Growing tips for Adenium


The Desert Rose

The "Desert Rose" (Adenium obesum) is a perennial succulent plant belonging to the family of the Apocynaceae. The desert rose or Adenium is also called false baobab or baobab jackal. The name Adenium comes from the Arabic Aden, name of the Arabian port from where they were transported to the West. Today Aden is the capital of Yemen. Obesum means "obese" in reference to the trunk / caudex very swollen at the base that characterizes the plant.

The Adenium is from the Arabian Peninsula and the tropical and subtropical desert regions of East Africa in particular to the Cape, as well as Senegal, Niger, Namibia and Angola. It occupies sandy soils or stony volcanic sometimes, up to 2100 m altitude. It is mainly grown as bonsai inside Europe. Adenium is an ornamental plant and atypical but it is not hardy.


The trunk is, as in the baobab, fleshy and swollen due to water reserves stored in its fibrous tissues. His broad base called caudex, can reach several meters in circumference. The light gray smooth bark reflects sunlight offering protection against the scorching heat, while very deep and strong roots allow the plant to anchor itself firmly in the rock.



The Adenium is not hardy and even begins to lose its leaves as soon as the temperature drops below 13 ° C. She will be cultivated in the ground only in the warmer parts of southern Europe (Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece) in a very sheltered location of the wind where the temperature should not drop below 10 ° C during the day.

The soil will be excessively well drained, sandy or stony. Facing south is required. In other European countries, the Adenium has to be cultivated indoors in a slightly heated room in winter so that the temperature never drops below 15 ° C. The Adenium is a tropical plant and as such, supports neither cold nor drafts.



In winter, the normal cycle render the leaves of Adenium yellow before they fall. They grow back in spring.


One can hibernate the plant between 10 and 15 ° C without water, just moisten the substrat once a month, until the buttons or the first leaves are formed. then sprinkle sparingly soon as you feel the touch than the base of the trunk/caudex softens.

You can leave the plant outside in the spring as soon as the night temperature exceeds 10 ° C.



Only water when the soil is dry and make sure your pot does not let water stagnate with roots, it should be well drained and pierced through the bottom.

Never leave water in the saucer.

On plants grown in pots, push your finger deep into the substrate. lIf you feel the soil is dry, water sparingly. Always allow the substrate to dry completely between two inputs.


Reduce watering in winter to allow the plant to put to rest, in order to get flowers in the spring.

You slowly resumes watering in spring, when the leaves begin to open.

To avoid excess water, protect the plant from the rain. It is important not to impose water stress which results to kill the roots. A hearty sprinkling leads to root rot.



Fertilizers provide oligo-elements, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) necessary for the development of a plant.


Cycadenium included granular fertilizer with gradual release in its substrate (also called "slow-release fertilizer"), which have the property to spread nutrients over a period of more than 12 months, depending on the needs of Adenium.


Contributions to liquid fertilizer diluted in irrigation water are necessary essentially when the plant is in full growth period (March to September). Preferably use liquid fertilizer for Cacti or Geraniums. These liquid and soluble fertilizers act quickly and are rapidly absorbed by plants. Their effects are short-lived, it is necessary to make regular contributions,

The frequency of intake obviously depends on the needs of the plant; some are more demanding than others. Starting in autumn, quit all water inputs and fertilizers.


Too much nutrient can cause burns to the roots.


Tip: Sprinkle the substrate slightly with water before the addition of liquid fertilizer.

fertilizer inputs are never made on a dry substrate.



Repotting and surfacing to enrich the substrate

The Adeniums must be placed in a pot sufficiently drilled in its bottom. Add a thick layer of clay pebbles or gravel at the bottom of the container to ensure good drainage.

When the substrate seems exhausted by the plant and the successive waterings, the ideal is to replace it. Repotting should be done in early spring at least every two years.

In case you are unable to handle the pot because of their weight, you can only replace the top few centimeters of soil. This is called surfacing and this process should be done in March or October. The surfacing can be done every year.


Repot in a period of dormancy preferably either in winter or early spring. Feel free to resize the roots when repotting.



The planting medium will necessarily composed of a lightweight blend based on 1/4 of good potting soil, 1/4 of ground limestone garden and 2/4 of river sand. You can also use the substrate for cacti, adding potting soil and sand. (CYCADENIUM uses and sells a substrate specifically manufactured for adeniums)


Exposure & Location

In the summer take out your Adenium in the sunlight, taking care to place it always in the same position relative to the sun (orientation). It is better to place it inside if the temperature may drop below + 10 ° C overnight and also by extended rain time because it does not support the excess moisture.

In winter, the plant can withstand very low temperatures (up to + 5 ° C) for short period of time provided that the soil in the pot remains absolutely dry.

Inside, the Adenium should be exposed to direct light, so just behind glass bay window or porch, if possible facing south.

Caution: Do not place the plant behind a tinted glass or UV glass. Otherwise, the lack of direct light will reflect absence of flowers.

Adenium needs sun all year round, even in winter.


Foliage and Flowers

Remove the faded flowers and leaves progressively because they encourage pests. Flowering

Adenium begins around April / May if conditions suit him and can bloom again in fall. The common colors of the flowers range from pink to dark red often with a lighter heart. White is a hybrid as well as bi-colour flowers such as white lined with bright pink. An Adenium restless in winter will also struggle to bloom. The adenium needs a rest marked by watering less during the hibernation period (November to February).

A well cared-old Adenium can bloom indoors almost throughout the year.


Disease, pest and parasite

Whitish traces on foliage of Adenium betray the presence of mealybugs.

Take them out with a brush dipped in rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol.

This parasite settles when the atmosphere in the room is too dry and high temperature.

Aphids can also invade the plant. Treat the same way. A commercial product against scale insects burn flowers and buttons.



Adenium sap is toxic. As soon as you cut the bark, an abundant toxic latex, transparent or white, flows out. It is recommended to wash hands after taking care of an Adenium.


Growth, size, height

In its natural habitat, the Adenium can be the size of a several meters tree. In a pot, the largest variety rarely exceed 50 cm and its growth will be slow.



The culture of Adenium in bonsai style.

The main pruning is done in March, just after the rest period. Trim the roots and aerial parts for a beautiful structure.


When to prune?

Prune the Adenium in spring.

How to prune?

The size is not necessary but can be used to restore a harmonious shape to the plant as if it were a bonsai. Make sure you have gloves and remember to wash your hands after handling and avoid eye contact.


Frequently encounters problems

The leaves of Adenium tarnish, fade and eventually fall.

CAUSE: Either the lack of direct light plant or the soil is too dry.