How to Grow Crown of Thorns Plant

Crown of Thorns, celebrated for its historical significance and cultural allure, offers a blend of beauty and tradition.

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According to legend, this plant traces back to the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ. In Thai culture, it is revered as Poysean, meaning "eight saints," believed to bring luck and blessings to homes where it thrives.

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This resilient succulent originates from Madagascar, captivates with its vibrant flowers and rugged, thorn-covered stems, making it a beloved choice for both indoors and out.

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Whether you're seeking to enrich your living space with luck or simply appreciate its enduring beauty, cultivating the Crown of Thorns offers a perfect solution.

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Scientific nameEuphorbia milii
Common nameCrown of Thorns, Christ Plant, Christ Thorn
FamilyEuphorbiaceae
Plant TypeSucculent
Height3-6 ft. tall outdoors, 2 ft. tall indoors
SunlightFull sun to partial shade
Flower ColorRed, pink, white, yellow
Blooming SeasonYear-round
ThornsSharp, 1-inch long
Native AreaAfrica
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Propagation

For optimal results, propagate Crown of Thorns from cuttings rather than seeds, which have short viability and lengthy germination periods.

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Select a healthy stem with vibrant green color and no signs of damage. Use clean, sharp scissors to cut a 3 to 4-inch stem. Remove lower leaves to prevent rot and dip the cut end in rooting hormone.

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Plant the cutting in a well-draining mix of perlite and peat moss, ensuring good aeration and moisture retention.

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Place in a warm, bright location with indirect sunlight and mist lightly until roots develop, typically within 4-8 weeks.

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Growing Crown of Thorns

Preparation

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Crown of Thorns plant has over 2000 types. Here are the most common varieties:

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  • Dwarf Apache: Compact size, perfect for small spaces. Features bright red flowers and spiky green foliage.
  • Fireworks: Showcases multicolored blooms resembling bursts of fireworks, with colors ranging from pink to red and yellow, creating a stunning spectacle.
  • Bright Star: Large, star-shaped flowers in shades ranging from deep red to bright orange. Known for its striking floral pattern and vigorous growth.
  • Yellow Giant: Produces large clusters of bright yellow flowers, making a bold statement in garden beds or containers.
  • Thai Hybrid: Robust growth with clusters of flowers in pink, red, and white hues. Renowned for its prolific flowering and adaptable nature.
  • White Lightning: Features crisp white flowers against dark green foliage, offering a classic and elegant appearance.
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Prepare a well-draining potting mix suitable for cacti and succulents, using perlite, coarse sand, and peat moss in equal parts. Aim for a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH (6.0-7.0) for healthy growth.

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Choose a pot with drainage holes slightly larger than the root ball, favoring terra cotta or ceramic pots for better airflow.

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Planting Crown of Thorns in A Pot

Layering the prepared potting mix at the bottom. Carefully position the plant in the center, ensuring it's secure but not overly compacted.

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Leave a small gap between the soil surface and the pot rim to aid in watering and allow for root growth.

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After about two years, if your plant shows signs of outgrowing its pot or the roots become crowded, it's time to repot.

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Use protective gloves to handle the plant's thorny stems and roots. Select a new pot that's slightly larger in diameter than the current one to prevent overcrowding.

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During repotting, gently remove the plant from its current container, loosening any tightly bound roots. Place it in the new pot, adjusting the soil level to match the previous planting depth.

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Surround the roots with fresh cactus potting mix, ensuring stability and coverage. Water thoroughly after repotting to help the plant settle into its new home.

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Care for Crown of Thorns

To care for your Crown of Thorns plant, follow these key steps:

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  • Place in bright, indirect sunlight for 4-6 hours daily, maintaining temperatures between 65-85°F (18-29°C) and protecting from cold below 50°F (10°C).
  • Water deeply when the top inch of soil is dry to avoid waterlogging.
  • Use well-draining cactus or succulent potting mix. Feed with diluted balanced fertilizer during spring and summer.
  • Prune to maintain shape and remove dead growth using gloves for protection.
  • Repot every 2-3 years with fresh potting mix if the plant outgrows its container.
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Light

Indoors, provide 12-14 hours of bright, indirect sunlight daily for optimal growth. Use artificial grow lights in low-light conditions and rotate the plant regularly to ensure even exposure.

