Summary: The Desert Rose plant (Adenium obesum) with its vibrant displays of 2″-3″ inch flowers in shades of red, pink, white, and yellow are show stoppers. For best results keep plants in high light for 6 hours or more per day, all through the summer. The Adenium desert rose makes for colorful, dramatic potted specimen for patios and decks during summer.
If you like dramatically gorgeous plants requiring very little in the way of care, you cannot go wrong with Adenium Obesum – the most common Desert Rose plant.
This carefree succulent boasts an unusual trunk (caudex) shape coupled with bunches of beautiful, colorful, trumpet-shaped flowers in a wide variety of colors and color combinations.
The plant makes an excellent warm-weather addition to your patio, deck or landscape, and it also does very well as a houseplant. In this article, we will share information to help you enjoy success with this attractive, sun-loving plant. Read on to learn more.
- A Rose By Any Other Name
- Adenium Obesum Is Not Really A Rose?
- Desert Rose Plant Care & How To Grow Desert Rose
- What Kind of Container Is Best for Desert Rose?
- Propagation Of Adenium Plants From Cuttings, Seed
- Easy Desert Rose Propagation From Cuttings
- Video: Grafting Adenium
- Video: Combining Adenium Twigs
- The Basics Of Starting Adenium Obesum From Cuttings:
- Video: Growing An Adenium Bonsai
- How to Harvest Desert Rose Seed Pods
- Video: Harvesting Adenium Seeds And Growing Them
- How To Sow Desert Rose Seeds
- Turn Your Adenium On Its Head!
- Desert Rose Pests and Problems
- Where Can You Get A Desert Rose Plant?
- Five auspicious plants for the Lunar New Year and Every Day After
- Desert Rose
- What Is The Best Fertilizer For Desert Rose
- Fertilizing Desert Rose Plants
- Rose Of The Desert Growing Tips
- Why Is My Desert Rose Not Blooming – How To Get Desert Roses To Bloom
- When Do Desert Roses Bloom?
- Reasons for Desert Rose Plants Not Blooming
A Rose By Any Other Name
There are many variations of the Desert Rose plant, and they grow freely throughout eastern and northeastern Africa and across the Arabian Peninsula. Being native to so many places and enjoyed by so many different cultures, they naturally go by a handful of common names. These include:
- Desert Rose
- Mock Azalea
- Impala Lily
- Sabi Star
- Dwarf Bottle Tree
Scientific names include:
- Adenium arabicum
- Adenium coetaneum
- Adenium honghel
- Nerium obesum
All of these names refer to one variety or another of the Desert Rose, which is a member of the Dogbane (Apocynaceae/Asclepiadaceae) family. This family includes:
- Madagascar Palm (Pachypodium lamerei)
- Plumeria – Frangipani
- Periwinkle plant (Vinca minor)
All members of the Dogbane family produce sap that is irritating at least or extremely toxic at worst. Like their oleander cousins, Desert Rose is poisonous through and through. Be sure to keep kids and pets away from your Desert Rose.
Handle it with care and wear rubber gloves when pruning. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after pruning or repotting.
Adenium Obesum Is Not Really A Rose?
Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) is not a rose at all. It is a deciduous succulent plant, and there are five recognized varieties available for purchase.
The number of variations amongst wild species is tremendous and unknown. Scientists speculate that there is a single species which is divided up into just a few sub-species; however, these can vary quite a bit in appearance and habits from one environment to another.
Adenium obesum grows in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The plant’s blooming period is quite lengthy, and it can do well during cooler weather if kept in a warm, bright setting.
Adenium flowers vary in size and shade depending upon care and environment, but typically the desert rose flowers are about two inches across in pretty shades of white, pink and red. Cuttings from this variety tend to form thick trunks quickly.
Unlike a true rose, Adenium is drought tolerant because it stores water from the rainy season in its thick, bulbous roots and fat base trunk. In its native lands, the rains come during the summer and then it is dry during the cooler months of the winter.
These plants range widely in size. Although they can grow as tall as 6′ feet, they also make excellent potted plants, container plants, and an interesting looking Desert Rose bonsai.
Depending on availability of water, amount of sun, soil conditions, proper care and so on, wild Adenium can grow as a short, plump tree, a bushy shrub or a tall, leggy plant.
