Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia Milii) is a woody succulent shrub with spiny stem, thick bright green leaves, and clustered flowers that bloom all year long. It can be grown as an indoor as well as outdoor plant.
Give your Crown of thorns plant as much sunlight as you can, very dry climate, water only when soil is completely dry and go very easy on the fertilization with liquid fertilizer twice a month during summer season. You can prune the flowers for promoting stem growth and you can cut the stem to propagate the plant.
If you read this article completely, you will be an expert in Crown of Thorns plant care, how to grow and propagate, what Soil to use, Repotting, Pruning and how much Water, Sunlight and Fertilizer is needed. You will know the best and most recommended ways to care for your Crown of Thorns plant.
Crown of Thorns General Info
- Origin: Madagascar
- Genus: Euphorbia
- Scientific Name: Euphorbia Milii
- Common Names: Crown of Thorns, Christ plant, Christ thorn
- 👪Family: Euphorbiaceae
- 🌵Type: succulent shrub
- 🌼Flowers: petal-like bracts. Red, Pink or White
- 🍃Leaf Colors: bright green
- 🌵Climate: dry desert
- 🌡️Temperature: >60° F (>15° C).
- 🌼Growing season: spring and summer
- 💧Watering: Only when 2-3 inch of topsoil is dry
- ☀️Light: Direct sun
- ☠️Toxicity: Toxic to pets and sap is skin irritant
- Propagation🌱: by stem cuttings or by seeds
- Height📏: 1.8m (5 ft 11 inch)
- Soil: well draining, no moisture retention, less fertilizer
- Fertilizer: Liquid or organic fertilizer twice in summer months.
How to water💧
Do not over water: Only water when the soil goes completely dry. If you notice that a lot of leaves are turning yellow, it could be an indication that you are watering more than necessary.
The best way to know when to water Crown of Thorns is to do the finger test where you stick your finger and see if 1-2 inches of the topsoil has dried out completely before giving it more water. If it's still moist, don't water it.
Pro Tip: Better to be on the side of under-watering than over-watering. Crown of thorns can sustain from severe under-watering but dies if over-watered.
Sunlight Requirements ☀️
Crown of thorns are desert plants and they prefer bright sunny conditions. Keep them in direct sunlight. This is a very hardy plant and even if you don’t give it enough sunlight and keep it indoors, it is going to survive.
Note: Make sure you don’t keep the plant very close to the glass window, as it can intensify sun rays and burn the leaves. Too much direct sunlight will burn the leaves
Crown of Thorns needs following properties in its soil
- well-draining soil
- Less fertilizer
- No moisture retention
70% Garden soil + 20% River Sand + 10% Organic compost
Crown of thorns are not at all heavy feeders so go easy on feeding them. Liquid based fertilizer during the summer time with every other watering, about ¼ of a tsp to the gallon.
How to Prune✂️
In order to promote more growth, trim off all the flowers so it will induce the plant to focus more on branch growth. If the leaves are not growing at the bottom, and only have leaves at the top (leggy stem condition), you can cut the stem off just below the leaves and that will force the leaf growth. You can pot the top cutting in the soil after getting rid of all the leaves and flowers and letting the cutting callous over.
How to Propagate🌱
You can propagate crown of thorns with stem cuttings or with seeds. Propagating by seeds takes a lot of time (months) to germinate. So the easiest and recommended way is to propagate by stem cutting.
Propagation by Cuttings
- Put on your gloves (because, thorns!) and take a 3-6 inch long stem cutting that has some leaves on it. Leafless stems won’t root.
- Remove any leaves at the bottom of the cutting.
- Let the cutting dry for 2-3 days for it to heal completely. This process is called “callous” which forms a protective tissue over the cut part of the stem. Planting directly without callusing causes root rot.
- Fill a pot with drainage holes with soil. Make a 2-3 inch hole with your finger and place the cutting.
- Water thoroughly.
- Keep the pot in a shade where it gets indirect sunlight. Keep the soil moist (but not soggy)
- After 45-50 days, you will notice significant growth.
Temperature and Humidity 🌡️
Ideal temperature is above 60° F (15° C). If the temperature is below 15, the crown of thorns plant will shed all of its leaves and only the stem will remain. During the winter season, keep it indoors. During the rainy season, keep it in shade to avoid overwatering or it can lead to yellowing of leaves and eventually root rot.
Most plants like humidity but crown of thorns like dry climate and are susceptible to root rot if the soil is moist all the time, especially if kept in a cool indoor environment.
Crown of thorns as an Indoor plant
Although Crown of thorns thrives outdoors when it gets a hot and dry climate, it can also be grown as an indoor houseplant and it will still grow because it is a very hardy plant. However, growing indoors you will notice that the stem becomes long and leggy, while the leaves and flowers seem to become smaller in size.
Pests 🐛and Diseases🦠
Crown of thorns are pretty much insect-free. Whiteflies, spider mites or mealy bugs can be rarely seen. You can easily get rid of these pests and diseases.
Crown of Thorns Toxicity☠️
Crown of Thorns are toxic to humans and pets. Keep the Crown of Thorns away from kids and cats/dogs/other pets. When you take a stem cutting of a crown of thorns for propagation, you will see a milky sap coming out that looks like latex. This sap is known to be a skin irritant and can even cause blindness.
Things to check before buying Crown of Thorns Plant
Look for the following attributes when buying your plant.
- Look for long stems so you can have enough to propagate the purchased plant.
- Do not buy if most of the leaves are starting to turn yellow. This indicates that the plant has already been overwatered and roots may have already rotted.
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