Plant and Garden

The Crown Of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) Care and Information

The Crown Of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) species is native to Madagascar. The species name commemorates Baron Milius, once Governor of Réunion, who introduced the species to France in 1821. It is suspected that the species was introduced to the Middle East in ancient times.

The plant gets its common name from the legend that the thorny crown worn by Jesus at his crucifixion was made from sections of this plant.

Heat tolerant and drought resistant, the crown of thorns plant is a real gem. You can plant crown of thorns in the garden in warm climates. Crown Of Thorns is one of the few succulents with real leaves that are thick, fleshy, and tear-shaped. The leaves appear on stems that are armed with sharp, inch-long spines.

Caring for Outdoor Crown of Thorns…

You should plant Crown Of Thorns euphorbia shrubs in full sun for best blossoms. The plants also tolerate salt spray.

As with any shrub, a crown of thorns plant needs irrigation after transplant until its root system gets established.

After that, you can cut back on water thanks to its great drought tolerance.

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If you are lucky enough to live in one of the warmer areas of the country, you’ll enjoy growing crown of thorns outdoors as a small shrub outdoors.

Plant Crown Of Thorns in the garden in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 10 and above.

Planted correctly, the plant offers a mass of delicate blossoms all year round. Crown Of Thorns is great as an outdoor shrub in warm climates, as it is extremely tolerant of high temperatures.

It even thrives in temperatures above 90º F. (32 C.). You can add this flowering succulent to your garden without worrying much about maintenance.

Caring for an outdoor crown of thorns is a breeze. Just be sure to protect it from frost and freeze. This species of the plant does not like temperatures below 50 F.  The cooler weather will stress the plant out, depending on where you live. The plant can withstand temperatures as low as 50 F. in winter and as high as 100 F. in summer.

How to Grow Crown of Thorns Indoors

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This succulent plant needs lots of sunlight. If you want the crown of thorns as a houseplant, 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.

Crown of thorns houseplant care begins with placing the plant in the best possible location. The plant will enjoy three to four hours of direct sunlight each day.

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Growing the plant is easy because it adapts well to normal room temperatures and in dry indoor environments. It also forgives occasional missed waterings and feedings without complaint. Average room temperatures of between 65-75 F. (18-24 C.) degrees Fahrenheit are fine.

From spring through late fall, water the indoor Crown of Thorns plant when the soil is dry at a depth of about an inch, which is about the length of your finger to the first knuckle. Water the plant by flooding the pot with water. After all of the excess water has drained through, empty the saucer under the pot so that the roots aren’t left sitting in water. In winter, allow the soil to dry to a depth of 2 or 3 inches before watering.

Watering Crown Of Thorns…

Although Crown of Thorns belongs to the species of succulents, it can only store a limited amount of water using its stems. The plant has evolved to also take 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 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.

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 well-drained soil option.

Crown Of Thorn Blooms…

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

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Flower colors are in shades of pink, salmon, red, orange, yellow and bicolor. The showy portion of the terminal inflorescence of these hybrids is a modified pair of bracts called cyathophylls.

The bracts of the hybrids are usually 1 inch across and produced in terminal clusters, usually with eight cyathophylls in each cluster. Flower buds are set in the leaf axils of each leaf, so it is not

It is not uncommon to see heads of 4 or more inches across. Unlike E. millii, which tends to flower best during the short days of the year, the hybrids are day-length insensitive and form flower buds as long as the plant is growing.

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The plant grows well if placed under the 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.

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.

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.

Very Little Fertilizer For Crowns Of Thorns…

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The plant needs minimal nourishment but does respond to slow-release fertilizer.  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.

What To Do With Crown Of Thorn During Winter Month…

Letting the Crown of Thorns houseplant 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 in potted specimens.

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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.

Crown Of Thorn Diseases And Pests…

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Generally speaking, infestations and diseases plague crown of thorns rarely. However, plants kept indoors may occasionally encounter problems with spider mites on plants,  different types of scale insects, and playing host to mealybugs.

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.

We recommend using a pump up sprayer. Soaking a tea bag overnight, afterward remove the teabag adding a teaspoon of Epson Salt and a drop of Dawn dish soap. This works well as a regular way to provide moisture and fight diseases.

Maintenance And Pruning…

In the autumn, remove old branches with most of its leaves withered. This will stimulate more new growth when springtime arrives. Prune lightly to maintain the size and shape of your plants. Although evergreen, the crown of thorns naturally grows more vigorously throughout the spring and summer.

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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.

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

Propagating Crown Of Thorns…

If you love the crown of thorns in the garden and want more, it’s easy to propagate from tip cuttings. 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. Poke the callused ends of your cuttings into the wet soil.

Place the Crown of Thorn’s 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.


  1. I have cuttings from 4 weeks ago that show a bit of new growth, and plan to add them to a row of same along a fence. The parent plants are planted in the ground. They new rooted cuttings will be in full sun and the parent plants are healthy and thriving. Location is SW Florida. My question is about transferring the cuttings from their small containers to the ground.
    1. Do I plant the cuttings in clusters of 3-5, or as individual plants w space between them? The parent plants are bush-like, which is the look I want. Parent plants were planted prior to our move to the house so do not know how they were planted.

    2. How long should the cuttings stay in their small pots before transferring them? I gave read many different opinions about this.

    3. Any tips for transfer from pot to ground? I am writing this in mid-late December in SW Florida.

    Thank you kindly for your assistance.

    1. Hi Mercedes,

      When it comes to the Crown of Thorns, I have recently propagated a bunch myself. I noticed four weeks for the cuttings to dry was hardly enough so be careful with that water on those.

      The cluster planting is all by choice. I have seen these growing in single stalks almost like trees and I have seen them very bushy. Depending on how thick you want the final bed to be is how you will choose.

      As far as how long the cuttings should stay in the pot depends on the area they are growing in. They need bright light to root.

      If the ground stays moist then I would wait but if it dries out well then you do not even have to pot them and you could grow them right in the ground. Especially in the zone, you are in. But if you do want to pot them, I would suggest leaving them to grow for six months or so in order to become established before stressing them with a change of environment. They will root in a few months but take time to really mature.

      Transfering is just like any plant. I would amend the soil with our white sand that is found in most Florida yards as they love it. If the thorns are throwing you off, wrap the plant with a sheet and use that like a handle.

      Thank you for the question. Good luck! Happy holidays!

  2. I just bought my 1st Crown of Thorns. It’s a lil cutie in a 3” pot. How long before I should transplant into a larger pot, and how large should I go each time I move up in size? TIA for any suggestions you may offer!

  3. Oops, I rescued one today 4 ft and bushy, I’m so excited to have. Also rescued a very big snake plant and a very big Jade, it’s gorgeous, a trunk the size of a mans forearm. I was growing one that is tiny with one cluster of leaves, along with a 6 leaved snake plant!
    Thanks for the Thorns instructions.

  4. My crown of thorns is about 10 or so years old. It is a houseplant. It is about 2.5′ to 3′ tall and leggy. It flowers all year long and the flowers are all at the very top. I would like to prune it back so it is not so tall and make it fuller. Is it to old to do this? Thank you

    1. lI have a 15 year old Crown. Did not know I should bring it in during our latest deluge, now I am afraid I have killed it. It is very large and potted.Hard for me to move it around. But I can hire someone.Help!

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