Desert Rose Plant Care & How To Grow Desert Rose
There are five varieties of true Desert Rose, and all are natives of arid or semi-arid climates, yet they can all adapt well to tropical and semi-tropical settings.
Indeed, these rugged desert dwellers adapt to almost any situation as long as they have plenty of sun and warmth and well-draining soil.
In very hot climates, the Desert Rose plant is happy and prolific outdoors all year round. These plants love to be in the direct sun with temperatures of at least 70°F, but they can do very well in temperatures of up to 100° degree Fahrenheit.
In North America and other settings where the temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time, the plant is abundantly floriferous throughout the warmer months.
The blooms are long-lasting and are attractive to hummingbirds and pollinators such as bees and butterflies. When the weather begins to cool, you must bring your Adenium indoors to enjoy during the winter.
Video: Growing & Flowering Adenium
Adenium Is A Sun-Lover
The desert rose flowering plant grows well in desert settings and will bloom beautifully with full, bright sun. They can also do well with bright morning sun or bright afternoon sun but may not flower as heavy. If kept in the shade, these plants become leggy and weak-stemmed.
Even though bright sun stimulates blossom production, the Desert Rose plant takes a break during the very hottest and rainiest months of the growing season. This results in two periods of blooming. You’ll see flowers begin to develop in early spring. With the right amount of light, your plant should bloom steadily until mid-summer.
At this point, blossoming will cease for 6-8 weeks only to resume in the early autumn months. When the weather begins to turn cold (55 degrees Fahrenheit or less on a consistent basis) give your plant a good pruning and bring it in the house.
In a very bright, warm environment such as a greenhouse, Adenium can remain active throughout the winter months. If you bring your plant into your house for the winter, it will probably stay in a semi-dormant state until spring arrives. During this time, just keep it in a warm room with bright, indirect light.
Water Moderately in Warm Weather and Sparingly in Cool Weather
The Desert Rose enjoys a nice, warm rainy season, but when cool weather comes, you’ll need to cut back on watering. Some say it is best to think of your Adenium as a tropical plant in the spring and summer and as a cactus in the autumn and winter.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the roots must never become waterlogged. During the growing season check the soil every few days in container plants. When the plant is completely dry, water slowly and carefully. Saturate the soil, but do not soak it. The soil should be moist, not wet, and there should be no standing water. Use a well-drained soil and allow the soil mix to dry out thoroughly before watering again.
If you plant directly into the landscape, be certain to position your Adenium on a bit of an incline so the water can drain off after heavy rains. The Desert Rose growing outdoors are amazingly drought tolerant and may not need watering once established. In times of extreme drought water deeply, occasionally with a slow drip for several hours during the coolest part of the day.
Video: Desert Rose Care Tips
Desert Rose Fertilizer
During the growing season, it is a good idea to provide a light feeding of a slow-release fertilizer, or a water-soluble liquid fertilizer from time-to-time. In the springtime when the plant is rousing from its winter rest, you can give a diluted feeding once every couple of weeks. During summer, reduce this to once a month. As the weather cools, stop feeding so that the plant can wind down for the winter.
If you bring your Adenium plant indoors for the winter, you may want to give it one weak feeding in mid-winter; however, this is not necessary as the plant is likely in a state of semi-dormancy.
Pruning: Is Regular Pruning Necessary?
Because these plants can grow quite large, a combination of pruning and under-potting is essential to keep them at a manageable size. A regular pruning schedule will help keep your plant fresh, vigorous and well-groomed.
During the growing season, pinch back or prune unruly growth. Before bringing the plant indoors for winter, prune back excessive growth as this will make the rest period more effective for the plant. Additionally, it will be easier to keep a smaller, more compact plant indoors during the winter months.
Before putting the plant back outdoors for the growing season, a good trimming is a smart idea. Trim off any dead or damaged vegetation. Cut back straggly branches to improve the plant’s shape. You can use these branches as cuttings to create new plants.
What Kind of Container Is Best for Desert Rose?
Many lovers of Adenium grow their plants or look to repotting their desert rose plant into terra cotta clay pots instead of plastic to keep them on the dry side.
