Tips to Keep Your Crown of Thorns Blooming All Year Round
The imposing nature of the Crown of Thorns plant stands out even after Lent. It’s true that during the liturgical season the species takes on greater symbolism due to the similarity of the stem with the crown imposed on Jesus Christ for the crucifixion. In fact, legend has it that the same kind of branch was used.
But throughout the year, the beauty of its flowers, the simplicity of cultivation and ornamental quality have earned this thorny shrub the privilege of showing off in gardens and balconies. If this is a specimen that captivates your attention, take note of these recommendations to get it to flower.
The characteristics of the Crown of Thorns plant
The spikes of these specimens are often compared to succulents. When it comes to open fields, slopes and ravines are areas where it tends to develop; although on terraces it shows that it’s capable of growing as long as it receives sun.
The scientific name is Euphorbia milii and it belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. The crown sprouts flowers all year round, with deep red or pink bracts and oval leaves with a slightly glabrous texture. Madagascar is the original site of the species, where its height sometimes exceeds one meter and provides other utilities besides the ornamental.
On this point, a publication of the Municipality of Miraflores comments on the value of the crown of thorns in herbalism. The institution indicates that the plant is used in phytotherapy and that its latex is convenient to help in the treatment of intestinal discomfort, diarrhea and stomach pains.
On the other hand, some relatively successful scientific studies indicate that the analgesic and sedative effect of the extracts of the plant. Beyond the antioxidants, which it shares with other species, researchers have found that the most active components in medicinal terms are the diterpenoids and triterpenoids.
Any of these purposes merits medical supervision, especially if it’s the case of a patient with a pre-existing condition.
This is the care required by the Crown of Thorns plant for continuous flowering
In general, the Crown of Thorns bush only needs a healthy soil to thrive. It does!’t require meticulous attention, but it does require certain conditions for optimal flowering.
Protect your Crown of Thorns from the cold
The tropical origin of the crown of thorns means that it prefers temperatures of up to 35 °C (95 °F). It’s not cold-friendly and may lose leaves in the winter.
Give it a dose of light
When grown as a houseplant, this species will “beg” for sunshine for at least 3 hours every day. As a solution, place it next to a window or in a spot where it can be reached by solar radiation.
Keep in mind that if you decide to move it to an outdoor area permanently, it’s possible that some leaves may be burned because they’re not used to the constant sun. However, in a few days, the crown of thorns overcomes the condition and gets used to the new location.
Be alert to possible infections and pests
If the leaves of the Euphorbia milii turn yellow, it’s possible that the soil isn’t good for them or that they need more water. On the other hand, when the branches or stems turn brown, chances are high that a fungus is on the plant.
In the first scenario, change and nourish the soil. On the other hand, in the second scenario, the key is to remove the damaged leaves and apply remedies such as neem oil. According to an article in Vinculando magazine , the chemical components of neem inhibit or interrupt the proliferation of pupae, larvae, and eggs.
A lack of light or excessive cold are other factors that affect continuous flowering. Added to this are the pests that can cause premature wilting and deformities in all plants.
Some of these pests listed by Tropical Nature are the following:
Watering and fertilizing your Crown of Thorns
The University of North Carolina Gardening Extension notes that Crown of Thorns favors dry or medium moisture soils with adequate drainage. The cue to hydrate the plant is to check to see if the top of the soil is dry; when hydrating, don’t puddle the roots and distance watering in winter.
When the plant is in a pot, poke holes in the container to ensure that water drains. If you have a saucer under the pot, empty it after 15 minutes to help prevent water reabsorption.
As for fertilizer, they don’t need it, but a moderate amount contributes to their flowering. Likewise, fertilizers for succulents help the flowering of the crown of thorns all year round, especially if you dissolve them in water and make sure they don’t contain boron.
Pruning in summer
Pruning is not strict when it comes to the Crown of Thorns. Use it only to control growth. Summer is the best season to cut back very long branches, and so is fall for removing wilted parts.
Reproduce your Crown of Thorns by cuttings
While reproduction by seed is effective, Crown of Thorns is often propagated by cuttings. The method is based on cutting a branch and planting it in a 50% combination of vermiculite and perlite.
Don’t forget to wear gardening gloves to avoid the thorns and the plant’s sap.
Caution: Place your Crown of Thorns plant in a safe place
One last recommendation regarding the care of the plant is to have a safe space for it and for the inhabitants of the house, including pets. It so happens that the thorns contain a liquid that’s toxic to the eyes and skin.
The Queensland Children’s Health Hospital warns that if there’s rubbing against the sap, the protocol is to rinse the affected area with plenty of water for 15 minutes and seek medical attention.
Children and animals may gravitate towards the colorful plant and touch it, causing a prick from the barbs. Finally, if you have the crown of thorns in patios or gardens, it’s advisable to border it with ornamental rocks to avoid the approach. Also, if you plant it in pots, place it in a spot that makes direct contact difficult.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Amtaghri, S., Akdad, M., Slaoui, M., & Eddouks, M. (2022). Traditional Uses, Pharmacological, and Phytochemical Studies of Euphorbia: A Review. Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry, 22(19), 1553-1570.
- Extensión de Jardinería de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte. Euphorbia Milii. Extensión de Jardinería de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte. https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/euphorbia-milii/
- Hospital de Salud Infantil de Queensland. Corona de espinas (Euphorbia milii). Hospital de Salud Infantil de Queensland. https://www.childrens.health.qld.gov.au/poisonous-plant-crown-thorns-euphorbia-milii/
- Islam, N. U., Khan, I., Rauf, A., Muhammad, N., Shahid, M., & Shah, M. R. (2015). Antinociceptive, muscle relaxant and sedative activities of gold nanoparticles generated by methanolic extract of Euphorbia milii. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 15(1), 1-11.
- Municipalidad de Miraflores. Corona de Cristo. Municipalidad de Miraflores. https://www.miraflores.gob.pe/parque-bicentenario/corona-de-cristo/
- Naturaleza Tropical. Mis plantas no florecen. ¿Por qué? Naturaleza Tropical. https://naturalezatropical.com/mis-plantas-no-florecen/
- Revista Vinculando. (2008). El Neem en la salud animal y en el control de plagas. Revista Vinculando. https://vinculando.org/articulos/el_neem_en_la_salud_animal_y_en_el_control_de_plagas.html#vcite