Euphorbia Milii (Crown of Thorns)

Euphorbia milii also known as Crown of Thorns has become widely popular these days. They originated in Madagascar. I remember about 10 years ago it would have been difficult to locate one. But now they are even sold at Home Depot. The variety found at the plant nursery have larger blooms and smaller clusters of leaves.

Crown of Thorns are very popular in many Thai and Lao households (or gardeners). They believe the plant brings them fortune and luck. As the Lucky bamboo is for the Chinese. But for the plant to be truly a symbol of good fortune, the flowers must form in brackets of 8. The bright red flowers are tiny, but the contrast it gives with the big emerald leaves are beautiful. I think many people might be turn off by the amount of thorns it has, but I think it makes the plant very unique looking.


My mother grows two varieties in her garden. The small variety has very small leaves and tiny red flowers. The one I have a pictured here (up close) was originally from southern California. It is about 10 years old. The original plant was probably older, maybe 30 years old. They usually bloom in spring and summer. But this year, we found her plant to be blooming more then usual.

These plants are very easy to grow. Like many succulents, it requires just a nice cutting and good clean soil. They don’t prefer too much water, so they do well in dry climates. During the winter (California) we usually protect them from frost. A couple of years ago, it almost got wiped out.

Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service has lots of good questions and answers on here. Some examples include: Question: I have owned a crown of thorns plant for about four years. It seems to be doing very well. However, it is very tall and I wonder if I should be cutting it back?
Answer: Cut it back to an acceptable lateral branch, then spray the cut end with cold water to arrest the flow of the latex sap. You might take the top three to four inches of the cut stem and try rooting it, after allowing the ends to dry for a day before placing them in a 50/50 mix of peat/sand.


Clusters of tiny bright red flowers amongst long green leaves and spiky stems.


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