Plant Care Emergency

I have a devils spine and it was doing fine till I had to set it in the hall outside my apartment because of bed bug treatment. It was a bit chilly but it wasn’t our there long. I had it under lights but something is wrong. I’ve fed it a couple of months before the treatment. So I don’t think it’s the feed. I have several other plants but the devils spine is in bad shape. I thought maybe it was in shock from the chill but none of my other plants are acting like this. I moved the plant out from under the lights and now it’s getting worse. Please help I’m baffled at what’s happening. Thankyou

Hi Sharon,

Plant Identification and Plant Care Tips

Your plant is a Dracaena Marginata not a Devil’s Spine plant (really called a Devil’s Backbone or Jacob’s Ladder.


Here is what a Devil’s Backbone plant (Euphorbia tithymaloides), also called a Jacob’s Ladder plant, looks like.


A dracaena marginata prefers temperatures between 70°-80°F (21.1°- 26.7°C), so it does sound like the cold might have been too much for it. It will recover, but may lose some leaves (especially bottom ones) in the process. Put the plant back under the lights and cut back on your water for a while.The lower the light and the cooler the temperatures. the less water a dracena marginata will require. All dracaenas (Corn Plant, Janet Craig, Reflexa, Warnekii) grow very slowly and don’t need a large amount of fertilizer. Feed monthly only during spring and summer with a water-soluble, balanced plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Never feed a dracaena in the fall or winter.

You can read all my care tips for a Dracaena marginata in the Popular Houseplant section the website.