Crown of Thorns

Crown of thorns in flower

In many areas of the country, crown of thorns is grown as a unique houseplant. For Florida gardeners it makes a great container plant, and in South Florida, it can also be planted outdoors as a small shrub.

Native to Madagascar and classified as a succulent, crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii) has thick fleshy leaves and stems adapted for water storage. One of the reasons crown of thorns makes such a great choice for Florida gardens is that it’s heat tolerant and tolerates salt spray. Because it doesn’t mind drying out, it makes a good flowering container plant.

A tropical relative of poinsettias, crown of thorns is perhaps best known for its interesting stems, which are grayish brown and covered with inch-long spines. Gardeners also appreciate that it blooms year-round with delicate flowers in pink, red, yellow, or white.

Plant it in full sun for best results, watering as needed. Once established, it has good drought tolerance. Just be sure to protect it from frost and freeze. You can propagate crown of thorns from tip cuttings, but take care when handling the plant. Both the spines and the milky sap can cause skin irritation.

UF/IFAS Publications

Also on Gardening Solutions