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Crown of Thorns Flower: Meaning, Usage & Growing Guide

Crown of thrones (Euphorbia milii) sounds like a dangerous plant, but in reality, it is a gorgeous succulent plant that can bloom multicolored flowers even when kept indoors.

The plant is a low-growing evergreen shrub featuring thorny grooved stems and branches and boasts emerald green leaves and blossoms in white, pink, red, and even yellow. 

Generally, a crown of thrones produces small flowers in clusters of 2-8 at the tips of a green stem about 1 inch long. The flowers develops throughout the year and exposes physiological, bacteriostatic, and antioxidant activities. 

Crown of Thorns in Pot
Crown of Thorns in Pot (Source: Instagram)

They are sprawling evergreen shrubs with lots of colorful varieties and are easy to grow in warm climates.

It is one of the lucky plants in Chinese culture as the plant of fortune that will bring luck when it produces eight flowers in an inflorescence. 

Continue reading to learn everything about crown of thrones before you jump into making the wrong decision with the crown of thrones flowers.

Overview of Crown of Thorns Flower

Crown of Thorns Flower (Euphorbia milii) grows into a woody shrub with thorn-like spines on its stems which measures up to 6 feet when kept outdoors and ⅓ of its maximum outdoor size when grown indoors.

It is native to Africa, specifically Madagascar, which was brought to France in the 1800s by then Governor of Réunion, where its popularity boomed, and hybrids were quickly cultivated.

Go through this table to learn more about the crown of thorns flower!

Flower TypeUnisexual (plants monoecious)
Flower structureEach cluster is subtended by a pair of conspicuous brilliant red (rarely yellow) petaloid bracts (cyathophylls), broadly ovate beneath or subcircular, ca. 12-15 mm across.
Flower ShapeCyathium (fused bracts that form a cup)
Flower Color Red, orange, pink, yellow, or white
FragranceBitter due to poisonous latex sap
Blooming SeasonAll year round
Fruit Capsule containing 1 seed
Toxicity Toxic to humans and animals

Euphorbia seeds are only viable for a short period and you need to sow them immediately if you want to populate the crown of thorns.

Crown of Thorns Flower: Meaning & Symbolism

In Thailand, people believe that the number of flowers on a Euphorbia crown of thorns plant welcomes a lucky charm for the plant keeper.

Euphorbia milii received the common name as a crown of thorns, referencing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

When Roman soldiers crucified Christ on the Golgotha, Christ was worn with the red bracts of the crown of thorns flowers representing his blood.

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This all started with the biblical narrative when Adam and Eve sinned against God in the Garden of Eden. The couple received the curse of pain and suffering from God after that. 

The Crown of thorns flower represents a painful burden, suffering, guilt, and anxiety.

According to Christianity, the human conscience is full of sins that always tails prick our guilty souls with sharp thorns. That’s how the crown of thorns received the badge of sin, and humans earned this for disobeying the eternal living God.

At last, the savior Christ wore our crown of thorns (filthy badge of sin) to redeem the entire humanity. 

You can also learn some more meaning of the crown of thorns through this video below!

How Often Do Crown of Thorns Bloom?

Crown of Thorns has a set of multicolored flowers, with newer varieties bragging large. 

In fact, Euphorbia milii produces small and green, coated under showy bracts in red, orange, pink, yellow, or white throughout the year, with spring and summer referring to the peak blooming period. 

Crown of thorns flowers makes it a decorative plant that can bloom indoors and outdoors with low-maintenance and good ventilation, sunlight, and well-draining soil.

Crown of Thorns Flowers
Crown of Thorns Flowers (Source: Instagram)

It also accepts open pollination to breed, which happens when plants fortuitously cross-pollinate in nurseries.

You can perform hand pollination using a fine paintbrush and transfer pollen from one flower to another.

Once you see the developed fruiting tablet, allow it to ripen, extract it, and pop it open over a piece of paper for easier collection of the seeds.

How to Make a Crown of Thorns Flower?

Crown of thorns might be a lovely addition to your collection if you’re looking for an adaptable plant. You can grow it in your garden bed, as a border specimen, as a hedge, or in a container.

However, you need to consider the following crown of thorns flower care tips if you want it to bloom healthily.

  • Crown of thorns leverages 3-4 bright direct sunlight and prefers a south-facing window. 
  • You can water the plant when the soil feels dry, about 1 inch below the surface. Watering once every two weeks will be enough in the summertime.
  • Euphorbia milii thrive in moderate temperatures between 65 and 90°F (18-32°C)
  • Also, they prefer humidity between 50%-75% to bloom. 
Crown of Thorns Bloomed Indoors
Crown of Thorns Bloomed Indoors (Source: Instagram)
  • Provide the plant with neutral or acidic soil, well-drained soil with a pH of 7.
  • Generally, the crown of thorns needs a diluted solution of a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) every month in the springtime and throughout the summer.
  • Mealybugs, spider mites, scales, and thrips may occur in Euphorbia milii, so you need to drive them away if you want to have healthy blossoms.
  • You also need to inspect if your plant has root rot, leaf-spot disease, botrytis, rust, powdery mildew, and southern blight.

Crown of Thorns Flower: Benefits & Usages

The plant serves an ornamental purpose as it contributes to your home interior during the blooming period in spite of having thorns.

Two Crown of Thorns Plants
Two Crown of Thorns Plants (Source: Instagram)

Besides, flowers of a crown of thorns also serve medicinal purposes. 

A study published in the American Journal of Ethnomedicine discloses that the flower of Euphorbia milii has physiological, bacteriostatic, antioxidant, and cardiovascular activities, which makes it active for further derivatization and screening as a novel therapeutic agent. 

Euphorbia milii flowers contain five compounds: two triterpenoids, one flavone, and two phenolic compounds dragged from petroleum ether, ethyl acetate, and ethanolic extracts. 

These compounds can contribute to chemotaxonomic analysis and are effective pharmaceutical compounds to serve as an alternative to chemical-based pharmaceuticals.

Are Crown of Thorns Flowers Poisonous?

Though crown of thorns can lighten your house space with its stout spines and multicolored blossoms, it can be poisonous at the same time.

According to Illinois Library, Euphorbia milii contains phorbol esters, which activate protein kinase C. Protein phosphorylation.

This may change multiple enzymes and other protein functions, and results come out in cytoskeletal damage and tumor promotion.

Also, the University of California confirms that the sap is copious and milky, and stout, sharp spines occur on the stems, representing toxicity levels of 2 and 4.

Consumption of any part of the crown of thorns is toxic to humans and animals.

Toxic chemicals are strongest in the milky white sap known as latex, which can cause skin and eye irritant symptoms.

The plant is toxic to cats, dogs, horses, and sheep, causing irritation to the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and eyes.

Cat trying to catch flower
Cat trying to catch flower (Source: Instagram)

So, you need to wear gloves while handling the crown of thorns and discard them immediately afterward. 

If you find your child has ingested this plant, you can contact the American Association of Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222.

For pets, contact ASPCA Poison Center at (800) 426-4435

Conclusion

Crown of Thorns is easy to grow low-maintenance, flowering plant for your collection.

They’re highly decorative and can be planted as hedges, border plants, shrubs, potted plants, or statement pieces for your garden.

If you have a crown of thorns with leaves turning yellow, you may need to find its causes and solutions

The dwarf cultivars with compact growth offer a nice pop of color to any home or garden. However, all parts of this plant can be toxic to pets, so keep them out of their reach.

Good Luck!

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