A Beginner’s Guide: How to Propagate Desert Rose

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How to propagate desert rose

The beautiful succulent known as desert rose (adenium obesum) is a member of the dogbane family. As the name suggests, it’s native to desert regions, specifically in Africa and its flowers vary from red to pink while its trunks are short and swollen-looking. They’re often grown as bonsai plants because of their short stature. In this article, we are going to discover how to propagate Desert Rose plants at home.

In hot regions (USDA zones 10 to 11), the growing conditions are ideal for growing desert rose outside as a decorative plant. In cooler regions, it’s potted and kept indoors during winter. 

One thing you should not forget: The sap of desert rose is toxic to humans and pets.

Propagating a Desert Rose at Home

Desert rose plants are expensive and not always easy to come by. Fortunately (just like Lavenders or Rosemary), you can multiply your plants in more ways than one!

The best time to propagate desert rose is in early spring, the way it would occur naturally. 

How to Grow Desert Rose from Cuttings

Like many plants, you can propagate desert roses by taking stem cuttings. For the best results, you should only take cuttings from plants that are well-established and at least 2 years old

  1. Cut off a stem that is 6 to 8 inches long. Make sure it has several leaves on it. 
  2. Remove the leaves on the bottom portion of the cutting and dip it in the rooting hormone.
  3. Pot the desert rose cutting in cactus soil with lots of sand – the pot must have at least one drainage hole. Water it and place it in a sunny location indoors
  4. Wait for roots to form, while watering enough to keep the soil moist. It may take up to 2 months for them to form. Mist the leaves with a spray bottle using water only.
  5. The plant will grow roots and new growth will appear. You can upsize the pot or plant it outside. 

How to Grow Desert Rose From Seed

You can buy desert rose seeds from a reputable nursery. Seeds that are fresh propagate best.

  1. Fill a pot with sandy potting soil. Soils containing perlite meant for cacti work well. 
  2. Plant desert rose seeds just beneath the surface and water them. 
  3. Place the pot onto a heating mat
  4. Continue to keep the soil moist. Seedlings should appear within about a week.
  5. Transplant your new desert rose into a pot at least 6 inches in diameter, or to a plot outside.

Propagating Desert Rose by Grafting

Grafting is the process of combining a cutting with a rootstock. It’s done to preserve certain features of the parent plant. The process is complicated but you can find it online.

Here is what you need

  • Pot – 6 inches in diameter works great! 
  • Sandy, perlite-rich soil (cactus soil works here)
  • Pruning shears (if taking cuttings) 
  • Heating mat (optional)
  • Rooting hormone (optional if taking cuttings)

Care and Maintenance of Propagated Desert Roses

Desert roses are adapted for hot, dry conditions with short periods of water.

  • Full sun is necessary. 
  • Desert roses are adapted to long periods with no water. Let the soil dry out completely before watering. 
  • Sandy soil with lots of perlites works well – cactus soils are a great example. 
  • Being native to hot regions, desert roses cannot tolerate cold weather. Prolonged periods below 10 degrees C can seriously harm the plant. Frost will kill it. 
  • Liquid fertilizer is good for the plants – once a month during the growing season is good. Don’t apply during the dormant period. 

Troubleshooting & tips

  • Yellow Leaves: a sign of root rot. You can pull up the root ball and trim away any rotten roots. 
  • Spotted Leaves: powdery mildew is a fungus that causes blisters on the leaves. Prune all infected leaves to get rid of it. 
  • Thin, Scrawny Trunk: a definite sign of underwatering. Desert roses store water in their trunks which swell as they absorb it. 

Tips and Best Practices

  • Rooting hormone can be used to increase the chances of successful cuttings. 
  • Only water once the soil has dried out. 

Soils meant for cacti are also great for desert roses.

To sum it up

I hope you found this a helpful introduction to growing your own desert roses. They’re beautiful plants and they have a different appearance compared to plants that are native to the northern hemisphere. Best of luck and happy growing!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Fast Does Desert Rose Grow?

It’s a slow-growing plant, growing not more than 1 foot per year.

Is Desert Rose a Succulent?

Yes. It stores water in its trunk.

How to I Plant Desert Rose?

Plant only fresh adenium seeds in sandy, perlite-rich potting mix. Fresh seeds have a higher germination rate.

Do Desert Roses Need Full Sun?

Yes, they are adapted for unshaded sunlight.

How Do I Get Desert Rose to Bloom?

Make sure your desert rose has enough water. If you just transplanted it, it will be adjusting itself and won’t be able to flower.

How Often Do I Water Desert Rose?

Water it only when the soil has dried out, more so during spring and summer.

How Do I Repot Desert Roses?

Use sandy, perlite-rich soil and water the plant after repotting.