Introduction to Desert Rose Plant Care:
The Desert Rose is an East African native that comes from the Apocynacae family. This plant is commonly grown in tropical and sub tropical regions that in those environments it is well at home and is pretty much low maintenance. However if you decide to grow your own Desert Rose plant outside of one of these regions, you will need to give it special care if you want to ensure its survival.
The Desert Rose is available in a variety of cultivars that bloom in colors ranging from white and pinks to deep purples and red. The blooms will vary in size depending on the particular variety but you can expect a mix of colors and shapes up to about 3 inches or so in diameter. The Desert Rose can bloom in clusters for most of the year however some of the varieties do have a more limited bloom cycle. In many regions these plants give their best performance during the drier parts of the year. Desert Rose plant care is not terribly difficult but there are some guidelines you should follow.
Desert Rose Plant Care - Propagation:
The easiest way to propagate a Desert Rose is to take cuttings from the tip about 5 inches long. Dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone with fungicide and stick them into a small container or pot that has a mix of 75% perlite and 25% peat. Make sure that the mix is somewhat damp. Check on the cuttings daily for signs of new leaves and you can throw away any cuttings that start to wilt as these will not root. You can also speed up the rooting process by misting the cuttings and supplying them with bottom heat from a heat mat for instance.
Propagating the Desert Rose from seeds is somewhat problematic and unreliable unless you have fresh seeds. If you are fortunate enough to get seeds that are fresh, you can dust your seeds with a fungicide and sow them in a sandy, sterile soil that drains freely. For proper Desert Rose plant care, give your medium bottom heat and maintain a constant 85 degrees, and you should expect to see germination within the week and roughly one month later your seedlings will have several sets of true leaves and should be about ready to be transplanted.
Desert Rose Plant Care - Site Selection:
Finding a home for a Desert Rose in your garden may prove to be a little tricky depending on how big your garden is and what kind of soil you have to work with, but it is not difficult. The first consideration is how much light the plant will get. Desert roses require a lot of sun light, as much as you can provide them with. They can survive in partial shade like a great many plants, but they will not do near as well and you will most likely find that your plants become leggy and susceptible to diseases.
Proper Desert Rose plant care requires that you give your plant soil that is free draining. If you have a location in mind where the drainage is poor or is prone to flooding or standing water, then consider building a raised flower bed for your Desert Rose. You are going to want a depth of at least 18 inches above the existing soil if you are going to go this route. Also try to avoid planting your Desert Rose near any automatic sprinklers or irrigation equipment as these are likely to provide too much water to your plant.
Desert Rose Plant Care - Planting:
Provided that you have chosen a proper site, you will have to decide what type of soil mix to plant your Desert Rose with. There are numerous soil mixes available at your local garden center or nursery that will be free draining and will work nicely. If you prefer to mix your own custom blend, that's not hard either. Shoot for a mix that is 2 parts peat, 2 parts coir, 2 parts sand, and 1 part perlite. You can also take a soil free mix and add sand and perlite to it and that will work nicely as well.
Be very careful that you do not damage the root system of your Desert Rose when planting. These plants are highly susceptible to root rot and if you damage the roots during the planting process, the plant may not survive or become infected with diseases that live in your soil. It is not advised that you use mulch around your Desert Rose, however if you want to dress up your plant with rocks, that will work nicely. You can also use various ground cover plants that are heat tolerant as well.
Day to Day Desert Rose Plant Care:
For the first couple of years a newly started plant from seeds or cuttings will grow very quickly if you give it the proper care and fertilizer. As the plant starts to mature, you will notice an obvious slow down in growth and this is normal and nothing to be alarmed at. Give your younger plants a liquid fertilizer every other week during the spring months to help them get started quickly.
During the summer and early fall months, you will want to switch over to a special slow release palm fertilizer.
As we said earlier, Desert Rose plant care is not overly difficult, but it does require attention to certain details that you may often ignore with other plants. As long as you have given your plant the proper free draining soil, it can survive just fine in areas that receive abundant rainfall during the hotter months of the year. If the temperatures are below 80 degrees however your Desert Rose will be much more likely to get root rot. You should make sure that you allow your plant to dry out in between waterings and even withhold manual watering if you believe Mother Nature is doing a sufficient enough job.
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