Tips for growing desert rose plants differ from summer to winter. During the summer season, the plant requires full sunlight, daily watering and regular fertilization. In the winter, the plant requires infrequent watering, and it goes dormant.
Desert rose, also known as Adenium obesum, is a flowering plant with a thick trunk and large root base. Treating the succulent like a tropical plant in the summer and a cactus in the winter provides optimal growth. Overall care begins by planting in soil augmented with one-third to one-half drainage material to prevent root rot. Clay, plastic or ceramic pots are acceptable, but using a thick-walled, shallow bowl shape slightly larger than the root mass prevents breakage.
Plant growth and flowering occur in summer. Expanding buds in spring are a sign to water daily and fertilize regularly using a household fertilizer with a 20-20-20 formula at the label's recommended rate. Typical pests include spider mites and mealy bugs. Spider mites build up and de-leaf the plant rapidly. It is best to treat signs of infestation early with insecticide soap.
In winter, the plant goes dormant and is highly susceptible to root rot. Yellow dropping leaves signal dormancy, and it is time to cut back on watering and stop fertilizing. Some varieties of the plant produce more flowers after a totally dry dormant period.
Even though it has a large root mass, the desert rose is easily pot bound. Increasing pot size every one to two years during the growing season helps achieve the desired plant size. Because blooms develop at the end of stems, regular pruning provides better branching and flower production.