Adenium obesum Desert Rose Plant-2

Adenium obesum Desert Rose plant

All About Adenium obesum Desert Rose plant:
Grow, Propagate & Care

The Adenium obesum is the most common and the most widely cultivated garden variety of Desert Rose. The drought tolerant succulent shrub grows naturally in the arid subtropics of Africa. It will also grow in the humid tropics of India and the Philippines and in dry and tropical climates in Australia. Adeniums are widely used as ornamental plants around the world.

The plant prefers a lot of bright sunny days with temperatures from 25c to 35c. This plant is an evergreen in tropical climates but can lose its thick obovate leathery leaves when the weather is cold and in drought.  

Grown outdoors the shrub gets to heights of up to 3 metres (10 ft) with a girth of 3 ft or more in the ground.

It is a popular tropical plant, used by cacti and succulent collectors, due to its interesting shape, unusual trunk, and twisted roots. These gardeners grow this plant in clay bonsai pots as a bonsai plant, to grow in the sunniest spot indoors and patios and to be able to make any movement of the plant easier. The desert rose must be planted in fast drained soil. The best showy flowers come from specimens that are pot bound and have been pruned each year. These plants are known to live up to 200 years or more.

Adenium Desert Rose is a succulent with a swollen caudex above-ground and muscular roots. The caudex, or swollen trunk, is used to store water and food during dry spells and to survive long droughts.

The Desert Rose peak bloom is during the spring and summer and the petals are red, pink and yellow in the throat. During this time the plant continually produces 4 to 6 cm flowers with fat lobes which grow above the medium green leaves. The only drawback is that the flowers aren’t fragrant.

Adenium Desert Rose plants are poisonous, the plants sap is highly toxic. This is why you must wear gloves and glasses and sterilise pruning equipment every time, when and after you are propagating the plant or have pruned it. It is so poisonous; history tells me that the milky sap was applied to the head of arrow spears to kill large wild animals in Africa.

Adenium obesum Desert Rose Plant-2

How to Take Care of a Desert Rose Plant?

Ease the desert rose from bright light into full sun slowly to prevent the leaves from scorching. Fertilise with a cactus and succulent fertiliser once a year in spring that feeds low in nitrogen, rich in phosphorus and potassium, and trace elements for continued supported growth. This will give the desert rose all the plant nutrients that it needs. Regular watering is needed in the warmer months and sparingly in winter. Keep the desert rose indoors when temperatures plummet below 10c in cold climates.

Where to Plant Adenium Plants?

Adenium plants prefer to grow in full sun and warm, dry conditions, as well as, well-drained sandy loam or gritty cactus and succulent soil that drains well at all times. It is best to introduce your new desert rose plant to more open air and sun to allow it to bloom well.

They are not indoor plants for the whole of Australia. The desert rose must be kept indoors only while outside temperatures drop below 10 degrees Celsius otherwise the desert rose will become damaged by frost and die due to plummeting winter temperatures. Keep a close eye on pests while the plant is living inside.

How to Water a Desert Rose Plant?

Even though the Desert rose plant is drought tolerant, regular, deep saturated watering is needed during the growing season. Let the plant fully dry out between waterings. Very little watering during the winter dormant months is needed.

The best time to prune is spring. The desert rose blooms on fresh growth. Each year, the tips of the desert rose branches must be pruned back to promote flowering.

Before you start pruning, make sure the plants soil has dried out for a few days. Use clean, sharp bypass pruning secateurs for a nice, clean cut. Then shape your desert rose however you like. At least start by pruning the desert rose like a rose or tree and remove any dead wood, diseased, rubbing, or crossing over branches. Lastly, cut back and remove any branches that have grown too spindly. Treat the cut wounds with a fungicide to prevent and protect the plant from germs.

How to Propagate Desert Rose?

Propagating by cuttings or grafting will produce identical plants to the mother plant but will not give you the fat trunk that everybody likes. To get the fat trunk you have to propagate the Desert Rose from seed. The seed grown plants will not be identical to the mother plant as far as the flower colour goes.

Propagate Desert Rose from Seeds?

  • Use a lightweight, soulless, well drained superior potting mix such as special cactus potting soil.
  • Use only fresh seeds, only the freshest seed will germinate.
  • Plant seeds in spring and cover lightly with potting mix.
  • Water with a spray bottle containing a fungal spray, eg) cinnamon or mancozeb.
  • Cover the seeds with a plastic bag until the seedlings have three leaves showing, then remove the bag.
  • Within a week or two, some seeds should be germinated and within two months you will see the caudex joined by a tap root on the seedlings.
  • Transplant and repot each seedling into its own small pot, in such a way that the caudex is above the free draining potting mix.
  • Take your time to move the small plants into the open air and filtered light, then eventually to the full sun gradually.

The seedlings normally flower in the second year.


If you haven’t got mancozeb in your garden cupboard you could make a cinnamon fungicide and spray cinnamon by dissolving 2 tablespoons of cinnamon powder with 500mls of hot water stir and leave it to stand overnight and strain and spray.



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