Growing the Desert Rose is relatively easy to accomplish if proper growing conditions can be met. The Desert Rose, also known as Adenium obesum, hails from Africa. Not a true rose at all, but a true succulent, the Desert Rose is actually a member of the Apocynacae family of plants. It can reach up to 10 feet in height at maturity and produces lovely bright pink trumpet shaped flowers and plump leaves that give the plant its unique moniker. This warm-weather flowering plant does best in sub tropical or tropical climates and does not fare well in colder temperatures. Interestingly, due to its amenability to shaping, the Desert Rose is actually considered a form of bonsai, and can easily be shaped and wired as it grows. It will likely resemble a bush more than a tree due to its dense foliage as it grows. Follow these simple instructions from experts to grow the Desert Rose in your own home or garden setting.
The Desert Rose prefers a growing location with plenty of direct sunlight, lots of air circulation and sandy soil that drains well. Temperatures in the growing location must remain above 55 degrees at all times for best results, as the Desert Rose can be damaged by exposure to frost or extreme cold. Chosen location to grow Desert Rose should also offer adequate space for the plant to grow to its full height.
The Desert Rose will do well in a variety of soil types but prefers soil that is a mixture of equal parts soil and sand. Cactus soil is the best choice, if it is available. Plant the desert rose by seed, cutting, or young established plants. Plant shallowly in the soil and sand mixture and add a layer of mulching around the base of the stem to control for weeds, hold in moisture, and provide protection to the growing plants. Water thoroughly after planting and allow the soil to drain, then give the new plants an application of water soluble fertilizer. It can also be helpful to incorporate a slow-release fertilizer with the soil and sand mixture to stimulate vigorous growth for new young plants.
Do not ever allow the soil to dry out between waterings. The best way to tell if the Desert Rose needs to be watered is to examine the soil surface and insert a finger one half inch into the soil. If the soil is dry, it is time to water the Desert Rose. However, standing water will cause root rot and the Desert Rose cannot tolerate soggy soil. The Desert Rose will need more watering during the spring and summer growing season, and less during its dormant state in the wintertime. If you notice that your Desert Rose starts to drop its leaves, this is a sign that it is being overwatered. Continue offering the Desert Rose an application of water soluble fertilizer once per month or as directed by the type of fertilizer being used.
As a form of bonsai, the Desert Rose is very amenable to shaping, pruning, and wiring. Care should always be taken when wiring to be very gentle and avoid harming or bruising stems, branches, or leaves with the wire. The Desert Rose is a "bleeder" when pruned, which means it will emit a sap wherever it is cut, so annual maintenance and shaping pruning should only be done when the plant is dormant in the winter time. Pruning for removal of diseased, damaged, or dead foliage or blossoms can be performed anytime, however. Additionally, if the sap comes in contact with bare skin it can cause a rash or irritation, so it is recommended to wear gloves while pruning. Both the flowers and the sap of the Desert Rose are considered to be poisonous, which can be a consideration for households with young children or pets who have access to the plants.
While the Desert Rose is perfectly happy to be grown in pots, it will likely become necessary to repot the plant as their height increases. Experts recommend repotting Desert Rose approximately every 24 months to allow root systems adequate room to continue maturing. For colder temperature climates, growing Desert Rose plants in pots can be helpful when they need to moved indoors over the winter season. Ensure that Desert Rose plants are placed in a sunny location indoors if they spend the winter inside.