Crown of Thorns:  A Plant with Religious Significance

The crown of thorns (Euphorbia splendens) is a succulent, flowering plant with bright green leaves and inch-long thorny stems.    It is assumed by  many people to be used to make the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus during his crucifixion.

The perennial plant, which is related to the poinsettia, is capable of producing clusters of pastel flower bracts year-round.

The plant is also known as the "Christ Crown" and makes a wonderful Easter gift.

The colors come in shades of red, pink, yellow and light cream.

For decorative purposes it is grown as a unique houseplant which comes with a word of CAUTION: The thorns will pierce unprotected skin, so wear tough gloves when handling.  In addition, the plant contains a toxic sap which can cause skin irritation and inflammation similar to a poison ivy reaction. 

The plant is a native of  Madagascar where the climate is hot and arid; therefore, it loves warm temperatures. This easy to care plant is drought tolerant and needs little water. The succulent stems hold water. It will thrive as an indoor houseplant as long as you provide plenty of full sunlight

Plant Care for Crown of Thorn

Light:  Provide at least 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight each day. The high light is needed for growth and flowering.  The brighter the sunlight, the longer the plant will bloom.  Place the plant near a sunny south, east, or west window for good light exposure.

Water:  Water and allow the top 1 inch of soil is dry out between waterings,  Use fast draining potting mix and always have a pot with a drainage hole in the bottom.

Temperature:  Average room temperatures of between 65
to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant can tolerate temperatures as low as 50 degrees in winter and as high as 90 degrees in summer.

Fertilizer:  Feed the plant monthly with a liquid houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength during the growing season from summer through fall.  Do not fertilize in winter when the plant is dormant.

Humidity: Average room humidity (30 % or more).

Soil:  The plant needs well-drained soil that's a little on the sandy side. Soil especially for cactus will work well for the crown of thorns. This is necessary to prevent leaf drop and root rot which will kill your plant.

Pest:  Plant may be attacked by mealybugs and aphids. Both can be easily controlled with methods such as applying insecticidal soaps.

Propagation:  Propagate from tip cuttings or stems of 3 to 5 inches and by allowing the cutting to dry for three to four days until the cut end has healed over. Dip in a rooting hormone compound before placing the cutting in a slightly moist, well draining potting mix.

Plant is toxic with mild poison. Avoid contact with skin and do not ingest. It exudes a white sap that can cause dermatitis in susceptible individuals and temporary blindness if enough of the sap gets in the eyes.

The plant may cause vomiting, mouth and stomach irritation with abdominal pain. Keep away from children and pets.