How to Care For a Desert Rose Plant

desert rose pink flowers
Desert Rose in Garden

When I was given this flowering plant as a gift I was told it was a Plumeria. After seeing this same plant at the local Home Depot store, I discovered it was a Desert Rose. But before I knew what it was, I had taken it out of the original pot and put it into a sunny location in the backyard.

Sun is exactly what this flowering plant craves. But the word “desert” caused me to believe less water was better. The truth is that this plant did well with and without water.

Today I am watering it frequently, and it is thriving! So much for the “desert” title.

At the time I planted it, we were have a long dry spell here in Florida. The Desert Rose did well. I avoided watering it when I watered the hibiscus next to it, and the plant even sent out new buds, which you can see blooming at the bottom of the stalk.

Florida is a tropical place, but some areas are more tropical than others.  I am in the central part of the state and it can get very cold (below freezing) here overnight in winter.  I was afraid the Rose would die, so I ended up digging it up and putting it into a (bright orange) pot.

pink desert rose in orange pot
Dug up and potted

The Secret to Growing a Desert Rose in Florida

Sunlight is most important, with plenty of heat. The plant can deal with lack of water (I’ve tried that), but it also loves a daily spray with the hose.

These plants develop a very thick “stem” or caudex (see them in the photo below).  This is the part that holds in the water to keep the plant thriving in drought conditions.  But apparently it does not need to grow in a desert to thrive.

Keep it in a pot so it can come inside when temperatures drop – some sites say below 60 degrees and others say 40. Just bring it inside when it gets cold to be safe.

Pictures of My Desert Rose and How It Has Grown

As I mentioned above, this plant was a gift to me shortly after I moved into my house in 2016. I’ve had the plant for nearly 2 years now.

After a period of dormancy during the winter, suddenly lots of buds began to show up.  New little leaves began to grow from the base of the stem. This was about the time when aphids were appearing on all my plants outside. A daily check, and I would spray the buggers off with the hose. I let the lady bugs take care of most of the aphids in my garden, but the Rose is not near the vegetables.

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Blooming Desert Rose, after winter
desert rose plant in pot
Give it sunshine!  It is slow growing.

In the photo below, lots of greenery is showing on the plant, which has stopped blooming for now.  It will take this time to put effort into growing stems and leaves before it begins to flower again.
Right now I am not sure when that will be.  This plant flowers more than once a year, so I expect to see buds forming soon.

green leaves on desert rose
August 2018, glossy green leaves on my desert rose.  I spray it with the hose every day.

More Information About The Desert Rose

The Desert Rose is similar in appearance to the plumeria / frangipani tree and Oleander.  The unique aspect is the thick stems. The Oleander does grow in Florida, but I have not seen Plumeria trees. Maybe they will grow in the southern part of the state.  For more information about growing the desert rose elsewhere, read my friend’s article: Desert Rose Adenium Plant for Gardening and Bonsai.

Like the Oleander plant, the Rose contains poisonous sap.   It may not be a good choice as a houseplant for families with young kids for this reason.

The South Florida Plant Guide site has more info.

Sunday Morning Garden Photography

Taking garden photos to share on a peaceful Sunday morning.

Is there anything better than a quiet, peaceful (and fairly cool) Florida morning? Sure, lots of things, but today I enjoyed the cloud cover as I checked on my gardens this morning and took some photos with my iPhone.

hibiscus
Hibiscus Colors

The hibiscus is blooming profusely and I noticed today that some of the flowers are a lighter color than others. They look pink here, for some reason, but they are really light orange. I was too lazy to use my graphics program to fix the color – look at the photo below to see a more true version. …….Still, the beauty is apparent.

sunflower stalk
The Sunflower is Growing Tall

In New Hampshire I always had sunflowers growing in my garden during the summer. They sprang up on their own, known as “volunteers”. I just let them grow where they were and planted my vegetables around them.  In the Fall, little goldfinches and chickadees would land on the big heads and eat the seeds.

