In the Garden

Michael Miyashiro


Desert rose

The desert rose has become a popular plant since its introduction to Hawaii. Their heat-loving qualities and ease of flowering has made them popular with many home gardeners. But there is so little literature on the subject that many have been stumped over simple growing techniques such as watering, potting and fertilizing, growing them like other plants and not knowing whether they're doing something wrong.

There are many misconceptions about growing these plants. Although they are heat-loving succulents, they still require water and fertilizer to develop into nice specimen plants covered in blooms.

Like most plants that get a good fertilizer and watering program, the desert rose also benefits from an early feeding and watering start. Young plants grow rapidly and require frequent repotting when they are well tended. Use a combination of a timed-release fertilizer plus frequent weekly feedings of a liquid-diluted fertilizer for best results.

It is important that you water them with plain water between these feedings so the soil can rid itself of harmful salts that may prevent the plants' water uptake.

Flushing plants with water is a key step in creating a healthy root system and eventually a large plant. Watering is best done early in the morning so the excess water can run through and allow the plant enough time to dry out by night. Plants that go to bed at night wet tend to develop root-rot problems.

Aside from fertilizing and watering, pot size plays a major role in creating a perfect growing environment. Pots too large for a small plant will not allow the water to dry out by night, creating root problems early. Plants should gradually be repotted to slightly larger pots as they outgrow their previous ones. Overpotting only creates more problems and usually stunts a plant's ability to grow well.

Growing the desert rose properly will reward its owners with good blooms and a healthy specimen plant that will be in almost constant flower. It is these large specimen plants of which stories of neglect are made.

Michael Miyashiro, flower connoisseur and owner of Rainforest at the Ward Warehouse, is a graduate of the University of Hawaii horticulture program. Contact him at 591-9999 or e-mail

Desert Rose Workshop

Where: Rainforest at the Ward Warehouse
Cost: Free


11 a.m. -- Propagation of the Desert Rose
12:30 p.m. -- Fertilizing and Feeding
1:30 p.m. -- Pest Control for the Desert Rose


11 a.m. -- New Fertilizing Techniques
1:30 p.m. -- Making Large Specimen Desert Rose Plants

Call Rainforest at 591-9999 for more information.

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