How to Care for Desert Rose Plants


Desert rose plants (Adenium obesum) are attractive, flowering succulents native to parts of East Africa, according to information published by the University of Oklahoma. Desirable for their shrubby growth habit and large, showy, colorful flowers, these plants are often grown in containers in climates where the weather gets too cold for the plant to survive. The desert rose also features a distinctive stem, which swells into intriguing shapes when it stores water. Care of this hardy plant does not go beyond basic culture, especially when grown in containers, making it a good choice for the home gardener.

Step 1

Choose a container that has drainage holes. Clay containers are recommended by the University of Oklahoma, as they allow the soil to dry out better than plastic pots. Or plant the flower outdoors in a warm, sunny location.

Step 2

Fill the container with a potting mix made for cacti, or amend your outdoor soil with coarse sand, brick chips or perlite to aid in draining.

Step 3

Plant the desert rose so that the top of the root ball protrudes slightly above the surface of the soil. Water thoroughly.

Step 4

Place the pot in a location where it will receive full sunlight--at least six hours of sunlight per day and preferably more. These plants will become spindly if not exposed to enough sunlight, according to the University of Florida.

Step 5

Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season (spring through summer). This is especially important for young and newly planted desert roses, suggests the University of Florida.

Step 6

Water only when the soil dries out completely. Adenium obesum is highly susceptible to root rot, a fungal disease that will attack and destroy the roots of the plant. Root rot occurs when the soil is overly wet for extended periods of time.

Things You'll Need

  • Clay pot with drainage holes
  • Cactus mix potting soil
  • Sand, perlite or brick chips
  • Watering tool
  • Balanced (10-10-10) liquid fertilizer


  • University of Florida: Desert Rose
  • University of Oklahoma: Adenium obesum

Who Can Help

  • National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Map
Keywords: desert rose care, Adenium obesum plants, growing desert roses

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.