Pruning crown of thorns

Cutting Back Crown Of Thorns: How To Prune A Crown Of Thorns Plant

Most types of crown of thorns (Euphorbia milii) have a natural, branching growth habit, so extensive crown of thorns pruning isn’t generally needed. However, some fast-growing or bushier types may benefit from pruning or thinning. Read on to learn the basics of pruning crown of thorns.

About Pruning Crown of Thorns

There are a couple of important things to know before you begin pruning crown of thorns.

First of all, this gorgeous plant was named for a reason – the thorns are wicked. You’ll need long sleeves and a pair of sturdy garden gloves for pruning crown of thorns. Even more importantly, be aware that the gooey, milky sap that oozes

from a cut plant may cause severe skin irritation in some people, and it can do serious harm if it gets in your eyes.

Be careful about cutting back crown of thorns when children and pets are present because the sap contains toxic compounds. One would have to ingest a lot of the plant to have serious ill effects, but a small amount can irritate the mouth and may cause stomach upset.

Additionally, the sap will definitely stain your clothing and gum up your tools. Wear old clothes and save your expensive tools for tamer jobs. Old paring knives from a thrift store will work just fine and are easier to clean.

How to Prune a Crown of Thorns Plant

If you’re in need of trimming crown of thorns, the good news is that this is a forgiving plant and you can prune it however you like to create the desired size and shape. Two or three new branches will emerge at every pruned branch, creating a bushier, fuller plant.

As a general rule, it works best to cut the stem at its point of origin to prevent stubby, unsightly branches. Prune a crown of thorns to remove weak, dead or damaged growth or branches that rub or cross other branches.

How to Prune a Crown of Thorns

flower image by darkchoco from

Crown of thorns, Euphorbia milii, is a semi-succulent shrub capable of year-round blooming. Since flowering is solely dependent upon the amount of light the plant receives, pruning won’t interfere with its bloom production. This plant benefits from and responds well to judicious pruning. Young specimens usually don’t require any pruning until their second or third years. Euphorbia is a slow grower that typically only needs to be pruned lightly every two or three years thereafter. Wait for cool, dry spring weather to minimize the possibility of disease entering open wounds.

Remove any dead, damaged or diseased stems with pruning shears.

Cut out stems that are–or threaten to become–excessively tangled or intertwined.

Prune stems wherever you think the plant could use branching. Shorten any that have become too long or unattractive. Trim back any growth that doesn’t appeal to you.

Cut particularly leggy Euphorbias back by half to promote branching of larger main stems. You can safely remove from 1/3 to 2/3 of this plant at a time. New growth with emerge from just below the cuts, resulting in a fuller plant.

Spritz the plant’s cut stems with water to staunch the copious flow of sap secretions.

Wash your hands thoroughly after handling this plant.

Method Two:

If you don’t have a thorn tree or bush nearby, you can still make an awesome crown of thorns. This gentleman told me that he made a vine wreath, and glued toothpicks into it. Then he stained the whole thing so that everything was the same color. How brilliant is that?! You can make your own vine wreath, or buy one at a craft store or dollar store.

To make a vine wreath, cut a vine several yards long. If you do this early enough in the season, there won’t be any leaves on it yet. If there are leaves, cut or pull them off before you make the wreath. As long as you make the wreath soon after cutting it, you do not have to soak it in water–just twist it into a wreath. To do that, tie a loose knot in the middle and keep looping the ends through the middle hole, out around the outside and back through the middle hole again until both ends run out. Tuck the ends between strands in the wreath. Of course you can start on one end instead of in the middle, but then the vine is twice as long, so that much harder to do. The laborious part is pulling it through the middle over and over, so the shorter it is, the easier it is to work with.

Notre Dame fire: Was the crown of thorns that survived the blaze THE crown of thorns?

By Bridget Judd

Updated April 18, 2019 11:52:26

From the crucifixion of Jesus to the crumbling Latin Empire, the crown of thorns has (purportedly) withstood the test of time.

Key points:

  • Three of the four canonical Gospels describe a crown of thorns being placed on the head of Jesus before his crucifixion
  • Texts from about AD 530 claim the crown was displayed at the Basilica of Mount Zion, outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City
  • It was passed around for centuries before Baldwin II, Latin Emperor of Constantinople, gifted it to Louis IX, the King of France, in 1238

So it should come as little surprise that a fire that threatened to destroy the centuries-old Notre Dame cathedral where the religious relic was housed was unable to cement its demise.

