Euphorbia Milli is an ornamental cactus-like plant native to Madagascar and other tropical regions throughout the world. The plant was first introduced into cultivation by Baron Milius, a Governer of Réunion (Bourbon Island), hence the name Milii.
The Euphorbia Milii has an interesting background and can be found under many different names such as Crown of Thorns, Christ plant, Christ Thorn, and Corona de Cristo or Corona de Espinas in Latin America.
You might find these names quite surprising, especially if you know how beautiful this succulent is. So why is it associated with Jesus’ Crown of Thorns? As it turns out, rumor has it that the crown worn by Jesus Christ was made from Euphorbia Milii stems.
Being a tropical plant, the Crown of Thorns succulent thrives in warm conditions, loves drought, but is extremely sensitive to frost. It is usually grown in a container that can be moved indoors for the colder winter months. If you live in a warm climate, you can grow this semi-succulent outdoors as an ornamental shrub.
This evergreen succulent is so interesting and beautiful that it received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1993. It blooms all year and it is low-maintenance, so it is the perfect ornamental flower for gardening beginners and very busy plant lovers.
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About Euphorbia Milii
- Crown of Thorns succulents are winter hardy in USDA Zones 9-11, where they thrive in well-drained succulent soil mix, full sun, and dry-to medium moisture.
- As most succulents and cacti, the Euphorbia Milii cannot withstand very cold temperatures. So, if the temperatures drop below 35°F (1°C), move this semi-succulent indoors.
- Wet soil in winter is very dangerous for this drought-loving plant.
- In very hot summer climates, Crown of Thorns succulents will need midday shade.
- When grown indoors, Euphorbia Milii succulents will do best with gritty soil and bright light.
- They don’t mind rocky or sandy soil and soil that’s nutrient-poor and they can withstand long periods without water. It’s recommended to apply the ‘soak and dry’ watering technique to avoid leaf drop and to encourage the flowers to bloom.
- The easiest way to propagate these thorny succulents is by taking tip cuttings. Wear gloves when you touch the plant because its sap is quite poisonous.
- As mentioned above, the sticky, latex sap that results from broken stems and leaves can irritate your skin and eyes. If ingested, all parts of the plant are toxic for pets and humans alike and can lead to nausea, vomiting, and other digestive issues.
- Because of its toxicity, this plant is rarely attacked by pests. On rare occasions, it might be affected by mealybugs, thrips, spider mites, and scale bugs.
- When the environment is too moist, the Euphorbia Milii can be susceptible to root rot and fungal diseases.
Euphorbia Milii Features: An Overview
- Euphorbia Milii, also known as Crown of Thorns, is a broad-leaf evergreen, native to Madagascar.
- It has fleshy, bright-green leaves, thick sharp black thorns, and tiny flowers that grow in clusters and that are subtended by spectacular red or yellow bracts that look like petals.
- In their natural habitat, Crown of Thorns succulents grow 5-6 inches (12-15 cm) in height and they tend to sprawl.
- When grown in outdoor gardens in warm areas like Florida, they grow at 3 inches (7-8 cm) tall, and when grown indoors they are about 2 inches (5-6 cm) tall.
- The sharp thorns of the Euphorbia Milli cover its stems and branches and are 1-2 inches long (2-5 cm) and its leaves are 2-2 ½ inches long (5-6 cm).
- The true flowers of the Euphorbia Milli lack petals and sepals and are small and greenish. However, they are subtended by beautiful petal-like bracts.
- When grown in perfect conditions, the flowers of the Euphorbia Milii will bloom throughout the year, but their blooming season is mainly winter through spring. However, it is quite common for Crown of Thorn succulents grown indoors to bloom from late winter well into fall.
- Succulents and cacti are amazing plants, and hybrids are even better. As a result, plant hybridizers are always looking for new varieties. To know exactly what you’re getting, look for Euphorbias that are in bloom. Local nurseries and shops will probably sell the common varieties of Euphorbia Milii, but you can find a wide range of unique and unusual hybrids online.
