Problems Growing a Crown of Thorns

By Ellen Brown


I have a Crown Of Thorns plant, the leaves are turning yellow and falling off. I am watering it about once a week and it is in the west window and gets midmorning and afternoon sun. It was doing fantastic, it is about 4 years old and not really growing at all. It is still about the same size as when I bought it. It has not flowered yet either. I had one for years and years and it grew very large and bloomed almost all the time. Do you know what I am doing wrong this time?

Hardiness Zone: 6a

Rosa from Detroit, Michigan



Sorry to hear about your Crown of Thorns. There are several things that could be going on. When leaves on a houseplant turn yellow and fall, the most common causes are over-watering or cold drafts. When lower leaves dry up and fall off, the cause is usually too little light, too much heat, or not enough moisture. Crown of Thorns will stand a certain amount of neglect as long as they have a nice sunny window and an occasional mist in the spring and summer, but this plant needs only moderate amounts of water from spring until fall. In the winter it should be watered only sparingly. Try to let the soil dry out between watering. You can expect to see some leaf drop during the dormant period, but new leaf buds should appear within a month or two. Give your Crown of Thorns as much exposure to bright light as possible and keep it away from any cold drafts. You can also move up one pot size in the spring about every two years.



About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at


Problems Growing a Crown of Thorns

You may be overwatering it, try 10 days between waterings. Also, it needs more light. It is a succulent (desert plant) and needs tons of light and heat. Don't let it get cold, ever, this means keep it away from air conditioning vents, too. Also, see if it is root or pot-bound, that can be a problem. too. Plant only in a soil that is half sand and half dirt. As you've guessed, the lack of flowering shows it is not happy! (10/02/2006)

By Susabelle

Problems Growing a Crown of Thorns

My crown of thorns is out all summer in the full sun and blooms like crazy. I have brought it in for the winter and I set it in front of the west window. This plant does shed its leaves during the winter months and mine don't bloom during the winter months. Mine is very special, because my best girlfriend, who lived in Baltimore, died from breast cancer and the last time I saw her, she gave me a cutting from her plant.


My plant if very large and healthy and I think of her every time I look at the plant. I, also, fed it during the summer months. I hope this helps. Also, I keep mine on the dry side. (10/04/2006)

By Malinda from PA

Problems Growing a Crown of Thorns

The Crown of Thorns, I believe, is a desert plant used to lots of light. Give it 12 hours of bright light each day and it should perk up. A window in winter, in northern latitudes, generally is not enough. (I'm also in Michigan and have killed a few plants due to lack of light in the winter.)

By Chuck R.

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