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Old 03-18-2009, 09:45 PM
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LightbulbPruning back a Desert Rose (photo tutorial)


I have been wanting to do this for awhile but I had to be patient and wait for the right time. I love showing people on how to do things. I know that there are several people on here that have Desert Roses and maybe they are unsure on how to go about pruning theirs.
It isn't easy as mine seem to be always blooming when the pruning needs to be done. I pruned my Desert Roses for the first time in March of 2008. I was sick to my stomach when I did it and was praying that I did it right. I read up on how it was done and I think that I leave more branch than some nurseries do. They seem to prune right back within a inch of the caudex. I am also showing how to repot a Desert Rose also in this thread.
Anyhow I hope that this is full of helpful information and that you will get something out of it.
A note to tell you to be careful of the sap of this plant. It can be irritating to some people and always, always wash your hands after messing with these plants. The Sap is poisonious and can make you very sick. All parts of this plant are toxic if ingested.

Step 1:
Take your plant and set it on a good solid surface. Have your sharpened pruners and some sanitizing solution on hand in a container. I use bleach 1 part to 4 parts water.
This plant also needs to be repotted and I am going to show you a step by step on that as well.
You can see in the picture how long and leggy the plant looks. This is just one years worth of growth. I want the plant to branch out more. That in the long run will give me more flowers.



Step 2:
Take your pruners and cut the branches from the plant. It is hard for me to do this, but in as little as 3 -4 months I will have more flowers.


You can then if you like this plants blooms save the branches and let them scab over for a few days. Place in a starter mix and keep mix moist. The cuttings should root within a few weeks. You will know by the new growth that begins on the cutting. You then can plant the cutting up in a pot with normal potting mix. I use Miracle Grow for Catus, Palms, and Citrus. The Desert Roses seem to love it and grow like crazy for me in this mix.

Step 3:
The pruning is completed. Now if your plant doesn't need repotting. Place it back in the same spot you originally got it from and leave it alone. Make sure that the soil is moist and just forget about it. In about a week or so you will notice new leaves beginning to sprout and a new branch will not be far behind. I would start fertilizing when you see new growth. A good rose food helps, or even a bloom booster. The next watering use epsoms salts, 1 Tablespoon to 1 gallon of water, the next 2 waterings just plain water. Repeat the waterings for the whole growing season. If you notice that the plants seems to put forth a lot of greenery and no buds cut back on the fertilizing and just water as normal. If you are not comfortable with this much fertilizing use the Osmocote for flowering plants. This is from my own personal experience and by no means a proven science.
Ok on with the repotting.
Take your pruned plant from it's pot carefully.


Step 4:
Remove all soil from the plants roots as gently as possible. I do this so that I know that the plants roots are coming into contact with the new soil and nutrients. I have found that the plant grows new shoots sooner than when it is left in it's old root ball. Also the removing of the old soil helps you to see the shape of the caudex and if there is any rot, or disease in the plant. I don't find to many pest in the US that like these plants due to their toxicity.
Once all the lose soil is romoved I then wash the remainder of the roots under a gentle shower of water and remove all traces of soil as best I can.


Step 5:
The plant is now ready to be transplanted into its new home. This is where a lot of people get confused about the new size of pot that needs to be used. I try to get a pot that is a bit bigger than the old pot and then sometimes you have to go to 2 sizes up from the old pot. It just depends on how root bound the plant was when you began.
Desert Roses seem to like to be root bound just a bit and grow well. This also keeps us over enthusastic gardeners from over watering. Desert Roses hate to be wet. They can be fickle. In summer they like to stay moist and humid when the weather is hot.In winter they like to stay dry if the weather is cold.
Plant up your Desert Rose and leave about half of a inch more above the soil line then in the old pot. This is to give character to the caudex and give it a funky look to your plant. Every caudex is different and unique to each plant. Trim off all exposed roots that show above the soil line.


Step 6:
The repotting is done. Water the plant in well and do not fertilize for at least the first 3 months as there is fertilizer in the new soil. To all you newbys this is what I recommend. I am going to go a differant route and see if I can force bloom these guys. Be sure to keep the plant for at least the first several weeks out of direct sunlight as the newly exposed caudex will sunburn and you could cause scarring and a possible rot spot to form on the caudex. Not a good thing. Enjoy your new plant and watch how it will branch out for you.



I hope everyone liked this little demostration and that it is a big help to some. Please PM me with questions or post your questions here. I would love to be able to help if I can. If I don't know the answer I will find out for you.
Enjoy and happy planting!
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:29 PM
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Really GREAT info, thanks soo much !! I am happy to say, I planted more seed 2 weeks ago, and I have more babies, they are just soo much fun to grow. Now, if I could just see a bloom...LOL

Thanks for the info, sure found it helpful.
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Old 03-19-2009, 04:39 AM
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Very good information MR...You did good!
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Old 03-19-2009, 08:38 AM
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mickeys_rose, thank you for sharing this information. I am noting that you did this while it was blooming and since these are fairly new to us, does that really matter when these are cut back? Most folks work so hard on getting species to bloom and blooming is important to some?
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Old 03-19-2009, 08:39 AM
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What a comprehensive and nicely presented piece.
Thanks for sharing this info MR, it really takes some of the fear out of the process.


If it's okay with you, I'd like to move your thread to the Flowering plants forum and make it a sticky for easy reference.
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Old 03-19-2009, 09:04 AM
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Thank you flwrs4ever and Diane. I am happy that you got something out of this.
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:44 PM
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Karma -What a great question. Yes it does matter when you prune back. I have found that these plants seem to like to bloom when it is on the cool side or winter for me and they really start to grow new leaves when it begins to warm up. So it is unfortunate that I had to prune when they are flowering but in the long run will have more flowers down the road. The pruning also makes the stalks thicker and the caudex fatter as most of the energy isn't going into long leggy branches.
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:45 PM
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zuzu - I would love it if you would make this a sticky and I don't mind if you move it to a different forum. Thank you.
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Old 03-19-2009, 07:14 PM
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well i have a question since they are a succulant can they be propogated by cutting
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Old 03-19-2009, 07:42 PM
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Thank you MR for your answer. I know folks panick when we do things like this and since these are new to me I wanted to do this right. Our only one we have is pushing 3 feet and I'm thinking I need to cut it back?? If I get a photo, would you be so kind in helping with pointers as to where?
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Old 03-20-2009, 12:03 AM
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Thank you mickey for the great info with pictures.

This new to me and I may need it soon.
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Old 03-20-2009, 05:46 AM
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thank you for the step by step instructions.
one more question, how long should the cuttings be for best rooting results ?
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Old 03-20-2009, 06:40 AM
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Oh that looks so sad, I hate having to cut everything down, but it will be better in the long run.

I didn't read all the posts (sorry everybody) but if no one suggested it you should do a youtube video. Then we could see you in auction!

Thanks for this video - maybe I will try one of those someday..
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Old 03-20-2009, 09:45 AM
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stevenbick- yes they can be propagated by cuttings. You have to let the cutting scab over for a few days to a week then place it in either a seed starter or a glorified cactus mix. What Imean by the mix is Adeniums do not like just plain jane cactus mix it doesn't have enough nutrients in it. I use the Miracle Grow - Cactus, Palm & Citrus mix.
I grew some Adnieums form cutting last year and they did great. By late summer I even had blooms on them. The Caudex on the plant will grow as the plant matures and in a few years you wouldn't even know that it was a cutting.
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Old 03-20-2009, 09:46 AM
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karma- I would be more than happy to help you trim back your Adenium plant.
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