How To Grow and Care For Crown of Thorns Plant

Crown of thorns (Euphorbia Milii) originally grew in Madagascar. This succulent shrub holds multiple stems and dark green leaves. Thorns cover the branches. However, they feel relatively soft when touched making them not too difficult to work with.

crown of thorns plant

The plant started to become popular during the Victorian era. A recent great deal of cultivar development and hybridization took a great interest on the crown of thorns. It resulted to a tremendous amount of choice in flower color and plant blossom size.

In addition to being an excellent houseplant, you can plant Euphorbia milii outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 9B through 11. This article will share information about growing crown of thorns. It will also provide tips on propagation and solution for pests and diseases.

Crown Of Thorns Characteristics

Apart from being an evergreen plant, Euphorbia Milli can also resist drought. It produces woody, succulent stems up to three feet high. The thorns cover the stems randomly and measure up to an inch long.

The bright green leaf bracts grow randomly and slightly sparse. They appear mostly on newer stems and fall away from the older stems. This means you can only find leaves on the youngest and newest portions of the plant.

Blooms appear mostly throughout the spring and late into the summer. However, in ideal conditions, the plant can produce flowers year-round.

To monitor the well-being of your crown of thorns plant, always check on its leaves. Sporadic shedding from mature stems does not indicate a problem. But if all of the leaves fall off suddenly, it signals stress which poses a threat to your plant.

If a sudden decrease in leaves happens, you must take the necessary steps to determine its cause. More often than not, excessive watering or poor drainage usually result to this. After solving the problem, the leaves may grow healthy again.

Daily Care

Although crown of thorns belongs to the species of succulents, it can only store a limited amount of water using its stems. The plant also takes in water through the leaves, so misting the plant on a daily basis may help. In fact, spraying with a weak saline solution works great because this plant does well at the seaside.

The plant needs minimal nourishment, but does respond to slow-release fertilizer, and it does very well in poor but well-drained soil. The root ball should not remain moist for an extended period to avoid root rot. Water the plant on a weekly basis and remember to allow the soil to dry completely.

Keep The Atmosphere Sunny And The Soil Light

This succulent plant hungers for sunlight. If you want the crown of thorns as a house plant, position it in a bright, sunny window on the west or south side of your home. Unlike many houseplants, bright light and likes direct sunlight.

When planting outside, a sunny rock garden makes an excellent setting. If mixed in with cactus and other xeriscape type plants, the crown of thorns looks very attractive. As with all succulents and cacti, provide the soil with excellent drainage. A soil mixture containing about one-third perlite or pumice makes a good weel-drained soil option.

The plant grows well if placed under direct bright light in areas with cooler summers. In the regions governed by scorching, summer weather, set the plant in areas with good afternoon shade to avoid withering. Do not overdo with the shade as too much of it results in reduced flower production.

In outdoor containers, you may use a prepared cactus soil mix. Give the pot plenty of drainage holes and place it in a place where it can get ample sunlight. Start your planting process with a layer of gravel on the bottom to ensure excellent drainage.

potted and flowering crown of thorns plant

How To Fertilize Crowns Of Thorns

Although the crown of thorns plants remains healthy even without fertilizers, an occasional, diluted dose of basic fertilizer helps with bloom production. However, choose a type of fertilizer without boron as the plant reacts sensitively to this micronutrient.

This interesting succulent does not grow quickly and does not need a large amount of fertilizer. In the landscape, you should use a diluted solution of a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) once a month in the springtime and throughout the summer. If using a granulated fertilizer, give four tablespoons per 10 square feet.

In outdoor containers, use a water soluble fertilizer (24–8–16) at a rate of half a teaspoon per gallon of water. Apply this dose every month. The same dosage also serves as an excellent solution for houseplants.

Some of the New Crown Of Thorns on the market!

