Crown Of Thorns Is A Versatile Plant

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)

Crown of Thorns plant (Euphorbia milii) is a thorny slow growing succulent native to Madagascar (USDA hardiness zones 9-11). In colder regions of the U.S., it is an easy- care flowering houseplant that seems to thrive on neglect. It blooms almost year-round. Outside, in a garden setting, it blooms nonstop from spring thru mid-fall here in the Mid-South (Zone 6-7).

Container grown Crown of Thorns at Biltmore Estates, Asheville, NC.

Plant may reach 3 feet in height and 2 feet in width. Sharp spines about 1 inch long cover the stems. Clusters of narrow bright green leaves are sparsely arranged and last only a few months. The thick stems store water, making the plant exceptionally drought-resistant.

The cactus -like plant blooms from spring into late summer, producing tiny, true flowers held in two brightly colored fused bracts that surround small flowers. Floral colors range from red , pink, salmon, yellow, and creamy white.  Crown of thorns is easy to propagate from softwood stem cuttings.

Crown of thorns grows in the poorest soil provided it is well-drained It prefers a location in full sun but will tolerate some shade for a portion of the day. It is resistant to salt spray. As an indoor houseplant, set in a south- or west-facing window. Water thoroughly and sparingly. Feed every 2-3 months with fertilizers such as Miracle-Gro® or Schultz®. Lightly prune the plant for shaping. Remove some older, leafless branches to stimulate new growth in spring.

Crown of thorns is deer-resistant. These plants are considered poisonous and should be kept away from pets and children.

Cultivars: Newer cultivars feature fuller plants, brighter colors, bigger leaves and flowers than the old-fashioned varieties.

‘American Beauty’- showy, scarlet-red bracts; also orange, pink, white or yellow bracted cvs.

‘Short and Sweet’ – red-flowered, dwarf variety that only reaches a height of 12 to 18 inches.

“California Hybrids” exhibit unusually stout stems and larger  colorful floral bracts.These “giant crown of thorns” include cultivars: ‘Rosalie’, ‘Vulcanus’ and ‘Saturnus’.

“Thai Hybrids” – large leaves and flowers on small 2-3 foot high plants; Karolla struts glossy bright green leaves, brilliant red blooms; Karolla and small types only 1 to 2 feet tall.

According to legend, a Crown of Thorns Plant got its nickname after it was associated with the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus. Under ideal conditions, a Crown of Thorns. Like a Poinsettia, it is a member of Euphorbia family. It has bracted flowers and milky sap.


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