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Outdoors, place in full sunlight to stimulate bud formation, but shield from intense afternoon sun in warmer climates to prevent leaf scorching.

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Water

Crown of Thorns is drought-tolerant but requires moderate watering. Check soil moisture 1 inch below the surface - water when dry.

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Increase watering in spring and summer, allowing soil to dry between waterings. In fall and winter, reduce watering to maintain slightly moist soil and prevent root issues.

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Soil

Use well-draining succulent and cactus potting mix with a blend of sandy soil, peat moss, perlite, and sand. This mix enhances drainage and aeration, crucial for preventing water accumulation and root suffocation.

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Aim for a slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.0-7.0) to support healthy growth and flowering, avoiding heavy clay soils prone to root rot.

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Temperature and Humidity

Maintain temperatures between 65°F to 85°F (18°C to 29°C) indoors, avoiding drafts and temperature fluctuations. Increase humidity in dry climates with a humidifier or water tray nearby.

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Outdoors, place in Zones 9-11, protecting from temperatures below 35°F (2°C) and intense afternoon sun to safeguard roots and foliage.

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Pruning

Prune in spring to maintain shape and stimulate new growth.

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Use protective gear and sterile tools to remove damaged limbs and prune above healthy buds or joints. Leave sufficient foliage to support plant health and vitality.

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Fertilizer

Apply balanced, organic fertilizer diluted to half strength every 4-6 weeks during spring and summer. Avoid high-nitrogen and boron-containing fertilizers to prevent sensitivity issues.

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Use a 2-4-6 NPK ratio to support healthy growth and flowering, fertilizing sparingly during active growth phases.

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Pests and Diseases

Despite their hardiness, crown of thorns plants are vulnerable to pests and diseases. Spider mites thrive in dry conditions, sucking sap from leaves, causing yellowing and stippling. To manage them, increase humidity with regular misting and wash leaves with water or use insecticidal soap.

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Mealybugs appear as white, cottony masses on stems and leaves, draining sap and hindering growth. Remove them by wiping with alcohol-soaked cotton swabs or using insecticidal soap. Prune heavily infested areas to prevent spread.

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Besides, root rot, triggered by overwatering or poor drainage, results in wilting and yellowing. Prevent it with well-draining soil and moderate watering. Treat affected roots by trimming and repotting in dry soil.

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Leaf spot manifests as dark, water-soaked spots on leaves, necessitating improved air circulation and prompt removal of affected foliage. Severe cases may require fungicidal treatments. Regular monitoring is essential for sustaining plant health.

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Common Problems

Yellowing Leaves

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Yellow leaves on your Crown of Thorns plant often indicate underwatering, sudden temperature changes, or poor soil quality.

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Ensure regular watering, especially during active growth phases, and maintain consistent indoor temperatures. Well-draining soil prevents waterlogging and reduces stress on the roots.

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Lack of Blooms

If your mature Crown of Thorns isn't blooming, excessive nighttime light or overfertilization may be the culprits.

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Encourage flowering by providing total darkness at night and using balanced fertilizer sparingly during the growing season. This approach redirects the plant's energy from foliage to flower production.

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Dropping Leaves

Excessive leaf drop suggests environmental stress like high temperatures or irregular watering.

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Establish stable conditions with moderate temperatures and a consistent watering schedule to maintain healthy foliage throughout the growth cycle.

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Oozing Latex sap

Sticky latex sap on stems or leaves indicates mechanical damage or pest infestation such as scale or mealybugs.

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Address these pests promptly with appropriate treatments, carefully prune affected areas, and handle the plant gently to prevent further sap leakage.

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Browning Stems or Leaves

Brown spots on stems or leaves may signal fungal infections due to moisture buildup or poor airflow.

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Trim affected parts promptly and improve air circulation around the plant to prevent further fungal issues. Using well-draining soil and avoiding overwatering also aids in maintaining plant health.

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Grow the crown of thorns plant to bring luck into your home. With proper care indoors, it thrives for decades, symbolizing resilience and beauty with vibrant blooms.

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