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What Is a Desert Rose Succulent

Also called adenium obesum, the desert rose is one of the world’s best flowering succulents. It can be classified as a slow-growing plant as it tends to gain not more than twelve inches annually. It has thick stems as well as flowers in the shade of deep pink. This succulent species has also been extensively hybridized, allowing it to produce various flower colors, including striped and orange. With that, they can create several unique and fascinating succulent arrangements.

Benefits of a Desert Rose Succulent

Improving your health with a few pots of succulents is possible. It is the reason why many are now fond of growing succulents at home. You can get the same health benefits from a desert rose. Aside from that, this plant is popular because it also carries the following additional benefits:

Can Easily Adapt to Various Environments

This succulent has the advantage of adapting well to its surrounding environment regardless of what it is. It can even grow and bloom in lethal and unusual environmental conditions. It knows how to survive even without essential nutrition and water, which are supposed to be crucial for growth. This succulent, therefore, has strong survival capabilities.

Produces Beautiful Flowers

Apart from providing the therapeutic benefits of cactuses and many more positive effects on health, this succulent is also fascinatingly appealing. The reason behind this is that it is capable of growing beautiful-looking tubular flowers. The flowers look so beautiful and unique that they are so popular in the global market. They even hold the impressive aesthetic value of tall succulents.

Hassle-Free to Grow and Cultivate in Pots

You will not also experience any problem cultivating the desert rose in pots. The reason behind the ease of cultivating it in pots is its small size. It also has a base trunk, which tends to grow horizontally. It is usually enough to cover the needed space to support the growth of its branches and leaves.

How Does the Desert Rose Succulent Work

How Does the Desert Rose Succulent Work

The desert rose succulent works by adding life to your home or garden. It is so beautiful and unique that you will surely be fond of growing and cultivating it. What’s great about this succulent is that it can survive even in harsh conditions that only have a limited supply of nutrients and water. It works by adapting to whatever environment it is in. It is even capable of surviving with no water for a few weeks.

Pros and Cons of a Desert Rose Succulent


  • Impressive survival capabilities as it can survive various environments, even harsh ones with only limited nutrient and water supply
  • Produces aesthetically pleasing flowers.
  • Not that hard to grow and cultivate in pots.
  • Has latex that is useful in dealing with tooth decay. You can also use the plant’s latex as a disinfectant that can help with septic wounds.
  • Long-lasting flowers.


  • Not suitable for places with pets and kids as its parts are toxic and poisonous.

Features of a Desert Rose Succulent

What specific features of the desert rose succulent that make it as amazing as premium low-light succulents? Let’s talk about them in this section.


While desert rose can be classified as succulent, it has several unique physical characteristics – one of which is that it does not feature swollen leaves. Instead, what it has is a caudex, which is a swollen trunk that is belly-like. It serves as effective storage of moisture.

It rarely appears closely similar to a baobab or bottle tree than the usual succulent. Desert rose, as well as other rare succulents, can be a good investment. Once the succulent ages, you will notice its caudex expanding. It may also divide to form a buttress.


The desert rose can grow around 3 to 9 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide. Once it grows, you will notice its trunk spreading horizontally, allowing it to cover a maximum amount of space. This somewhat proves the fact that some succulents make a splendid groundcover. The leaves of this plant are also somewhat large, with most of them having shiny layers.


In most cases, the desert rose succulents bloom flowers during the summer. It can display single flowers resembling a rose. These flowers also come in various colors and combinations, but you will notice that the most predominant colors are pink, red, and white.


One fact about the desert rose that you have to remember is that it is toxic and poisonous to animals (pets) and humans. The sap is particularly poisonous so ensure that it does not contact you, pets, and kids. It is also advisable to wash both hands immediately if you come in contact with the sap when you are handling the succulents.

Desert Rose Succulent Requirements

Desert Rose Succulent Requirements

The desert rose succulent has a few requirements for it to thrive and survive healthily. Here are just some important points to remember when providing this succulent with what it needs specifically.


Having real and replica succulents in a single arrangement, or any other setup and arrangement for that matter, has surely made you realize the importance of sunlight for them. The desert rose is no exception as it needs an environment that has full sunlight, too. This makes this plant ideal for windows that receive a lot of natural sunlight.

You may also put this plant in a spot in your home that obtains enough light the entire day, like a sunroom or bright windowsill. Do you intend to grow the desert rose outdoors? Then choose an area in your garden without any shade from taller plants while still providing a sort of protection from the heat of the high-noon sun. The reason is that such heat may cause its leaves to scorch.


