Adenium Plant – Desert Rose Plant

Adenium plant, or the desert rose, is a tiny succulent tree native to Arabia and Africa. It’s one of the most popular flowering bonsai tree in India. It has fleshy leaves and develops a bulbous base. The plant yields white and pink or red flowers if it receives adequate sunlight.Ā 

About Adenium Plant

Adenium Bonsai is incredibly famous as an ornamental plant and is rarely seen as a bonsai. Your Adenium plant can grow up to be healthy and vigorous if you offer it the desired care and the right conditions. The plant is flexible and adapts easily to growing in a pot. This makes it a good pick for a bonsai. If you successfully mimic the native and regional conditions, your Adenium plant will yield a bundle of rose-like blooms. In the colder winter months, the plant tends to drop the leaves, but not so much in tropical climates. Please bear in mind, the Adenium plantā€™s milk sap is not edible and is poisonous. 

adenium plant
Adenium Plant

Different Types of Adenium plant 

Here is a quick rundown of the different species of the Adenium plant. 

Adenium Obesum

Adenium obesum is prevalent and widespread, especially in its natural habitat. You can find this plant in a broad band spread across sub-Saharan Africa. So, right from Kenya and Sudan to Senegal, the Adenium obesum plant is found in abundance. The plant has a more extended summer blooming period, and it can thrive through winter in a bright and warm location. The Adenium obesum is a prevalently available species in cultivation and is often included as one of the parents in several hybrids. There are so many varieties in the flowers of the Adenium obesum, especially in size. More so, the trunk of the plant is very fat in size. This variable species is found mainly in the north of the equator. It further extends to Ethiopia, the island of Socotra, the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia in the north and extends to Tanzania in the south. Many varieties of Adenium Obesum are also found in western tropical Africa and southern Sahara. A bunch of the species, which are today included under this head, were once separate species. Several subspecies are recognized. These succulent deciduous shrubs are about one to four meters tall.  

Adenium Multiflorum

In comparison to adenium obesum, Adenium multiflorum is quite different. It has a relatively slender trunk and takes about three to four months to bloom in winters sans a leaf. This Adenium plant has a plethora of flowers and is indeed one of the most striking species from the whole group. The plant is prevalent in eastern Swaziland, South Africa’s eastern Limpopo and Mpumalanga, and northern KwaZulu-Natal. It is also found in Zimbabwe and Mozambique and extends further into western and eastern tropical Africa to Zambia and Malawi. This one is also one of the more attractive species of the Adenium plant. It is a deciduous thick-stemmed shrub, which is about three meters tall. The flowering time for this variant of the Adenium plant is from May to August. 

Adenium Swazicum

 This variant of the Adenium plant hails from Swaziland. You can also find it in large numbers in Mozambique and South Africa. It has uniform flowers and varies in color from pinkish-purple to deep pink to pale. The blooming season for this plant is restricted to only a few months. The stems tend to droop, particularly in plants, which receive a lot of shade. The larger variants have giant roots and thicker trunks. When it is a tiny shrub, it is only about 650 mm tall. It comes with a succulent, buried, and large stem. The stem of this Adenium plant produces many greenish-white or dirty grey branches. Its leaves, too, are tapering, long, and smooth. They are mostly folded and appear more expansive at the apex as compared to the base. More so, the midrib is more prominent underneath the leaves. Do you know what distinguishesAdenium Swazicum from Adenium multiflorum? The upper portion on corolla’s inside, which is hairy and not smooth, the flowers, which mostly appear before the leaves (in swacizum) and the petal’s dark border. As far as cultivation goes, this is the second most famous Adenium plant, after adenium obesum. 

Adenium Somalense

The next Adenium plant species is the Adenium somalense. This plant hails from Tanzania, Kenya, and Somalia south. In the nearby areas of Kenya and Somalia, the plant is usually seen as a small tree. The maximum height it reaches there are 15 feet with a giant swollen trunk. In the rest of the areas, this Adenium plant species is a little more shrubby and very similar to adenium obesum. It has smaller flowers, but they too are like adenium obesum. It is only in Adenium arabicumandAdenium socotranum that there are larger cauxdexes. The flowers are relatively small, especially, given the plant’s size. The plant’s most distinguished characters are the leaves’ light-colored veins, conical caudex, and the nectar guides, which extend onto the petal bases.

