How to Cultivate Adenium

Overview

Adenium is often called "desert rose," but it is not a rose and it thrives in areas other than the desert. Adenium have fat, knobby stems and produce bright, single- or two-colored flowers. Adenium plants grow well in pots in any climate, or outdoors in areas that have mild winters with no freezing. While adenium are often purchased as seedlings, you can cultivate the plants from seed and grow them into mature plants in either a pot or bed.

Cultivating Seeds

Step 1

Fill a 3-inch-diameter pot with a sterile mixture of equal parts peat moss and vermiculite. Alternately, use a cactus soil mix. Water the mixture until it is evenly moist throughout.

Step 2

Peel the pappus, which are hairlike strands, from the seed. Place the cleaned seed into a small bowl filled with a fungicidal seed dust, and coat the seed completely in the fungicide.

Step 3

Sow one adenium seed per pot, planting the seed ¼ inch deep in the potting medium. Cover the pot with a plastic bag and set it in an room whose temperature is 85 degrees F to germinate.

Step 4

Remove the plastic bag once a sprout emerges, usually within seven days. Set the pot in a warm, well-lit window and water it when the top ½ inch of soil begins to feel dry.

Step 5

Transplant the adenium seedlings outdoors or to their permanent pots once the plants have six leaves, usually within one month of germinating. Use a larger, 8- to 10-inch pot or plant the adenium in a well-drained, full-sun garden bed.

Cultivating Mature Adenium

Step 1

Plant adenium in a garden site that receives full sunlight and isn't prone to standing water. Slightly sandy areas of the garden, or areas that are quick-draining but low in soil nutrition, work well for adenium. Alternately, plant the adenium in a pot with at least one drainage hole in bottom.

Step 2

Water mature adenium when the top 1 to 2 inches of soil begins to feel dry. Water potted adenium until the excess water begins draining from the pot. Water garden adenium enough to moisten the top 6 inches of soil.

Step 3

Fertilize adenium for the first three years after planting. Apply a complete soluble fertilizer at the package-recommended rate every two weeks from April through June. Apply a slow-release palm fertilizer at the package rate once in late June and again in August.

Step 4

Apply slow-release palm fertilizer in June and August for plants older than three years. Soluble fertilizer is not necessary for older plants.

Step 5

Move potted plants indoors if temperatures drop below 40 F. Cover garden-planted adenium with burlap or garden fabric covers when temperatures drop below 35 degrees F--though if temperatures regularly drop below 40 F in your area, you should plant the adenium in a pot.

Tips and Warnings

  • Adeniums flower poorly if they do not receive enough sunlight.

Things You'll Need

  • 3-inch pots
  • Peat moss
  • Vermiculite
  • Bowl
  • Fungicide dust
  • Plastic bag
  • 8-inch pot
  • Soluble fertilizer
  • Palm fertilizer
  • Burlap covers

References

  • University of Florida Extension: The Desert Rose (Adenium obesum)
  • Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society: Adeniums
Keywords: cultivating adenium, growing desert rose, caring for adeniums

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.