Flowering plants with thorns introduce a unique look to your garden. These plants bring a distinctive touch to their surroundings with their beautiful flowers, thorny stems, and prickly leaves that deter wildlife.

Flowering Plants with Thorns

This article lists flowering thorny species, such as Aloe vera and holly plants, to spice up your garden while offering medicinal and culinary benefits. Read more about these unique plants in this article.

Flowering Thorny Plants for a Spiky Aesthetic

1. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a common succulent plant easily recognized around the world. It has long, spiky leaves that are shaped like a vase. The edges of these leaves are adorned with sharp spikes that function as a defense mechanism.

– Benefits

Due to their spikes, they can also be used as safety fences in different parts of the home. Aloe vera is one of the most beneficial spiky plants to keep at home. It is a great addition to a thorny garden while also providing a ton of medicinal, culinary, and cosmetic benefits.

– Characteristics

Aloe vera has a unique look that stands out from the surrounding plants. The spiky leaves it produces may look intimidating, but they can break easily and are filled with herbal gel on the inside.

Soothing Succulence of Aloe Vera

Be careful with these leaves because they give off an unpleasant smell if you cut them.

– Flowering

The plant itself is low maintenance, but it will take some years before they produce its flowery stalks. In addition to this, when the plant finally produces flower stalks, spiky flowers in colors of yellow, red, and orange will appear on their ends. It is a quick grower if planted in a suitable environment.

– Growth Requirements

The natural habitat of Aloe vera includes poor soil with good drainage, so ensure you provide it with such surroundings. These plants require six hours of full sunlight, and they thrive under the sun, with the only exception being some afternoon shade to avoid excessive heat in hotter climates.

Aloe vera plants prefer regular watering that drains quickly, and complete dryness can result in weaker leaves that will eventually die from continuous stress.

2. Holly Plants

The common holly (Ilex aquifolium) is a native, evergreen, fruit-producing flowering plant with green, spiky leaves. It is a signature plant of the Christmas season.

– Similar Species

It can be confused with the evergreen Oregon grape holly (Mahonia aquifolium) that has sharp, thorny spines along the leaflet edges. However, the Oregon holly belongs to a different plant family.

Holly plants produce small berries that are a food source for wildlife like blackbirds and robins and are also great for attracting bees and other pollinators.

– Characteristics

Some types of holly can grow as tall as 40 feet, but I. aquifolium grows up to 15 feet.

Festive Charm of Holly Plants

Other varieties are shrubs that stay at a low height throughout their lifespan. The plant produces clusters of tiny flowers that eventually make way for the signature red berries. These berries ripen during fall and stay on the branches throughout the winter season.

– Growth Requirements

Common hollies can easily grow in any type of soil that is well-draining, as soggy soil damages their roots. The plant can thrive under full sun and partial shade, which are the ideal conditions for its growth.

Additionally, holly plants are among the few hardy plants that can also survive in full shade! They do not have excessive water requirements and grow well in evenly moist soil that drains quickly.

3. Roses

Roses are probably the most recognizable flowers in the entire world. These flowering thorny bushes are famous for their elegant appearance and fragrance. The thorny stems help protect their beautiful flowers. They are also excellent additions to a garden, backyard and generally everywhere!

– Characteristics

Roses are hardy plants that can grow anywhere around the globe and adapt to various kinds of weather and growing conditions. Rose plants can look quite different depending on the variety. Most popular garden roses are hybrid teas that produce a high-centered bud supported on a long, upright stem.

– Flowering

The stem eventually blooms into a large, single flower. The thorny shrubs’ blossoms have a lot of different varieties of colors and growth habits.

Timeless Beauty of Roses

The most famous color is the signature red, but they also come in shades of yellow, orange, pink, white, and even black.

– Growth Requirements

Rose plants are hardy plants that can easily adapt to a lot of different growth environments. Like many other plants in this list, all rose varieties thrive under the full sun, though they can grow in partial shade with lackluster blooms.

Additionally, they grow best in loamy, rich, moist, and well-draining soil. If planting in pots, use potting soil. Roses require only a little water, and generally, you only need to provide one inch of water per week once the topsoil is dry.

4. Flowering Quince

The flowering quince is another flowering shrub littered with thorns all over its thin stems. Flowering quinces are related to roses, which explains their resemblances.

– Characteristics

The flowering quince produces flowers with shades of red, orange, pink, and white against their shiny dark green foliage. These shrubs have gray-brown twigs that bear tiny 2-inch flowers.

These flowers last for about 14 days before they wither away to make room for fruit. Flowering quince produces yellow fruit. It grows slowly, reaching a mature height of 6 to 10 feet gradually.

– Pruning

It has a messy, unstructured growth, so regular pruning is necessary to keep it in shape.

Vibrant Blooms of Flowering Quince

However, its vibrant red flowers and shiny green foliage are well worth the added pruning effort.

– Growth Requirements

Flowering quince is an adaptable plant that grows in all soil types except alkaline clay. For the best blossoms, plant it in fast-draining, loamy soil and place it somewhere it can receive full sun exposure.

