How To Grow and Care For Crown of Thorns Plant

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The Crown of Thorns plant (Euphorbia Milii) originally grew in Madagascar. This succulent shrub holds multiple stems and bright green leaves.

Blackthorns cover the branches. However, they feel relatively soft when touched, making them not too difficult to work with.

growing crown of thorns plantPin

The Crown of Thorns plant started to become popular during the Victorian era. The plant was introduced to France in 1821 by Baron Milius. 

The species name, Milli is in his honor. Euphorbia Milii has several common names, including:

  • Crown of Thorns Euphorbia – this common name comes from the crown of thorns worn by Jesus at his crucifixion.
  • Christ plant
  • Jesus Christ thorn

A recent great deal of cultivar development and hybridization took great interest in the crown of thorns. It resulted in 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 the warm climates of USDA hardiness zones 9B through 11.

In this article, we will share information on growing the crown of thorns. It will also provide tips on propagation and solutions for pests and diseases.

Crown Of Thorns Plant Characteristics

Apart from being an evergreen plant, Euphorbia Milli, like many from the Euphorbiaceae genus, also resists drought. 

It produces woody, succulent stems up to a mature size of 3′ feet high. The thorns cover the stems randomly and measure up to an inch long.

Milii is a slow grower. The bright green leaf bracts grow randomly and slightly sparsely. 

They appear mostly on new stem growth and fall away from the older stems of this plant. This means you can only find leaves on the youngest and newest portions of the plant.

Vibrant red flowers, green leaves, close-up.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @plant._.perfect

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

Always check on its leaves to monitor the well-being of your crown of thorns. Sporadic shedding from mature stems does not indicate a problem. 

But if all of the leaves fall off suddenly, it signals stress, which threatens 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 results in this. After solving the problem, the leaves may grow healthy again.

Crown of Thorns Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Euphorbia milii
  • Common Name(s): Crown of Thorns, Christ Plant
  • Synonyms: Euphorbia splendens, Euphorbia milii var. splendens
  • Family & Origin: Euphorbiaceae family, native to Madagascar
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: 9-11
  • Size: Can grow up to 3 feet tall and wide
  • Flowering: Blooms year-round with small, colorful flowers
  • Light: Needs bright, direct sunlight
  • Humidity: Can tolerate low humidity
  • Temperature: Prefers warm temperatures between 60-85°F
  • Soil: Well-draining soil
  • Water: Water thoroughly but allow soil to dry out between waterings
  • Fertilizer: Use a balanced fertilizer once a month in the springtime and throughout the summer
  • Pests & Diseases: Can be susceptible to mealybugs and spider mites. Watch for root rot if overwatered.
  • Propagation: Can be propagated through stem cuttings or by layering
  • Plant Uses: Can be grown as a houseplant or outdoors in warm climates. Can also be used in landscaping as a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plant.

Daily Caring For Euphorbia Milii

Although the Crown of Thorns belongs to the species of Euphorbia succulent plants, 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 in full sun.

The plant needs minimal nourishment but does respond to slow-release fertilizer, and it does very well in poor but well-drained soil.

However, a special cactus soil mix would be best.

The root ball should not remain moist for an extended period to avoid root rot.

This plant has a high drought tolerance. However, the best way to water succulents like this plant is on a weekly basis, and remember to allow the soil to dry completely.

crown of thorns plantPin

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, Crown of Thorns prefers bright light and likes direct sunlight for better blooms.

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, it thrives in well-draining soil. A soil mixture containing about one-third perlite or pumice is a good, well-drained medium.

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 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 with inch long spinesPin

How To Fertilize Crowns Of Thorns

Although the crown of thorns 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 liquid fertilizer (3–1–2 ratio) 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.

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 their 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 air circulation and prevents fungal disease. Moreover, cut background leaves, stems, and other unattractive growth.

Avoid contact with the milky sap of the plant when you trim. This toxic, milky white sap causes skin irritation and eye problems.

Bright pink flowers with visible stamens.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @vira_plants

In fact, getting the fluid in your eyes can result in temporary blindness. For this reason, always wear glovesgoggles, and other protective clothing 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.

Crown of thorns is one of the many good indoor plant types for greening your home. Floor plants, desktop plants, flowering plants, and more.

Learn more – Is the Crown of Thorns Plant Poisonous?

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 a little cold and damp to kill a crown of thorns 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 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 4-6 hours of direct sunlight.

Check for all danger of frost has passed before moving outdoors for acclimation.

Question: Why Are Your Crown of Thorns Plant Leaves Turning Yellow?

Potted Crown of thorns growing on front porch Pin
Potted Crown of thorns growing in a 10″ inch pot on a front porch. Winter night temperatures in the 40s degree Fahrenheit range are causing older leaves to turn bronze.

Diseases and Pests

Generally speaking, infestations and plant diseases plague the crown of thorns rarely. 

However, plants kept indoors may occasionally encounter problems with spider mites on plantsdifferent types of plant scales, thrips, and playing host to mealybugs.

As a solution to common houseplant pests, wipe the foliage with a cotton ball or cotton swab dipped for 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 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.

More on Succulent Root Rot

How To Propagate Crown Of Thorns Cactus

Making new plants and growing the crown of thorns makes an easy planting hobby. Read on to learn more.

  • Simply take tip 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 cut end into warm water to prevent the latex 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° degrees Fahrenheit) 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 Giant Crown of Thorns plants.

Propagation of cuttings makes an excellent way to add new and exciting specimens to your collection.

Vibrant yellow Euphorbia flowers against green leaves.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @kentapics

Crown Of Thorns Euphorbia Milli Varieties

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 showy, very attractive bright red showy bracts we call “red flowers.”

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’

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 larger flowers in colorful 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. Below are several

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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