But as authorities count the cost of the treasure trove of historic and religious artefacts lost to Tuesday’s blaze, some have questioned how Parisians even got their hands on a relic purported to have originated in first-century Judea.

So what is the significance of the crown of thorns to the story of Easter? Where does it come from? And can we be sure it’s actually the real deal?

The crown finds its roots in early Christianity

For those more spiritually inclined, according to three of the four canonical Gospels, a woven crown of thorns was placed on the head of Jesus in the lead-up to his crucifixion (this was sometime between AD 30-33).

The crown is considered one of the Instruments of the Passion (otherwise known as Arma Christi) — objects associated with Jesus’s Passion in Christian symbolism and art — and was employed by his captors to mock his claim of authority and cause pain.

“And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand,” the Gospel of Matthew says (King James Version translation).

“And they bowed the knee and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!'”

The relic is further referenced by the Church fathers — ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers — and has become synonymous with artistic interpretations of the Passion.

It’s a while before it turns up

Texts dating back to about AD 530 claim the crown was on show in the “Basilica of Mount Zion” — a hill in Jerusalem just outside the walls of the Old City — where it was believed to have been venerated for some time.

Then things get a little bit trickier to trace.

At some point over the next couple of hundred years, the crown was transferred to Byzantium (an ancient Greek colony), where several thorns were removed.

Justinian the Great, the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire, purportedly gave a thorn to Saint Germain, the Bishop of Paris.

Some years later, Irene of Athens, a Byzantine empress, sent Charles the Great (the Holy Roman Emperor) several thorns to be kept in Aachen.

Then, like a blender given to you at Christmas, they were re-gifted.

Charles the Bald (who was purportedly excessively hairy) and Hugh the Great (not to be confused with Hugh the OK) were among the litany of recipients.

Eventually, thorns found their way to Malmesbury Abbey in England and Andechs Abbey in Germany.

Slowly but surely, the crown (or at least part of it) made its way to Europe.

It’s a long story as to how France got it

But the TL;DR of it is this: the Latin Emperor of Constantinople realised he was a bit of a Neville No Friends and used it to try and buy support.

In 1238, Baldwin II offered the crown to Louis IX, the King of France, to gain backing for his tottering empire.

It ended up in the hands of the Venetians for a while as security for a heavy loan but inevitably found its way back to Paris.

King Louis XI commissioned the Sainte-Chapelle to house it, where it stayed until the French Revolution when it was deposited in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

And that’s where it had been ever since… until this week.

The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, says it’s now in a “safe place” along with the tunic of Saint Louis and several other major works.

Not all Christians accept the historicity of relics, however

Indeed, John Calvin, a key figure in the Protestant Reformation, was very much against them.

He published his Treatise on Relics in 1543 in which he argued the veneration of relics had become idolatry. He also pointed out there was no mention of the keeping of the relics of Christ or anyone else in the earliest church writings.

Professor Euan Cameron from Union Theological Seminary in New York summarised the difficulties with relics in his book Interpreting Christian History:

“The deliberate avoidance of anything savouring of idolatry in the early church made it most unlikely that any such relics would have been kept in the first place.

“Then there was the problem that so many relics existed in multiple versions across Europe: one saint might have up to four full bodies dispersed in various places, besides body parts dispersed here and there.”

Professor Cameron noted that most relics began to be exhibited in the late Middle Ages, and often had telltale markers of that period.

His conclusion was that most, if not all, had to be forgeries.

Topics: religion-and-beliefs, christianity, catholic, france

First posted April 17, 2019 19:42:08

Crown of Thorns

Euphorbia milii

Crown of thorns likes it hot, dry and sunny – making it a perfect plant for spots where nothing else wants to grow. One of South Florida’s most drought-tolerant plants, it flowers nearly year round.

This is not your grandmother’s crown of thorns…newer cultivars feature fuller plants, brighter colors, bigger leaves and flowers than the old-fashioned varieties.

Color choices run the gamut from the typical red to yellow, pink, salmon, and creamy white.

The newer varieties include the Thai Hybrids with the largest leaves and flowers, and smaller plants such as Karolla with its shiny bright green leaves and brilliant red blooms.

