Crown of Thorns Plant Leaves Turning Yellow: Causes and Treatments

Crown of Thorns Plant Leaves Turning Yellow
Crown of Thorns Plant Leaves Turning Yellow

Is your crown of thorns plant leaves turning yellow? What causes the change of color? In this post, I will share with you some facts and tips on this matter.

Crown of Thorns plant is one of the most amazing and beautiful plants you can have in your garden or inside the house. This plant surely gives your space a new look.

However, because the Crown of Thorns plant is a succulent plant, it is also vulnerable to mishandling. One of the common issues is the changing of color. And the common problem in this regard that I see in succulents is the leaves turning into yellow.

Why Crown of Thorns plant leaves turning yellow?

The most common causes of this are overwatering. Like other succulent varieties, the Crown of Thorns is susceptible to too much moisture and excess water. The perfect solution is less watering frequency.

How often should I water my crown of thorns plant?

There are a lot of recommendations you can get online on this matter. But what you can really do in this case is to determine whether your plant is active or not actively growing. Growing conditions of the plant influence the water they need.

For instance, if the Crown of Thorns is in their active growing season, they need more water than when they are dormant. During this period, they should receive enough water. Water again once half of the soil gets dried out.

During their dormancy, these plants don’t need as much water as they are in the active growing state. You know this if you notice when the plants don’t grow new leaves and flowers. At this point, watering should be reduced but never allow the soil to get totally dried out.

Always remember that succulents, although they are resistant to drought, need water. Over and under watering can harm these plants including the Crown of Thorns.

Why Crown of Thorns plant losing leaves?

Falling or dying of leaves of the Crown of Thorns plants suggests that the plants suffer from either overwatering or under-watering. As mentioned, the lack or excess water is harmful to the succulent plants like the Crown of Thorns.

Aside from this, high humidity and cold temperature could also contribute to this problem. If under and over watering are not the causes, then either of the latter factors may have caused the Crown of Thorns to lose their leaves.

The good news is that any of these problems can be easily solved by implementing simple steps. For instance, if overwatering is the main cause, then reduce the amount of water or reduce the watering frequency.

On the other hand, if under watering is the main cause, then increase the amount of water you give to your Crown of Thorns. Make sure that all the roots receive the water by soaking the soil thoroughly. But only do this if you are using fast-draining soil and a pot with a large drainage hole. Otherwise, your plant will be overwatered.

Further, if the root cause of the problem is either high humidity or cold temperature, you can bring the plants indoor. There you can provide Crown of Thorns appropriate temperature and light source.

During the cold season, succulents still need a light source either natural or artificial. For natural light, you can place the plants near the window to be exposed in the morning sun.

If natural light is not available, you can use grow light (click here to check my recommended grow light on Amazon). Grow lights are the excellent light providers to allow the succulent plants to thrive in the cold season especially winter.

Once all the causes of falling leaves are addressed, the Crown of Thorns will once again develop fresh foliage and return to their natural state.

Does the Crown of Thorns plant need full sun?

Crown of Thorns can survive in full sun but definitely, they need some shade. This means that they should get full sun exposure but not the whole day. What I recommend is to expose them in full sun for about 4-6 hours a day preferably in the morning.

Succulents are native to semi-desert areas. Although they can adapt to the environment they are in, they still need fun sun exposure. But you don’t want to burn your Crown of Thorns. Succulents exposed to scourging sunlight can get burned and die.

This is the reason why I provide some shade to my succulent plant every noon when the temperature gets too hot for them. You can easily do this by being strategic when placing plants in the garden.

This means that before placing or planting succulents, you must already have a future plan of protection for your succulents.

How do you care for a Crown of Thorns indoors?

Crown of Thorns plants is also good indoor plants. But like most succulents, growing these succulents needs extra care when it comes to watering.

Like other succulent plants, the Crown of Thorns plants are more susceptible to overwatering than under-watering. This is because the temperature inside is a lot cooler than outside. As a result, the water will take longer to evaporate making the soil longer to dry.

During winter, overwatering has even higher chances. But you can keep your succulents safe by implementing a strategic and effective watering method. I called it the soak and dry method.

Soak and dry method involve totally soaking the soil with water then allow it to drain. Water again once the soil is dry. In this case, the watering frequency is totally dependent on the moisture in the soil. Usually, the next watering will take longer in winter than in the summer or hotter months.

Crown of Thorns plant care instructions

Below are some of the things that need consideration when growing Crown of Thorns:

1) Enough light source

As mentioned, the Crown of Thorns plants needs light. Although they can tolerate early morning sunlight, they are better off under bright indirect light. So my recommendation is to provide shade for these plants.

2) Give enough water

As already mentioned above, the amount of water that these plants need depends on their growing state. During active growth, the Crown of Thorns plants may need a lot more water than when they are dormant. Make sure that the soil is completely wet then let it dry.

During the dormancy, on the other hand, when this plant is not actively growing, give it less amount of water. One of the indicators of dormancy is the slowing of the plants in developing new leaves and flowers.

But make sure that the plant will not suffer from under-watering because it could also harm the plant.

3) Give an additional source of nutrients

Fertilizing a Crown of Thorns plants can make a huge difference in the growth of the plant. When they are actively growing, you can give them fertilizer once a month. Choose a fertilizer that is phosphorus-rich and low in nitrogen. This inhibits the growth of the leaves which in turn triggers blooms.

4) Give them the right temperature

Crown of Thorns plants does not like cold temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. But they do well in warm temperatures between 60 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you bring these plants indoors in winter, a grow light can be helpful to set the right temperature for the plants.

5) Observe humidity level

Crown of Thorn plants is native to semi-desert areas. They can grow well in areas with low to average humidity. They don’t like areas with too much moisture in the air. A condition like this makes these plants vulnerable to diseases such as fungal problems.

6) Protect them from pests

Some of the most common pests that could potentially harm the Crown of Thorns plants are Mealy Bugs and Aphids. But the good thing is that this plant is more resistant to insects than other types of succulent plants.

Read my post here on how to kill aphids.

7) Provide a good soil mix

Like other succulents, the Crown of Thorns succulent also needs a fast-draining soil. A perfect succulent soil mix keeps the succulent plant from overwatering. Check my recommended succulent soil mix on Amazon.

8) Prune in the right time

Crown of Thorns plants is some of those succulents that can be easily pruned. But don’t do it until it finished blooming. After blooming is the perfect time to prune this plant.

9) Propagate in the right time

The perfect time to propagate the Crown of Thorns plant is during early summer or in the spring. You can use the cuttings and follow regular propagating procedures being applied to most succulent plants.

Final Thoughts on Why Crown of Thorns Plant Leaves Turning Yellow

This succulent variety is also susceptible to over or underwatering. The yellowing of its leaves is an indication of overwatering.

Fortunately, the quickest way to fix it is to lessen the amount of water and provide it with fast-draining soil. And don’t forget to use a pot with a drainage hole.

I hope that you get something from reading this post that could help save your Crown of Thorns. Happy planting!


I am a university teacher by profession, researcher, blogger, and gardener.

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