Houseplant is a Desert Rose, a Type of Caudiciform

Hello Judy,

My friends bought a new house and upon move-in discovered that the previous owners had abandoned this unidentified houseplant. My friend has what we’ll call the opposite of a green thumb and wanted to throw the poor thing away so I adopted it, determined to keep it alive. Unfortunately, I lived in a basement suite with extremely low lightWhen you select “Low Light” a list of the most adaptive plants in our database appears. These plants can live in lighting conditions too low to support any other plants in our database, but will grow faster in medium and high light. Variegation (color) in the leaves is often lost in low light. A plant in low light needs less water and fertilizer than the same plant in better light. Place a low-light plant within 2-3 ft. of a window with a northern exposure, 3-5 ft. of a window with an eastern exposure, 4-10 ft. of a window with a western exposure, and 10-18ft. of a window with a southern exposure. A low light area has between 50-150 ft. candles of light. The best low light house plants are: Chinese Evergreen, Dracaena Janet Craig, Peace Lily, Heart leaf for a few months over the winter so I was really only able to help it with water and warmth but now I have moved to an apartment with all-day indirect sunlight and that seems to be making a huge difference. Most of the leaves have already deepened to a dark green and there are new little leaves popping out on the ends of some branches where there were existing leaves.

My questions for you are:

1. Can you identify it so I can research what kind of watering/feeding/light it prefers?

2. Do you have any tips for me about how I can promote growth of new branches or rejuvenate existing branches so this poor thing can eventually not look so Charlie Brown.

I’m definitely an amateur when it comes to caring for plants but I feel like this poor plant been through a lot and deserves a chance at new life and to be healthy and happy again. Please help!

Thank you.

Hi Adriana,



Your plant is a type of Caudiciform (also called “Fat Plants”). The name of your plant is a Desert Rose.  A Desert Rose Plant is a unique looking succulent plant native to the semi- arid regions of Arabia and the eastern and western parts of Africa. A Desert Rose plant is a type of Caudiciform or “fat plant” because of its thick bulbous  base  When grown indoors, a Desert Rose Plant can grow 2-5ft in height and 1-3 ft in width. The Desert Rose Plat has beautiful flowers and sparse inconsequential small leaves. The 1″-2″ saucer shaped blooms are quite a conversation piece and can be red, pink, or white. The trunk of a Desert Rose Plant, fat and bulbous at its base, is often partially or completely buried in the soil. The sap of a Desert Rose  Plant  is toxic and will cause severe stomach pains if ingested and may irritate the skin. A Desert Rose Plant is one of my favorite indoor flowering plants because it is so different, so easy to care for, and almost impossible to kill. There are complete care instructions for a Desert Rose Plant in the Popular HousePlant section of the website.

Here’s what a Desert Rose looks like in bloom.

Pink Desert Rose Plant

Desert Rose Plant
Caudiciform or Fat Plant