Euphorbia milii (crown of thorns): History, Characteristics, Varieties & More

Euphorbia milii, also known as the Crown of Thorns, Christ plant, or Christ’s thorn is a succulent shrub with many woody, branched, and densely spiny stems. It is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family Euphorbiaceae, native to Madagascar. It can also be found in gardens and homes all over the world. It’s quite a popular ornamental plant, thanks to its ability to bloom in many colors and its thick, bright green leaves.

The Crown of Thorns is named after the plant believed to have been used to make the crown of thorns that Jesus Christ was forced to wear during his crucifixion. Some people even arrange the branches in the shape of a crown to honor this legend. Some people also say, the species name commemorates Baron Milius, once Governor of Réunion, who introduced the species to France in 1821

This plant is quite hardy and can survive in unfavorable conditions. It’s also drought-tolerant and thus a great choice for water-challenged areas of the world. Plus, it’s low-maintenance and thus perfect for those who want a beautiful plant without having to put in too much effort.

Just be careful when handling it, as the milky sap can cause skin irritation. But if you’re looking for a plant that’s easy to care for and adds a pop of color to your garden or home, the Crown of Thorns might just be the one for you.

Characteristics of Euphorbia milii

  • It is a woody succulent subshrub or shrub growing to 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) tall.
  • As its common name “crown of thorns” suggests, this plant is adorned with sharp thorns along its stems.
  • The plant has thick, spiny stems.
  •  Has small, oval-shaped leaves that grow in clusters or spirally at the ends of the stems.
  • The plant produces small, bright flowers in shades of red, pink, yellow, or white. These flowers are surrounded by showy bracts. They often have a contrasting center or “eye” in a different color.
  • This plant is well-adapted to dry conditions and can survive with minimal watering.
  • The plant thrives between spring and summer but produces flowers all year round.
  • Like many other Euphorbia species, Euphorbia milii contains a milky sap that is toxic and can cause skin irritation and stomach upset if ingested.
  • It can be propagated easily from stem cuttings.
  • This plant is relatively low-maintenance and can thrive with minimal care once established.
  • It can live for several years, sometimes even decades.
  • Exhibit steady growth during its active growing season, which is in the spring and summer months. During the cooler months or periods of dormancy, growth may slow down or even stop altogether.
  • The plant that thrives in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. In these zones, it can grow as a perennial and bloom year-round.

Varieties of Euphorbia milli

‘Crown of Thorns’Classic variety with bright green leaves and colorful bracts in shades of red, pink, orange, or yellow.
‘Red Devil’Deep red flowers with contrasting dark green foliage.
‘Golden Crown’Yellow or gold-colored bracts with dark green leaves.
‘White Christmas’White or cream-colored bracts, sometimes with a hint of pink at the edges.
‘Flame’Vibrant orange or coral-colored bracts, resembling flames.
‘Pink Panther’Soft pink bracts with a subtle blush, often with darker pink veining.
‘Desert Rose’Compact variety with smaller flowers and dwarf growth habit, suitable for containers.
‘Fireworks’Variegated foliage with splashes of pink, cream, and green, accompanied by colorful bracts.
‘Ruby Glow’Dark red bracts with glossy, dark green leaves.
‘Thai Hybrid’Hybrid varieties bred in Thailand, often featuring unique flower colors and patterns.

Where And How To Grow Euphorbia milli

Euphorbia milii can be grown both in containers and in garden beds. In containers, ensure adequate drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Container-grown plants can be moved indoors during colder months in regions with frost. In garden beds, plant in well-draining soil and space plants 1-2 feet apart to allow for proper air circulation.

Outdoor Gardens

  • Climate: Euphorbia Milli prefers warm and dry climates. It can grow well in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11. If you live in a colder area, consider growing it in a container so you can move it indoors during the winter.
  • Sunlight: This plant loves full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. Make sure to provide at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day for optimal growth.
  • Soil: Euphorbia Milli requires well-draining soil to prevent root rot. A mix of cactus potting soil and perlite or sand works well.
  • Watering: Water your plant deeply but infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues.

Indoor Growing

  • Light: Place your Euphorbia Milli near a south or west-facing window to provide the plant with bright, indirect light. If natural light is insufficient, consider using a grow light to supplement.
  • Temperature: Maintain a consistent temperature between 65°F and 85°F (18°C to 29°C) for optimal growth. Avoid exposing the plant to cold drafts or sudden temperature changes.
  • Humidity: When indoors, Euphorbia Milli prefers low to moderate humidity levels. Avoid misting the plant or placing it in a high-humidity environment, as this can lead to fungal issues.
  • Potting: Repot your plant every 2-3 years, or when it outgrows its current container.

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