AN EASY CARE SUCCULENT THAT REWARDS YOU WITH FLOWERS
Also referred to as Adenium obesum and the Saharan Dogbane, desert rose comes from the widespread arid, warm, and tropical regions of the Arabian peninsula, east and northeast Africa, Madagascar, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. The plant thrives in sandy and rocky soils within woodlands, dry bushland, and wooded grasslands, preferring dry winters and frequent summer rains.
The desert rose is not a rose; it is an evergreen shrub and a slow-growing stem succulent that grows to a size of fewer than 12 inches each year. It can be grown both indoors and outdoors, depending on the climate. It is relatively easy to grow and requires little maintenance as it can tolerate extreme heat and drought.
Caring for your Desert Rose
While the desert rose plant is generally easy to care for, it does require careful sunlight and water management. The plant enjoys warm temperatures and blooms with vibrant-colored flowers and bright leaves during the summer months. When it becomes dormant during wintertime, its foliage and flowers drop.
The desert rose thrives well in a sunny environment and plenty of hours of direct sun exposure. Pick a spot in the house where the plant can receive lots of sunlight throughout the day. If you are planting it outside, ensure it is not overshadowed by taller plants or the roof but has some form of protection against the high-noon sun, which can burn the leaves.
As the name suggests, the desert rose is naturally suited to dry, desert-like environments, which means well-draining gravelly or sandy cactus soil. The pH value of the soil needs to be acidic, ideally around 6.
Depending on the season, the water needs of a desert rose will vary. The soil should be moist but not saturated during the growing season in late summer and early spring. Make sure the soil is completely dry before you can water it again. Choose a pot with many drainage holes to prevent root decay. During fall and winter, water the plant once every month.
The desert rose contains an extensive root system that allows it to absorb large quantities of water quickly and store it in the stem. The stem has a waxy cuticle that stops water evaporation from the stem’s surface. There are fewer stomas through which the water can escape due to evaporation.
Humidity and Temperature
Maintain a warm environment for your desert rose plant at all times. The plant will quickly die if exposed to temperatures lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit for a long time. Maintain the temperature between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If planted outdoors, prevent your desert rose from frost and cold winds.
You can add half-diluted liquid fertilizer once a month during the growing season to boost nutrients and potentially better flower growth. Avoid fertilizing the plant during wintertime when it is dormant.
Desert rose is comparatively a resilient plant, but its biggest issue is overwatering. It can also become susceptible to certain pests and diseases.
Mealybugs, scale, and spider mites sometimes attack desert roses by hiding underneath leaves and can eventually cause yellowing and drooping of foliage. The plant can eventually weaken and die.
Spider mites are perhaps the most common pest to attack this plant by sucking the sap. Shake the diseased foliage over a white cloth and notice any black dots (spider mites resemble black dots). Use insecticidal soap or rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab to kill these pests. Be sure to apply it to the leaf’s underside and the lower surface of the plant.
Desert roses are sometimes prone to leaf and stem rot, which can result from fungus and excess moisture. Ensure that the leaves of the plant are never wet for a prolonged period. You can also use neem oil once in a while to prevent bacterial or fungal growth.
Before pruning your plant, clean the pruning shears to prevent spreading of any disease. Remove any damaged or diseased parts as soon as you notice new growth. Cut off lanky stems to ensure symmetrical growth, and weed out branches that tangle with or rub against other branches. Cut right above the leaf node or the part where the stem joins another stem.
A desert rose plant can be grown from seeds and branch cuttings. If you choose to use a branch cutting, your next plant may lack a bulging trunk that you would otherwise get by propagating with seeds.
When the desert rose plant’s roots fill the container, it is time to repot it. This can be done once a year or every few years. If you want to prevent your plant from getting too big, keep it in the current container, as doing so will slow down its growth. The ideal time for repotting is early spring or late winter, preferably as soon as you notice new growth. Ensure the soil is completely dry, then gently remove the plant from the pot.