Growing Euphorbia Milii
When grown outdoors, the Euphorbia Milii needs a lot of sunlight and well-draining soil. In extremely hot and dry climates, the plants will need shade as the hot midday sun can burn the leaves.
- Crown of Thorns succulents are versatile and adaptable houseplants. All they need is a well-drained container that’s just an inch or two larger than the root system. When planted in too much soil, the plants can be susceptible to root rot, especially if the soil is damp for extended periods.
- To grow happy and healthy, the Euphorbia Milii needs at least half a day of sunlight and a temperature between 65-75 °F (18-24 °C). It is not an issue if the temperatures drop a little at night as this succulent can tolerate temperatures as low as 50 °F (10 °C).
- As a general rule, Euphorbias that get more sun exposure will have more flowers. But the great thing about this semi-succulent is that it will bloom even with 3-4 hours of direct sunlight per day. If you plan on growing it outdoors and want it to blossom regularly, find a spot that gets a lot of sunlight. Indoors, place it near a south or west-facing window.
- Red Crown of Thorns Euphorbia milii - Succulent One Stem Cutting (4-6")
- Crown of thorns (Euphorbia Milii) originally grew in Madagascar. This succulent shrub holds multiple stems and dark green leaves. Thorns cover the branches. However, they feel relatively soft when touched making them not too difficult to work with.
- Christ plant, or Christ thorn, is a species of flowering plant in the spurge family Euphorbiaciae, native to Madagascar
- See below for more information about this plant
- Hardiness Zones 9-11 (USDA)
- Mature Size3-6 ft. tall outdoors, 2 ft. tall indoors
- Sun ExposureFull, partial
- Soil TypeWell-drained
- Hardiness Zones 9-11 (USDA)
- Mature Size3-6 ft. tall outdoors, 2 ft. tall indoors
- Sun ExposureFull, partial
- Soil TypeWell-drained
Last update on 2023-02-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Propagating Euphorbia Milii
Despite its scary thorns, the Euphorbia Milii is a friendly and low-maintenance succulent. Hold it by its roots or by its leafy stems to avoid the thorns and wear gloves if needed.
The great majority of Crown of Thorns succulents found on the market are hybrids. They are rarely propagated from seed, as it is much easier to do it from tip cuttings. To avoid the milky sap that’s quite toxic, make sure you wear gloves. Put the fresh cuttings in lukewarm water and let them hydrate for a few minutes. Put them aside for a few days until they dry out and callus.
Get a nice container with drainage holes and fill it with cacti and succulent mix. You want the soil to be moderately damp. If it’s too damp, the cuttings will rot and if it’s too dry they won’t develop roots. It’s safe to say that when it comes to succulents and cacti, you want to avoid both extremes.
To encourage the rooting process, place the container in a warm place that gets a lot of indirect sunlight. It will take 2 weeks to a month for the Euphorbia to fully establish in the new environment, so you’ll need to be patient.
Watering the Euphorbia Milii
Crown of Thorns succulents don’t need a lot of water as they naturally grow in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Pouring a little water occasionally is perfect and will keep your succulent happy and healthy. The main goal is to get the root system completely hydrated. In-between waterings, make sure you let the top layer of soil dry completely.
Ideally, the roots of the Euphorbia Milii should always be just a little damp otherwise the plant will start to shed its leaves. But you need to be careful because too much water can lead to root rot, so it’s recommended to remove the water from the saucer every time.
But like most succulents and cacti, the Euphorbia Milii prefers drought instead of too much moisture and hates sitting in in water or wet soil for too long. The best watering technique for the Euphorbia is the ‘soak and dry’ technique that consists of watering the plant thoroughly, removing the extra water from the saucer, and letting the soil dry completely before watering again.
If you want to fertilize it, do it from spring through fall and avoid doing it in winter. Because succulents and cacti don’t need a lot of nutrients in general, the fertilizer should always be diluted to half strength. Over the winter months, the Crown of Thorns will go semi-dormant, so it won’t need as much water.
