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How to Prune Desert Rose

How to Prune Desert Rose

A desert rose, or the Adenium obesum, is a succulent shrub. It is known for its red, pink and white flowers that resemble a rose. The desert rose requires proper care throughout its lifetime, a major part of which includes pruning. You can figure out how to prune desert roses through this guide.

Should a Desert Rose Be Pruned?

A desert rose has the tendency to grow quite tall even though its growth rate can be a bit slow. The branches of the desert rose tend to become thin and leggy. This can then have an impact on the regular blooming frequency and health of the flowers.

For this reason, it is important to prune the branches of a desert rose on a regular basis so that blooming can take place properly. This can also restrict the overall height of this plant which can be particularly important if you are growing it as a houseplant.

Even without leggy branches, however, you should prune the desert rose once in a while to maintain its health. If you happen to notice damaged leaves, fungus, mold or pests, then pruning the infected parts can prevent the damage from spreading any further.

When Should You Prune a Desert Rose?

While it is important to prune a desert rose regularly, these requirements are not that frequent. You can prune the branches and leaves of your desert rose lightly at any time of the year, especially if you notice any dead, damaged or infected leaves.

Ideally, you should lightly prune your desert rose annually well in advance of the blooming season so that you do not affect the health of the blooms. Try to finish the pruning process by late winter or early spring.

You should not, however, trim or prune the branches during the late autumn months since this will result in new growth that might become over-sensitive to the effects of the upcoming winter, such as frost and cold temperatures.

Apart from this kind of light pruning, you will also need to carry out hard pruning every couple of years (or even more).

Pruning Method

In order to prune your desert rose as accurately and safely as possible, you will need to follow a process to ensure that you do not end up damaging it. You can go through the steps involved in this process below.

1. Wear Gloves

You must wear gloves while you carry out the pruning process so that you can prevent the sap from the nodes from getting onto your skin. If this happens, it can lead to irritation, itchiness or even pain while potentially reddening or swelling the area.

Make sure you also prevent your pets or kids, if any, from coming too close to the plant. For pets, in particular, desert roses can be poisonous due to the presence of cardiac glycosides

2. Gather Tools

Gather all the tools that you will require to carry out the pruning process. In this case, the only things you will need include:

  • Gloves

  • Sharp shears or cutters

  • Rubbing alcohol or bleach

You can also keep a bin or plastic bag nearby so that you can dispose of the damaged parts immediately, especially if there are pests on them.

3. Sterilize Tools

You will need to fully sterilize your shears or scissors properly so that you can thoroughly disinfect them before bringing them into contact with the plant. This is essential so that you can prevent any bacteria or infections from spreading from the tools to the plant.

You can carry out this process by using a bit of rubbing alcohol or a mild bleach solution.

If you are pruning several plants at once, then you should sterilize the tool before moving on to the next plant. You will also need to do this frequently in case you are dealing with infected parts of the plant.

4. Make the Cut

Once you have everything in place, you can prune the plant by figuring out which branches need removing. Hold your pruners or shears in place so that you can cut the branch at an angle of 45 degrees to prevent water from pooling in the branch as this could cause root rot.

Make sure you also make the cut at least an inch above the node of the branches or leaves. You should also get rid of diseased or dead branches and leaves at this stage.

How Much Can You Prune a Desert Rose?

The extent to which you can prune a desert rose depends on the kind of pruning method you are carrying out. You can go through the details below.

Light Pruning

Light pruning usually takes place annually or a few times through the year to get rid of dead branches while also maintaining the overall shape of the plant. For this, you should simply cut the required branches until there is an inch remaining until the node.

Prune only essential branches in case of light pruning otherwise, you might end up restricting healthy blooms.

Hard Pruning

Hard pruning is something you should carry out every 2-3 years. For this, you can cut down each branch until they are shorter by one-third of their height. This will help you get rid of leggy branches so that you can control the overall size and shape of the plant.

What to Do After Pruning Desert Roses

After pruning desert roses, you should dispose of the cut branches properly while keeping your gloves on. Once this is done, you should wash your hands thoroughly to prevent any sap from coming in contact with your skin.

You should then continue to care for the plant regularly. In case it is also time for repotting the plant, then doing it after pruning can be a good idea.

Apart from that, you should keep track of the plant’s growth throughout the rest of the season and year to ensure that you can manage any pests and diseases on time.