Beauty and Pain in a Symbolic Shrub
Euphorbia milii is an evergreen shrub, native to Madagascar which has succulent thorny branches, with sparse leathery leaves. The blooms are real showstoppers consisting of small yellow flowers, surrounded by showy, bright red/pink bracts. The Euphorbia milii has a long flowering season, and the blooms can be enjoyed through out the Winter to following Fall when grown indoors. This shrub is a particularly slow growing one, taking between 10 and 20 years to reach its full height.Religious legend states that the ‘Crown of Thorns’ worn by Jesus on the cross,w as made from Euphorbia milii hence its common names.
Caring for your Crown of Thorns
The Euphorbia milii will grow at its best when in full sun, but it will appreciate some afternoon shade in theSummer in hotter climates. Pot in dry to medium moist sand, chalk or loam soil, and whilst this plant is tolerant of dry soil, regular moisture will encourage the best blooms and less leaf drop. However, in the cold winter months it is essential that the soil is kept dry, as wet soil in this season can provefatal. With minimal moisture and fertilizer requirements, Euphobia milii isa low-maintenance plant that is remarkably resistance to most pest and diseases, making it an ideal choice for novice gardeners.
Euphorbia milii flourishes in bright light. When grown indoors, place it near a window that receives abundant sunlight, preferably south-facing. If you’re growing it outdoors, it prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. However, more sunlight typically means more flowers.
Being a succulent, the Crown of Thorns has a built-in mechanism to store water. This means it’s more tolerant of drought and requires less frequent watering. Let the soil dry out between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot. A good rule of thumb is to water when the top 1-2 inches of soil feels dry.
This plant thrives in well-draining soil. A cactus or succulent potting mix is ideal. If you’re creating your mix, combine regular potting soil with sand or perlite to enhance drainage.
Euphorbia milii prefers warmer temperatures ranging from 60-90°F (15-32°C). If outdoor temperatures drop below 50°F (10°C), consider bringing the plant inside. While it can handle dry air quite well, it’s crucial not to expose it to prolonged cold drafts.
During its active growth period, usually from spring to early fall, feed the Crown of Thorns with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 2-4 weeks. Reduce feeding in the winter months when the plant’s growth slows down.
Pruning & Maintenance
To encourage bushier growth and remove dead or diseased branches, occasional pruning is beneficial. Always wear gloves when handling Euphorbia milii, as its sap can be irritating to the skin. If you wish to maintain a specific shape or size, prune the stems back to the desired length. This can also help stimulate flowering.
Pests & Diseases
Like many plants, the Crown of Thorns can be susceptible to pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids. Regularly inspect the plant for any signs of infestation. Neem oil or insecticidal soap can be effective treatments. As for diseases, overwatering is a common culprit, leading to root rot. Ensure your pot has proper drainage and monitor your watering schedule.