Crown of Thorns

It is the heritage plant of my family.

The original plant belonged to my great grandmother, and dates back over 100 years now.

The crown of thorns cactus (Euphorbia milii) is an evergreen succulent plant, native to Madagascar.

I remember getting a bit too close to the thorns of the already mature plant in the early 1950’s.Euphorbia_Milli_large__30952.1398359242.1280.1280

Everyone in the family took cuttings from that plant. They all grew into a glorious display of green leaves and red flowers.

They would be carefully tied with thread or fishing wire, trained to form large circles. Just beautiful.

And then there was mine. No flowers, no leaves.

A thorny stick in a pretty pot.

When it comes to indoor plants, I have been gifted with the polar opposite of a green thumb.

Gardening outdoors is different. I’ve had many productive garden plots, deck containers, etc.

But as soon as I get something green indoors…certain death.


Cuttings with new roots.

I’ve had great success with the silk ficus tree, an artificial pink dogwood which stays in perpetual bloom, assorted evergreens of unknown composition.

Yesterday, I was at a huge flea market and came upon a crown of thorns with yellow flowers.

The vendor told me they also come in white. Who knew?

I think it was a sign. I need to try again.

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66 Responses to Crown of Thorns

  1. Ritu says:

    I’m terribly with plants Van… nothing flourishes in my care! !!

  2. Here’s to a great outcome this time!

  3. What a great idea – a family heritage plant! Love it. Any day that something indoors doesn’t die on me, is also a massive celebration. You are definitely not alone. Good luck!

    • Ha…that’s a sigh of relief. I seem to be the only one of my siblings that missed out on the green thumb. And those fake plants…require dusting. ugh. Thanks.☺

  4. George says:

    lol….good luck this time.

  5. Bun Karyudo says:

    I’m more impressed than I can say at the thought of a plant being in your family for 100 years. For someone like me who just has to look at a plant the wrong way to kill it, that’s an amazing record. 🙂

  6. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    I so feel your pain. Every house I have ever lived in, I have absolutely killed the yard. I have resigned myself to wanting a rock garden….at least I cannot kill a rock!

  7. This got me thinking of what heritage plant do I start in my family?
    What a beautiful tradition, thank you for sharing Van.

  8. They look beautiful, did you get yellow or white Van? ❤
    Diana xo

    • Neither, Diana. I had a nice conversation with the vendor, and decided to get a clipping from someone in my family. I’ll see a few of them this summer, and they’ve all had success. Hoping it rubs off this time. 💕

  9. I’m not very good with indoor plants either, Van. It’s a sure death sentence, the poor things. Good luck with your new attempt. I’m cheering you on!

  10. I love the idea of a family heritage plant! So unique! This may be nosy (and don’t feel like it needs an answer!) but how come THAT plant? It’s lovely, to be sure, but I guess I was curious about why that plant from Madagascar.

    • You know, I’m not really sure of that one. She lived to be 96, so that plant was around a long time. It’s in the cactus family, very hardy, and survived in her row home in Philadelphia. (limited sunlight) ??? She also kept huge aquariums. Interesting character. ☺

      • She sounds like someone with a bunch of phenomenal stories! It’s definitely a lovely plant, and it’s made even more lovely with all the care that your family has put into it.

  11. You know my philosophy; persistence leads to eventual success. I love the balance in the strength of the thorny stalk and the gentle beauty of the flower.

  12. We tried they die, but we plant trees with the kids and they carve their name.

  13. You never can tell. This just might work out this time. Maybe the plant will stop being a thorn in your flesh, he,he 🙂 It looks pretty with the flowers.

  14. I refuse to have house plants – they all die on me. Yet, my middle daughter has a green thumb and can grow absolutely anything indoors. Go figure.

  15. I am sure with the Love in your heart you will rear these new shoots .. And how interesting, I love discovering new plants.. and this one is new to me.. 🙂 🙂 Happy Gardening xxx

  16. Erika Kind says:

    It is interesting! Basically, everything works out- and outdoors. I have numerous orchids and they are all blossoming again and again. But in my first apartment, everything died after a while. It almost feels like the plants stayed alive once I got more alive…. But you know what? At least you don’t have to water everything inside all the time!

  17. Just take a little care …it will eventually flourish. I’m expecting a post down the line with your plant flourishing… 🙂

  18. TanGental says:

    Is this the Van version of insanity: trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

  19. Hi friend
    The Crown of Thorns plant was the only plant at my fathers house. Granny kept it blooming year after year. Mine, dead in no time. I enjoyed my roses, a few veggies, lavender and various flowers. I like mixing dried flowers, the scent is stronger than store bought.
    I tell myself the day will come.
    I hit the wall last night, questioning every thing and frustration with my cognitive issues.
    🙂 🙂

  20. A most wonderful post detailing your personal story as it relates to this exceptional and unique succulent. Great story and photo
    Yes, I do have one too!

  21. SonniQ says:

    I used to be the master killer of anything green, too. But then I lived in a house with room for a garden and things grew! Shocked the heck out of me! Gradually, by looking things up and working at it with a little more care I began to kill less and less plants, although there are some I’m afraid to retry. Unfortunately I don’t have but one window that gets good light. The rest are under eves or facing the wrong way. But there is something so satisfying watching things grow.

  22. Soul Gifts says:

    My husband used to say I bought new plants each spring so I had something to kill! I am happy to report that over the years I have discovered that elusive green thumb 🙂 I have only ever once seen a Crown of Thorn – those thorns are w.i.c.k.e.d !!

  23. I am way better with outdoor gardening!

  24. joey says:

    I rarely see these, and the last one I remember seeing was ten years ago. They’re so pretty when they bloom, all that contrast. I didn’t know they come in white! Yes, you must try again 🙂 I think indoor plants are fickle. I’ve never had good luck with indoor herbs, no matter where I’ve lived. Windows tend to be in the same location as vents. No good. Some plants want to be ignored and some plants will die if you don’t fuss over them. Mine never thrive. They grow, but modestly and last maybe 3-5 years. I’ve got a nice cactus, a palm, and a devil’s ivy and they’re alright, but I prefer my faux plants. They don’t require watering, feeding, or re-potting, and they can live forever in one place!

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