Another reminder regarding desert rose succulents is that they have various water requirements based on a certain temperature and the specific time of year. During the late spring and the summer, this succulent is in its growing stage. Here, you have to keep the soil surrounding it moist without making it saturated.

Checking on the soil regularly is a must, too. Whether you have homemade succulent soil or any other type of potting mix, you still have to check it regularly, so you will know if it is totally dry before you perform additional watering. Ensure that you plant it in a container with sufficient drainage holes, too. The reason is that it is prone to rot in case it gets too moist.

Once the winter and fall season comes, this plant usually becomes dormant. In that case, you may want to lessen its moisture significantly. You can do that by watering the plant with only a minimal amount of water once a month. Again, the soil has to be totally dry for you to do that.


The desert rose will thrive naturally in desert-like and dry conditions and environments in accordance with its name. Such is the fact, especially if you think of how it loves warmer temperatures and light. It also likes gravely and sandy soil, provided it drains well.

Temperature and Humidity

It is important for the desert rose succulent to remain in an environment with warm temperatures. One important reminder is that this plant tends to die quickly when you expose it to temperatures below 50 degrees F for a prolonged period. It would be ideal for it to stay in temperatures that are around 65 to 90 degrees.

If you plan to plant and cultivate it outdoors, be aware that it can withstand all frosts brought on by the winter or fall season. As for humidity, it does not matter too much with this succulent. The reason is that it is already familiar with the hot and dry climate provided by the desert.


Liquid fertilizer is an ideal solution for you to take good care of your plants. You may want to use a liquid fertilizer to feed the succulent so it will receive an additional dose of nourishments. It also helps to increase the number of flowers it can produce during the blooming time.

Just make sure to dilute the liquid fertilizer by half every time you use it. You can use a good fertilizer once every month when it is still at the active growth phase. Avoid fertilizing this plant when it is already in its dormant period.

Pests and Diseases

Desert Rose Requirements

Another crucial reminder is to let the plant stay in a protected environment – one that can protect them from pets and other sources of pest infestation and diseases. Note that the plant tends to attract butterflies, bees, and other bugs who love eating flowers. With that said, you need to be more careful and deal with the pests that may cause diseases.


I’m sure you will love the desert rose is the ease of propagating it. In most cases, you will be propagating the desert rose by seed. If there is a seed pot, it is necessary to plant the taken seeds immediately to heighten the probability of germination.

Several gardeners use a source of heat to retain the temperature of around 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the computer. After the seeds germinate, you can move the plants to another pot within just a month. You can also propagate desert rose with the help of branch cuttings.

Potting and Repotting

Repot your desert rose succulent only as required. The repotting process should preferably take place when the season is warm. Once you have decided to repot any of your succulents, the first thing you should do is to ensure that the soil is fully dry before taking out the plant gently from the pot.

Remove old soil from the roots. You have to be one hundred percent sure that the dead and rotten roots were all already removed. After that, you should use an antibacterial solution and fungicide to heal all cuts.

Put the succulent in the new pot – after which, you can use potting soil for the backfill. This can help spread the roots while repotting. Leave it for around one week or so to let it dry completely. After that, you can lightly water the plant to make it less prone to root rot.

How to Grow a Desert Rose Succulent

Step 1 – Find a sunny spot

If you put it in arid and tropical areas, you will have the assurance that there is a bit of light shade to keep the succulent fully protected from scorching.

Step 2 – Plant it at the chosen spot

You should plant it in a way that its trunk or the caudex’s base is just over or at soil level. Avoid burying this succulent.

Step 3 – Choose gravely and free-draining soil

You may also use a richer loam as the desert rose can tolerate it.

Step 4 – Put a long-term fertilizer

Use the controlled-release type at the time when you are still doing soil preparations.


How to Plant Desert Rose Succulent in a Pot

Step 1 – Choose the right pot

In this case, the most preferred options are clay pots and porous terracotta pots. The reason is that such materials used in creating the pots can be expected to dry well. They also tend to dry more quickly compared to other materials like fiberglass, ceramic, and plastic.

Step 2 – Put a narrow layer of pebbles at the pot’s base

This should be enough in improving drainage.

Step 3 – Add a succulent potting mix into the pot

Position the desert rose in your chosen pot with the soil. Set this plant in such a way that its caudex’s base is just a bit over or at the top of the mix.

