Crown of Thorns: An Interesting Houseplant

Updated on May 2, 2019
Eco-Lhee profile image

I love to be out in the refreshing mountain air, taking in the beauty that surrounds me, and tending to beautiful plant life.


When I was growing up, my mom had a Crown of Thorns plant that always fascinated me with its cute little red flowers and long spikes growing up the stems. I now have my own Crown of Thorns; it has dark green leaves with tiny red flowers, and blooms nearly all year round. It has lived with me for about 6 years now and it tends to grow very slowly.

One thing I have found out about the Crown of Thorns is that it can be a very temperamental plant. Finding out where the best place to put it and how to care for it took a little time.

For instance, it will lose its leaves completely if put under moisture or temperature stress. I keep mine in the kitchen window, where it enjoys the morning sun and I can keep an eye on its watering needs while doing my dishes.

With shoots reaching a height of 6 feet, the Crown of Thorns is a succulent yet woody climbing shrub with long, sharp spines that can be over an inch long. The reason for the long, sharp spines is that they help the plant 'crawl' over other plants. Interestingly, the stems of this plants are pliable and can be intertwined into a circle and, although it may look like a cacti, the fact that there is no relation was a surprise to me.

In fact, the Crown of Thorns is a member of the family Euphorbiaceae or Spurge family. This is a large family that includes such plants as the Poinsettia, Castor Bean and the Cassava.

Although the Crown of Thorns plant is native to Madagascar, there exists substantial evidence that the species had been brought to the Middle East before the time of Christ.

The common name of this plant alludes to the legend that the Crown of Thorns worn by Christ at the time of his crucifixion was made from the stem of this plant. Today, as a way of remembering the legend, the long stems are sometimes deliberately trained to grow in a crown-like shape.

One thing to remember if you are thinking of getting your own Crown of Thorns is that it is poisonous. The long thorns help keep animals and small children away, but accidental poisoning sometimes happens. The sap may produce a rash on susceptible individuals that is very similar to poison ivy.

The sap in some species of the Crown of Thorns plant has been used for arrow poisons and to stupefy fish for capture. Crown of Thorns are not usually planted near stocked pool because the sap from broken roots can be fatal to fish. The common name for the family, Spurge, comes from the same root as "purge" or "expurgate," alluding to its properties if taken internally. So, despite its poisonous properties, in the past the sap has been used for medicinal purposes.

Even so, I love my Crown of Thorns and would recommend it to someone looking for a beautiful houseplant that is slow growing and easy to care for.

The Flowers of the Crown of Thorns Are Sticky—Wash Your Hands After Picking Up the Ones That Fall Off (Leaves Too)!

My Crown of Thorns
My Crown of Thorns | Source

My Recommendations to Care for a Crown of Thorns Plant

I myself have not put much stock in recommended growing tips except the most basic: sun, shade, soil. I find a lot of plants are like individuals and have different needs and ideas of how they should be cared for.

Sun: I keep my Crown of Thorns in an east-facing window in my kitchen; it seems to love it there. My mother, however, keeps hers in a south-facing window in her front room. Both plants do just fine and bloom in both locations.

Soil: There is also a lot of controversy as to which is the proper way to care for certain plants. My Crown of Thorns is such an example. I had to trade the cactus soil for regular dirt as it would not hold enough moisture for my plant and was constantly drying out.

Watering: I have a busy life, so I don't always remember to water my plants. I do, however, try to make sure they get some kind of moisture at least once every week to week and a half. I also water all my plants the same way: I put them in the sink, soak them until no more water drains out of the pot, and put them back where they belong. Not very scientific, but my plants seem to like it.

Feeding: I also am terrible at remembering to feed my plants and they get fed when I remember, which is probably every 3 months. The temperature in my house is always changing, so keeping the room at a set temperature for my 'plants' is just not practicable.

Making a New Plant: My mom wanted me to start her a Crown of Thorns plant from my own plant and after searching I found lots of ideas on how to do it, but here is what I did. Using a sharp knife, I cut off three branches at the base. Immediately, a thick white 'sap' appeared at the bottom of both cuts (wash this off immediately or wear gloves if you have sensitive hands). I left the one on my plant alone, dabbing it a bit with a paper towel, and wrapped the other three cutting ends tightly in moist paper towel. I kept it moist until the next day and then let it sit out for a day until the cuts 'scabbed' over. After putting the cuttings into moist regular dirt, new growth appeared on the cuttings about 6 weeks later.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      2 years ago

      can one use this plant to let say deter squirrel from mango trees if u plant them around the trunk?

    • profile image

      Nancy Dickerson 

      2 years ago

      I love these plants! They are my husbands favorites. He has had one for over 10 years now. Whenever he prunes it, I start new ones. We have a nursery of them.

      I have a question: How do you get the new growths to branch? They are growing and blooming but just growing straight up. I wondered if they exhibit apical dominance? So if I cut the top off, will that force it to branch? Help!

    • Eco-Lhee profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Very prickly, I always wear gloves when I transplant, and that doesn't always help. I have not seen the one from Australia.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      this is one horrible prickly critter. Another version comes from Australia, same flowers, no priclers, anyone know the name of this special one?

    • Eco-Lhee profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Thank you for the lovely comments, D. Farmer, I don't mind at all and have already added a link to your hub at the bottom of mine, let me know if I did it right... new to this :)

    • FullOfLoveSites profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      I've seen plants like this and they have beautiful flowers that come in many colors, but now I know the name of this plant. I thought they're like cactus that are easy to manage, but it's far from that. Lovely plant. Thanks for sharing. :)

    • torrilynn profile image


      7 years ago

      hi echo-lhee,

      really nice hub that you have here

      i find the plant that you have showcased to beautiful.

      i love flowers and plants but unable to keep them due to certain

      reasons. thanks though. voted up

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      7 years ago from United States

      Hi D! I like your crown of thorns hub, too. If you don't mind, I'll add a link to your hub in mine. --Jill

    • smw1962 profile image


      7 years ago

      Lovely plant! Thanks for sharing this.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)