Adenium obesum, commonly known as Desert Rose, is widespread and variable in its natural habitat. It occurs in broadband across sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal and Mauritania in the west eastward to Sudan and Kenya. Its variability in nature is reflected by its variability in cultivation. It has a relatively long summer blooming period and can be kept in growth through winter in a warm and bright location. Desert Rose is the most widely available species in cultivation and has been used as one of the parents in many hybrids. The flowers vary in size but are generally about 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. The margins of the petals vary from pink to deep red and gradually fade to white near the throat.
Growing a Desert Rose from seed or cuttings is not hard at all. It simply requires a little knowledge. Young plants from seed have a distinctly fattened caudex, and the plant eventually develops a stout trunk. Rooted cuttings will form a very thick trunk in time.
The real trick to starting Desert Rose seed is fresh seeds. Fresh seeds will have a higher germination rate as well as germinate faster. Purchase your seeds from a reputable dealer or find an owner of a few adult plants who can give them straight from the plants themselves.
Begin starting Desert Rose from seeds by preparing a container with a well-draining growing medium, like a perlite or sand and soil mix. Then, place the seeds in the growing medium, just covering them with the growing medium.
Water from below daily and above once every three days until the seedlings appear. Place the growing tray or container on a heating pad and keep the temperature of the growing medium between 80 and 85 °F (27 and 30 °C).
The seeds should germinate in one week if they are fresh. If the seeds are not fresh, it may take longer (if at all). Once the seedlings appear, water only from below. The seedlings will be large enough to be transplanted into a permanent container in about a month.
While seed propagation is relatively easy, most gardeners have better success growing a Desert Rose from cuttings.
Take a cutting from the tip of a branch. Allow the cutting to dry out for a day or two, then wet the end of the Desert Rose cutting and dip it in the rooting hormone. Stick the cutting into a well-draining growing medium like perlite or sand mixed with soil. Water the cutting daily, making sure the water can drain out of the soil. Use a spray bottle and mist the cutting daily as well.
The cutting should take root in about 2 to 6 weeks.
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