Desert Rose leaves turn brown and fall off

EmilyB1987April 24, 2013

Hello! I've found all kinds of helpful information on the forum, but am having some houseplant problems that I haven't been able to find a precise answer to. I purchased a desert rose plant from Walmart last week. I placed it in my office, which unfortunately, is on the north side of the building. The plant still gets some measure of sunlight throughout the day (more light than it was getting at walmart) and the temperature hovers pretty steadily around 70 F. Last Friday I watered the plant and left for the weekend. When I returned today, all of its leaves had turned brown and were falling off! Only a few young sprouting leaves remain, along with a flower that looks like it's about to bloom.
After cleaning up the mess of leaves, I repotted the desert rose in proper soil - Miracle Gro cactus soil mixed with gravel and sand, and gave it a thorough soaking with lukewarm distilled water and a bit of Superthrive. I made absolutely sure to empty out the drip saucer.

The 'trunk' and stems of my desert rose are still firm, and the roots appeared healthy when I repotted it. Do you think it will bounce back? Is there something I can do to save it?

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Hmmmm....well, if the roots looked good then your plant shouldn't be in any danger, it is probably transitional. Did you notice any softness or discoloration of the roots?

The change in the soil should make a HUGE difference - Walmart soil is very heavy with peat and doesn't drain well. If you notice any tiny webs or spots on the leaves it could be spider mites. It's not directly under a vent or anything is it?

I can't really think of anything else, maybe someone else can add some more info. Keep an eye on it and try to give it as much sunlight as you can and I bet it will bounce back. Keep us posted!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 3:48PM
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Phew, I'm glad to hear it's probably transitional!

I paid very close attention to the roots when I repotted them, and they were ever-so-slightly a yellow-green color. They didn't feel soft or squishy at all, though. And, the leaves that turned brown weren't 'spotty', they started to turn at the tip of the leave and the brown worked its way back. Fortunately, there are also some healthy leaf buds forming at the ends of the steams.

My fingers are crossed for a quick recovery!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 3:55PM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

Hello Emily B and welcome aboard! Glad you like the forum and find it useful. Our other Emily has given you some good tips above. I will add not to water it for a while yet, let it dry out somewhat, it has plenty of water in the caudex if it is hard. Good to read you didn't let it stand in the run-off. I may have skipped the sand in your recipe making the mix at least 50% gravel. Lets hope it will burst forth real soon, I'm sure it is in shock from a house move and a re-pot combo......all will come good, just let it recover slowly. Comeback again at any time!
Gill, UK.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 4:03PM
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