Slipper Flower (Euphorbia lomelii or sometimes sold under the old name of Pedilanthus macrocarpus) has succulent light green stems that grow upright from a woody root crown. The jointed stems are mostly unbranched, ¾ inch thick and up to 3 feet tall. The plant can eventually spread to 2 feet wide. Small leaves along the stems drop soon after they appear. Red, 1-inch-long slipper-shaped flowers appear during two seasons: February to May, and August to October.
Slipper Flower is found on the Baja California peninsula and on the mainland from Sonora to Colima, Mexico. It grows mainly on desert plains and hillsides.
The young growth of this plant can be damaged by temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, although mature growth is hardy to the mid-20’s Fahrenheit. Place Slipper Flower in an area with well-drained soil and full sun. Once the plant is established, provide extra water twice a month during the summer.
This plant can provide a strong vertical accent, grounded by low-growing plants such as Trailing Indigo Bush (Dalea greggii) or Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum). Slipper Flower’s unusual form would stand out among most plants, but a background of deep green foliage would create the strongest contrast. It can also be planted and does quite well in a large pot.
Photo upper right: The red (to salmon colored) “flowers” are actually slipper-shaped structures that each contain a tiny female flower and several male flowers. The blooms are 1-1/4 inches long and are striking in contrast to the stems. They appear in late spring into summer. Photos: Donna DiFrancesco.
Did you know that up to 70% of water use is outdoors? That’s why we love desert plants and feature them each month. You can learn more about Slipper Flower and other plants on our Arizona Low-Water-Use Plants page. Visit our page on Choosing and Planting Low Water-Use Plants for tips on plant selection and how to plant properly.
Also, be sure to read through all of our featured Plant of the Month blogs!
From time to time, Water – Use It Wisely features guest bloggers who write about topics related to water and water conservation. Judy Mielke is a horticulturist, Landscape Architect and the author of one of Water – Use It Wisely’s favorite books. You can find plant descriptions like this and many more in her book Native Plants for Southwestern Landscapes.