How to Care For a Desert Rose Plant

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

Adenium obesum, also known as desert rose or mock azalea, is a succulent plant with red, pink and white flowers. Here's how to care for a desert rose.

  • The desert rose can't survive in cold temperatures. Therefore it's usually planted in pots so it can be moved indoors when the weather changes. For adequate drainage, plant your desert rose in one part potting soil mixed with one part perlite [source: Sidhe] or sand. A layer of gravel below the soil and another above it helps prevent stem rot [source: Plant Care].
  • The desert rose can be grown from seeds or from stem cuttings. Let the stem cuttings dry out before planting. Plant them in the springtime and keep them in filtered sunlight until they begin to grow.
  • The desert rose needs full sunlight and a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 to 26.7 degrees Celsius). The temperature should never drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius) [source: Plant Care].
  • The desert rose only needs watering when the soil feels dry. In the winter, it only needs water every three or four weeks. This lets it be dormant so it can bloom better in the springtime [source: Sidhe].
  • The desert rose can be fertilized once a month in the spring and summer. Water it lightly after fertilizing.
  • The desert rose should be pruned once in early spring, before it begins to bloom. Cutting off long, leggy branches encourage the growth of more flowers.
  • The desert rose should be repotted every year or two. The new vessel should be 1 or 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) larger than the previous one.
  • The desert rose is prone to mealy bugs, aphids and spider mites [source: Adeniums India].

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Originally Published: Mar 25, 2011

Desert Rose FAQs

What is a desert rose?
Desert rose is an ornamental succulent garden plant that is known for its swollen or caudex trunk. It can store moisture in its swollen trunk to use at times of drought. A desert rose bears a resemblance to a bonsai plant. Furthermore, it has a combination of pink, red and white flowers.
How do you take care of a desert rose plant?
During the spring and summer seasons, try to keep the soil moist to a moderate level. Give less water during fall and winter or when you notice the plant is dormant. You can also fertilize with a 20-20-20 plant food dilution (only half of it per month) at times when the plant shows active growth. However, avoid feeding it during the winter season.
Can you plant a desert rose in the ground?
Desert roses can be planted outdoors and directly in the ground. They love bright sunlight. However, they can’t withstand cold weather and may wither down during winters. So, if you live in a seasonal area, keep them in a portable container to move them indoors as the winter season arrives.
Why are the leaves falling off my desert rose?
Just like other plants, a desert rose may drop its leaves due to stress. A change of environment also affects the foliage, which might take some time to recover. Always make sure that your desert rose is exposed to sunlight to bloom. Avoid excessive water and feeding and growing it in shade, all of which may result in leaves falling off.
How often does a desert rose bloom?
Desert roses typically bloom in spring and summer. However, some outdoor desert roses may bloom more often depending on the care and sunlight they receive. Some may even bloom year-round. A typical bloom lasts seven days.

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