ArtisTree ‘Plantopinions’: Crown of Thorns Opens Up Thorny Debate

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) is an evergreen sun lover that blooms year ‘round in Southwest Florida’s favorable climate. The vibrant red, pink, salmon, white and yellow colors are a great addition to most landscapes. If you’re looking for a tough shrub you can just pop in the ground, this succulent is a nice albeit controversial choice. The ArtisTree Landscape experts, in Sarasota, FL, weigh in on some thorny issues.

Joe Mantkowski, VP Landscape Design, thumbs up: “I’ll use the dwarf size because it stays small and makes a great border plant. I like to pair it with boulders, either directly behind the boulders or within the gaps. Another big plus is that this succulent blooms year ‘round, so you’ll always have those nice pops of color. It’s a hardy evergreen plant choice that can handle full sun and tolerate our hot Florida temperatures.”

Crown of Thorns Florida residence

Crown of Thorns

Dwarf Crown of Thorns shrubs paired with large boulders add instant curb appeal to this University Park residence near Sarasota, FL.

Clinton Lak, Landscape Designer, thumbs up: “The Dwarf Crown of Thorns is one of the few plants that blooms year ‘round and doesn’t require pruning or irrigation. It’s also very salt tolerant. On the flip side, though, it doesn’t tolerate wet feet. It pairs well with coontie, bulbine, desert rose, pygmy date palms, blue agave, aloe, echeveria and virtually any other sun lover that thrives in dry soil.”

Tiny flowers on the Crown of Thorns are contained in a specialized structure called a cyathium.

Brian Clouser, Landscape Designer, thumbs down: “Not a fan. I only use it if it’s requested by a homeowner. The thorns are a big issue for me, and a lot of my clients have kids or pets that might run into them. As a potted specimen it can be very cool when properly maintained. But too often, I’ve seen it poorly maintained in commercial landscapes. It often ends up looking like a thorn-covered stick with only a couple leaves and flowers on the ends.”

Poorly maintained Crown of Thorns
These poorly maintained Crown of Thorns shrubs in the foreground have tall bare spines.

Chris Culp, Landscape Designer, thumbs up: “I like Crown of Thorns, but I like Dwarf Crown of Thorns the best.  It’s a two-foot, maximum height plant and is very slow growing.  It blooms almost all year around which is hard to find in plants. The thorns are not sharp as people might think. They do not like a lot of water and are not that cold hardy, so that’s something you’ll need to keep in mind.”

Crown of Thorns Southwest Florida
This well-maintained Dwarf Crown of Thorns rocks it at a Lakewood Ranch Florida residence.

Conan Michel, Purchasing Manager, thumbs down: “Sorry, I do not like this plant and don’t recommend it. It has thorns, so it’s difficult to trim. It’s too sensitive to water and will die easily from fungus. It’s also sensitive to cold. These are not the most ideal plants for our area unless you have experience with them and the time to nurture. On a positive note, they have pretty red flowers.”

ArtisTree “Plantopinions” is a roundtable debate between multiple ArtisTree experts on the virtues of various plant specimens. Sometimes there’s consensus and sometimes not. In the end, you are the judge!

ArtisTree Landscape


ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design has proudly served Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties since 1990.


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Want to get your Sarasota landscape renovation started now? Check out ArtisTree’s portfolio and then call Jenni Lassen at 941.488.8897 to meet with one of our award-winning designers. We proudly serve Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte counties.

ArtisTree also provides complete landscape maintenance services for HOA communities throughout Southwest Florida. Contact Michael Casper at 941.488.8897 for your custom proposal.  

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