Because I don’t feed the birds in Florida, no sunflower seeds will voluntarily grow after being buried under the winter snow, so this one I had to plant. In fact I planted a lot of seeds, but this one the only one growing. Animals (squirrels) probably ate the other seeds.

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Big “volunteer” sunflower in my northern garden
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Open Rose

My rose bush is doing fine so far. I am seeing roses bloom continuously. Their color is stunning, but the flowers don’t last long.

watermelon vine
Watermelon Vine

I’ve never been able to grow my own watermelon, but I am trying again. This one seems to be doing well enough.

desert rose pink flowers
Desert Rose is Flowering

The Desert Rose, which at first was thought to be a Plumeria, is planted in the ground and doing well. Lots of bright pink flowers have bloomed and I am seldom watering it, as required.

Persian lime flowering
Little limes growing on the Persian Lime tree

The Persian Lime tree is blooming like mad and little limes have formed. Many of them will end up falling off, I assume, but I’m hopeful that some will grow to be edible size.

Other happenings in my small yard:  I saw two black snakes (black racers) yesterday within the span of about 3 minutes.  They are “good” snakes and not poisonous, but still creep me out as I watch them slither through the grass.  Now I’m back to watching where I walk.

Later today I will pick the one zucchini growing on my single zucchini plant.  The potatoes have been dug, and the carrots pulled.  Time to plant some new things that may, or may not, be able to take the Florida summer heat.  At this point, it’s all an experiment.

Have a wonderful day!

The Plumeria Plant Gift, Or Is It Something Else?

desert rose

Some friends stopped by the other day and they had been to the Farmer’s Market at the Volusia County Fairgrounds. They opened the trunk of the car to show us the wonderful plants they had purchased. They had boxes of little succulents, a bushy croton, tiny African violets, and bags of organic dirt. In the back I noticed three tall stalks in pots with one or two flowers at the top. When I asked what the plant was, our friend pulled one out and handed it to me. “It’s a Plumeria” she said, “Here take it, it’s for you”.

I tried to give it back, and said I was only curious, but she insisted I keep it. She said they were only $3.00 and she had more.  The guy who sold them to her told her they were Plumerias.

Now, I have never seen a plumeria plant. I am familiar with the beautiful flowers of the Hawaiian plumeria (frangipani), and know that they are often used to make Hawaiian leis in the islands. I use plumeria (or frangipani) images to create wedding and event stationery for my Sandpiper Wedding store. But I have never had a plant like this. And honestly the flower reminded me more of an Oleander, but the plant itself was like nothing I had seen.

I figured I’d call it a plumeria until I discovered differently. I had already looked up How to grow plumerias, but I’ve had my doubts as to what this plant really is. I’ve never seen plumerias growing in Florida, and I used to have all the favorite local plants planted in my yard when I lived here in the 80’s and 90’s. It doesn’t mean they don’t grow here, but they need a more tropical climate than what we have here in central Florida.

Plumerias need tropical conditions to grow well, and where I live it does get cold.

**** Then, I went shopping at the local Home Depot, and came across plants that look just like my “plumeria” but they were called “Desert Rose.  Aha, I did not have a plumeria.  But I had no idea what to do with a desert rose.

My Desert Rose plant

I looked up how to care for it.

The Desert Rose is a flowering succulent, which means it won’t need a lot of water.  The stem can be very thick, and holds water to be used in times of drought.  It does not like cold temperatures, which means I should keep it indoors over the Florida winter.  I’ll have to dig it up.  It is slow growing, compared to plumerias, which grow fast and turn into small trees.

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The one flower that opened on my plant

Right now our temperatures are very warm with daytime readings in the 80’s and overnight in the 60’s and some 50’s. I regret planting it outdoors and will have to spend some money on a decent pot and bring it inside eventually. I’m not sure it will like all the summer rain we’ll be getting soon.  It’s meant to be an ornamental indoor plant, from what I gather.

Here are more pictures of the Desert Rose, found at the free images site, Pixabay.

pink desert rose flowers
Beautiful Desert Rose Flowers (photo credit: Pixabay)

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