Home >> How to Grow Desert Rose Indoors or Out (Complete Guide)

How to Grow Desert Rose Indoors or Out (Complete Guide)

Adenium obesum, which most gardeners call desert rose, is a plant species with bright flowers that come in the shape of small trumpets. This plant thrives in hot climates but also adapts well as part of an indoor garden. But no matter how you choose to grow this plant, you need to know the basics of how to do so. This article will give you all the information you need on how to grow desert rose today.

How to Grow Desert Rose Indoors or Out [Complete Guide]
Desert Rose requires specific growing conditions

Where to Grow a Desert Rose

Before you can grow a desert rose, you need to find a location in which this plant will thrive. Like any other plant, a desert rose grows better when the temperature, light exposure, and soil conditions are well-suited to its growth.

Desert Rose Hardiness

Desert rose is a subtropical and tropical plant that comes from parts of Africa and the Middle East, with a hardiness range of ten to 12. In any region colder than that, the desert rose will quickly perish when growing outdoors. Gardeners living in those colder areas will need to overwinter their desert rose plants in the winter months or grow them exclusively indoors.

When growing a desert rose indoors, you’ll want to mimic the conditions of its native range by keeping the air temperature relatively high. A consistent temperature that falls between 65- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit will result in the best growth for this plant.

Desert Rose Sunlight Needs

Grow your desert rose plant where there is full sun. Six hours of direct sunlight exposure per day will work well, and more sunlight can be even more beneficial for this plant’s growth.

If you are like most people, who will need to grow their desert rose indoors, it’s best if you have a large, south-facing window that receives a lot of bright light throughout the day. Position your desert rose near this window but not where it will sit in the sun’s direct rays all day.

Desert Rose Soil Preferences

A desert rose has a specific preference for several soil characteristics, which you’ll want to provide. Desert roses tend to grow best when their root system can spread through soil that is:

  • Sandy
  • Relatively dry
  • well-draining
  • neutral or slightly acidic

Those soil traits are best for desert rose because they are most like the soil conditions where this plant grows naturally. Potting mixes created for cactus plants often do well to provide those preferable conditions and are an excellent option for those who grow their desert roses as container plants.

How to Care for a Desert Rose

Once the location-related growing requirements are in place, you’re ready to learn how to care for your desert rose. The following sections will tell you what you need to know about the water, fertilization, and pruning needs of this species.

Watering a Desert Rose

The hot and dry desert origins of the desert rose make it capable of living well in dry soil. However, you will need to water this plant periodically, especially during the spring and summer. During these warmer months, monitor the soil around your desert rose and add water when it feels nearly completely dry. When watering, your goal is to make the soil slightly moist, not soaked.

A typical frequency for watering a desert rose during the growing season could be about once per week or around every ten to 14 days. In the cooler months of fall and winter, you can decrease your watering rate to about once every month.

When in doubt, ere on the side of underwatering your desert rose. It is far more common for this plant to experience complications, such as root rot, after receiving too much water rather than too little. However, with that said, there may be some cases when it may be best to increase the water you give a desert rose, such as during extreme heatwaves.

Fertilizing a Desert Rose

The fertilization needs for a desert rose is low compared to many other popular species, but regular feedings will help this plant grow more quickly and show better blooms. Provide fertilizer about one to three times through the early spring, summer, and early fall. During the winter, you can fertilize your desert rose once or not at all.

All-purpose fertilizers will provide a balanced mix of the main micronutrients that a desert rose needs. However, there are some better fertilizer options for this plant. Specifically, phosphorus-rich fertilizers can be especially advantageous, as they promote healthy blooms. It also helps to provide a light amount of water for your desert rose just after you fertilize it.

Pruning a Desert Rose

When pruning your desert rose, you can have one of several goals in mind. One of the best reasons to prune this plant is to remove any winter damage it may have received during the colder months of the year. You can also prune this plant to develop a more pleasing and even shape and to take out any sickly, dead, or crossing branches.

When you prune, you should do so lightly and ensure that your pruning tools are both sharp and sterile. Pruning a desert rose can take place at just about any time of year. However, pruning in late fall can be a poor decision as it can stimulate new growth just before the plant enters dormancy.

Insights for Gardeners Growing a Desert Rose

You now know some of the most crucial aspects of growing and caring for a desert rose. However, there are several other ideas you should be aware of if you want to get the most out of the plant. Read on to pick up a few key insights that will help you better understand your desert rose.

