Adenium arabicum “Dessert Rose”: Grow and Care

Adenium arabicum or ” Desert Rose” is a deciduous succulent that belongs to the Apocynaceae family.

This plant is native to Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Adenium arabicum is an ideal succulent plant to have indoors. 

The base (caudex) is large, fat and knobby. 

The caudex is an organ that stores all the water and nutrients necessary to survive in times of drought. 

It has a cone-shaped with a smooth gray-green or brown skin.

The stem can be 2 to 5 m high; it is very fleshy, with a swollen base. 

The caudex can be globe to conical with smooth, pale gray-green, brown, or black epidermis.

The branches of this plant are short, usually erect, tortuous, and irregularly spaced across the plant. 

Adenium arabicum contains an abundant sticky, watery white sap, which flows from the stem when it is broken, as well as from other parts of the plant such as leaves, roots, etc.

The leaves are arranged spirally in a terminal rosette, growing at the ends of the branches. 

These leaves fall off during the dry season, fleshy, dark green to bluish-green on the top, and a paler green on the bottom. 

The leaves are 5 to 12 cm long and 2 to 6 cm wide.

The flowers are bisexual, very showy, and are in multiple inflorescences.

The flowers are 2 to 5 cm long, with the outer part 4 to 6 cm in diameter with five petals and wavy margins.

The flowers can be carmine red or pink. The sepals are oval 6-12 mm long, and the pedicel is 5 to 9 mm long.

This plant is capable of flowering throughout the year, even in moderation during winter, but it is a plant that produces more flowers during dry periods, that is, in spring and autumn.

These flowers appear many times long before the leaves on deciduous branches. 

Even for a time, the wreath is adorned only with the beautiful flowers that this plant gives, as new leaves grow under the flowers. 

The flowers open for 2 to 3 days.

The fruit is a twin follicle about 10 to 22 cm long, which resembles a steer’s horns and releases hundreds of seeds. When the fruit ripens, the follicles open on one side, releasing the seeds.

The seeds are cylindrical in shape, long and narrow, about 10 to 14 mm long, and brown in color.

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Adenium arabicum Care

Follow these steps, and you won’t have any issue with your succulent plant.

Illumination

Adenium is a species that should be grown in full sun, although it tolerates growing under filtered sunlight or semi-shade. 

It is important not to have it in total darkness, since in poorly lit places, the plant will lose all its leaves and even die from lack of sunlight.

Substratum

The Adenium must be planted on a substrate with perfect drainage and with the ability to dry quickly.

If you want to keep it in a pot, I recommend a mixture of coarse sand, small stones, and charcoal pieces.

If you want to have the plant directly in the garden, it is best to make a large hole and fill it with one of the substrates mentioned above.

Propagation

Adenium can be propagated both by cuttings and by seeds. 

Either of the two options you choose will be relatively easy to do; you just have to follow the instructions that I leave you below.

Reproduction by cuttings:

If you want to propagate by cuttings, the first thing you should do is take a cutting from the mother plant’s stem about 10 to 15 cm high.

If you want to help the plant spread, you can soak the cutting in rooting hormone for 15 minutes, but only wet the cut area, never the leaves.

Then you must sow the cutting in a pot with a sandy substrate and with good drainage, bury the cutting about 5 cm.

Water the plant every 3-4 days.

Keep the plant in a bright area but without direct sunlight.

When the new plant reaches its first month, you should place it in full sun and protect it from winter’s low temperatures.

You will notice that your plant is doing well when new leaves start to grow.

Reproduction by seeds:

Once you have the seeds spread (with 5 cm of separation between each seed) on a seedbed filled with a mixture of coarse sand, universal substrate and a small amount of organic compost.

Cover the seeds with a light layer of soil but remember it should be light.

Keep the soil moist by watering the seeds every three days. 

It is best to water with a spray bottle and take care that the soil does not puddle to prevent the seeds from rotting.

The best temperature for the seeds to germinate is 28ºC/82°F or more. 

That is why the best time to propagate your Adenium is in summer, never in winter.

When the seeds begin to germinate, you must stop watering them for a period of 20 days; after this time, you must water them every 15 days.

Once the plant has 6 to 10 leaves, the plant is ready to be transplanted into the pot you want it to grow (it can also be directly in the garden). 

Just remember that the pot must have a drainage hole, and wherever you plant your plant, it receives a good amount of daily sun.

Watering

Irrigation is a very important point for the growth of this plant. 

The waterings should be moderate; during the summer and spring, you can water once every 15 days and 1 time a month in winter and fall. 

Also, be aware of always avoiding waterlogging, as this can cause the plant to rot.

Pests or diseases

The main enemy of this plant is the excess humidity that will cause the rotting of its roots and fungi’ appearance. 

That is why it is very important that you take care of the way you water and have a good substrate.

Aphids or mites may also appear that we must control with insecticides.

Fertilization

You can fertilize Adenium during spring and summer with a specific fertilizer for cacti and succulents but in low concentrations. 

You can fertilize once a month during spring and summer.

Temperature

Optimal temperatures for growth must be above 25⁰C/77°F. 

Temperatures below 59°F can cause irreversible damage to the plant, such as root rot.

Transplant

The perfect time to transplant your Adenium is when you notice that your plant’s roots begin to come out through the drainage hole of the pot.

If this is the case, transplant your Adenium into a pot about 3 to 4 cm larger than the previous one.

If the plant is planted directly in the garden, the transplant is not necessary.

The best time to transplant your Adenium is in summer; avoid doing it in winter at all costs; due to low temperatures, the plant can be mistreated.

Pruning

Although pruning your plant is not totally necessary, doing it regularly will help maintain the plant’s health.

It is also good to eliminate (during growth season) the suckers, leaves, and flowers that are withered, dry, or that were attacked by some plague.

All this will avoid the plant getting sick from plagues and will make your succulent look much prettier.