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How to Grow and Care for a Desert Rose (Adenium obesum)


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 Desert Rose sap 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.

Growing Conditions

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.

Grow and Care Desert Rose (Adenium obesum)

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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 it from the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots and 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.

Grower's Tips

Desert Rose is not a difficult plant to grow well provided they get enough sunlight and warmth. Like all succulents, it 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.



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