How Do You Take Care of a Desert Rose Plant ?

by Nelly
(San Diego, CA)

When my grandmother passed away recently, the family decided that I should have her beautiful desert rose.

The plant is in a clay pot. It is almost three feet tall. The bottom of the main trunk is fat and roots are growing on top of the soil. Is this normal?

The top of the plant was bushy and full of dark, shiny leaves when I first got it. It began to drop leaves almost as soon as I brought it home. There were also several flower buds that have fallen off.

I wish I had inherited my nana's green thumb. I'm not much of a plant person, but this plant makes me think of my grandmother every time I look at it. I don't want to lose it.

How can I get it to be as gorgeous as it once was?

Plant Guides Answer

Please accept my condolences on the loss of your grandmother.

There is no reason you should loose your desert rose plant. It is normal for them to drop some leaves when moved indoors in the fall as the air inside a house is much drier than the air they have been enjoying outside all summer.

This can also happen if the plant is moved from one house to another as all homes are not equally humid.

The flower buds drop for the same reason. Sometimes just turning a plant once the buds are above a certain size will cause them to fall off. I don't think you need to worry about this. If it continues, you can use a humidifier or even a vaporizer to raise the humidity level near the plant.

That fat base is a water storage organ called a caudex. Because desert rose plant's have this feature, they are vulnerable to rot. The fastest way to loose a desert rose is to over water it. Let the soil dry between waterings.

Especially in the winter.

You may have to water a plant the size of yours daily during the summer months.

In order to maintain that bushy top, your plant will need a great deal of light year round. Put it in the brightest spot you have for the winter.

Put it outside during the summer, if you can. Place it in the shade for the first few days and move it into full sun gradually so as not to burn the leaves.

As to the roots growing on top of the soil, that is not only normal but desirable for a desert rose plant.

Desert Rose Plant Care is an article that will give you more information about caring for this tropical plant.

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Your plant guides,

Selina and Tiny