Properly caring for a desert rose plant will provide a beautiful summer-blooming plant with pink flowers that resemble mandevilla flowers. The desert rose is a succelent plant originally from east Africa. It grows as tall as 18 to 36 inches with a spread of about the same. Its trunk holds water and its leaves are a glossy dark green.
The desert rose will prove hardy outdoors in USDA zones 10 and 11. In other zones, they must be grown in pots and protected from frost. You can overwinter them inside if you have a bright sunny southern window, but it may prove difficult. As they require plenty of full sun a greenhouse would be the ideal choice should you need to bring them inside.
Desert rose plants are prone to attack by scale and mealy bugs, so wipe the stems down with rubbing alcohol at least once per week. They also attract aphids. If this happens, us a water spray or a soap solution to clean the plant. Do not use chemicals. Fungus is another serious problem and can kill the plant; if you notice the branches or trunk has soft or mushy spots, immediately cut them out and let the wounds air dry and scab over.
Water your desert rose judiciously. One of the biggest problems is preventing trunk rot, which is caused primarily by overwatering or planting the desert rose too deeply. Use a loose acidic potting soil and place only the roots into the soil. The trunk of the desert rose should be above the soil line. Use wide instead of deep pots, as these plants have shallow roots. If using a deep pot, fill it halfway with pebbles before adding soil. This will help keep the soil dry so that moisture doesn't hurt the roots. Choose a clay pot for best results, especially if overwatering is a concern.
Fertilize your desert rose with time release granular fertilizer for faster growth and more flowers. Water as needed and avoid overwatering which causes the roots and trunks to rot.