If you plan on growing Euphorbia Milii succulents outdoors, choose a sunny location with plenty of room. You don’t want to touch it by accident or to trip over it as you might get hurt. At the end of the growing season, cut away the fading leaves and prune the plant to encourage new growth.
If the temperatures drop below 35°F (1°C)in winter, it’s recommended to grow the Euphorbia Milii in a container. When grown indoors, the Crown of Thorns thrives on a sunny windowsill.
Euphorbia Milii is easy to grow semi-succulent that loves sunlight and is very forgiving. If you have a busy schedule or if you don’t have a lot of gardening experience, this flowering succulent is a perfect choice. But be careful not to touch its sharp thorns and to wear gloves when you touch the plant because the milky sap is an irritant. All parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested, so keep it within a safe distance from children and pets.
Thank you for the info about Euphorbia Milli
I learned a lot. I’ll follow all your advice and will soon see what colors the flowers are.
Glad you found our article helpful 🙂 Good luck!
A perfect informative article. It has all details in needed for my new plant – Euphorbia Milii.. Thanks !!
Hi! Glad you found it useful 🙂 Good luck with your new plant!
Hi Miruna, I have had one of these plants for 14 years. It is inside. It hasn’t had any flowers for the last couple of years but my plant still looks so healthy, growing new leaves and looking lovely and green. I had two plants so experimented by putting the second one outside, thinking they weren’t getting enough sunlight. It died very quickly. I live in a Mediterranean climate, so hot summers and mild winters. Tried a gentle fertiliser but still no flowers. I’ve followed all other instructions except the direct sunlight which killed her “sister”. Any suggestions gratefully listened to.
Maybe your plant isn’t happy with its container or with the soil. Fertilizer isn’t an effective solution when it comes to encouraging a Euphorbia Milii to grow. And, like most houseplants, the Euphorbia Milii will die from too much sun. So, I suggest repotting your Euphorbia and putting it somewhere where it will get a lot of filtered light but no direct sun, especially not in the afternoon. Apply the ‘soak and dry’ watering technique and make sure the soil is well-draining.
Hope your Euphorbia will bloom soon 🙂
Thanks for the information about Euphorbia Milii, where can we buy this plant, am here in Yorkshire England..Thanks!
Hi Jamie! I’m happy you enjoyed this article. Euphorbia Milii is a great plant!
I’d say the most convenient place to buy it is Amazon. You can also try one of these shops: https://gardenbeast.com/where-to-buy-succulents-online/
Good luck and let us know if you have any trouble finding one. 🙂
Hi I just got mine red blooming euphorbia milii in the store. Do You think it will stay in live. Thanks
Hello! So glad to hear you got one that’s blooming. To ensure that your Euphorbia survives, give it plenty of natural light. In terms of watering, Euphorbias love to be watered thoroughly only when their soil is dry. So, don’t water it too often, but when you do, be generous and make sure you empty the saucer afterward.
It is worth considering (when it comes to store-bought plants) that most commercial plants are sold with conventional flowering soil which is not ideal. Euphorbia milii does best when planted in well-draining soil fortified with a little composted manure as a nutrient source.
Thanks.DoYou think better to repot in the cacti soil, or just wait after blooming.
I fall in love with this euphorbia milii flower. Today I got pot of crème color. I can not get more because I have 14 orchid plants, some is 10 years old and they always blooming. So what You think is better to replant in cacti soil now or after bloom. Thank You.
Hi Etel! It might be wise to repot after bloom. There’s always a risk of upsetting the plant. So, if you want to enjoy the blooming period, you can surely postpone repotting for a while. 🙂
Hello Miruna, we have had a Euphorbia Milii at home for several years. Its bracts are red to dark pink, but I have noticed lately that the color is not uniform but mottled. That has made me doubt if it is a variety that has those nuances or if it has some disease. I would appreciate any information you can give me.