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How to Prune Desert Rose? Don’t Prune Before You Know This!

How to prune desert rose

Desert rose, aka adenium, is a prized possession of any household. With the attractive pink colored flowers, it is one of the popular landscape plants. On top of that, it has attractive foliage which perfectly compliments its flowers. But these are not the only attractions of the desert rose. The most interesting part of the plant is its trunk, which is sometimes associated with bonsai for having a thick trunk.. It is a drought-resistant plant and can survive tough conditions. Which is a plus especially if you like having a beautiful garden yet a low maintenance one. This plant is also perfect for novice gardeners, they don’t ask for much water and they are easy to maintain.

Pruning, though not essential for its survival, is important for the health and growth of the plant. Sometimes the plant can become leggy. Pruning helps to prevent that from happening. It also promotes new growth that encourages more blooms. 

Proper pruning can make all the difference in the world for desert roses but if done randomly, the pruning can become like a shovel with which you dig your own grave. We don’t want you to or your plant to die, that’s why in this article, all the information regarding how to prune desert rose has been compiled to give you a helping hand.

As I mentioned earlier pruning encourages growth, but you may wonder how so? We first must know what is pruning to answer this question. Pruning is the practice of trimming or cutting off some leaves, branches, roots, or stems for the overall benefit of the plant. Yes you have heard that right, it will benefit the plant despite cutting or trimming some parts of the plant.  This benefits the plant greatly and improves its health since some dead or sick parts are removed by cutting them off. 

However, in a lot of cases even, healthy parts are removed as well. This pruning is done to redirect the plant’s resources to more important parts such as its fruits or its flowers. An example of it is removing shoots in cherry tomato plants. These shoots are not that important for the growth of its fruits and so hence they are removed. There are also cases that pruning is done to control the growth of the plant to avoid it overflowing in the garden and choking other plants or for aesthetics purposes only just like bonsai trees. All of the benefits of pruning can be applied to your desert rose, provided that they are done in the right way.

A minor fun fact, this plant is not at all related to the rose that you have commonly heard about. They are simply called desert roses since they are found in those biomes and that it looks a bit like a rose.

Essential Steps for Desert Rose Care

When to Prune

Desert rose is usually pruned in January or February and September. January pruning is usually a hard one where most of the leaves are cut. This cutting helps the plant to produce new growth where those beautiful flowers bloom. 

Protective Measures

Before jumping right into how to prune desert roses, it’s important to take precautions first. Clean shears help to prevent the spread of infections. A dirty and infectious shear will do more harm to your plant than good. Wiping the shears with alcohol or a 10% bleach solution in water will remove most of the infections. Neglecting this aspect can cause diseases to stick to your plant and may potentially kill it even. If you are pruning more than one desert rose, it is important that you disinfect the shears or scissors first before pruning the next one.

Desert rose emits white sap when cut. This sap is poisonous and may cause skin irritation. It is better to wear gloves while pruning desert roses. Also, don’t touch your face or eyes with your hands. Keep kids off the desert rose when you are pruning it.

Dispose of the pruning waste when you’re done with pruning, to prevent fungi infestation in your garden. AS you are doing this process make sure that you are still wearing your gloves to avoid your skin from getting irritated.

Since you have decided to prune your desert rose, make sure to prune it in a 45 degree angle. Doing so will allow the your desert rose to recover much more quickly.

Hard Prune Desert Rose

How To Prune Desert Rose

Desert rose could be hard pruned before flowering in early spring or before the winter. The reason for doing it before the winter is that it helps the plant to conserve its energy in winter when it cannot put out growth and flowers. The reason for doing it in early spring is that it encourages the plant to produce new growth. Make sure to limit the hard pruning of your desert rose once every 2-3 years.

To hard prune, the following steps should be followed:

1. Shaping Desert Rose

A Desert rose is beautiful but a dressed desert rose is more beautiful. You should have a clear picture of how you want your desert rose to look. Once identified, cut the branches accordingly. When shaping desert rose, make sure not to cut more than one-third of the branch at a time. You can shape it like how some people shape a bonsai tree or you can shape it like a shrub. This plant is a very resilient plant, so don’t be hesitant in pruning it the shape you want it to be.

2. Remove Diseased Branches

Once you have dressed your tree, you should then look for any diseased branches or leaves. The way to identify them is the discoloration or spotty texture. These branches should be removed because they are an unnecessary burden on the plant as they won’t grow quality flowers–which, kind of, is the point!

3. Remove Damaged and Crossed Branches

If you are pruning after the winter before blooms, you might come across a branch or two with cold injuries. These branches won’t be giving off as much foliage as the other branches.and they will be a little dull in appearance when compared with other branches. 

Also, remove crossed branches as they shade other branches and also get in the way of the growth of others by shading and blocking other branches.

4. The One-third Rule

When you hard prune desert roses, it is important not to cut beyond one-third length. You can also cut all of the branches back to one-third during hard pruning. This is especially important if you’re pruning before the blooming season. This step will encourage branching and will induce more new growth in the plant. The more the new growth, the more the flowers. 

5. Remove Overgrown Branches

Look for overgrown branches and cut them back to the height of other branches. These overgrown branches disturb the shape and nutrient distribution of the plant.

5. Make Cuts Above Nodes

The swollen portion of the branch is a node and it should be preserved during pruning. These nodes can produce new branches where new blooms occur. The general rule is to cut 1 inch above the node or a flower junction.

Minor Pruning Desert Rose

Minor pruning is usually done in the summer after spring. It encourages new growth and is helpful to get rid of unwanted growth. Unwanted growth is diseased, damaged, crossing, and weak branches. Assess your desert rose regularly to look for diseased or spotted branches. These branches should not be left on the plant as they can damage other branches as well.  

This is all the information that you may need desert rose care to induce better growth and abundant blooms.


Desert rose is a hardy drought-resistant plant with beautiful pinkish flowers. It can withstand almost any kind of harsh conditions including drought. Pruning is not necessary for desert roses but it helps to maintain the shape of the plant. Pruning also encourages new growth formation and makes the plant healthier and stronger. Desert rose releases a white sap which can irritate. Wear gloves to avoid unpleasant situations. It is important not to cut more than one-third of the branches at a time. Always cut above the nodes as nodes are the sites of new growth. When done with pruning, dispose of the waste properly as the waste can promote the formation of fungi and infections in your garden.

Pruning has always been misunderstood but it is no rocket science. Now you have all the related information on how to prune desert rose to help you maximize the growth potential of your plant and enjoy those beautiful blooms for a longer period.

Now that you have learned how to prune your desert rose, do you have any tips or thoughts you would like to share on this topic? Or some questions perhaps? Comment it below! Our website also offers some guides as well such as How to Prune Endless Summer Hydrangea and How to Prune Dogwood Trees

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