Euphorbia milii, known as crown of thorns or crown of christ, is a unique succulent. It is characterized by its bright green leaves and thick woody stems covered in thorns. It blooms year-round with flowers surrounded by larger bracts that may be pink, white, yellow, orange, or red. Learn how to propagate, cultivate Crown of Thorns and its care.
Where to Grow Crown of Thorns
Indoors, it only reaches about 60 cm in height, while outdoors it can reach 1.80 m. Its green leaves are usually present only on new growth, so a mature crown of thorns on the outside can look very different from a small one on the inside.
If you want to grow a crown of thorns outdoors, give it plenty of room to grow and sunlight.
Also, when you first transplant it into your garden, you will need to give it plenty of water until it becomes established. You can then reduce watering, as Euphorbia milii is a drought-tolerant succulent.
Finally, you should find a sunny spot for this plant in your garden, lots of sun will allow more flowers to bloom, making it bright and healthy.
Note that this plant can tolerate shade if needed, but sheltering it from the sun will cause its leaves to wilt slightly and its flowers to die.
How to Propagate Crown of Thorns
Crown of thorns propagation can be done throughout the year if you do it inside the house, but if you do it in the garden, the best times are fall and spring.
For it to thrive, it needs well-drained soil with compost to enrich it and coarse sand to make it more draining.
The pot for this plant should not be much larger than its root ball, as excess soil in the pot of a crown of thorns plant can cause water retention, which can lead to rotting of its roots.
When propagating Crown of Thorns, you will also need gloves to protect yourself from its sap and thorns.
Start by making a cut at the end of a stem at least 2 to 2 inches from the top of the plant; the cut should include a new leaf bud for best results.
Then, wrap the stem in a paper towel to let it dry and stall. Within a few days, the cut end of your stem should appear puckered, which means it’s ready to plant.
Put your cut spike in a small pot of well-drained soil and gently press the soil around its base to secure it.
While it is rooting, keep the soil moist and place it in a sunny spot to help it grow. Once you see new growth on the plant, that’s a sign you can transplant it.
How and when to transplant a potted crown of thorns
You should repot your crown of thorns every two years or so, and plan to do so in early spring or late winter, in the evening, when the sun is not strong.
As the soil in the original container ages, it loses the ability to drain properly, leading to root rot.
The materials you’ll need to repot your crown of thorns are well-draining potting soil for succulents and cacti, gloves, and a new pot that’s only an inch larger than the original.
Begin the repotting process by removing the plant from its old pot, being careful not to damage the plant or injure yourself with the thorns. To make removal easier, you can loosen the grip of the soil on the edge of the pot with a flat tool, like a butter knife.
Once out of the pot, separate the old soil from the roots with your fingers or a garden fork.
Then place it in its new pot, placing the new soil firmly over its roots. Finally, water the crown of thorns generously before replacing it in a sunny spot.
Nurture and Cultivate the Crown of Thorns
The most important thing is to give them sunlight. The more sunlight they receive per day, the more flowers they will have. Even three to four hours of sunlight a day can help them bloom reliably.
Therefore, if you plan to have your crown of thorns as a houseplant, place it in an oriented window so that it receives the most direct sunlight.
To water your crown of thorns, it is best to check the soil by inserting your finger: If the first centimeter of soil is dry, it is time to water.
Do this generously until the water comes out of the drainage hole. In winter, you will need slightly less frequent watering. At this stage, water only if the top 5 or 6 centimeters of soil are dry.
Regardless of the season, be sure to pour off excess water remaining in the saucer to prevent root rot and other diseases.
Crown of thorns plants can also benefit from fertilizing with a balanced liquid plant food. Watch: How to make liquid organic fertilizers.
Every two weeks during the plant’s growing season in spring, summer and autumn, you can feed it; however, you must first make sure to dilute the solution by half.
Is the crown of thorns poisonous?
The crown of thorns plant is unfortunately poisonous. Euphorbia milii is harmful to humans and pets, causing diarrhea, vomiting and skin irritation.
This is because its sap contains 5-deoxyingenol, a natural chemical that can cause a number of dangerous symptoms in pets like dogs, cats and horses if ingested.
In addition, the spikes of the plant can themselves be dangerous. Dogs can bite and chew the stem, causing punctures and tears in the mouth, leading to infections. Children can also pick up the spikes inadvertently, causing painful injuries.
To avoid injury or irritation from the sap, always supervise your pets and young children around these plants.
It may also be interesting to read: How to propagate and grow the Easter cactus (hatiora gaertneri).
When pruning, propagating, or transplanting your crown of thorns, be sure to wear gloves so you don’t prick yourself or stain your skin with the sap. If you accidentally get the poisonous sap in your eyes, you can burn yourself and need medical attention.
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