Another thing that you need to know is that this species is intolerant of the cold. If the temperature goes lower than 50Ā° F (10Ā° C) for weeks at length, it can cause the roots’ rotting. For his reason, and for its giant size, it is not very prevalent in cultivation.  

Adenium Crispum

This adenium plant bonsai species is usually found in a sandy soil band in proximity to southern Somalia’s coast. The fusiform caudex is subterranean in nature. A good chunk of the root system arises from near the top of the caudex. During the cultivation, the caudex is elevated above the soil level. The good thing is caudex is pretty much capable of rerooting from the bottom. The stems are thin and never really exceed over a foot. Its small flowers are hugely distinctive and act as the best identifier. Usually, the clones come with white quilt petals along with red lines extending from the throat to the margins. A few of them have flat petals, while some even have red petals. It is just as sensitive to cold as adenium somalense. It is just as intolerant to humid and hot conditions. This is why it is not cultivated widely regardless of the compact size and beautiful flowers.

Adenium Boehmianum

Adenium Bonsai’s most western species is the Adenium boehmianum. It hails from southern Angola and northwestern Namibia. This is a relatively slow-growing species, and it takes a couple of years before it starts flowering. Usually, the flowers are of a uniform pale. This species of the Adenium Bonsai appears to be related to Adenium swazicum. However, it is mostly found on southern Africa’s other side, primarily in Southern Angola and Namibia. This one is an erect shrub with modestly fat roots and succulent stems. Its leaves are the largest in the genus. The flowers are primarily circular in outline and thrive mainly from late summer into early winters.  

Adenium Socotranum

Of the different Adenium plant species, this one is quite rare. It is native to the secluded island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean south of the Arabian peninsula. It is also found in the east of the Horn of Africa in Yemen’s vicinity in small numbers. It is the group’s giant and has massive trunks, which are about 15 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter. Even though Adenium socotranum can be found in thousands in nature, there are very few of them, which are available for cultivation. The seed is rarely available from the plants, which are in cultivation. It is endemic to Soqotra island and is widely different from the other species, except the Oman form, in its relatively smaller growing season. It is only rare for the plant to leaf out before mid-summer, and it yields stem growths for only a few weeks. You may see the pink flowers for a few weeks during the spring, but the plant is mainly leafless. Its giant size, remote location, and unavailability in the trade is the reason why it is considered the holy grail of adeniums.  

Adenium Arabicum

 This variety of adenium plant bonsai hails from the Arabian Peninsula. It is particularly found in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The plant found in Saudi Arabia is pretty giant and goes up to approximately 12 feet. It is very similar to Adenium somalense. There is another form of Adenium Arabicum, which is quite low and has a bit of a reclining stem, which branches from a spherical basal caudex, which can be about 3 feet in diameter. These plants proliferate and develop giant caudexes in just a few years. 

Adenium Oleifolium

Last on our list for the Adenium plant species is the Adenium Oleifolium. It is one of the smaller species of this Adenium plant bonsai. The plant has an underground caudex, and a few stems, which are about two feet tall. This plant hails from southern Botswana’s Kalahari Desert, and northern Namibia, and South Africa, and one is a slow thriving species and has fairly few and smaller flowers. Its branches are densely pubescent when they are young, but they become glabrous as they grow. Its olive-green leaves are very narrow and long, and the plant is crowded at the branches’ tips. It is the smallest species in the whole genus.  

Adenium plant care

The adenium plant care is quite simple and straightforward. However, it does require a bit of finesse. Like the several plants in the succulent family, there are two key elements in successfully growing an Adenium plant. For thriving well, the plant requires regular watering and a lot of sunlight. More so, the plant requires a persistently warm temperature. This is the reason why in several parts of the US, except for the USDA zones 11 and 12, this is an indoor plant. Typically, the plant blooms during the warmer months and erupts with vibrant red and pink flowers and bright green leaves before it loses both and goes dormant during the winters. Of course, the Adenium plant is stunning, but it does come with a bit of caution. Its sap is toxic, and you must exercise due adenium plant care to keep the plant away from your child or dog’s reach.


