Looking after a desert rose plant may seem tricky, but with proper care, it can thrive beautifully. This succulent plant needs ample sunshine and careful management of water. It grows best in consistently warm temperatures, which is why it’s usually an indoor plant in most parts of the US, except USDA zones 11 and 12. During summer months, the desert rose is adorned with pink, red or vibrant flowers, and green leaves. However, during winter, it becomes dormant and loses its foliage and flowers.
While caring for a desert rose plant, ensure that it receives full sun, so place it in a south-facing window or sunroom. If you plant it outside, choose a location where taller plants won’t shade it, but it has protection from the midday sun to avoid burning its leaves. The desert rose thrives in well-draining sandy or gravelly cactus soil with a neutral to acidic pH of around 6.0.
The desert rose plant requires varying amounts of water depending on the temperature and season. During the growing season (late spring and summer), keep the soil moist but not saturated, and let it dry out entirely before watering. Plant it in a pot with plenty of drainage holes since it’s prone to rot if overwatered. During the fall and winter, when it’s dormant, reduce watering and only water minimally once a month. A thick, swollen stem indicates that the plant is well-hydrated.
Maintain warm temperatures between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit since the desert rose cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Fertilize it once a month during its active growth period with diluted liquid fertilizer for extra nutrients and potentially more flowers. Avoid fertilizing it when it’s dormant.
Adenium obesum is the most common and easily available species of the desert rose plant. Other subspecies include Adenium obesum subsp. oleifolium, Adenium obesum subsp. socotranum, Adenium obesum subsp. somalense, and Adenium obesum subsp. swazicum, each with unique features and flowers.