How to Prune my Desert Rose

FshyPlnts(5, 6)November 19, 2011

Hey all,

So have let my desert rose get fairly large as I have been trying to grow stock for clippings, I think the time is almost here when I will have to start pruning my desert rose in order to collect those clippings. Here are some pictures of it, any thoughts would be wonderful! Also, I think it is budding? (I put a picture there) Should I wait for it to flower and fruit so I can get seeds? Also have the limbs barked over enough to root? Thanks again!

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I wouldn't be in too large of a hurry to do anything that significantly reduced the plant's photosynthesizing surface at this time, as that would inhibit the plant's ability to make food when it needs it most. I would wait to reduce the tree, and repot if necessary, until sometime between Father's Day and Jul 4th. This will have allowed the plant to gain/store energy as a result of the long photoperiod and warm temperatures, so the plant will quickly back-bud after a significant top reduction and respond well to a repot and accompanying root reduction if required. If both are needed, I would do the root reduction/repot first, followed by a top reduction. Cuttings also come easier when taken from parent material that is at its energy peak.

Your plant has a common look that bonsai practitioners usually quickly recognize and label as a slingshot appearance, which should be corrected. The best way to correct it would be to entirely remove the trunk bifurcation that moves leftward in your last picture with a flush cut. New branches will appear around the wound site and you can select one to keep. Its much reduced diameter will help eliminate the slingshot look, plus, you'll be able to train it to a more horizontal position. The other, more vertical branch can then be truncated a little above (1"?) the interesting knot left by a dead or pruned branch on the inside of the 'Y' just above where it bifurcates.

Alternately, you could reduce the more vertical part of the 'Y' to something just a little above the knot I described, then shorten the leftward moving branch to about 1/2 of the length of the more vertical branch, as measured from the point of bifurcation. Still though, I think removing the left side of the slingshot is the best choice.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2011 at 2:28PM
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FshyPlnts(5, 6)

Hey Al,
Thanks so much for the help with this. I don't do much bonsai work. I understand what you mean about removing the leftward branch. As for as the other section goes, I should just lop off the right side about an inch up? I am not sure what truncating is. From what I have gathered, it means making a flat, horizontal cut?

In order to not remove all the leaves at once, should I cut the left one off (when the time comes) the once new leaves have formed, remove the other side?

Also, do you know if I would be able to root these cuttings?

Thanks again for your time!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2011 at 7:20PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm sorry - 'truncate' just means to sever, in this case. You will find many branches emerging below where you severed the larger branch. Select one that best compliments the rest of the trunk movement & let it grow wild to catch up with the rest of the branch - so the reduction in taper isn't quite so noticeable.

I wouldn't worry a bit about removing all the foliage if you do it in that Father's Day to July 4th time frame. The plant will be bursting with energy & will very quickly push a number of new branches from adventitious buds.

The cuttings will root easily, but don't be in a rush to get them potted up. Sever the branches with a very sharp and sterile tool (a new blade in a utility knife is great). Dust the proximal ends with flowers of sulfur or cinnamon & let the cuttings callus in the shade or on your work bench for several days. Stick the cuttings in a very well-drained medium (Screened/rinsed perlite is very good. I use the gritty mix.) and put them in open or dappled shade, where they'll root quickly. No rooting hormones necessary.

This is a very forgiving plant, as long as you don't over-water, patiently tolerating almost any indignities you might heap on it. ;-)


    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 11:34AM
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