Desert Rose Leaves Turning Brown – 5 Reasons with 360° Solution

When it comes to keeping houseplants, desert roses (also known as Adenium) are treated as royalty. 

Their breathtaking rose-like flowers enhance the beauty of the corner wherever it’s placed. But sadly, the brown leaves on them can turn this beautiful thing into a very ugly looking plant.

Before starting to treat your plant you have to know exactly what things can cause the browning because in this way you will know exactly what actions you should take. 

Imbalanced watering, insufficient light, improper nutrition, low humidity, and fungal diseases are the 5 most common problems that are behind your adenium leaves turning brown.

You see, figuring out what is wrong with your adenium plant can be very tough and in this article, I am going to discuss all of these problems and tell you about how you can treat them to save your desert rose plant from dying. 

So, without making any delay let’s get down to business–

Why Are the Desert Rose Leaves Turning Brown and How to Fix

1. Imbalanced Watering

As the name already indicates, the desert roses come from the Sahara desert. So naturally they don’t need much water.

If you water them without much consideration they can be easily overwatered. As a result, the soil will be waterlogged and it will suffocate the roots.

Moreover, the overwatered roots can easily fall victim to root rot and their leaves will end up turning brown and drooping.

Again, underwatering issues can also happen if you try to keep the watering at minimum. Because if the desert roses receive too little water, their normal physiological processes will be hampered and as a result their leaves will start to turn yellow and then eventually turn brown.

You see, in both these cases, your desert rose leaves can easily turn brown and in extreme cases it can even die. This is why you have to take care of the watering schedule very wisely.

Control Measure

In any kind of watering issues, at first you have to look for the yellowing of the leaves which is followed by browning and drooping. 

Since the desert roses are succulents they are very sensitive to water. They are used to rainy conditions during their growth period and this is followed by a dry period when they are grown up. 

So, you have to keep the soil slightly moist during the summer and spring season when they are growing. However, you need to reduce the water during the winter season when the adeniums are totally dormant.

Another thing that will help you to monitor watering is, you have to water your desert roses only when the top two inches are very dry. 

Also, make sure the pot has enough drainage holes to seep off extra water from the soil otherwise your desert roses will get waterlogged and get infected by root rot.

2.Insufficient Light

Being native to the Sahara desert the adenium plants always prefer to be under bright and direct sunlight.

Evidently, when you are growing them as a houseplant low light conditions become an issue. They grow best when they are kept under full sun compared to the ones that are grown under shade.

So, if your desert rose leaves are turning brown after checking the watering you also need to check the lighting condition of your plant. 

Control Measure

In order to reduce the browning of  adenium leaves, shift them immediately to a place where they can get full sun exposure or at least 6-7 hours of direct sunlight every day.

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It’s a good idea to put them near south facing windows so that they can get enough sunlight during the most part of the day. You can keep them in your terrace or patios too.

3. Improper Nutrition

Like all other plants, desert roses need proper nutrition to stay healthy and strong. When they lack nutrients like nitrogen and potassium their leaves start to turn yellow and later turn brown gradually.

Control Measure

You have to feed them a proper dose of fertilizer 2-3 times during the spring and summer seasons. However they become dormant during the winter season so during this time you have to refrain from adding any fertilizer for them.

Get the best liquid succulent fertilizer for your desert roses and apply by diluting half of 20-20-20 NPK ratio and feed them once every month during the spring and summer time. And completely stop giving them any fertilizers during the whole winter period. (our pick)

Be sure to never overfeed your adenium plants because it will also cause browning of the leaves because of the buildup of excess salts in the soil. Due to this, the leaves will turn yellow at places and start to curl up.

But if you have already added too much fertilizer then you have to repot the plants in a freshly prepared soil mixture. Besides, before planting make sure you wash the roots in a gentle running water to wash off the excess salts from the root.

The choice of correct soil mixture is also very critical for the growth of the adenium. Plant the desert roses in a mixture of cactus soil with gritty sands and lava rocks. (our pick)

4. Low Humidity

In deserts, there is always a high humid condition and this is why the desert roses are accustomed to moderate to high humidity which is around 60-70 %. However, the adeniums are very resilient and they can tolerate low humidity for a couple of weeks. 

But when they are exposed to dry air for a very long time, the leaves will also dry out and turn brown. If you notice your desert roses are having brown tips especially during the winter season, this is because of lack of enough humidity in the air. 

Control Measure

The best way to fix this low humidity issue is by using a humidifier in the house (our pick).Besides you can also increase the humidity by placing a water filled pebble tray below the adenium pot.

You can also mist the plant a couple of times and group a few plants together which are of the same type to increase the moisture level in the air. 

5. Fungal Diseases

If your desert rose plants are attacked by fungal or bacterial pathogens then you will be easily able to identify them. Because in this case the leaves will have a lot of random small and circular brown spots which look different from any symptoms of watering or nutrient issues.

Control Measure

Desert roses easily get affected by root rot fungus. And it turns the leaves brown and black most commonly. Moreover the tips become brownish and the leaves start to fall off. You see, root rot is very deadly and it will make the plant start dying very soon.

The best way to get rid of these problems is by removing the diseased leaves at the beginning. After that you have to use a good fungicide that your adenium plant can easily tolerate.

And don’t forget to use the fungicide by diluting it to a mild solution and spraying it all over the plant surface ( our pick).  In a severe case of infection, shift them to a freshly prepared soil mixture and prune off the affected parts of the leaves.

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And to avoid spreading of the diseases, make sure you put the affected adenium plant away from your other healthy houseplants as long as they are not properly recovered.

Try this homemade fungicide recipe that you can make from scratch–

#Fungicide Recipe: Cinnamon Spray Fungicide


  • 20 grams of cinnamon powder 
  •  1 liter of water


  • Mix both of the ingredients together and let the mixture sit overnight
  • Now take a fine cheesecloth and strain the mixture
  • Pour the solution into the sprayer and spray thoroughly all over your desert rose plant

Note: Homemade solutions can sometimes turn out to be irritating to the plants. So before using it all over your desert rose plant, try it out on a small area and wait to see the result. If you see a negative reaction then dilute your homemade fungicide before spraying. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Will the leaves grow back on my Desert Rose?

When given their optimum preferred condition like enough light, water and fertilizers , the adenium plants will grow new leaves at the beginning of the new season. 

Can I change the desert rose leaf color back to green from brown?

When the desert rose leaves turn brown, it’s a permanent change for them so it’s not possible for the leaves to turn back to their original green color. But the new leaves will be growing fresh and green after the plant has been treated properly.

Should I cut off desert rose leaves that have turned brown?

It’s a good option to prune off the brown portions of the leaves to make the desert roses look more attractive. But this is not a solution because without providing them proper treatment, the brown discolorations will just keep coming back.


Desert roses are very hardy plants when it comes to facing harsh environments but still they have their own limit. When their leaves are turning brown, it means they are in pain and in need of your help.

Just a few adjustments by you can turn the plant back the way it was before. So, provide them the correct amount of water and put them under bright sunlight and don’t forget to use fertilizer and fungicide from time to time.

I hope this article was able to help you to treat the brown leaves on your desert rose plant in the easiest way possible. If you have any further questions, ask away in the comment section and we’ll get back to you.

Rimon Chowdhury

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