Home » Adenium or desert rose leaves turning yellow

Adenium or desert rose leaves turning yellow

Desert rose leaves turning yellow

Adenium or popularly known as Desert Rose, is a shrub with very beautiful pink, white or red flowers. Although the main attraction of these plants are their flowers, their oval-shaped leaves and light green color do not go unnoticed. And coincidentally, the latter is what we will talk about in this post, where we will analyze the causes why the leaves of the desert rose turning yellow. We will also see how to treat or prevent this problem.


But since yellow leaves aren’t the only problem Adenium leaves can have, we’ll reserve one last section for other leaves problems. There we will see why they tend to turn brown, what reasons there are for the appearance of white spots and curly leaves.

Fun fact: the scientific name for this shrub is Adenium obesum. And the word obesum is given to remember that the stem grows disproportionately with the plant, giving a feeling of obesity.

1. Desert rose leaves turning yellow


If there is something that bothers us gardeners, it is to see the leaves of our plants with some problem. And if we must list the leaf problems, I think yellow leaves take the first place.

At least in desert roses, seeing their yellowing leaves is the most common problem. But this is not due to a special cause. There are many reasons why your Adenium leaves start to turn yellow.

It is important to recognize which of all the possible reasons is causing the problem. So that we can know how to treat and prevent it in the future. In this section we will look at six of the most common causes of desert rose leaves turning yellow.

1.1 Bad watering


Watering any plant is essential, they all need water, but in the right amount. As you can imagine, and true to its name, desert roses thrive in low amounts of water.

As we saw in the article on overwatering in gardenias, adeniums also suffer if you water more. If you have been applying too much water for a couple of weeks, a symptom that may appear on the plant is its yellowish leaves. If you don’t solve the problem, the roots will end up rotting and your desert rose will die.

On the other hand, and although it is not very common, if during the growing season (spring / summer) you leave a lot of time without watering, the leaves will also begin to yellow.

The difference between yellow leaves due to over-watering or under-watering is easy to identify. When you water too much, the leaves will be very soft, as well as yellow, while if there is a lack of water, the leaves will be crisp.

To make sure you don’t have leaf problems due to poor watering, do the following. Water whenever you notice that the first two inches of soil are almost completely dry. Irrigation shouldn’t flood the land either. Also try planting your desert rose in well-drained soil.

1.2 Using the wrong soil

Adeniums do not have very demanding soil requirements, however improper soil can cause problems. As we already mentioned, among the requirements it has regarding the soil is that it drains well.

For example, if you put a desert rose in clay soil, it would be a serious mistake. Is that the little watering that you apply will stay too long in the roots, bringing the same problems that we detail with excessive watering. In other words, poorly drained soil can lead to yellow leaves.

On the other hand, it should be mentioned that the nutrient requirements of an adenium are not high. However, in the growing season it needs a certain amount of nutrients to be able to develop and flourish. Especially if you grow the desert rose in a pot, it is good to apply a little fertilizer in early spring. Lack of nutrients can also be the cause of yellow leaves.

1.3 Seasonal change

In warm environments, desert roses can have green leaves throughout the year. But when they are grown in areas with quite marked winters, when autumn comes you will see how little by little their leaves turn yellow.

This characteristic makes these plants widely used as indoor plants. So we can give them the temperature they need during the cold months, preventing them from losing their leaves.

Therefore, if you grow it in a pot, keep in mind that you must take it indoors before the first cold days begin. Place it in a well-lit room where there are no drafts. During the autumn and winter months it will be enough to water it every 10 days.

1.4 Little sunlight

During the growing season (spring / summer), adeniums like to receive large amounts of sunlight. If you grow it in a pot, take it outside or in a well-lit room. In the case of outdoor cultivation, take this detail into account when planting it.

Having your desert rose in a place with low lighting will cause this lack of light to affect a low production of chlorophyll. This lack of chlorophyll can translate into a very light green leaf color, and taken to the extreme somewhat yellowish.

