If you ask me what is my favorite plant, I couldn’t answer you because I have a lot of favorites. Now, if you were to ask which plant I get the most comments on, I would definitely say my “Crown of Thorns” because it is not only beautiful but very unusual. In fact, I integrate it into my Christmas decoration.
I have it in a container that I keep outside during the warmer months and bring it inside for the winter. Believe it or not, it blooms year round with lots of cheerful red flowers. Perfect for Christmas and more versatile than amaryllis or poinsettias.
Bright green leaves grow along its thick, multi-stemmed trunk, full of large thorns (see photo). A legend associates it with the crown of thorns worn by Christ.
This plant is actually a succulent known as Euphorbia milii and its origin is in Madagascar. It is easy to grow and drought tolerant. It stores water in its thick stems like a cactus.
Caution should be exercised in handling these plants. Use thick gloves because the thorns are sharp! Not recommended for small children. Also watch out for its poisonous milky sap which can irritate the skin, eyes, and mouth.
When a “crown of thorns” is stressed by over or under watering or by changes in humidity or temperature, it can quickly drop all of its leaves. This happens regularly when I bring mine indoors for the winter or outdoors in the spring. Then in less than 2 weeks when the plant adapts, fresh foliage and flowers will reappear abundantly. I keep it in bright light indoors and in full sun outdoors after acclimating it to shade for 2 weeks.
Propagation is also an easy process. Take at least 3 inches of stem cuttings in the spring or summer. Soak the ends in lukewarm water for a few minutes to stop the flow of sap. Leave to dry for 24 hours. Place them in a moist potting or succulent soil. The cuttings will root in about 6 weeks.
If you want to try out a unique new plant that will impress your friends, I suggest a “Crown of Thorns”. You don’t like the color red? The flowers are also available in orange, yellow or pink.
Our Garden Club presents our annual scholarship, Christmas shop and green sale from December 8-11. Doors open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Saturdays, only from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Come see us at Union Hall, 12889 Baker Road, Red Bluff. We will have wreaths, garlands, centerpieces, craft gifts, and fresh food items. For custom parts and pre-orders, please call Judy at 530-200-5013 or email [email protected]
Red Bluff Garden Club Inc. is a member of Cascade District, California Garden Clubs Inc. and of the Pacific Region, National Garden Clubs, Inc.