What the heck is this houseplant?

When my father passed away I adopted a number of his house plants. Most I was familiar with but one continues to stump me. When I first got it it had no leaves but the plant appeared healthy so I figured I’d give it some time. Just as I prepared to give up and ditch the thing, it began to show signs of life and sprout leaves. I figured I’d saved it but within a matter of weeks, the leaves began to fall off. We’ve now cycled through several of these cycles of growth and dropping of leaves. I assume that I’m over watering it, under watering it, giving it too much or too little light but until I know what the heck it is, I can’t be sure. Please HELP!!!



Your houseplant is a type of caudiciform. The short, swollen stem of a caudiciform is referred to as a caudex.  Most of these plants grow and produce green leaves during the hot summer months and are dormant during the winter. During the winter, withhold water completely. If the stems begin to shrivel, water once every four to six weeks. Keeping the soil wet during the winter is the main reason these plants die. I am assuming your plant is a Desert Rose Plant (hard to tell since there are no leaves or flowers), the most common caudiciform used as a houseplant. Green leaves fall off a Desert Rose plant when it is over-watered. Here is a picture of a healthy Desert Rose Plant.

Pink, swollen stem, Desert Rose plant
Desert Rose Plant

You can read more about a Desert Rose Plant in the Popular Houseplant section of the website.