Step 4 – Look for a sheltered spot

This is where you should position your pot with the desert rose for around a week. This will let it handle the transplant. After that, you can slowly move it to the spot designated for it that has enough light. Integrate a sort of light shade during midday as a means of preventing leaf scorch.


How to Care for a Desert Rose Succulent

Step 1 – Water the succulents regularly

Note that similar to other succulents, the desert rose also needs regular watering. This is particularly true during dry and hot weather.

Step 2 – Use a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer

Apply it to the plant during the summer and spring.  Just make sure to dilute it to around a third of the suggested strength. The use of it should help promote flowering.

Step 3 – Watch out for pests

If you notice some mealybugs or aphids penetrating the plant, then spray it lightly with white oil. You may also want to use insecticidal soap.

Step 4 – Ensure it has everything it needs to survive

These include sufficient sunlight, proper temperature and humidity, and well-draining soil.

Does More Spending Mean More Quality

No, you don’t have to spend a fortune to obtain top-quality desert rose succulents. Note that, like other succulent species, desert rose is quite affordable. You do not have to splurge a significantly huge amount to get the quality you want. Also, take note that the plant can bring out its best version with proper care regardless of how much you spend on it initially.


Do’s and Don’ts With a Desert Rose Succulent

  • Ensure that the soil has good drainage. Note that while the desert rose prefers being in moist soil, it should not be to the point of being soggy. It is also prone to root rot, ensuring that you plant it in soil with proper drainage.
  • Prune lightly. If you grow this succulent in your garden, you can expect it to respond positively to light pruning. This is important in retaining its great shape. Cut only during the dry season, though, to prevent potential infections that may enter the cuts.
  • Exercise caution when handling the plant. The reason is that it has a toxic substance that may come in contact with your hands and penetrate your body, causing unwanted and lethal effects.
  • Do not forget to protect the plant from pests. Ensure that it is in an environment that protects it from pests, like bugs and bees.
  • Do not overwater your desert rose succulents. Avoid overwatering, especially during the plant’s inactive growth phase, which usually happens in the winter.

FAQ About Dessert Rose Succulents

Are desert rose succulents poisonous to dogs and cats?

Yes, so you have to be extra careful when you have these pets around your home. It is poisonous because of its milky sap, which contains lethal toxins. Direct exposure to this toxin may cause serious health problems to pets and humans, especially kids.

Does the desert rose like the full sun?

Yes. In fact, a full sun environment is what the desert rose needs to survive and bloom beautifully.

Is desert rose an indoor plant?

Yes, the desert rose is mainly an indoor plant. You can plant it in a small pot and cultivate it indoors, provided it receives everything it needs, like full sun. As it matures, though, it is crucial to shift it to a larger pot through repotting.

Why are the leaves falling off my desert rose?

It could be the result of overwatering. Note that this succulent can store sufficient water so let it dry completely before you water it again. It may also be because it is in its dormant cycle, which is natural for succulents.

FAQ About Dessert Rose Succulents

At what age do desert roses bloom?

Desert roses usually bloom for a few weeks during the summer and spring. Giving it proper and sufficient care will also let it bloom flowers the entire year. Be patient, though, as there are instances when this plant can’t produce blooms for a few months. However, if it is completely healthy and you provide it with the right growing conditions, you will have the assurance that it will eventually produce the right blooms.

How do I know if my desert rose has root rot?

You have to watch several signs if you want to determine if your desert rose has root rot. Apart from not looking healthy and happy, it may also lose its colors. The leaves may also start falling off, plus they tend to look mushy. If you notice those signs, then you have to try saving the plants immediately.

Can you trim a desert rose plant?

Yes, you can. However, it would be best for you to do the trimming or pruning before it blooms. The reason is that this plant tends to bloom on new growth. If you get rid of its older growth, then there is also a high chance for you to remove its blooms and buds.

Avoid trimming or pruning in late fall, too, as it may develop a new growth group, which is only prone to damage brought on by the cold weather. It would be best to time the pruning before the desert rose succulents bloom flowers as this can promote more branching, which will eventually lead to more blooms.


If you are interested in flowering succulents, then the desert rose will not disappoint you. Just make sure that you are serious about giving this plant the perfect environment and commit to caring for it so it can grow and bloom the way it is supposed to. 

Photos from: Deerphoto /, Sawitchayawing /, LMC1905 / and khunkapoldep /