How to Take Care of a Desert Rose Plant

How to Take Care of a Desert Rose Plant

A Desert Rose Plant is one of the most beautiful plants to have in your garden or home. Their bright and colorful flowers make it stand out from most other plants, which is why it is so popular to have. Here is everything you need to know about taking care of a Desert Rose Plant.


What Types of Desert Rose Plants Are There?

what types of desert rose plants are there

  • Oleifolium: a shrub, the stem of which is mostly underground. The branches that arise can grow up to 16″ tall. With long, narrow, olive-green leaves crowded towards the tip of the branch up to 4.5″ in length, this subspecies grows pale pink to red flowers among its leaves.


  • Socotranum: this subspecies stands out for its immense size, growing up to 15′ tall, with a trunk reaching 8′ in diameter. This species is notable for its rarity. It boasts beautiful, 5″ wide flowers that are a lively pink.


  • Somalense: as a small tree that can grow up to 16′, Somalense is the tallest subspecies of Adenium. It has a swollen and twisted trunk, but the plant’s leaves are what might catch your attention. They’re very long, narrow, and colorful, a lovely shade of reddish-green, with white midrib and silver veins. The flowers are trumpet-shaped and can also vary in color, from white to pink, to dark red.


  • Swazicum: is the most notable as a dwarf shrub; this succulent will only grow up to 28″ tall. The thick stem can sometimes be buried and produces greenish-grey leaves. Its leaves are 4″ long 1.2″ wide and cluster at the end of the branch. The flowers grow to be twice as wide as the leaves and far more colorful, ranging from pink to deep reddish pink.


What Soil Works Best for a Desert Rose?

Desert Rose plants do well in sandy, well-drained soil ranging from neutral to acidic.


What Fertilizer is Good for a Desert Rose?

Any balanced fertilizer will do well by your Desert Rose cactus. One such example of a fertilizer you may consider using is The Andersons’ PGF Balanced Fertilizer, which provides an entirely balanced fertilizer packed with micronutrients. You can use this fertilizer once or twice a month during the growing season but abstain from use during dormancy.


One tip is to use half as much fertilizer as the label suggests. Alternatively, you could opt for a slow-release fertilizer and apply it according to the label’s rate. Some types of slow-release fertilizers include pelletized or liquid fertilizers, which are helpful for their ability to provide nutrients slowly over extended periods.


How Much Sunlight Does a Desert Rose Need?

how much sunlight does a desert rose need

The more direct sunlight the Desert Rose is exposed to, the better. If possible, you should have the plant in front of the west or southwest-facing window in your home since it will have the most direct light in the afternoon. If the plant does not receive enough natural light, you might see the leaves start to fall off the plant.


What Temperature Works Best for the Desert Rose?

A Desert Rose enjoys warmer weather, so anything above 75 degrees Fahrenheit will work best for this plant. However, be careful that the plant isn’t in an area where the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. A common issue with this plant is leaving it next to a cold window, which can harm the plant.


Do Desert Rose Plants Enjoy Humidity?

The Desert Rose plant enjoys average humidity levels in a home, so there is no need to use a humidifier for this plant.


How Often Should You Water a Desert Rose?

how often should you water a desert rose

During the growing season, it should receive frequent and plentiful watering. To provide adequate watering, drench the soil. However, be careful about root rot, as that is a common issue with this plant. One way to measure whether you’re providing your Desert Rose plant with enough water is to consider its trunk. A swollen trunk is an indicator of proper hydration.


Over the winter months, severally cut back on the frequency of watering. This plant is resilient in the event of a drought, so you should be more concerned about overwatering than underwatering. Once dormant, that may mean as little as watering once a month.


What Size Does a Desert Rose Grow to Typically?

This medium-sized plant will grow anywhere from 3-9 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide.


What are the Most Common Bugs?

Common bugs that cause harm to a desert rose plant are scale, mealybugs, and spider mites. If you notice these bugs on the plant, you can use neem oil and a cloth to wipe down the plant and remove these insects.


What are the Most Common Diseases?

A common disease with this plant is root rot. Root rot occurs from either overwatering or having the soil be too damp around the roots for an extended amount of time. To solve root rot, you will need to take the plant out of the soil, clean off any roots, and then place the plant in a new soil mix.


Why are the Leaves Falling Off of My Desert Rose?

Root rot and natural dormancy are the primary reasons for leaves falling off the plant. Yellowing and leaf loss are common for root rot when there is too much water. The Desert Rose Plant will shed some leaves around fall/ early spring for dormancy.


Is the Desert Rose Toxic?

is the desert rose toxic

Yes, potential Desert Rose growers need to be aware of the plant’s toxicity. In parts of Africa where this plant is native, arrowheads are dipped in its sap to make poison arrows for hunting. All identified species of Adenium are toxic to both humans and pets, so keep the plant out of reach.


Can You Repot a Desert Rose Plant?

It is best to repot a Desert Rose plant every two years or so. Due to the plant’s growth, you want to give it a new home around 2 inches bigger in diameter, so it has more space to grow. Putting the plant in a new pot also allows you to use fresh potting soil, which can replace the old and stale soil that it was in initially.


One tip is to wear gloves when you pick up the plant due to the poisonous sap on the plant.


Can You Propagate a Desert Rose Plant?


  1. Cut a few inches off the plant that has no leaves. If there are leaves, you need to remove them and set the cut piece aside for a few days till it becomes soft.
  2. Next, you want to mix sand and cocopeat, which will be the new home for the plant. As a bonus tip, you can add some fungicide mix to the soil. After the mix occurs, you will put that new soil into a drainage hole pot.
  3. Place the Desert Rose cutting into the new pot with the fresh soil.
  4. Give a generous amount of water that seeps through the drainage holes to give all of the soil a chance to become moist.
  5. Place the plant in an area that receives direct sunlight.
  6. Enjoy!


Conclusion – How to Take Care of a Desert Rose

In summary, there is a wide variety of Desert Rose plants to choose from, allowing you to find the subspecies that best compliments your home garden! However, they require careful attention to providing the appropriate light and water. So, if you’re a hands-off type of plant owner, these guys may not be for you.


But, on the other hand, they are long-lasting and have beautiful foliage, which makes them so popular. If you can follow the steps above, you should be all set. A final thought to remember is that these plants are toxic, so handle with care and keep them out of reach from house pets!


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