The crown-of-thorns (Euphorbia milii) is a variety of euphorbia notable for its spiky stems and brightly colored, cup-shaped flowers, just like its name suggests. Cuttings are the simplest and most reliable technique to start new plants at home because of how many different ways it may be propagated. The crown-of-thorns, like all euphorbias, has a few minor difficulties in propagation because of its somewhat poisonous sap and its vulnerability to rot. However, a healthy crown-of-thorns plant can be easily propagated if the proper steps are taken in advance.
When To Propagate
Spring and summer are the optimum times of year to take crown-of-thorns root cuttings since they need warm conditions and strong light to germinate. It is more likely that cuttings taken in the fall or winter will fail to root before the cold weather sets in and create a short-lived plant.
Choose A Cutting
Succulent new stems root more easily than older stems, so it is best to propagate crown-of-thorns in spring and summer when new growth forms. Look for a stem that is 2 to 4 inches long and no thicker than your pinky finger when you are selecting a cutting. No symptoms of injury or disease should be visible at the tip of the plant.
Preparation Is Key
The crown-of-thorns is a formidable foe when it comes to cuttings, because to its sharp spines and somewhat toxic sap. Preparation is key to avoiding harm to both you and the plant. Wearing gloves will help keep your fingers safe from the sap and thorns of the plant. To achieve a clean cut, sharpen your cutting knife’s blade and clean it with rubbing alcohol.
Take The Cutting
To prevent the possibility of rot, crown-of-thorns cuttings must be dried off before potting. Simply slice straight through the stem about 2 to 4 inches back from where you want to take your cutting. After rinsing the cutting in cold water, apply powdered rooting hormone to the cut-end immediately to halt the flow of sap. For a few days or until the cut-end seems dry and slightly puckered, place the cutting on a paper towel and store it in a warm, dry area.
Rooting hormone powder that contains 0.1 percent naphthyl-acetic acid, which can be purchased at most garden centers, is one option.
Pot The Cutting
Crown-of-thorns plants require fast-draining, slightly sandy soil like many other succulents. In a moist mixture of half potting soil and half sand, encase the cutting in the potting soil. The bottom half of the cutting should be buried in the soil mixture by sticking the cut-end straight down into the soil. It is critical that the soil and cutting are in direct contact for roots to occur, so be careful not to prick your fingers on the spines.
Once they’ve been potted, crown-of-thorns cuttings require almost no maintenance. To keep your potted cutting healthy, keep it out of direct sunlight and in a warm, dry environment. If your residence is on the chilly side, use a propagation mat to keep the pot warm. When the top inch of soil is totally dry, water the cutting’s base, but don’t let the soil become soggy. There should be new growth within a few weeks.
Because they are native to Madagascar’s tropical regions, crown-of-thorns plants cannot tolerate freezing temperatures. Their hardiness ranges from USDA zones 9 to 11, however they do well as houseplants in any climate. Plant crown-of-thorns plants in a sandy, fast-draining garden bed or in a pot on a patio or deck with southerly exposure for the best results. Potted plants should be placed near a south-facing window when the temperature stays above 65°F.
Crown-of-thorns plants, like all euphorbias, are low-maintenance. Water as needed to keep the soil moist, and feed twice a month with a diluted solution of 1/2 teaspoon balanced fertilizer per gallon of water. Reduce feeding by half during the winter months to avoid spindly growth. Wear gloves to protect your hands from the plant’s spines and sap when snipping off the plant’s old, dead blossoms.
A white sap found in Crown-of-thorns plants can irritate and burn the skin and mucous membranes when applied. Children and pets should not be around them.
How To Propagate Crown Of Thorns For Beginners
Option #1. Seeds
Pollination and seed collection
Seeds are the most straightforward way to grow a crown of thorns. You can buy the seeds, but you can also use your own plants to pollinate them. Using a fine paintbrush, transfer pollen from one blossom to the next.
You’ll have to wait for a capsule to form on the crown of thorns plant. Make sure to remove and split over a piece of paper for seed collection once this happens. It should be noted, however, that unlike other plants, the seeds of Christ plants cannot be stored for long periods of time.
Sowing and germination
Seeds should be sown directly on the surface of a well-draining medium on flats, not in trays or other containers. When it comes to seed starting mixes, you can use any combination of organic matter, including peat moss, sand, and perlite. Keep the seeds moist by lightly covering them with sand.
Cover the container with plastic and place it in a sunny, but not direct, spot in the greenhouse. Keeping the greenhouse temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit is a great way to use it.
Remove the cover once the seeds have sprouted for two to three weeks and keep the soil moist. Once the crown of thorns plants have developed a proper set of leaves, you can then transplant them outside.
Option #2. Cuttings
Growing a crown of thorns from cuttings is an additional alternative, and one that many gardeners prefer. Because of the plant’s strong spines and slightly toxic sap, attention is required when using this method. Let the sap dry before putting it in the growth media, says NC State University.
Collecting and drying
Using thick gloves when harvesting crown of thorns is a good safety precaution. Using a sterile knife, cut about 4 inches back from the plant’s tip with a sharp and sterilized knife. After rinsing the cutting, apply rooting hormone powder to its end.
The sap will cease to flow and the cutting can be dried with a paper towel. To keep the cutting from rotting, it is necessary to dry it. Choose a warm, dry location for the cutting, and when the cut seems puckered, you’re done.
Planting and care
Cuttings thrive in a fast-draining combination of potting soil and sand if they are kept in a secure position in the pot by firming the medium surrounding them. Maintain a greenhouse temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the container in a warm, dry location away from direct sunshine to ensure successful establishment. Always keep an eye on the medium and water levels, just like you would with seeds.
A crown of thorns cutting can also be rooted in water, as you may not have known. In a glass with about an inch of water surrounding the tip, begin cutting. Please keep it in the same spot as potted cuttings, and repot it when the roots have grown through the soil.
Caring For Crown Of Thorns
Taking care of crown of thorns plants is usually quite simple. When the soil is dry, fill the pot to the brim with water and let it drip out the bottom. This plant can be fed from spring through the fall, and it can also be fed in winter if its soil is three inches deep and dry.
What is the best way to feed crown of thorns? In the summer, spring, and fall, you can feed crown of thorns plants every two weeks using a liquid fertilizer. Make sure you only apply diluted fertilizer once a month during the cold months.
Succulents like the crown of thorns, which is both gorgeous and easy to care for, are ideal for the home garden. If you know how to propagate crown of thorns, you can cultivate this unusual plant from seed or cuttings. If you decide to plant seeds, keep in mind that their viability is only temporary.
To ensure germination, you must immediately use the seeds and place them in a greenhouse. It’s important to keep the container moist by covering it up and keeping the temperature between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, if you’re careful with the thorns and sap, you can take cuttings from an established plant.
In the same way you would care for any other plant, the cutting should be dried out before planting to reduce the chance of rot. Rooting hormone powder should be dipped into it and placed in a location that is bright but not in direct sunlight. You may also root crown of thorns cuttings in water, but the greenhouse makes it simple to establish an ideal growing environment regardless of which method you pick.