You can use containers made of almost any material when planting Desert Rose. Just be sure the container is sturdy because Adenium‘s aggressive root growth can burst flimsy plastic containers. Any growing container must have drainage holes in the bottom. If you use a saucer, you must not allow water to stand in the saucer.
For better air circulation to the roots, a porous container material is better than a nonporous material. For this reason, many experts recommend using terra-cotta containers instead of plastic ones, plus the shallow terra-cotta bowl makes a nice presentation. Well made wooden planters might also be a good idea.
Another interesting option might be unique, homemade containers fashioned from hypertufa, a lightweight, durable, porous material you can mix up yourself using concrete, sand and peat moss or coco coir. Check out this Hypertufa recipe.
Regarding planter shape, low, wide planters and containers are preferable to tall, thin ones. A lower, wider container will encourage the roots to spread and provide a more stable base for the plant.
If you plant an adenium in a tall, thin container, the root structure will be more carrot shaped and not provide much stability. This can be a plus if you hope to create a thick, attractive caudex.
It is possible to start an Adenium cutting in a tall, thin container and then transplant it later into a short, squat container leaving quite a bit of the interesting root exposed. Here’s a video that shows you how!
Video: Adenium Transplanting – Desert Rose Bonsai style
How Often Should You Repot Desert Roses?
These plants are relatively slow growing, and they should not need repotting more often than once every two or three years. Be careful not to provide an oversized container as this will encourage root growth and may detract from the number of blooms your plant produces.
Select an attractive container that gives your plant’s root mass one or two extra inches for growth all the way around. Be sure to shake the old soil off the roots and replace the soil entirely with fresh, new, nourishing soil mix.
Like other succulent plants, plant the desert rose succulent using a cactus potting soil or use your own cactus soil recipe mix. These plants want a well-draining soil to prevent stem and root rot.
Related Reading: Growing Buddha Belly Plant (Jatropha podagrica) is similar to Adenium
Propagation Of Adenium Plants From Cuttings, Seed
Easy Desert Rose Propagation From Cuttings
When you start a Desert Rose plant from a cutting, the resulting plant will not develop a thick, interesting root structure above ground. The caudex will develop below soil level and can later be exposed without harming the plant.
The advantage of starting from a cutting is that you can do lots of interesting things such as grafting cuttings that produce one flower color onto plants that produce another color. You can also graft several different cuttings together to form an artistic grouping.
Desert Rose Grafted On Oleander
In Europe, you sometimes find the Adenium grafted onto an Oleander stock. The Oleander graft combination allows the Desert Rose to grow faster and produce more flowers.
Video: Grafting Adenium
Video: Combining Adenium Twigs
The Basics Of Starting Adenium Obesum From Cuttings:
If you have a plant sending out long shoots (like the one in the video below), it’s a good idea to prune as a way of guiding and controlling plant growth. You can use the pruned sections to create brand-new, interesting plants.
Video: Growing An Adenium Bonsai
Cuttings at least 6″ inches long make the ideal succulent stems for rooting. After pruning the plant, sort through the shoots and select the best ones. Lay them out on newspaper or a paper towel in a warm, dry place out of direct sunlight. Allow the cuttings to dry for 48 hours.
After two days, prepare a pot or container with a gravelly, well-drained potting mix. You can use a commercial mix intended for use with cactus and succulents or make one using equal amounts of potting soil, coco coir or peat moss, sand and/or very fine gravel. Remember to put a layer of coarse gravel in the bottom of the container for good drainage.
Dust the cut end with a rooting powder and poke it into the planting mix. Use a spray bottle to thoroughly soak the planting mixture. Mist every couple of days to keep the soil moist, but be sure not to allow it to become thoroughly drenched.
In your Desert Rose plant care remember Adenium does not like to be waterlogged, and the roots will quickly rot if you allow the soil to stay too wet.
Place your developing plant in a warm, bright; still, area either indoors or outdoors and keep a close eye on it. If you are using an indoor location, be sure to turn the growing plant every day or two so it will get even sunlight. Otherwise, it will tend to bend toward the sun.
When it begins to sprout new leaves, you’ll know it is well-established enough to move the young plant to a sunnier place. Mature, well-established Desert Rose plants enjoy bright, full sunlight.
They can be planted directly into the ground outdoors, but because they are tropical and not cold hardy at all it is usually better to plant them in containers so make moving indoors for the winter easier.
How to Harvest Desert Rose Seed Pods
The advantage of propagating Desert Rose from seed is that you can be sure of growing plants that develop the thick, bulbous, fat base above-ground caudex that makes these plants so interesting and attractive. It will take several years for the Caudex to develop so be patient!
You can buy Adenium obesum seeds online or from specialty nurseries; however, be careful to get fresh seed. The fresher the seed, the better your results will be. If you have several plants for cross-pollination, you can harvest desert rose plant seeds from your plants at the end of the growing season and plant the seeds in the springtime.
For seeds on your plants, look for the development of bean-like seed pods. These usually appear in pairs. As the pods ripen, they will begin to look swollen. At this point, you may want to place a net bag over the pods and secure it with a twist tie, twine or a rubber band. This will prevent your seeds from flying away when the seed pod bursts.
When the pod bursts, gather the seeds and remove the dandelion-like fluff from the ends. Plant the fresh seeds right away for best results.
Video: Harvesting Adenium Seeds And Growing Them
How To Sow Desert Rose Seeds
To plant Desert Rose seeds, start with a growing medium of 50% peat moss or coco coir and 50% sand or perlite – I like perlite. Use a shallow pot or a tray placed in an area with bright indirect light. You may want to use a warming pad to keep the growing medium at a steady temperature of 80 to 85°F.
Details on Growing Desert Rose Seeds
Evenly sprinkle the seeds over the surface of the growing medium and cover them very lightly with a thin layer of sand. Use a spray bottle to saturate the growing medium evenly with water. Repeat this process on alternate days until the seeds sprout.
Expect to see sprouts within a three to seven days. Continue misting them every couple of days to keep them lightly and evenly watered. Seedlings should be large enough to transplant into individual containers in about a month.
Turn Your Adenium On Its Head!
If your plant has become unmanageable or fallen into disarray, you might want to start all over with seeds or cuttings or turn your old plant upside-down. This creates a very novel presentation and could be extremely interesting in an artistic container.
To create an upside-down Adenium, prune the twigs and branches back fairly close, but do a few short stems for new growth.
Prepare a container just as you would when starting cuttings or repotting a Desert Rose.
Remove your plant from its original container and wash the root ball. Trim back long, straggly roots for a better appearance and then pot the whole thing upside down with roots sticking up and the top of the plant underground.
Take care of it just as you would a right-side-up Adenium.
Within a couple of weeks, you’ll see sprouts emerging from the sides of the root mass. Before you know it, you’ll have leaves, blossoms and an interesting looking dark root mass with tendrils adapted for photosynthesis by turning slightly green.
In this video below, you’ll see this interesting planting technique demonstrated along with an explanation of how and why it works.
Desert Rose Pests and Problems
The most pervasive problem for Desert Rose is root rot. The importance of avoiding over watering cannot be overstated. These plants retain water in their thick roots. They do not need or want to stand in water, so it is far better to err on the side of underwatering when it comes to watering. Remember to water sparingly and make sure your plant’s drainage system is working properly.
Pests that may bother Cactus Rose plants include:
- Aphids – natural way of getting rid of aphids here
- Spider Mites (tetranychus urticae)
- Mealy Bugs
- Several types of plant insect scales
If you find your plant has a problem with one of these pests, treatment with neem oil insecticides should provide a proper remedy.
Oleander caterpillars may also cause problems for Adenium. If you notice caterpillars on your plant, pick them off by hand (wear gloves) and treat the plant with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) as quickly as possible.
These caterpillars can defoliate your plant very rapidly, but if this happens don’t despair. Once the caterpillars are under control, the plant will spring back with new dark green leaves very quickly.
A fungal disease called Anthracnose is sometimes a problem for Adenium. If your plant’s leaves develop tan lesions and then turn yellow and fall off, Anthracnose is probably the problem.
Again, don’t despair. This disease usually occurs in the early summer and/or in the autumn and resolves on its own. Just reduce watering and rake up the fallen leaves to remove the fungus spores. Your plant should recover nicely.
Where Can You Get A Desert Rose Plant?
Once in the hands of serious collectors, these interesting plants have made their way into mainstream garden centers.
