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How to Grow Adenium Obesum

By Willow Sidhe ; Updated September 21, 2017
Adenium obesum flowers

Adenium obesum, more commonly known as desert rose, is a succulent flowering plant native to sub-Saharan Africa and some parts of the Arabian peninsula. The plant thrives in dry climates, but because of its extreme sensitivity to low temperatures, it is most frequently grown in containers. Adenium obesum is easy to care for and produces large, showy flowers in colors from pure white to deep red. They thrive even with occasional neglect, which makes them well-liked houseplants in all hardiness zones.

Choose a shallow planting container slightly larger than the Adenium obesum's current root system. Be careful not to choose a container that is too large, as this can contribute to moisture retention and root rot.

Fill the container with a well-drained soil mix that has been augmented with 1/3 coarse sand or perlite to increase drainage.

Place the plant gently in the center of the container and cover the roots with soil.

Place the Adenium obesum in an area that receives bright, direct sunlight for most of the day, such as an east- or west-facing window. Place the container outdoors when all danger of frost has passed and bring indoors again when temperatures begin to drop in the fall.

Water Adenium obesum only when the top inch of potting soil is dry to the touch. Daily watering may be necessary in the heat of summer. Reduce watering to once per month in fall and winter as the plant enters its rest period. Never allow desert rose to stand in water, as this can cause root rot.

Feed Adenium obesum plants once per week during the growing season using a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Refer to the manufacturer's directions and apply a half-strength dosage at each feeding. Do not fertilize from October through February, when the plant is resting.

Remove any damaged tissue if the plant is accidentally overwatered or if any part becomes squishy to the touch. Use a sharp knife to remove damage and leave a clean margin. Adenium obesum should recover shortly if only a small portion of tissue is removed.

Repot Adenium obesum once every one to two years, moving to a slightly larger container each time until the desired plant size is achieved. Once the desired size is reached, keep the plant pot-bound to discourage further growth.


Things You Will Need

  • Planting container
  • Soil mix
  • Sand or perlite
  • Houseplant fertilizer


  • A mature plant will thrive in a 9-inch pot, although it can grow much larger if allowed.


  • The highly toxic sap of Adenium obesum should not come in contact with skin or severe irritation could occur. Always wear gloves when handling the plant and wash the skin immediately if it comes in contact with the sap.
  • Never expose Adenium obesum plants to temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the leaf tips will be damaged, but the plant will survive. Continuous drops below 40 degrees can kill desert rose.
  • Adenium obesum will not flower and may produce leggy growth if grown in the shade.

About the Author


Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.