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The Spring-Summer Guide on How to Care for Your Desert Rose Plant

Posted on June 28 2021

The Spring-Summer Guide on How to Care for Your Desert Rose Plant

“Roses are red, violets are blue, the Desert Rose has us captivated: How ‘bout you?” Oh, and the best part about the Desert Rose? You have various colors to choose from: red, pink, purple, orange, and white! Now that we’ve entered the peak of Spring-Summer, your plant is ready to do its thing. How can you care for your Desert Rose plant properly so that it busts out the buds?

What is a Desert Rose?

The answer to this question is the first step in understanding how to take care of your Desert Rose plant! It is a succulent from the warm climate of Africa (and is also known as Adenium obesum). 

When you think of “succulent,” you probably think of Jade Plants or Aloe Vera. Both store water in their ‘leaves,’ so what about a Desert Rose? Its oversized trunk works as its water-storage system.

Are Desert Rose plants poisonous?

Yes, very. Desert Rose plants are poisonous to humans and animals. Historically, their milky sap was used to poison hunting spears. So, take precautions! Wear gloves when you’re handling your Desert Rose, and keep them out of the path of critters and kids. Remember to sterilize all equipment you use for pruning, etc.

When is a Desert Rose plant’s Flowering Season?

Your Desert Rose’s flowering “cycle” can last from Spring-Fall. What does that mean? Your Desert Rose plant is almost guaranteed to bloom once sometime during the cycle with the proper care. Give it extra TLC, and it can continuously develop and replace blooms throughout the Spring-Fall. 

How to Care for a Desert Rose Plant

These plants go dormant (and bald) during the winter months, so the arrival of Spring-Summer is a breath of fresh air. Plus, your Desert Rose can officially stop looking like an upside-down octopus and more like a bouquet!

How much light do they need?

It depends. The location of your Desert Rose impacts the type of lighting it needs. 

Indoor plants should receive the brightest light you can muster. An outdoor plant should receive partial shade during the hottest part of the day; otherwise, its leaves will become scorched. 

Desert Rose plants are excellent “summer vacation” candidates: meaning, they overwinter indoors (if temperatures drop below 60) but thrive outdoors during the Spring-Summer! The extra boost of sunlight will fuel healthy leaf and flower growth!

How often should I water my Desert Rose Plant?

Your plant’s native African climate has rocky soil and unpredictable weather patterns. Desert Roses can withstand temporary bouts of both drought and rain. 

The Great Indoors

You should not water your indoor Desert Rose plant very frequently. You should allow the soil to completely dry out, waiting anywhere from 2-3 weeks during the growing season. (3-4 weeks during dormancy!)

The Wild Outdoors

Caring for a Desert Rose plant outdoors is a little harder to manage because everyone’s climate differs! If you live in hot, humid weather and receive rain every week or two, you won’t have to worry about watering your Desert Rose (just leave it to nature). However, if there’s rain in the forecast every day, your plant may need to get under cover! 

For arid areas, water Desert Rose plants when their soil is parched (possibly once every week).

Looking for the Physical Signs

The good news: Your Desert Rose will let you know if your watering frequency is off. Stressed plants will start dropping their leaves, so take the cue and make some adjustments if this happens to you! Don’t worry, your leaves will quickly grow back and flowers will eventually follow.

Healthy plants should look plump and perky. Remember, moisture is stored in the trunk and branches. If your Desert Rose is every limp, floppy, or shriveled, you have one dry plant on your hands! (And it may be time to say goodbye.)

What fertilizer should I use for my Desert Rose plant?

A monthly application of balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer (diluted to half-strength) will care for your Desert Rose plant’s nutritional needs during the late Spring-Summer. Remember to back off during dormancy. Too much fertilizer can burn your roots and cause your Desert Rose’s demise.

How do you repot a Desert Rose plant?

Well, you’ve picked the perfect season: the warm Spring-Summer. Beyond that, repotting your Desert Rose is much like repotting any other houseplant. 

Remember to take safety precautions due to the toxicity level of this plant. Wear disposable gloves and wash your hands once you’re finished.

  • Step one: Glove up!
  • Step two: Remove your plant from its container.
  • Step three: Break away the old soil from the roots. (This is where the Desert Rose can look a little different than your average houseplant: a mature “Rosie” can look more like it has legs than roots!)
  • Step four: Place your Desert Rose in its new pot at the same depth it was before. You should be able to see a clear “soil line” on the trunk, which you can use as a marker.
  • Step five: Fill in with fresh, very well-draining soil.
  • Step six: Water thoroughly. Remember, you can’t overwater in one sitting, so really give it a soaker. You should see bubbles popping up out of the soil, which is a good sign: that means the dirt is filling the air pockets around your plant’s roots. Continue watering until the bubbles stop. Add an extra layer of topsoil, if necessary.

In Conclusion

Keep your Desert Rose plant blooming by caring for it properly: Provide it with bright light, water it sparingly, fertilize it monthly, and repot it once the soil is exhausted. With these tips in your toolbelt, you’ll be enjoying blossoms for months to come!

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