Water consistently and often in the early stages to help establish the root system. Once established, they are drought-tolerant, and you should only water up to 1 inch every week (only when the topsoil is fully dry).

5. Crown of Thorns

The crown of thorns, or Euphorbia milii, is another spiky flowering plant that is a hardy specimen. It is sometimes also called the Christ thorn.

– Characteristics

Euphorbia milii is a beautiful plant with thick green leaves that grow along the stems. When it is kept in a garden, it will reach a height of about 3 to 6 feet, and only two feet as a houseplant. It is poisonous to humans and pets alike, so be careful with toddlers and pets.

– Flowering

This beautiful plant offers blooms as extravagant as its name throughout the year, even in unfavorable conditions where other flower-bearing plants would wither away.

Thorns of Crown of Thorns

The actual flowers of this plant are tiny in size and green in color. However, the surrounding bright-red bracts are distinctly showy and can also be orange, pink, yellow, and white.

– Growth Requirements

Crown of thorns is a hardy plant tolerant of shade and lack of moisture and thrives at room temperature, which makes it an excellent house plant. More sun exposure means denser, more vibrant blooms. The plant likes rich and well-draining soil. It is drought-tolerant and only requires supplementary watering during dry spells and hot weather.

6. Prickly Pear Cactus

Otherwise known as the Barbary or Indian fig, this is a slow-growing (3–4 years to mature) and one of the most widespread cacti in the US.

– Species

There are over 100 known species of the plant, categorized on the basis of their flat club-shaped pads. Some varieties produce large round-shaped spikes, while others have tiny hair-like spikes that detach upon contact.

– Characteristics

Prickly pears have different characteristics that depend on the species in question. Some varieties are cold-hardy, and others can even bear fruit.

Hardy Beauty of Prickly Pear Cactus

This fruit is considered a delicacy, though it only appears after two years or so. Like many other cacti, it goes dormant during winter, looking as if its stems have deflated, returning to the original state next spring.

– Growth Requirements

It is best planted in spring after the last frost. The cactus thrives in evenly moist soil that can drain quickly and easily. Water sparingly as the plant prefers dry conditions, and overwatering quickly leads to root rot. Evidently, sandy and gravelly soil is an ideal medium.

Like other desert cacti, it thrives under the full sun. Indoors, put it next to a sun-facing window. During hot summer afternoons, put them in partial shade.

7. Amathungulu

Amathungulu (Carissa macrocarpa) is a flowering and fruit-producing tropical shrub native to South Africa. It is known primarily for its Carissa-like thorns and fruits that taste like cranberries and look like plums, which leads to its common name, Natal Plum.

– Characteristics

Most varieties grow sharp, 1–2 inch long thorns or spines, usually appearing close to the leaves along the branches. You can eat the fruit raw or use it in making jams and jellies. Similar to other thorny plants, it is resistant to deer and rodent attacks.

Exotic Attraction of Amathungulu

Amathungulu blooms with white, star-shaped flowers in the summer and otherwise randomly throughout the year.

– Growth Requirements

The plant is suited for the warmer USDA Hardiness Zones 9–11. It thrives in full sun and grows fine in partial shade but with a smaller yield of fruits and flowers. Any type of well-draining soil will do, but slightly acidic or neutral sandy soil is preferable. It is tolerant to alkaline and salty soils.

Watering schedules change from weekly to monthly based on variety but remember to let the plant dry out before watering again to avoid root rot.

8. Porcupine Tomato

Solanum pyracanthos, also known as devil’s thorn, is an unusual tropical plant that is in the genus of the tomato family. This plant is native to the Madagascar region, and as it was introduced to the U.S., it did not prove to be invasive because of its slow growth and little natural seed distribution.

– Characteristics

The thorny plant is a slow grower as the birds avoid their fruit, restricting their seed distribution. But the plant brings a fascinating look to its surroundings.

Unique Texture of Porcupine Tomato

It has gray-green leaves that are surrounded by vibrant red-orange thorns. On top of this, the plant produces lavender flowers with yellow centers.

– Growth Requirements

It is a warm-weather plant that does well under full sun exposure. The sunlight will allow the plant to produce the best foliage and flowers. They prefer rich soil with excellent drainage to avoid excessive moisture. They have moderate water requirements and prefer deep watering instead of frequent surface watering.


Flowering plants with thorns are unique plants that represent an acquired taste in plants. There are trees as well, like the honey locust, but this list has focused on smaller plants that you can grow indoors or outdoors in your garden. If you decide to get one of them, keep in mind that:

  • They should be handled with care as they can easily scratch your skin. This is especially true for plants with long thorns, such as roses, the flowering quince, or the crown of thorns.
  • Some of these can also produce edible fruit, such as the prickly pear cactus and the Amathungulu.
  • Most of these thorny flower bearers are low-maintenance plants that can survive easily. Roses are among the most diverse and come in countless colors and variations.

With proper care you can successfully add some of these spiky flower-bearers, so choose the ones that go well with plants already present in your garden!

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