Desfontainea spinosa is a large shrub, growing 5-10 feet tall and up to 5 feet wide. It can be grown in full sun to partially shaded places and requires moderate water for steady growth. It has a holly-like structure with ornamental foliage and thorns or spines. It produces bright red, crimson and vinous flowers from the end of spring to beginning of autumn.
In the Andes it has been used as an ethnomedical plant and employed in various treatments. It is well adapted to USDA hardiness zones 9-11 and grows best in areas that are frost-free. It also grows well in an area with good drainage and moderate sun exposure. In cold regions, it can be grown in a pot.
Growers should make sure to provide plenty of water for Desfontainea spinosa and plenty of fertilizer during the growing season. Water the plant slowly and deeply once or twice every week during the growing season. To improve drainage and aeration provide a soil mix that helps to retain moisture but is not water-logged. Feed plants with balanced, slow-release fertilizer once or twice a year in early spring and summer. For good foliage color, prune the shrub back lightly after flowering.