Ask a Question forum: Desert Rose looks like it's dying?

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Feb 1, 2017 10:45 AM CST
My dessert rose which I have had for about 20 years and is a very large, heavy plant was transplanted in early summer into a bigger (Clay) pot which was new as it had always been in a fiberglass pot but the roots split it and this was the suggestion of a garden expert.
Recently it has been looking worse every day and now it is losing leaves that are turning brown and some of the stem tips are also withering and dying! It has only a couple of blooms (it used to have millions) and just looks sick! I have tried systemics and water soluble fertilizers, but nothing seems to help!
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Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
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Feb 1, 2017 10:57 AM CST
Welcome! annettegutk
That is certainly sad - to risk losing such an old plant.
If you don't believe it could be transplant shock, I would take it out of the pot and let the roots dry out very well. Then repot it, and make sure you have a very well draining mix - cactus mix or a good light soil mixture amended with perlite to improve drainage. These plants HATE having wet feet.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Feb 1, 2017 11:01 AM CST
Did you change your watering pattern when you changed the pot? Is that pot sealed, or does moisture pass freely through the sides?
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Feb 1, 2017 11:21 AM CST
Hello annettegutk, I think it is still acclimating to its new set-up and then the seasons changed, and it went into dormancy. You did say you even tried giving fertilizers, but it is of no use at this point if plant has gone dormant. It may have been adding more trouble to it, since it is still recovering from the transplant stress it had.

I do not know where you are located, but to me it looks like it has entered dormancy. I would probably change the media since it is dormant anyways, just to remove the excess fertilizers it does not need at this point, and respect the dormancy part it is undergoing. Cut off dried out branches, dab with a little cinnamon the cut off end. As long as the rest of the caudex is staying firm, it should recover. Give it time, keep it warm and dry, and wait patiently for the plant to wake up on its own pace.

I remember my plant did the same thing before when I did a transplant around the end of summer. Cooler fall temps came in a few weeks, so it just went dormant. Came back nicely again in late Spring. Just have to wait patiently.

Also this plant can be in bloom but still categorized as dormant. Or hold on to older leaves, but still considered dormant. Got to wait for the new batch of leaves to actively grow again as a sign it is waking up from its slumber, then you can resume your watering regimen and fertilizing.
[Last edited by tarev - Feb 1, 2017 11:31 AM (+)]
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