1.5 Some plague

Another fairly common cause of yellow leaves on a desert rose is the presence of a pest. In general, this symptom occurs when it comes to sap-sucking insects. Among the most common are mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids.

A fairly severe attack from any of these types of insects can cause the leaves to turn yellow. It is important to do pest control regularly and treat these types of problems before the leaves turn yellow.

Since all these insects are characterized by being soft-bodied, the treatment for them is similar. You can choose two of these solutions:

  • Application of neem oil, which is very effective for any of these insects.
  • Apply a mixture of soap and water (5 tablespoons per gallon of water).

Either of these two solutions will only be effective if the application is successful. Try to apply throughout the plant, it is important to apply on the back of the leaves. Ideally, the application should be done early or late in the morning, when the sun is not very bright.

Advice:For more information you can consult this post where we analyze how to get rid of thrips in hibiscus. These insects are soft-bodied so their treatment is similar to those mentioned above.

1.6 Presence of fungi

As we already mentioned, fungi can cause yellow leaves in your adenium. There are many factors that can cause the appearance of fungi, such as excessive watering, poorly drained soil, poor lighting, poor air circulation in the environment, etc.

In case of the presence of fungi, you must apply some fungicide. And in case of not obtaining results with this, the transplant may become necessary. If so, completely replace the potting soil with a new one and prune off any roots that are found with fungus.

Whenever you are treating a plant attacked by fungus, try to disinfect tools properly. Otherwise, you can spread the fungus to other plants in your garden.

2. Others leaves problems on desert rose


Although the most common symptom in the leaves of the desert rose of the existence of a problem is the yellow hue, the truth is that there are other symptoms that can be seen in the leaves. In this section we will analyze three of these cases, which are the following:

  • Leaves turning brown.
  • Curly leaves.
  • White spots on the leaves.

For each of these problems we will detail the most common causes and how to treat them

2.1 Adenium leaves turning brown

The two most common reasons desert rose leaves turn brown are related to watering. This could be due to both excess humidity and a lack of water.

Check the condition of the soil if it is very wet, the problem may be excess water. As we said in the previous section, this excess can be caused by the application of too much water or poor soil drainage. In any case, stop watering for several days, if you see that the plant does not improve, it is possible that it has already developed fungi. Take the plant out of the pot, prune the roots with fungus and change the soil.

If the problem is the lack of water, the solution is simpler. It is only a matter of increasing the doses of water you apply. Try not to overdo it and end up with an excess water problem.

2.2 Desert rose leaves curling

A fairly recurring problem in adenium leaves is that they sometimes tend to curl up and, as with all plant problems, the reasons can be several.

First, start by checking for the presence of any pests. Insects such as mealybug tend to cause this curling effect on desert rose leaves. To solve this again you can apply neem oil or an isecticide based on soap and water.

Another reason may be due to lack of water. If you go too long without watering it, the leaves may start to curl before turning yellow. Check the soil and in case it is too dry apply a good watering.

Finally, it can also be due to excess water. Whether you water too much or the soil doesn’t drain well, fungi can appear. And the fungi will be responsible for the curling of the leaves. Treat the fungi with a fungicide, do not water for several days and if necessary change the soil in the pot and prune the roots.

2.3 White spots on adenium leaves

Although not that common, white spots can sometimes appear on the leaves of your desert rose. You must first observe the nature of these points.

If these spots come off easily when rubbing the leaves, it is possible that you are in the presence of an insect infestation. These white spots are nothing more than scales of these insects. In general, these are soft-bodied insects again. So the solution will be neem oil or soap-based insecticide.

In case the points are permanent, that is, they do not come out when rubbing or washing the leaves, the case is different. In general, these spots can be another symptom of the presence of fungi in your adenium. Check the soil moisture and, in case of suspected fungus, proceed as detailed above.

More information:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *