How to Care for Desert Rose Plant

For a show-stopper succulent indoor plant, the Desert Rose is something you must have. It is a carefree growing plant outdoors and makes a great addition to a deck, landscape, or patio.

The Desert Rose plant has an unusual trunk shape with branches and trumpet-shaped flowering in different colors.

So, if you have or have not yet added the Desert rose to your collection, read on, as caring for this plant is super easy.

Desert Rose Plants Care Tips

desert rose plant

The Desert Rose or Adenium obesum is not a fast-growing plant and grows 12 inches a year. Yet, the fantastic thing is it makes for a gorgeous bonsai desert plant. The reason is that the trunk is thick and thin with delicate leaves and deep pink trumpet-shaped flowers.

The succulent plant is native to Africa, and you find them growing in the Middles East and Madagascar. A notable thing about the Desert Rose is that it is the only Adenium hybridized to bloom beautifully in different flower colors.

The best time to plant the succulent is in spring, and in cooler zones, it grows best indoors. As part of the dogbane family, the sap is toxic to humans and pets.

The Type of Soil to Grow Desert Rose

Keeping your Desert Rose happy requires well-draining soil that most succulent plants prefer. So, you can use cactus potting soil mixed with crushed granite and pumice to add drainage for excess water to run freely. In addition, you can add layers of gravel above and below the soil to prevent root rot.

Light Requirement for Desert Rose Plant

desert rose in full sun

Adenium obesum flourishes in full sun, and the best spot in the home is where it can receive ample light during the day. Hence, the southern-facing window will provide bright sunlight as it is a sun-loving plant.

If you live in a climate where it is colder, we recommend growing your Desert Rose indoors as it cannot tolerate frost. Yet, when planted outdoors, choose a spot without shade or any tall plants in its way.

Still, provide your Desert Rose with some protection from the mid-day sun that can scorch those gorgeous leaves.

Watering Your Flowering Plants

watering desert rose plant

Okay, the rose plant has varying water needs, and it all depends on the time of the year and the temperature. In the growing season, late spring and summer, it helps to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

It helps to check the soil and allow it to dry out between watering. When grown indoors, we recommend using a container with many drainage holes. If the Adenium obesum gets too much water, it can lead to root rot.

The best potting medium is clay or terra cotta pot, as it helps wick excess moisture. During the dormant period in fall and winter, you can reduce your plants’ water to once a month. Or you can check the soil to see if it is dry.

The trunk is your answer if you are concerned about water in the growing season. If the trunk is thick and swollen, the plant is well hydrated.

Pruning Desert Rose Plant

You can prune your Desert Rose to remove cold-damaged growth or when you notice new growth emerges. Or you can trim the long stems to balance the stem growth for your Desert Rose. Remove some branches rubbing across other branches and cut above the leaf node where the stem connects to another limb.

Fertilizer Needs

liquid fertilizer for desert rose plant

You can give your succulent a dose of nutrients for those gorgeous Desert Rose blooms using a liquid fertilizer diluted by half. You can do this once a month in the active growing season but do not feed your Adenium obesum in the dormant period.

Temperature and Humidity Levels

The important thing is to keep your Adenium obesum warm, or it will die fast to prolonged temperatures below 50° F.

Therefore, the recommended temperature for growing Desert Rose flowers is between 65° to 90° F.

Luckily, humidity is not one in-demand feature when growing Desert Rose plants. The reason is that it thrives in dry to hot climates.

Repotting and Overwintering

desert rose repotting

You can repot your Desert Rose plants as needed. For example, if you notice the root ball filling the container becoming root bound, you can repot it. Transplanting your rose plant can be done once or every other year.

When you keep your plant indoors in the same container, becoming root-bound slows down the growth. As new growth emerges, the best time to repot your plant is winter or early spring. Another important thing is to ensure that the soil is dry before removing your plant from the pot.

At this time, you can inspect the roots to remove dead or damaged vegetation and roots. You can leave your plant to dry for a week before watering it again. If you live in cold climates, it is best to overwinter your Desert Rose plant indoors and stop watering it.

Propagating Adenium Obesum

desert rose seed

You can grow Desert Rose plants from seed pods or branch cuttings. Yet, growing your rose plant from a branch cutting might not have the same characteristic as the massive trunk as when you plant from seed.

So, for stem cuttings, you will need a pair of garden gloves, some rooting hormone, sterilized sheers, and a pot with well-draining soil. Start by putting on your glove as the sap is toxic, and use your pruners to cut about five to six inches from the end of a branch.

Leave the cutting to dry for a day or two, and then wet the cut end and dip it into rooting hormone. Place the cut end into the potting medium like perlite mixed with sand and potting soil.

Water your seedling daily and ensure the water drains freely out of the soil. It should take about six weeks to root. The best time is in spring to plant the seed, as with your stem cutting, you need well-drained soil.

It helps to soak the seed in water for a few hours or up to the day of sowing. Then place the seed every two inches onto the potting medium and cover it with a thin layer of soil. Water it well and keep them in warm temperatures.

Once the soil dries out, you can water again, and once the seedlings sprout in about ten days, you can move them to larger containers.

Desert Rose Varieties

In the Adenium genus, you can find many species, but the common and easiest ones to care for are here.

  • Adenium obesum subsp. oleifolium

The succulent is native to Botswana and South Africa growing up to 16 inches tall with huge tuberous stems. It has narrow olive green leaves with salmon, pale pink, pink, or red tubular flowers.

  • Adenium obesum subsp. socotranum

The Adenium obesum you find native in the Indian Ocean island Socotra. The species can grow up to 15 feet tall and has a huge trunk. It blooms with pink flowers appearing in spring while the plant has no leaves.

  • Adenium obesum subsp. somalense

The species has blade-like leaves that are narrow and native to Eastern Africa with twisting branches. It can grow up to 16 feet tall with trumpet-shaped flowers in white, crimson-red, or pink.

Desert Rose Diseases and Pests

While the Desert Rose plants are mostly pest and disease-free, there are some problems you can find with your plant. The main culprit is overwatering, resulting in disease and pests.

Leaf Drop or Yellowing Leaves

The first sign of root rot is leaves yellowing and suddenly falling off. If you catch it early enough, you can save your plant. You will need to remove your plant from the container to do this. Next, trim all the damaged leaves and stems. If you notice dead roots, then it helps to cut them away. Finally, applying a fungicide or antibacterial solution helps when you replant the remaining roots.

Leaf Spots

When the leaves blister is, forming powdery mildew on the upper leaf surface, it can lead to distorted growth. You may find it spreading in cooler climates and on warm days. You can mist your plant and apply a fungicide. Also, prune the stems and provide your plant with adequate spacing.

Lower Leaf Speckles

The most common reason for this is spider mites attacking your plant. To check if this is a problem, you can shake the leaves over white paper to look for small dots. Then, a forceful water spray will help detach the spider mites from the foliage. Alternatively, you can use insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Where Can You Buy a Desert Rose Plant?

The Adenium obesum you can find at your local garden center or online. The fantastic news is that Plantly has this gorgeous Desert Rose plant and other succulent plants available for you to buy.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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