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Desert Rose Plants

Q.Desert Roses Keep Losing Foliage Frequently And At Irregular Patterns – Why??? Is There A Winter For These Plants In Florida?

Zone Venice, FL 34292 | haggenrg added on August 27, 2020 | Answered

I have a couple of desert roses which are truly gorgeous when they are in full bloom. The plants are about 30″ high, 30″ wide with 8 to 9″ wide bulbs. They live in 18″ wide by 20″ tall containers with a drain. However, they frequently lose just about all their foliage. Over a period of 3 to 4 weeks, all leaves turn yellow and fall off, creating a big mess around the pool. They always regrow but it takes about a month or so before they look presentable again. This seems to happen at irregular patterns about 2, 3, 4 times a year, sometimes both at the same time, sometimes not. We live in Florida, south of Sarasota. Mother N. provides lots of rain in the summer, I am watering them about weekly when it is dry and feed them 20/20/20 about once a month. I can’t detect any pattern on when the leaves fall off – any suggestions? Also, you indicate I should not feed and water them so much in the winter – but they seem to flower and loose leaves the same way year round? Is there a winter for these plants in subtropical climates? Help!

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on August 28, 2020

Yes, they do tend to experience some bit of "dormancy" by slowing down growth in your area, though losing leaves is usually an indication that they don't like the environment at that time. Typically, they will react this way to overwatering. Likely, you may notice this more a few weeks after lots of rain.

If they recover each time, then there is no worry. The reaction of leaf drop protects and conserves water until the conditions return to a more favorable state. This way it can weather out whatever it doesn't like. They don't like wet feet, so it can be a reaction to rain.

Here is a collection of articles that will help you with the care of the plant:


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