The Desert Rose – A Beauty to Behold
by Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin
The Desert Rose or Adenium is known for its gorgeous rose-like flowers and for its outstanding caudiciform trunk. It’s highly sought-after and can grow for years in the same container and only reach 1-3’ tall.
Adenium obesum is the most popular Desert Rose to grow because of its ease of care and beautiful floral show. It’s an arid land plant and loves it dry and hot. Temperatures should be kept above 60˙F, but 70˙F or higher air temperature is best. Direct sunlight also helps adeniums thrive, especially in their active growth phase during the summer months.
The Ornamental Stem
Adeniums form a swollen stem or caudex which in itself has ornamental beauty. Much hybridization has been done creating a diverse range of flower colors and interesting floral forms. In order to propagate these hybrids, the mother plant is grafted onto a seedling, thus giving the plant a full, attractive caudex as well as a wide array of flowers in various colors, sizes and shapes.
Watering adeniums is dependent upon the season. During the hot, long days, it is important to thoroughly saturate the growing medium and only water when the soil is dry. During the inactive growing season, when the days are shorter and the temperatures cooler, it is especially important to keep the soil dry to promote good root health. A good rule to remember when growing adeniums is that high temperatures and full sun require more water and in cooler temperatures, the plants need less water.
Adeniums should be fertilized when they are actively growing during the spring and summer months. We recommend a balanced fertilizer with an elevated middle number (phosphorus) to assist in flower formation. We recommend running clear water through the soil, from time to time, to leach any extra fertilizer in the pot that could cause leaf burn.
Adeniums like hot, dry conditions, so do spider mites. Check your plants regularly for beginning infestations, especially when plants are brought in for the winter and they are subjected to warm, dry conditions.
Grow Desert Rose plants in warm temperatures and on the dry side. Over the growing season and when repotting add fertilizer as described above. This will promote flowering and encourage the caudex to enlarge. Keeping the plant cramped in its pot will result in a smaller specimen that you can maintain as a windowsill-sized plant for a very long time. Adeniums also make great bonsai specimens.
You can see our entire collection of beautiful Desert Rose plants here, or click below for more information on the plants featured in this article: