THE Desert Rose -Adenium obesum

General Information:

The Desert Rose is a native of East Africa and grow in abundance in the arid areas of Africa including Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda. The name Adenium is derived from the Arabic name for the plant, Oddaejn, which means Aden, the former name for Yemen.

Desert Rose is a succulent bush type plant with thick fleshy branches.  The ‘obesum’ name refers to the large fat base of the plant. 

In wild it grows from 1.5 meter to 10 meter and has fleshy leaves and beautiful 5 cm pink open-trumpet shaped flowers. It is a succulent, and forms more of a bush than a tree. It can be made into an indoor bonsai in all climates except in very warm climate locations. The adeniums grow best in Pots as these can be relocated depending upon the season and indoors/outdoors locations.

The popularity of the Desert Rose is growing mainly because they have beautiful flowers for as many as 9months in a year and thereafter the foliage continues to look beautiful as these are succulent plants and have thick waxy leaves.

The other reasons are:

Easy to Maintain

No worries if you go on vacation for a month as Adeniums can survive lnog periods without water

Blooms for 9 months in a year

Can be easily trained as Bonsai

Minimal Care is required

No disease affects them normally

Little water is required

Can be grown in Apartments

Lighting Needs:

The Adeniums require lots of light and fresh air for proper growth and flowering and should be kept in a bright location in winter. In summer, if possible, move outdoors to a sunny or partly shaded location.


It grows best during 24-30˚C but feels at home with temperatures up to 40 ˚C.

During winters if the temperatures falls below 20 ˚C the plants would have to be moved inside or under the shade in order to keep the warm since this will give them the much needed rest.

Watering Needs:

During the growing and blooming periods the soil should be kept warm. Being succulents’ plants they do not need much water. During the winters the water need is almost nil but water must be applied every two three days to keep it cool. Heavy watering will result in leafs falling.


Application of mild fertilizer like 12:32:16 0r 20:20:20 at ¼ dose in liquid form should be applied once a month during spring a summer months. Application of bone meal at 50gm per plant helps in better flowering.

Pruning and wiring:

It is observed that some adenium hybrids have large number of branches and some few. More the branches more the flowers. Branches can be induced by pinching the top end of the existing branch. Application of lanolin containing BA (Benzyl adenine, 1-2 percent).

Style primarily by clip and grow. Do heavy pruning after the plant's rest period. However, it bleeds profusely, so heavy pruning should be kept to a minimum. New shoots can be pruned regularly. The saps are poisonous, so clean hands after pruning, and avoid getting sap into open wounds.


TheAdenium can be propagated by cuttings or by seeds. It takes about 6 months or longer from seed to flowering. You can make a new hybrid by artificially crossing between 2 different cultivars or different species. Since these plants are similar to jade trees, propagation can be had by root cutting. The cuttings should be dried for 3-4 days before planting in a sand-peat mix.


Root prune and repot every two years, after the winter rest period, in a mix of 2 parts bonsai soil, 2 parts peat, and one part sand. Can tolerate being pot-bound.