Like many succulents, this plant’s stems contain a milky sap – avoid the stickiness (and the thorns, too) by wearing gloves anytime you trim.

Thorns are “softer” in the morning, according to one grower, so that’s a better time to handle the plant.

Plant specs

Thai hybrids grow the largest – as much as 3 feet, though you can trim to 2 feet tall.

Karolla and other small varieties can be kept 1 to 2 feet tall.

These evergreen plants are slow growers, love full to part sun, and do best in Zone 10…like most succulents they can be cold-sensitive.

All varieties are considered deer-resistant, though nothing is really deer-proof.

Plant care

If you place these shrubs correctly, caring for them is a snap.

Water during dry spells or, better yet, run irrigation on a regular basis. Make sure this plant has plenty of drying-out time between waterings.

Crown of thorns that look leafless and leggy have probably not received enough regular water to keep the foliage full. They’ll live…they just won’t be as pretty.

Fertilize with a good granular fertilizer 3 times a year (spring, summer and fall). You can supplement feedings with bone meal to promote more flowering.

No soil amendments are necessary.

You’ll rarely have to trim – but if you see tall thorny stems with no leaves, feel free to cut them way back. Do this during warmer weather so any new growth won’t be damaged by cold.

If necessary, protect these plants from frost with frostcloth or another covering (see Cold Protection for details).

Plant spacing

Place Thai hybrids or other large varieties 2 feet apart.

Smaller varieties can go as close as 1 to 1-1/2 feet apart.

If you’re planting close to the house, come out at least 2-1/2 feet to allow you room to walk safely behind them for siding or window maintenance.

Containers work fine as long as the plants get plenty of sunlight and are allowed to dry out between waterings.

Landscape uses for crown of thorns

  • plant for front of the border
  • under low windows
  • accent in a garden bed
  • around the mailbox or lamppost
  • along a walkway
  • around decorative boulders


COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Dwarf clusia, juniper, drift rose, croton, carissa, lantana, gold mound.

Other plants you might like: Dwarf Bougainvillea, Desert Rose

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Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia hybrids)
These Indestructible Plants have Dazzling Colors and Bold Flowers

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Crown of Thorns ‘Golden Gem’

Euphorbias have over 2,000 varieties and originate from South America, Africa and Asia. The Crown of Thorns type, which are hybrids of Euphorbia milii and Euphorbia lophogona have flowers that grow in clusters of brilliant blooms. They are considered indestructible because they can grow year-round on a sunny windowsill in a warm, bright location, tolerating long periods of dryness.

Euphorbias are also one of those tried and true houseplants that get passed down from generation to generation. Lately, there has been an effort, particularly in Thailand, to hybridize a dazzling array of colors and large sized blooms compared to the traditional species.

Why are they popular? Euphorbias have a reputation as a tough plant with surviving extreme cultural conditions and they still look good. From their ability to adapt to extreme dryness or to partial sun, Crown of Thorns are indestructible plants for gardeners of all experience levels.

Crown of Thorns ‘Paradise Lady’

They flower primarily during the spring and summer when the days are long and warm. Sometimes in tropical locations, or greenhouse situations, you’ll see sporadic flowering year round if the light level is high and the plants are kept in higher temperatures. They can take cool nights in the winter as long as the days are above 60°F but longer periods of cold temperatures will force them in to a resting period when they will drop their leaves even to the extent of becoming leafless. Long periods of dryness will do the same

Full sun, inside on a southern exposure windowsill or outside during the summer months, is best but they can adapt to partial sun for short periods of time.

Maintain temperatures above 60°F, preferably 65°F, as these plants thrive in warm temperatures. If grown under cool temperatures, in the 40’s and 50’s, keep the soil dry to prevent root disease. They are zone 9-10 plants and will be damaged when temperatures drop below freezing.

Crown of Thorns ‘Red Bouquet’

Generally, humidity is not a problem. They thrive under desert conditions, which can have high humidity during the occasional rains and very low humidity in the heat and sun of the dry periods.

Potting Mix:
Use a cactus mix or other coarse potting mix that has good drainage.

