Last Updated on October 31, 2021 by Phil
If you’re in the market for a unique looking flowering plant that can brighten any room or area of your garden, the crown of thorns is worth considering.
Don’t let its name scare you off. It’s a lot friendlier and lovelier than it sounds.
Learn all there is to know about the crown of thorns plant below.
About the Crown of Thorns
The crown of thorns may not have the most appealing name. This is especially true once you’ve seen how beautiful it is.
However, its name does come with some history. The belief is that this plant’s stems were what was used as Christ’s crown. Although, biblical historians have challenged this.
So, whether or not it’s actually true, is up in the air. Nevertheless, it makes for a good story.
In any case, the crown of thorns is a well-known succulent because of its beauty. Its lovely, thick green leaves make it amazing to look at, while it’s attractive looking bracts come in varying colors including white, pink, orange, red and yellow.
Of course, you also have the unique looking stems that feature large, sharp spines.
Just as importantly, these plants bloom almost all year round. Thus, allowing you to enjoy their beauty.
Grown outdoors they can reach anywhere from 3 to 6 feet tall. But, as always, keeping them indoors limits their size potential to about 2 to 3 feet high.
The best part of all is that they make good houseplants. They do well at room temperature and don’t need a lot of humidity. Plus, they can tolerate neglect.
Crown of Thorns Plant Care
Crown of Thorns Light Requirements
The crown of thorns plant needs at least 4 hours of sunlight a day to bloom. And, it enjoys bright, direct sunlight. This makes a south-facing or west-facing window ideal if you’re growing it indoors.
Similarly, if you want to plant it in your backyard or put it in a container, you want to position it somewhere it gets direct exposure to the sun’s rays for at least half of the day.
Because it can tolerate a lot of heat and dryness, allowing it to get some mid-afternoon sunlight, isn’t a big issue.
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Crown of Thorns Temperature & Humidity
When it comes to climate, the crown of thorns prefers warm temperatures to colder ones. In fact, it thrives when the mercury over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. As such, this flowering succulent will do well in your garden even during the hottest summer days.
The good news is, you don’t need to make your home feel like a sauna to enjoy its beauty indoors. It’s fairly comfortable when with temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees, which is what most homes have. As long as you keep the thermostat above 50 degrees, it will be happy.
Thus, it’s a good idea to bring the plant in from outside if you experience frost in your area. It is also for this reason that the crown of thorns is a perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11 only.
Additionally, you’ll be glad to know that it isn’t as fussy as other houseplants when it comes to humidity. It’s perfectly fine with dry air. So, you don’t need to take extra measures to increase the humidity inside your home.
Watering Crown of Thorns
As a succulent, it’s used to dry environments. So, it doesn’t need to be watered regularly.
All you need to do it check the soil every now and then.
From spring to fall, once the soil feels dry an inch below the surface, it’s time to water. And, when you do, make sure to water thoroughly. Then, allow any excess moisture to drain off.
In the wintertime, water even less. This means waiting until the soil is dry 2 to 3 inches beneath the surface before watering.
Most importantly, the crown of thorns doesn’t like sitting in water. It likewise isn’t a fan of wet soil. Both of which make it susceptible to root rot. Thus, always make sure to check the saucer under your pot for any remnants of extra moisture. If there is any make sure to empty it.
To avoid the possibility of waterlogging, use loose, well-draining soil like cactus potting soil. This will help get rid of the excess moisture faster.
Also, choose a pot that’s only about an inch or two bigger than the plant’s rootball. This reduces the amount of soil surrounding in. Thus, also decreasing the odds of the soil retaining water that can damage your plant’s roots.
During spring to fall, use a balanced, all-purpose houseplant fertilizer every 2 weeks. This is enough to give it the nutrients it needs to grow.
Come wintertime, cut back on the application to once a month, and also dilute it to half strength.
The crown of thorns plant grows up to 3 feet high and spreads to about 2 feet wide. As such, it doesn’t take up a lot of space outdoors. So, you don’t need to prune it too much as far as size is concerned.
Although, you may need to do so indoors.
In any case, pruning this plant is often done for two reasons.
- Encourage new growth. For each brand that’s pruned, you’ll see two or three new branches emerge. And, doing so regularly creates a fuller, bushier plant.
- Cut off weak, damaged, or diseased parts. This gets rid of branches and growths in order to keep the problems from spreading. In doing so, it also allows the plant to stop expending energy to upkeep these weaker, damaged parts. That way, it can channel all its efforts to the healthier branches.
Crown of Thorns Propagation
Here’s how to propagate crown of thorns.
- Take stem tip cuttings of about 3 inches long.
- Put the cuttings in warm water and leave it for a few minutes. This will help stop the sap from bleeding.
- After that, lay them on a flat surface separately to dry. Twenty four hours should be enough, but you can likewise allow it to dry out for a few days.
- Plant the cuttings into a growing medium.
- After about 6 weeks you should see them take root.
Repotting Crown of Thorns
The crown of thorns has an average lifespan of 5 to 7 years. As such, you’ll be able to enjoy it for a long time. The key is to bring in indoors when the temperature starts to drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you grow it as a houseplant, then there’s no need to worry about frost.
But, you’ll need to move it to larger pots as it grows. In general, you’ll be doing so every 2 years. And, the best time to do so is during early in the spring or late in the winter.
Like above, make sure to move it a pot that’s just slightly bigger than its rootball (1-2 inches larger). Then, fill the pot with well-draining soil, such as a potting mix for cacti and succulents.
It’s important to do so in order to avoid excess moisture retention, which becomes a bigger problem as the plant gets older since it isn’t able to manage water as effectively as it ages.
Last but not least, make sure to use thick gloves. These will protect your hands from getting pricked by the thorns. And, it also helps avoid any skin irritation as a result of the plant’s sap coming into contact with your hands.
When it comes to handling this plant, you want to be careful.
For one, its sharp thorns can easily prick you.
And, it also oozes a latex sap when its leaves are injured. The sap are toxic causing skin irritation. And, they’re even worse when ingested.
So, it’s a good idea to handle them with care and use gloves when you do so. Also, keeping them away from kids and pets is a good idea.