Everything about the Crown of Thorns Succulent

Crown of Thorns— Euphorbia Milii

This is probably the umpteenth time you’re telling yourself that you won’t buy another succulent. In fact, your friends have heard you say it ad nauseam. But then, you take a look at your succulent corner or window sill, and there’s an irresistible urge to add just one more of these green pretties. I know. We do it all the time. Succulent obsession? You bet!

With succulents, it can be a bit overwhelming to choose from the wide variety. They come in quirky and bizarre colors, shapes and sizes. Oh, and names too!

From the mother-in-law’s tongue known as Sansevieria Trifasciata to the pig’s ear known as the Cotyledon Orbiculata. What about the burro’s tail? (Who thought of these names?) Without a doubt, deciding on your next succulent gets more interesting by the day.

Crown of Thorns— Euphorbia Milii

crown of thorns succulent plant

A great deal of plants are usually referred to as ever blooming, yet, when you take them home, the hard truth hits you. You expectantly watch the plant daily but you get disappointed. Some don’t bloom for weeks and others even for months!

If you’re anything like me, you like your office or living room teaming with color punctuated with a feel of nature. Look no further – the crown of thorns got you covered. This tenacious, award-winning succulent is an all-time bloomer producing conspicuous red bracts with little yellow flowers centrally located. It’s a hard to kill plant that can be passed on as a gift for years while maintaining its blooms all through as it grow.

Scientific Classification

The botanical name for the crown of thorns is Euphorbia milii. It traces its scientific genealogy from the spurge (Euphorbiaceae) family. Its species name milii, is used in honor of Baron Milius, who introduced it into cultivation in France in 1821 and was once a Governor of Bourbon Island.

Euphorbia milii’s common names include, crown of thorns, Christ thorn and Christ plant. Latin Americans call it corona de Cristo.


This sprawling succulent is native to Madagascar and does well in the tropics. The crown of thorns is a popular indoor ornamental grown all over the world due to its all-year blooms. It’s an easy care plant – a close fit both for the neglectful plant lovers and the brown thumbs.

Due to its outstanding characteristics, Euphorbia milii received the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit in 1993.


Euphorbia milii is a slow growing, evergreen succulent mainly characterized by its large, sharp inch-long thorns that randomly cover the stem. The thick stems have water-storage capacity making the plant drought-resistant. This woody shrub consists of sparsely arranged, fleshy leaves which are thick and bright-green in color. Euphorbia milii, a salt tolerant succulent, only brings forth leaves on newer stems or the youngest parts of the plant.

The narrow, obovate, smooth-edged leaves that are spirally arranged on the stem naturally drop off as the plant gets older. This gives a scrawny appearance in older plants – an awesome vintage aesthetic for your living room or office.

Euphorbia milii is recognized for its eye-catching blooms, which are not real flowers in the real sense, but spathaceous red bracts conveniently situated at the shoot tips. These conspicuous, saucer-shaped bracts surround the real yellow flowers.

Blooming mostly occurs between spring and late summer. However, when conditions are conducive, the crown of thorns plant can produce flowers tirelessly throughout the year.


7 Reasons to have a Crown of Thorn

crown of thorns plant
  1. It stands out as a rich ornamental in living rooms due to its showy, brilliant red bracts, thus adding charm and color to your home.
  2. The crown of Thorns is a pretty forgiving plant. It will not yell at you for forgetting to water it once in a while.
  3. It can be grown indoors and even outdoors if the area has frost-free winters.
  4. In good conditions, Euphorbia milii will bloom throughout the year.
  5. A very easy maintenance plant due to its slow growing nature.
  6. The crown of thorns plant is not soil picky. It can grow on the poorest soils as long as it’s well draining.
  7. Simple to propagate by cuttings.

How to take care of Euphorbia Milii Succulents

Euphorbia milii is a tough plant that will tolerate the most extreme climatic conditions and still look very good. This makes it pretty easy to grow and even the most inexperienced gardener can have a pleasant time cultivating it.

What is the ideal temperature to grow in for Crown of Thorns?

This desert plant will thrive in warm conditions as it’s well adapted for that. Temperatures above 18°C are optimal for the crown of thorns plant though it will also tolerate temperatures as low as 10°C.

Very cold temperatures will cause the plant to slow down its growth and be dormant. Euphorbia milii can thrive in any humidity level.

It’s absolutely allergic to frosts, cold drafts or freezing conditions especially while it’s young. You’ll want to avoid these as plague, unless you want to kill your Euphorbia.

How much Light does a Euphorbia Milii need?

This sun lover loves to bask in bright and direct sunlight for at least four hours a day. The better the sun exposure it gets, the more it blooms.  Euphorbia milii can also tolerate shade, however, its blooms while growing under a shade will not impress you.