Bring soil to a state of visual dryness between waterings. When watering, thoroughly saturate the soil until some water trickles from the bottom of the pot. Growing in a clay pot helps maintain a healthy root system. These plants don’t like wet feet. Don’t let the pot sit in a saucer of water.

Fertilize every two weeks using 1⁄4 tsp of fertilizer per gallon of water. Use a balanced fertilizer like a 15-15-15 or a blooming fertilizer like 7-9-5. Discontinue during the winter months, especially under cool temperatures.

Crown of Thorns ‘Exotic Treasure’

The new Thai Giant Euphorbia hybrids have much larger flowers than the standard euphorbias. Frequently these new hybrids have blooms that measure 1-2” across.

Prune after the flowering cycle is completed to maintain size. For branching varieties, you can remove weak side shoots. Thai Giant hybrids tend to grow tall without many side branches. If desired, you can remove the top 3-4” inches of growth to encourage more lateral branching. Be careful of the white sap that flows when the plant is cut. This can irritate skin and eyes. If pruning is done in early spring to early summer, you can often root the tip of the plant that was removed and create a new plant.

Crown of Thorns ‘Dreamland’

Euphorbia is susceptible to root disease if the potting mix is kept too wet. Be sure to let the soil dry between waterings. Sometimes, euphorbias are susceptible to white fly and mealybugs if other plants in close proximity have them.

A Note of Caution: Please remember to be careful when handling Crown of Thorns because of their spiky stems and their milky latex sap can cause skin and eye irritation.

Download PDF care sheet

Crown of Thorns, originally from Madagascar, does extremely well in the Valley. At one time the plants were limited to the cactus market, but now, after thirty years of breeding, they have a much wider market. The plant needs little water and blooms almost continuously throughout the year. In cooler climates it does well in containers, but here we have the luxury of planting it in our flower beds for its long flowering season.

Euphorbia milii makes a small shrub that is incredibly heat tolerant, handling full sun, high temperatures and even salt spray! It flowers in situations that would kill most annuals and perennials. In our zone, Crown of Thorns will flower into winter.

These plants are relatives of the poinsettia, and the true flowers were originally very small. A lot of hybridizing has been done in Thailand, however, and has resulted in some species with larger flowers. Like the poinsettia, the plant’s color comes from small bracts (modified leaves which appear to be flowers but are not) surrounding small, yellowishtrue flowers. It can be watered once a week (and only if dry) when it is in a growth cycle, but only once a month when dormant. It must have at least 6 hours of direct sun each day.

The soil must be extremely well-drained or the roots will rot; the plant prefers to dry out between watering (a little sand in the bed can help here if the sprinkler system provides too much water.) Crown of Thorns may also be grown indoors and its hybrids bloom almost year round. It adapts well to normal room temperatures and dry indoor environments but must be given 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight each day. Indoors or out, keep the plant out of temperatures lower than 50 degrees. Water it spring through late fall when the soil is dry at a depth of one inch by flooding the plant and discarding excess water that drains through. In winter, allow the plant to dry to a depth of 2 – 3 inches before watering.

Overfertilizing will keep the plant from flowering. A medium rate of slow release fertilizer is more than adequate during its blooming cycle.

While it is bothered by few pests, it can be susceptible to mealy bug and white fly, so use a systemic on those planted outdoors and protect them from frost and freeze.

Another name for this plant is Christ Thorn or Christ Plant.

It alludes to the legend that the crown of thorns worn by Christ at the time of His crucifixion was made from the stems of this plant. (Interestingly, the stems of this plant ARE very pliable and can be woven into a circle.) There exists substantial evidence that the species, although native to Madagascar, had been brought to the Middle East before the time of Christ.

Like the poinsettia, Crown of Thorns exudes a sticky white sap called “latex” from any cut surface. The latex may produce dermatitis, much like poison ivy, and if ingested in large amounts is generally poisonous. It protects the plant from herbivores. Do not plant near fish ponds because the latex from broken roots can be fatal to fish. Crown of Thorns comes in many sizes and colors.

Be sure you know what you are getting. If you wish to take a cutting from a friend’s plant, information on propagating Crown of Thorns can be found below.

SOURCES: University of Florida Extension Service “crown of thorns makes a comeback” Union County College Biology Department, Plant of the Week, “Crown of Thorns,” Dr. T.

Ombrello numerous videos on You Tube on how to take cuttings beginning with

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