The most common variety, Adenium obesum, can be found many home improvement center garden shops, department stores and other places that typically keep a collection of plants for sale. Other varieties (e.g. Adenium swazicum, Adenium boehmianum, Adenium socotranum and more) can be purchased online and at nurseries specializing in succulents and cactus.
A single specimen of one of these rugged, long-lived plants can provide a wealth of gardening enjoyment. They can be planted in the landscape, maintained as container plants, kept as bonsai, grafted together, grafted with oleander or even planted upside down to create visually fascinating shapes and displays.
A long-lived Desert Rose growing for years is the sort of plant that becomes a member of the family. In the wild and in ideal settings, these plants can survive and thrive for centuries.
In areas with cooler climates, the care needed by these interesting plants provides a touchstone for the transition from season-to-season.
The plant celebrates the spring, lounges in the heat of the summer, revives in the autumn and hibernates in the winter. As you care for and enjoy this interesting botanical specimen through the seasons and years, you will surely grow to think of it as a good friend.
Sources: 1 | 2
Five auspicious plants for the Lunar New Year and Every Day After
Over the years, it has become a tradition to welcome the Lunar New Year with auspicious plants. These plants are cultivated not just for their beauty, but because their fruits or flowers may have a symbolic meaning.
During festive season, the Chinese often use the saying 花开富贵 (huakai fugui), which means a blooming plant brings prosperity and happiness. Thus, many families will welcome the new year with plants in the hopes of having a good start to the year ahead.
Plants, especially flowers, with bright colours like red, green and yellow are preferred, while dark or white-coloured plants, or plants with stunted growth, sharp or drooping appearance are avoided because these are usually associated with grief and pain.
Besides colours, plants with auspicious-sounding names are highly prized. Here are five auspicious plants that are easy to care for and will continue to survive past the festive season:
1. Desert Rose (Adenium obesum and Adenium genus)
Desert Rose is believed to bring wealth to the owner as highlighted in its Chinese name 富贵花 (fuguihua or wealth plant). The swollen basal stem and roots represent fertility and abundance. It is believed that the larger the swollen base, the greater the wealth and abundance. Desert Rose has several cultivars with different coloured flowers. Among the cultivars, those with red and pink flowers are favoured because brightly coloured flowers represent luck and prosperity.
Desert Rose requires little water and full direct sun. It is a great outdoor plant for your porch or corridor to welcome guests visiting your house. To achieve a thick foliage cover, new shoots can be pruned by removing the two smallest leaves at the tip or by trimming an inch from the tip of the stem to encourage multi-branching.
2. Kumquat (Citrus japonica and hybrids)
Just as there is Christmas tree for Christmas, the Chinese have citrus trees for the Lunar New Year, including Mandarin Orange and Kumquat. The significance of Kumquat is a play on word sounds.
The fruiting tree resembles a tree with an abundance of gold coins, hence the word ‘kum’ rhymes with the Cantonese word for gold (金) which symbolise wealth and success, and ‘quat’ rhymes with the Cantonese word for luck (桔). Kumquat are not only good as décor, the fruits can also be harvested for culinary purposes if grown organically.
The Kumquat is a hardy plant which prefers full sun, moderate water and well-drained soil. Prune the fruiting branches and fertilise it fortnightly to encourage repeat fruiting. Good air circulation also helps to minimise attacks by insects. Citrus trees are prone to visitations by the caterpillars of the Common Lime butterfly
3. Jade plant (Crassula ovate)
The Jade plant has fleshy emerald-green oval leaves. Its vibrant colour symbolise continual growth while the shape of its leaves resemble coins and symbolise prosperity and fortune. The plant grows well indoor and will last long if given proper care. It also makes a great gift for friends or housewarming.
The Jade plant is easy to care for with little water requirement. It prefers full-day indirect sun or partial shade, which makes it a good indoor plant. Its leaves become slightly reddish when exposed to high levels of sunlight.
Pruning is required when the crown is heavier than the bottom. It can be easily propagated by stem cuttings. Flowering is believed to be induced by long nights.
