and sterile.

Diseases and pests

Diseases and their treatment

From excessive moisture, pedilanthus can be affected by fungal diseases, which are manifested by brown spots on the leaves and blackening of the stems. As soon as you find these signs, immediately replace the soil in the pot by pretreating the fresh substrate with Fitosporin-M or Topaz and removing rotten roots from the pedilanthus. It is also necessary to revise the irrigation regime. If the disease has damaged the plant so much that it can no longer be saved, try at least to root the cuttings.

Pests and the fight against them

Of the pests, pedilanthus can be affected by mealybugs, whiteflies, aphids and spider mites. If insects are found, one should resort to the help of insecticidal preparations, and arthropods (spider mites) are destroyed with acaricides - Aktellik, Aktara or Karbofos, which are also effective against insects.

It should be borne in mind that pests, like diseases, affect only plants weakened by improper care, and healthy pedilanthuses are resistant to them.

Other problems of pedilanthus cultivation. If in winter you find that the pedilanthus stem has begun to stretch, it means that it is too hot and dark, and if the plant is noticeably late in flowering, this usually indicates that you did not create the necessary conditions for it during the dormant period.

Dry brown tips of pedilanthus leaves are a sign of low air humidity, very dark leaves are a symptom of excess nitrogen in the soil, and too light is a sign of insufficient lighting.

Types and varieties

In room culture, several types and decorative forms of pedilanthus are grown.

Pedilanthus tithymaloides

The same plant that is called "Jacob's ladder" or "the devil's backbone": the dense fleshy shoot of the plant bends in opposite directions at an angle, and leaves grow on the folds, like steps. In height, this houseplant can reach 2 m, but it forms few lateral shoots. The leaves of the pedylanthus titimaloid are elongated, smooth, with wavy edges and a sharp tip, up to 7 cm long.

A characteristic feature of pedilanthus is its ability to change the color of the foliage under the influence of external factors: the border on the leaves of the plant can be white or pink, and they themselves can turn from green to olive, keeping light dots in the center of the leaf plate. Inflorescences in plants of this species are red or pink.

The juice from flowers, which has antimicrobial properties, is used for the manufacture of medicines. And the milky juice of the leaves is so poisonous that it can irritate the mucous membrane and cause an allergic reaction.

In the south, titimaloid pedilanthus is grown not only in the room, but also in garden culture, using it to create a hedge. The plant tolerates pruning well and recovers quickly after it.

Pedilanthus finkii

A moisture-loving representative of the genus, which is called variegated, since the bright green leaves of the plant have a dark middle. Over time, the leaves of the plant brighten, retaining the green only in the center of the plate, while the edges gradually turn light pink. The shape of the glossy leaves of Fink pedilanthus resembles a zigzag. The plant develops as a shrub, but the lower part of the stems does not branch, and the lateral branches and crown are formed at the top of the shoots. This type of pedilanthus is grown in a light substrate.

Large pedilanthus (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)

Outwardly, it is not very attractive: its almost naked fleshy green shoots with a gray tint grow in bunches, forming a dense shrub. In section, they are usually round, but sometimes flattened. Like any succulent, the shoots of the large-fruited pedilanthus absorb moisture and create a reserve of it, which allows the plant to survive a prolonged drought. Small leaves resembling scales are almost invisible, but the flowers of this species are noticeable: pink, red or orange, with shiny petals, they are collected in inflorescences-shoes, which are formed in small groups at the tops of the shoots.

Pedilanthus calcaratus

Large evergreen plant, reaching three meters in height. It has a wide crown, dark green, almost black shoots and shiny green elongated broad-oval leaves up to 6 cm long with slightly wavy edges.

Pedilanthus coalcomanensis

One of the most beautiful species native to the mountainous regions of Mexico. This plant is able to endure abrupt weather changes, reacting to it only by dropping leaves. Its main attraction is its unique inflorescences: they are much larger than those of other pedilanthus, pink with a peach tint. This plant can be formed both as a tree and as a spreading bush.

Pedilanthus nana

This decorative bushy form with a thick stem and oval leaves densely located on the stem with a pointed end needs high humidity. In nature, nana grows among tall bushes and trees, which provide her with protection from the sun and heat. This species needs loose soil, so in nature it does not grow near the paths along which people and animals walk.