Desert Roses Are Slow Growers

A desert rose plant will take a while to reach its mature size regardless of how well you care for it. This plant can have a growth rate of 12 inches per year, but they are usually slower than that. At times, a desert rose that is a few years old may be just two feet tall or less.

While desert roses typically show slow growth no matter what, a few maintenance factors can alter this rate. For instance, your desert rose may grow even more slowly if it does not get the copious amounts of sun exposure it expects. By contrast, desert roses can grow a bit more quickly if you know how to fertilize, prune, and select an ideal growing location for these plants.

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Desert Roses Come in Many Varieties

The most popular type of desert rose that gardeners grow has the scientific name Adenium obesum. But while this species is the most popular, several other types of desert rose exist, all of which belong to the same Adenium genus. These desert rose species vary in their growth habits, care needs, and ornamental qualities.

For example, the desert rose called Adenium arabicum is a popular bonsai tree with a distinct shape and large foliage, while another called Adenium boehmianum has a thinner, less dense form with light purplish-pink flowers. Take time to study a few different desert rose species to find the one that looks best to you and has the best chance of surviving where you intend to grow it.


Desert Roses Don’t Need Too Much Humidity

Many tropical plants that people grow indoors need high levels of humidity, but this is not the case for the desert rose. You won’t need to do any misting or run a humidifier for this plant, as it will perform better when the air is a bit dryer.

As mentioned earlier, the same desire for dryness is true regarding a desert rose’s soil preference. This minimal need for soil and air moisture makes desert rose one of the most suitable plants for indoor locations and gardeners who don’t want to do a large amount of upkeep for their plants.

Desert Roses Can’t Handle Any Frost Exposure

It is not enough to state that a desert rose prefers a hot climate. Instead, it’s more accurate to say that a desert rose cannot handle cold exposure at all. Desert roses can experience cold damage after only a few hours of the air temperature being below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

With such high vulnerability to cold, desert roses cannot survive outdoors for more than a few months in most locations. The further north you go, the more time you’ll need to spend raising your desert rose in the warmth of your home. For some gardeners, growing desert roses entirely indoors may be the most sensible choice.

Desert Roses Need Great Drainage

Excessive amounts of soil moisture are among the most common causes of desert rose complications. Whether you give too much water or the soil in which your desert rose grows holds too much moisture, problems like root rot and other infections can arise. The most reliable way to prevent these moisture-related problems is to guarantee that your desert rose has good drainage.

To give your desert rose the drainage it needs, you must use gritty, sand-like soil that cannot hold excess water. The container you use also matters, and those with large drainage holes or permeable materials, like fabric growth bags, should be what you use for this plant.

Desert Roses Can Become Several Feet Tall

The slow growth of a desert rose and the fact that it often grows as an indoor plant leads many to underestimate this plant’s mature size. Despite those expectations, a desert rose can reach a height of nine feet when growing outdoors. In indoor settings, this plant will be a bit smaller but can still reach about five feet tall.

While it will take a while for this plant to reach a considerable size, you would be wise to anticipate the overall size of this plant. Choose a growing location, whether indoors or out, that gives your desert rose all the space it needs to expand to its full size.

Common Challenges When Growing Desert Rose

Desert roses are not the most difficult plants that you can choose to grow, but they can encounter some complications. The most relevant issues that a desert rose will face are:

  • Rot: One of the most prevalent signs of overwatering a desert rose is the presence of rot. Follow proper watering guidelines for this plant to prevent this problem from arising.
  • Yellow leaves: Leaf discoloration can be the result of more than one problem. Most often, yellowing leaves appear as the result of overwatering, and lack of sunlight can be a cause as well.
  • Lack of blooms: Insufficient sunlight can cause a desert rose to lack blooms. Interestingly, providing too much fertilizer can produce the same bloom reduction.
  • Insect infestation: Desert roses can have complications related to insect infestations. Spider mites, aphids, and scale are some of the most common bugs that will hurt this plant.

Final Thoughts on How to Grow Desert Rose

If you want a beautiful desert rose plant to grace your garden with its impressive blooms, all you need to know is where and how to grow this species. The insights above should give you all the knowledge you need to keep your desert rose happy and looking great for many years.

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