4. Pitcher plant (Nepenthes sp.)
The popularity of the Pitcher plant is due to shape of its modified leaves (pitchers), which resemble bags, hence it is named 袋袋平安 (daidai pingan), which means bags that bring wealth and happiness for years to come. The more pitchers a plant has, the more luck and fortune you are likely to accumulate!
Lowland pitcher plants are native to the tropics,hence they will thrive well in Singapore’s climate. Do not fertilise the plant as it may induce the plant not to produce pitchers. Light requirement varies according to species, but they usually range from partial shade to full sun, hence they can be grown both indoor and outdoor. Pitcher plants also need high humidity with good air circulation and moderate water requirement.
5. Cockscomb (Celosia argentea var. cristata)
The brightly coloured blossoms of this plant resemble closely a rooster’s cockscomb. Hence the name Cockscomb, or 鸡冠花 in Chinese. 鸡, which means rooster, is considered as an auspicious animal in Chinese culture. The Chinese believe that the rooster has the ability to ward off evil spirits as it crows at the break of dawn.
Furthermore, the word rooster (鸡) rhymes with the word luck (吉) in Chinese, thus making it a traditional favourite for the festive season.
Besides resembling a cockscomb, the blossoms (花) also look like the hats of high-ranking officials (冠) in ancient China. There is a Chinese saying 冠上加冠賞吉, which means continual promotion in ranks. This is a double symbolism of good fortune and achievements which the plant has come to represent.
Cockscomb plants are easy to care for and suitable to grow in Singapore’s tropical climate. The plant thrives well when given full sun condition and moderate water. Well-drained soil is also a key to the vigour of the plant. Since Cockscomb is an annual, seeds can be harvested and new plants grown from them.
For many Chinese, the Lunar New Year is a precursor to the year ahead. Symbols of good luck, such as auspicious plants, are often used to bring about a good start to the year. However, regardless whether they actually bring good fortune, these plants bring colour and life into our homes, setting the mood for the festive season and the rest of the year.
Text by Jessica Teo
All photos from florafaunaweb.nparks.gov.sg, except for the Nepethes by Vicky Lim.
Some gardeners may not be familiar with the hardy succulent Adenium. They remind Leonie of “contented boabs with their fantastic rounded, twisted sculptured shapes.” Their flowers are spectacular.
Adeniums are commonly known as Desert Roses. The ‘desert’ part is correct as they come from Africa and the Middle East, but they’re certainly not roses. Adenium obesium, as they’re commonly known, are actually more related to Alamandas, Oleanders and Frangipanis.
* Habit: They grow to about 2 metres high, and love hot, tropical climates. Ideal growing conditions include full sun and rich, well-drained soil.
* Water: A common misconception is that they don’t need much water or attention. Leonie says, “They are tough plants, but they’re surprisingly sensitive to how much water they get – too much and they’ll rot; too little and they’ll stress and drop their flowers.” During the dry season in the top end, water them every day when it’s cool in either the morning or the afternoon. During the wet season, reduce this rate depending on the rain. Water the soil and avoid the leaves, and don’t sit your Adenium in a saucer of water because it may rot.
* Media: Adeniums like an open, well-drained media, so use one part vermiculite to two parts quality potting mix. Fertilise with a slow release fertiliser every 8 months or so and a liquid seaweed tonic every fortnight.
* Pests: They aren’t bothered by many pests. A bit of white oil takes care of insects such as aphids or mealy bugs.
* Propagating: Adenium seed pods come in pairs and they’re filled with dandelion-like fluffy seeds. Separate the seeds and plant densely into the media. Cover with a bit of soil and in a month’s time they’ll be crowded and ready to pot on into individual pots. Seeds are not necessarily ‘true to type’ meaning that a plant with white flowers may produce offspring with different colours. But Adeniums grown from cuttings tend to be a bit scraggly, so propagating from seeds is the best way to get lovely fat trunks.
* Grafting: This is the fastest way to get another adult flowering plant. Grafting a branch from a plant with the flower colour you want onto root stock will produce an adult plant with the desired flower colour quite quickly. There are many different grafting techniques, but Leonie explains an easy one: “Take your graft, trim off all the leaves except a few at the top. Using a sharp knife, make a ‘V’ in the bottom of the stem. In your root stock, make a slice about the same length of the ‘V’, insert the stem and press them together making sure all the surfaces make good contact. Bind the graft with horticultural tape and cover with a plastic bag for about a week to minimise moisture loss. Adeniums can be a bit sappy so use methylated spirits to clean the knife blade. This will also help stop any infections spreading between the plants.