Pedilanthus - signs and superstitions

Can I keep at home

The popularity of pedilanthus made him a hero of myth and superstition. They say, for example, that if you were given this plant, it means that changes are coming in your life - rearrangement, repair or relocation. If you got the pedilanthus stalk in a not entirely righteous way (many simply pinch off the shoots from the plants decorating public places), then you will have a change in your occupation. The pedilanthus purchased to decorate the office space will add a pleasant variety to your professional routine.

But with variegated plants, it is advised to be careful: they are called muzhegons, and if you are superstitious, do not keep variegated species and varieties of pedilanthus at home, give preference to plants of a single color. On the other hand, the benefits and harms of pedilanthus for the home in our time are not determined by fears and superstitions alone. There are other priorities as well.


  1. Read the topic on Wikipedia
  2. Features and other plants of the Euphorbia family
  3. List of all species on The Plant List
  4. More information on World Flora Online
  5. Indoor Plants Information

Sections: Houseplants Beautiful flowering Euphorbiaceae (Euphorbiaceae) Ornamental deciduous plants on P

This plant is native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the United States and Mexico. The wild plant looks like a shrub, the height of which reaches 2 m.

The unusual name comes from the walnut words, which in translation mean "flower" and "shoe". This is due to the amazing shape of the Pedilanthus flower, which looks like a small slipper.

Flowering time falls in the winter. Flowers, as a rule, have a red tint and are collected in the Umbrella inflorescence. The attention of flower growers is also attracted by the long stems of the plant, covered with a dark green bark. Stems are evergreen with bright leaves.

Pruning pedilanthus

Like many indoor plants, the pedylanthus has a period of relative dormancy, during which its development is inhibited. From spring to mid-autumn, the flower has an active growing season. Shoots grow, new foliage appears. In February and early March, shortly before this, the grower should think about pruning the pedilanthus. If it is done on time:

  • succulent flower stems do not lose much moisture
  • cut sites dry out quickly
  • the plant recovers over the summer
  • removing the tops of the shoots triggers their branching, increasing the decorative effect of the flower.

Pedilanthus is not afraid of deep pruning, therefore, it is equally possible to pinch the very tips of the stems and shorten adult perennial shoots. In the latter case, for their renewal, several dormant buds are left above the ground level.

Trimming the pedilanthus is carried out with a sharp knife along the internode. Since the plant contains milky juice, which can complicate healing, the sections are slightly dried and treated with crushed activated carbon. Before starting the formation of the pedilanthus bush, watering the flower is reduced and resumed in the same volume only after a few days.

The green parts of the plant left after pruning and transplanting pedilanthus become excellent planting material when multiplied.

How to care?

Caring for a culture comes down to performing fairly simple activities.


A succulent plant needs regular and abundant moistening of the soil and root system, experts advise focusing on this issue on the level of drying out of the soil in the pot: it should be one third dry. After flowering, when the plant is in a dormant phase, watering can be reduced. For moistening, it would be more correct to use water at room temperature, but only after it has settled well.

In the heat, you can additionally spray the shoots.

Top dressing

The culture will need additional nutrient complexes during the growing season. Therefore, growers are advised to fertilize Ripsalis every two weeks using specialized formulations for cacti. Use with extreme caution substances containing nitrogen they can provoke rhizome rot. In winter, there is no need to fertilize the cactus.

Pedilanthus: superstitions and useful properties

There are many myths around this plant and many superstitions are associated. If the pedilanthus was brought as a gift, then it is worth waiting for some changes in the setting (moving, repairs). By placing a plant in the office, you can hope for professional growth, promotion. A self-acquired stalk (for example, torn off somewhere in a public place) promises a possible change in the type of activity or a more prestigious job.

Houses are advised to grow species with a uniform color of leaves. It is believed that the variegated pedilanthus is "muzhegon". Therefore, unmarried girls and people with excessive superstition are better off bypassing him.

The plant has also been proven to have antiseptic properties due to the secreted essential oils. It cleans the air from toxins, enriches it with oxygen.

Do you want to know more useful information about growing pedilanthus at home? Watch the following video:

Watch the video: Grow Devils Backbone from Cuttings in WATER


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  6. Cenon

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