Pedilanthus tithymaloides, means foot-shaped flower. The plant is native to the American tropics but only hardy. It makes a superb houseplant with its 2-foot tall stems, alternate leaves and colorful “flowers” which are actually bracts or modified leaves. The leaves are lance-shaped and thick on wiry stems. The bract color may be white, green, red or pink. The plant is a member of the spurge family.
Care should be exercised when handling the plant. Devil’s backbone houseplant likes bright indirect sunlight. Plant in direct sun in fall and winter, but give it a little protection from stinging hot rays in spring and summer. Just turning the slats on your blinds can be enough to keep the tips of the leaves from sizzling. Water the plants when the top few inches of soil feel dry. Keep it only moderately moist, yet not soggy.