* Repotting: Each time you re-pot, the plant should sit a bit higher. This encourages the roots down further and the cortex to sit above the surface of the soil and fill out more. Eventually you’ll get a beautiful, fat, happy Adenium.
* Pruning: In the wet season, the chance of getting rot in the open wounds is very high, so prune during the dry season. Pruning will improve the shape and encourage more branches and flowers.
Leonie thinks that “Adeniums are the plants to watch. Their striking good looks, fabulous and prolific flowering, and modest water requirements make them a fantastic addition to any garden.”
PLEASE NOTE: Adeniums can be toxic if consumed. Please be aware of planting them in areas where children and pets can access them. Avoid sap contact with the skin and eyes and always wash hands after handling these plants
Scientifically known as Adenium obesum , the desert rose is a succulent plant with fleshy stems and bright-hued flowers.
The flowering plant is a species of Apocynaceae genus along with Dipladenia, from the dogbane family.
Sun-loving Adenium plants resemble the shape of a bonsai with thick, swollen caudex and gleaming green leaves.
It is indigenous to the Sahel regions, Southern Africa, South of the Sahara, and Southern Arabia.
The desert rose plant boasts deep red flowers. However, through hybridizing the desert rose flowers now come in a variety of vivid colors like orange, pink, purple, crimson and white.
Since desert rose plants are native to so many regions and loved in so many cultures, they have more than one common name:
- Mock Azalea
- Sabi Star
- Impala Lily
- Dwarf Bottle Tree
Desert roses are adaptable to many locations as long as they receive plenty of water and sun for optimum growth.
In hot climates, these houseplants stay healthy all year long.
Desert rose plants prefers full sun with temperatures of 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C) or higher.
The flowers attract hummingbirds and pollinators like butterflies and bees.
The desert rose plant needs fertilizer from time to time to ensure the plant gets the necessary nutrients for growing well and producing its splendid blooms.
What Is The Best Fertilizer For Desert Rose
Desert rose Adenium obesum, being low-maintenance in nature, doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer but it is a good idea to give a light feeding of balanced fertilizer.
Generally, a well-balanced water-soluble fertilizer or a slow-release fertilizer will provide all the nutrients the plant needs.
To encourage growth and flowering, the desert rose plant responds well to a phosphorus-rich fertilizer. Bone meal fertilizer is rich in phosphorus and a good choice for feeding desert rose Adeniums.
Details on How To Use Bone Meal in the garden.
Fertilizing Desert Rose Plants
During the winter months, the desert rose plant rests or goes into dormancy and requires little water or fertilizer. An occasional fertilizing of diluted fertilizer once per month is helpful.
A healthy Desert rose with an established root system shows off its beautiful flowers during spring and summer.
This is when you’ll need to increase the fertilizing to your Adenium.
Before You Begin To Fertilize Adenium
When spring arrives and before new growth begins is when you should consider repotting these bulbous beauties.
Before repotting and for general plant care check desert roses out for any pests such as spider mites or mealy bugs, that can become established during the winter months.
Spray with insecticidal soap or Neem oil for control.
Prune out any dead wood, broken branches or stems needed to maintain shape.
More on Controlling Succulent Mealybugs
As new growth begins keep an eye out for aphids that love to lunch on tender new growth.
When repotting or transplanting remember to use a cactus or succulent type soil mix. Mixing in some extra perlite does not hurt to improve drainage.
Always use a pot or container with drainage holes and a well draining soil will help prevent root rot.
By the way, bulb looking caudex of the Adenium obesum perfect when grown and displayed in bonsai pots.
Learn more about bonsai Desert Rose
As mentioned above desert roses like a little extra phosphorus. Mix some bone meal into the potting mix before repotting.
If your Adenium does not need repotting top dress with some bone meal and lightly water it into the soil.
In early spring apply a slow-release fertilizer to plants or incorporate the fertilizer into the potting soil when transplanting.
Many Adenium lovers recommend supplementing with regular half strength applications of water soluble liquid fertilizer during the growing season.
