If you want your desert roses to grow more branches and bloom more flowers, then pruning or trimming the existing branches down can give you very good results.

Although pruning can help, doing so might lead to root rot if we’re not careful. But chop chop. Let's grab some gears & do some chop chop.

Come on along, let us show you how.

Pruning Desert Roses: 3 Simple Tips

1. Leave about 2-3 inches of branch when cutting

Leave 3 inches of branch
Leave about 2-3 inches of branch

When you cut the branches down, make sure to leave about 2-3 inches of stem on the plant. If you're unsure, this may just be about a finger's length. Kind of like the baby in our garden right above (it was not a very clean cut but anyhow).

The first reason why we leave this amount of length is for aesthetics. When we cut the branches down too low, it might make our plants look not well-balanced or just plain ugly.

The second reason why we do this is to allow enough space for the new branches to grow out. We want good enough support for the young branches to lean on.

But when you chop it down, remember to:

2. Cut at a slanted angle

Cut branch at a slanted angle

When pruning, it’s good to cut your branches at a slanted angle and not a straight line. It’s like this "/" or like this "\". But not like this "–".

With a slanted angle like this, any raindrops or water droplets that fall onto our cuts will be able to drop down and not concentrated on or soak into them.

Doing this significantly reduces the risk of our cuts being infected with the acid or just rainwater in many places.

With sharp, sap-collecting pruning shears this job can be easier & less dreadful:

Durable Pruning Shears
gonicc-sharp-pruning-shears
* Strong durable steel that cuts in 1 action
* Ergonomic design means less effort & no pain
* Sap groove to catch sap so it won't stick onto the cutter

3. Choose the part to chop off

Adenium desert rose branch
Little eyes on desert rose branches

Choosing the part to cut off depends on your eye for beauty. On the branches of a desert rose, there will be small eye-like parts. Here, we’ll just call them eyes for simplicity. From those eyes, new branches will shoot out.

To choose the best part, look at your branches first. Then, see how many eyes a certain portion of the branch has or which direction they eyes are facing–is it facing inward or outward. You then cut at that point you desire to make the whole shape of your plant nice and balanced.

Also, remember, although we said to leave about 2-3 inches of branch, we don’t want to cut the branches too high on the upper part either. Because this part is tender and high-up, it may be more difficult for the water and nutrients to reach the top and promote new growth. It's probably not going to do much for your tree.

What you want to do is to look for the gray and green part on the branch. The gray part is like the bark of the tree and the green part is where you can see the branches start to get slimmer and tender. You can see it right here:

Green gray parts of a branch
Green & gray parts of desert rose branch

Cut somewhere around the point where the two parts meet or lower. This way, you will have a strong base for the new branches to grow and make sure your plants supply enough nutrients to shoot out the new sprouts.

Choose long, single branches to chop down. We are trying to multiply the number of branches. So we can start from there to increase the number of stems on the tree.

What to Do Right After Pruning Desert Roses

After pruning your desert roses, just don’t water them. We talked about this earlier that after pruning your babies’ caudex is now very weak and don’t want to drink any more liquid. So, no water after this point.

There is a number of ways you can protect the new cuts from rainwater or fungi. Here is a list of some cheap, readily available materials:

  • Garden lime powder
  • Cinnamon ground (smells awesome)
  • Scar glue
  • Super glue
  • Wood glue (Titebond 3 works best for the job)
  • Nail polish
Get Good, Cheap Garden Lime
pennington-garden-lime
Protects new cuts from water & bacterial infections

In many parts around the world, people apply garden lime powder on the new scars to help protect against infection. Because the lime powder has properties to fight against bacteria.

When you put lime on the open wound, the lime and sap mix up to create some yellow stuff like this:

Lime powder applied on a branch cut
Garden lime powder applied on branch

In other places, gardeners also use cinnamon powder to cover up the new wounds. It’s the same cinnamon ground we use for cooking. It’s amazing actually.

The powder can help protect the cuts from rainwater while keeping the inside of the branch moist and alive. And oh, it smells lovely!

