For most situations, we would not recommend installing this plant in new gardens, landscapes, or plantings in southern California.
Its many spines are extremely sharp, and it often outgrows the space intended for it, becoming a menace. Many recommendations to try instead of this plant can be found using this site’s Plant Finder.
This plant profile is included in this site as a reference for two primary reasons:
- If you already have this plant in your landscape, this information can be used to know how to care for it.
- If you already have this plant in your landscape, you can use this information to learn which of our recommended plants have the same recommended watering needs, making them potential choices for grouping together if you will be adding new plants to the existing area.
The crown of thorns is a sprawling shrub growing 2-4 ft. tall, 3-4 ft. across. Woody stems are 7 sided and armed with 1 in. long spines. Leaves grow 1-2 in. long and are dropped under moisture stress. Deep red flower bracts start in spring and intermittently throughout the year.
This popular garden plant comes from subtropical climate zones of Madagascar. It grows in frost-free microclimates of the Inland Empire where it is often grown in pots and raised planters in sunny locations. Several cultivars can be found in nurseries and garden centers that provide rose-red to yellow flowers. E. m. var. splendens is a larger plant that grows 4-5 ft. tall and produces the largest flowers.