Rose Of The Desert Growing Tips
- Adenium obesum grown in full sun will perform best
- Use a well-draining potting soil
- Check for pests (spider mites, mealy bugs, and aphids)
- No overwatering – allow the soil to dry out before you water again.
- Fertilize using slow-release fertilizer
- Incorporate bone meal for extra phosphorus
- Supplement during the growing season with half-strength liquid fertilizer
- Enjoy the beautiful flowers in the garden
Adenium obesum, commonly known as Desert Rose, is a striking plant with swollen succulent stems and deep red flowers. The plant is deciduous in colder winters, but it can be kept in leaf provided there is sufficient warmth and light water. There is no part of these plants that doesn’t command interest, from the dramatically swollen stems on older plants to the bright flowers to the tight clusters of narrow, green leaves.
Beware, though, the sap of the Desert Rose is poisonous and should never come into contact with children or pets. If you get sap on yourself while handling the plant, wash your hands immediately.
Light: Full sun. Perfect for a sunny window.
Water: Water Desert Rose during the summer and spring. Reduce water in the winter, but keep hydrated enough to retain its leaves.
Temperature: Keep at least 50ºF (10ºC) at all times; if you keep temperatures of 60ºF (16ºC) or higher during the winter, the plant may retain its leaves.
Soil: It grows well in a well-drained succulent mix, with an ideal pH of around 6.0 (slightly acidic).
Fertilizer: Fertilize during spring and summer with controlled-release fertilizer or liquid fertilizer according to label directions.
Photo via gardenweb.com
Typically by seed. If your plant develops a seed pod, plant the seeds as soon as possible after the pod ripens to maximize the chances of germination. The Desert Rose can be propagated from branch cuttings, but these plants often fail to develop the characteristic (and highly desired) bulbous stem.
Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot a succulent, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the plant from the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide and antibacterial solution. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.
These are not difficult plants to grow well, provided they get enough sunlight and warmth. Like all succulents, they cannot tolerate sitting in water, and if you err, do it on the side of too little water. Use a specialized soil mix designed for cacti and succulents.
- Back to genus Adenium
- Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus
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Why Is My Desert Rose Not Blooming – How To Get Desert Roses To Bloom
Why is my desert rose not blooming? Convincing a desert rose to produce spectacular blooms can be tricky, but oftentimes getting desert roses to bloom is simply a matter of patience. Read on to learn more.
When Do Desert Roses Bloom?
Desert roses typically bloom for several weeks throughout spring and summer. With proper care, some new and improved cultivars may bloom year round. Again, be patient. Desert rose plants may not produce blooms for several months, but if the plant is healthy and growing conditions are right, it will eventually produce blooms.
Reasons for Desert Rose Plants Not Blooming
Below you will find some of the most common reasons for non-flowering and tips for getting desert roses to bloom.
If you recently repotted your desert rose, it may go through a period of rebellion while it adjusts to its new environment. For a while, the plant will divert its energy into growing roots instead of producing blooms. As a general rule, desert rose plants need repotting about every two years, preferably in mid-spring. Move the plant to a container just one size larger. Use a potting mix that drains well and make sure the container has a drainage hole in the bottom. To give the plant time to adjust, withhold water for a week or two after repotting.
Water and drainage
Desert rose plants are drought tolerant and can live several weeks without irrigation. However, the plant needs a fair amount of water to produce blooms. Problems arise when the plant is allowed to stand in soggy soil or water. Not only will the plant stop blooming, but poorly drained soil can also easily cause the plant to rot and die. Water the plant regularly during spring and summer, then cut back when the plant is dormant during fall and winter.
In the ground, desert rose prefers rich, slightly alkaline soil.
Desert rose requires plenty of sunlight, and lack of light may be the reason for desert rose plants not blooming. Place the plant where it receives at least five to six hours of sun per day – preferably even more.
Desert rose doesn’t require a lot of fertilizer, but regular feeding ensures the plant receives the nutrients it needs to produce blooms. Feed an outdoor plant two or three times during spring and summer, using a balanced, water soluble fertilizer. Feed indoor Adeniums every week during spring and summer, using a water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength.
To encourage flowering, it may also help to use a phosphorus-rich fertilizer or bone meal.