  • Hot Pink Crown of Thorns – Loves a sunny location
  • Golden Crown of Thorns Known as Euphorbia splendens ‘Dinni’

Maintenance And Pruning

Prune lightly (our favorite pruners here) to maintain the size and shape of your plants. Although evergreen, the crown of thorns naturally grows more vigorously throughout the spring and summer.

In the autumn, remove old branches with most of its leaves withered. This will stimulate more new growth when springtime arrives.

Remove dead, fallen leaves, and flowers from the surface of the soil. This will help with soil aeration and prevents fungal disease. Moreover, cut background leaves, stems, and other unattractive growth.

Avoid contact with the sap of the plant when you trim. This toxic, milky, white sap causes skin irritation and eye problems. In fact, getting the fluid in your eyes can result in temporary blindness. For this reason, always wear protective clothing, gloves, and goggles when pruning the plant.

Clean your pruners thoroughly after each use. Wash the tool with water and wipe it clean using a cloth disinfected with rubbing alcohol.

What To Do With Crown Of Thorns During Winter Month

Letting houseplants stay outside in the summertime seems like a good idea. On the other hand, it takes little cold and damp to kill a crown of thorns plant or to get root rot started. For this reason, move both container plants and potted plants indoors before the onset of rain or the winter season.

Transition the crown of thorns plants gradually when you move them back outdoors in the springtime. Acclimate your plants by placing them outdoors in partial shade for one or two weeks before moving them into bright sunlight. Check for all danger of frost and make sure those already melted before acclimation.

Diseases And Pests

Generally speaking, infestations and diseases plague crown of thorns rarely. However, plants kept indoors may occasionally encounter problems with scales, mealybugs, and spider mites.

As a solution to pests, wipe the foliage with a cotton ball or cotton swab dipped a few seconds in soapy water. You can also wash your plant under running water but try not to soak the soil. Otherwise, it may lead to a root rot.

Crown of thorns can acquire root rot if overwatered or planted in dense soil. If root rot sets in, saving the plant becomes highly impossible. You may need to take cuttings and start over.

How to Propagate Crown Of Thorns

Growing crown of thorns plants makes an easy planting hobby. Read on to learn more.

  • Simply take cuttings from your younger branches during the growing season. Use a clean, sharp blade (e.g. a razor blade) to take the cutting at the point where the branch meets the trunk.
  • Quickly dip the end of your cutting into warm water to prevent the sap from running out.
  • Lay your cuttings on a paper towel or newspaper for a few days to dry and callus the ends.
  • Prepare a pot of damp sand.
  • Dip the callused ends of the cuttings into a rooting hormone product like this one.
  • Poke the callused ends of your cuttings into the wet sand.
  • Place the pot in a warm (75°F) location with bright indirect light and wait. Refrain from watering for a couple of weeks.
  • Within a few weeks, your cutting will develop roots. You can tell by tugging gently on the cutting. If it offers resistance, you know that roots formed already.
  • After about a month, new signs of growth will appear. At this point, begin watering lightly.
Use this method to help your plant recover from root rot. This also works great with propagating your crown of thorns plants. Propagation of cuttings makes an excellent way to add new and exciting specimens to your collection.

Varieties Of Crown Of Thorns

A wide range of hybrids and cultivars makes up the list of available Euphorbia Milli species. Look for interesting specimens such as:

  • American Beauty – produces incredibly gorgeous scarlet red blossoms.
  • Short and Sweet – this Euphorbia belongs to the dwarf category. It also produces very attractive red flowers.

While red serves as the traditional blossom color for these popular house plants, an entire group of California hybrids also features strong and sturdy stems. They appear enormous and hold colorful flowers in hues ranging from pink to peach to yellow. Among these are:

  • Vulcanus
  • Saturnus
  • Rosalie

Above lists a few of the intriguing cultivars and hybrids available today. Apart from being easy to grow, they look great and even stand out from a bunch of potted plants. Gathering a complete collection of crown of thorns plants for your home and garden functions is a fun, fascinating and absorbing hobby.

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