If growing it outdoors, aim at placing it in a spot where it will receive full sun. For you houseplant champions, place your crown of thorns in a west or south-facing window and ensure it receives maximum sunlight.

Read more about how much sunlight your succulent needs in order to grow healthy and vibrant.

Euphorbia milii succulent plant

Soil & Fertilizing Requirements

Euphorbia milii will do well in a well-drained, grainy potting substrate. This is paramount to ensure that the plant doesn’t sit on damp soil for long.

You can use about a third of pumice or perlite and mix it with two thirds of regular soil to make an ideal potting mix for the crown of thorns plant. Read the best soil mixes here.

As for fertilizers, the Euphorbia milii will do just fine and remain robust even without fertilizers, a bit of liquid fertilizer sprinkled occasionally will go a long way in helping it to bloom. Use a dilute solution of balanced fertilizer during spring and summer. Avoid fertilizing the dry substrate as this will burn the roots.

The crown of thorns is a slow growing plant, so be careful not to over fertilize it as this will lead to fewer flowers and thin, stretched-looking shoots.

Euphorbia milii is very sensitive to micronutrients and especially Boron, so be careful when using fertilizers that are loaded with large amounts of micronutrients.

Watering Crown of Thorns— Euphorbia Milii

The crown of thorns plant is reserved and less demanding when it comes to water. Its thick, spiny stems store water which keeps it hydrated for many days.

Give it a thorough watering once a week and let the surface soil (about one inch deep) to dry out before watering it again. Flood your Euphorbia milii but drain off the excess water. If the root ball sits in moist soil for an extended period of time, a dangerous fungal disease known as root rot will plague the plant.

Water your crown of thorns with less water than usual during cold seasons or when the temperature drops below 10°C.

Pests with Euphorbia Milii

The crown of thorns is rarely invaded by pests. When it happens, mealy bugs, scales, spider mites and thrips are the usual culprits. You can take care of these buddies by dipping a cotton swab in soapy water and using it to rub them off.

Euphorbia milii will only be susceptible to diseases as a result of too much water either in the substrate or on the foliage. To prevent this, avoid overwatering your plant.

Is the Euphorbia Milii Succulent Poisonous?

Typical of other Euphorbias, the crown of thorn’s sticky, white latex is toxic and can cause dermatitis and even partial blindness if a lot of it finds its way to the eyes. All parts are poisonous when ingested. Therefore, keep it away from pets and toddlers. Also watch out for the sharp thorns.

pink flowering crown of thorns succulent plant

How to Propagate Crown of Thorns Succulent

Propagating crown of thorns is easy and the success rate high. This exercise is carried out through stem cuttings.

Simply snip off a younger branch using a sharp and sterilized blade or knife at the intersection where the trunk and the branch meet. After the cut, some white latex will start dripping from the cuts. You can curb this “bleeding” by dipping the cuts in warm water to prevent the sap from running excessively.

Place your cuttings in a dry area, preferably on a newspaper or a paper towel to allow them to dry and callus the cuts. This should take two to three days.

Get a small pot and fill it with well drained potting mix. An ideal option is the cacti commercial mix. Make it slightly moist. If the substrate is too dry the cuttings won’t develop roots and if it’s overly wet, then they’ll rot. You want to avoid both extremes.

If you want quicker rooting, you can dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone though they’ll do just fine even without the catalyst.

Stick your cutting in the moist potting mix and place them in a warm place with loads of bright, indirect sunlight. Do not water it at all for several weeks.

Now wait.

After a couple of weeks, the cuttings will start developing roots. You can know this by gently tugging the plants and checking for some resistance.

In about a month’s time, the plant will be fully established and it will show signs of growth. You can now start watering your plant albeit lightly.

Repotting the Crown of Thorns Succulents

2 Crown of thorn succulent plants in terra cotta pots

Repot immediately after purchase since most commercial plants are sold with conventional flowering soil that may be injurious to Euphorbia milii. Repot it to a well-draining substrate fortified with a little composted manure as a nutrient source.

After this, only repot once the plant outgrows its current container. Make sure the new pot is only slightly larger than the previous one. If the pot is too big, the plant will focus on growing new roots rather flowering.

Terra cotta pots are great for the crown of thorns. But be sure to use a pot that is correct in size for optimal growth.

Where can I buy a Euphorbia Milii Succulent?

Euphorbia milii is widely available in green houses and local garden centers, especially during spring. In case you fail to find it there, check out online stores such as Etsy and Amazon. Read more on where you can buy other succulents here.

Was that enough Crown of Thorns information? We’d hope so! If you found any value in this article please be sure to comment what you liked best about it and how it helped you. (We love feedback).

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