You can also put some glue on the branches for them to heal. They have some special scar glue for this job.

But if you don’t find any in your local area, super glue or waterproof wood glue is also fine. Another thing you can use is the clear nail polish. That works to heal up the wound and keep it dry as well.

When to Prune Desert Roses

Generally, you don’t want to prune your desert roses during the rainy season. If you're not careful, the rain may damage the new cuts and lead to rots or infections. During monsoon, the plants need somewhere to let the water out and not take in more.

Trimming down the water outlets–the flowers, the leaves–in this case, won’t help. It also makes the water-processing ability of the caudex weaker and makes the roots more susceptible to infections. So wait until rainy season is over and then we can start pruning your desert roses.

Depending on where you live, you can try trimming in spring, February or April. For young plants, you can start clipping some small leaves when they are about a few weeks old. After about six months, you can start pruning them again to promote new branch growth.

For folks who live in sunny areas like Florida where there is not really a cold winter season (70-80F or 21-26C), you can start pruning around October, November and let the plants rest over the winter. After about three months, it may begin blooming again, catching the very first sunlight of the new lively spring.

If you live in the Northern part where temperatures are around 40-50F (4-10C) during the winter, then just leave your plants alone. In case you're wondering, here are the best winter care tips for your desert roses to enrich your gardening knowledge.

Also, keep the plants inside to protect them from being frozen. Two months before spring, you can start trimming them down. When temperatures rise above 50F (10C), you can take the plants outside.

When timing the trimming, keep in mind the upcoming period and how it affects your plants. For example, if we do it in early spring, we will then have 5-6 months of sunny, dry & no-rain season ahead of us.

And that’s good for the plants to recover and grow back strong again. Take note of the weather pattern in your local area and decide the best time accordingly.

What to Do Before Trimming Desert Roses

Before giving your desert roses a hair cut, you should first cut the water intake some days before that. Some folks cut the water 3-4 days prior to trimming. Others stop watering 5-12 days before the trim. This depends on your plants and their current conditions. The reason we cut the water is to prevent root rot.

Because when we prune down the branches, the ability to transport and process water and nutrients of the caudex and roots will be weaker than usual. As it’s now weakened, it cannot take in too much water anymore. With a lot of unprocessed water and nutrients inside, root rots can happen.

How to Handle Adenium Desert Rose Root Rot?
Adenium desert rose root rot tips & how to know if your roots are rotted

While this is good news for all the bacteria and fungi on the roots, it’s not good news for our desert roses. So remember to cut down on the water amount days before trimming your babies.

When Will Your Desert Roses Bloom Again After Pruning?

The exact answer to this question depends on your specific adenium variety, the sun, the wind, the way you feed the plants and so on.

However, according to many gardeners’ experience, you can expect this timeline for single and double petal desert roses:

Type of desert roses From prune to bloom
Single petal 60-95 days
Double petal 75-90 days

Again, we need to emphasize that the timeline varies depending on a lot of factors. Usually, single petal adenium will take a shorter amount of time to bloom than the double petal ones.

For some single petal adenium, it only takes 60-65 days after pruning for them to begin flowering. Some take around 70-75 days and some "picky" babies can take up to 90-95 days.

Double petals may need around 75-80 days for recovery and regrowth. Some about 80-85 days. And some stubborn ones can take over 90 days. This timeline outlines what to expect after you do the pruning.

Now, It's Your Turn!

The pruning process for every desert rose plant on this planet is unique as the plant is. It’s a long, on-going process that you can closely watch and take note of along the way. This way, you’ll better know the cycle of your plants.

Prune your adenium when rainy season is over. Before pruning, cut off the water intake for about 7 days or more. When you prune, choose long, single branches, cut them at a slanted angle around the gray-green part, and cover the cuts with garden lime powder or cinnamon.

We almost forgot but you should make your cutting tools clean before doing the surgery, too! There’s so much more to explore about this process. We’ll be coming back with more content for you! Stay tuned & see you here again next time.

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