Problem with Desert Rose

Sierra Vista, AZ

I have a desert rose that consistently grows a couple leaves and then looses them - it has been doing this for more than a year (and has never flowered) almost since the day i got it. there are barely any roots. I've tried various light/fertilizers/watering options but i think the leaves when the die look like pictures i've seen of either fungus or mites. I don't see any mites anywhere on it (but if they are microscopic i guess i wouldn't) SO, i'm wondering - do i spray the plant with Neem oil including what roots there are? The trunk is firm but not hard, no soft spots, and continues to grow (it was only about 6" when i got it and now it is over 18"

Thumbnail by ckot Thumbnail by ckot
MILILANI, HI

More light. Desert rose is actually in the same family as plumeria. It comes from the dry semiarid south of the Sahara desert. There is very little water there so plants have to collect all the water they can in the short rainy season. It is normal for desert rose to lose their leaves in winter because they come from a region that has dry winters. It should be in a porous soil that is just enough to contain the roots. I use terra cotta pots and cinders. Plants should only be fed when it is actively growing. Water should also be reduced to a bare minimum when they are dormant or you will risk rotting the plant. When the weather is dry and warm with no risk of freezing, try to get the plant outside. When it is too dark the plant will go into dormancy and drop leaves. It is tall probably because it is not getting enough light. Usually it grows slowly. It does not have a lot of leaves on a good day. It is only a seasonal bloomer. Mine bloom at the end of summer in the tropic zone north of the equator. If you cannot go outside, get it closer to an east or south facing window with a sheer curtain (about 18 inches from the window), or use artificial lights during the growing season for at least 8 hours a day.

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