 Adenium Bonsai thrives well in a full sun environment. Thus, it is recommended for you to pick a spot in your home to house the plant. In this manner, the plant will get adequate light all around the day, just like a bright sunroom or a windowsill. For people who reside in an area where the Adenium plant can be grown outdoors, you should choose a spot in the garden, which is not shaded by the more prominent and bushier plants and offers the plant a good shield from the sharp sun rays during the sun. The bright sun can damage the plantā€™s leaves. 


As is clear from the name, the Adenium plant or the desert rose is more inclined to desert-like and dry conditions. It holds even for the plantā€™s love for warmer and light temperature, as well as its need for the gravelly or sandy soil, which is well-draining. The soil must boast a neutral to acidic pH, at about 6.0. 


Adenium plant bonsai has different needs when it comes to water, and it mostly depends on the time of the year and the temperature. During the growing season, that is, during summer and late spring, the Adenium plantā€™s soil must be kept moist. However, do ensure that you do not end up saturating the soil. Further, for proper adenium plant care, you need to keep a check on the soil periodically. Do ensure that it dries out completely before exposing it to another round of watering. Additionally, you need to ensure that your Adenium Bonsai is planted in a vessel, which has a bunch of drainage holes, as it is vulnerable to rotting in case it gets too moist. You can pick a terracotta or a clay pot to help you with the surplus moisture. 

You need to be extra cautious with the adenium plant care in the winter and the fall months. During these months, the plant typically goes dormant in the wild. This may lower the moisture dramatically. In this case, watering minimally, maybe once a month, will also suffice. In case you wish to ascertain whether your plant is getting adequate water during the growing season, you can take a look at the trunk to get this answer. If the trunk looks thick and swollen in proportion to the plantā€™s size, then it means that your plant is very well-hydrated. 

Temperature and Humidity

For the Adenium Bonsai to thrive, you need to keep it in warm temperatures at all times. If the plant is continually exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant will die quickly. The adenium plant thrives best in temperatures ranging between 65 and 90 degrees. When you plant your Adenium Bonsai outdoors, you need to be aware that it may not quite survive the frost, which the winter or the fall months bring. Your adenium plant does not quite like the humidity. It is mainly used to the hot, dry climate, which the desert offers. 


The adenium plant fertilizer is needed for the proper growth of the plant. It gives your adenium plant an additional dose of nutrients. More so, with the use of a good adenium plant fertilizer, there is a better chance of seeing more adenium flowers. The perfect adenium plant fertilizer will be a liquid fertilizer (NPK 19:19:19) diluted by half. You can use it once a month, especially during the active growth period. However, we would not recommend you fertilize the plant during the dormant period.  

Is Adenium Plant toxic?

For people who live in a home that has young children and pets, the adenium plant may not be the right pick for you. This variant of bonsai can be particularly dangerous because of its milky sap, which has in it lethal toxins. You may not know, but back in time, these were used in poison arrows for hunting in Africa. Unfortunately, all parts, that is, the roots, leaves, trunk, stem, and flowers, of the Adenium Bonsai, are toxic. Your pets can be instantly sickened simply by licking the plant once. If an animal or a pet comes in direct contact with the desert roseā€™s sap, you need to contact your petā€™s vet for immediate damage control immediately. Also, when you work with your plant, you need to wear gloves. After you are done, wash your hands with soap and water, especially if you touch the sap. 

The benefit of having Adenium plant at home

  1. Generally speaking, the adenium plant is widely developed because of its spectacular tree shapes and the bonsai shapes. Adenium Bonsai is also very beautiful, which adds to its popularity as a houseplant. 
  2. Adenium also has the advantage of being a native, which is colorful, long-flowering, and drought tolerant. Its low water requirement makes ensuring the right adenium plant care very easy and effortless. The primary problem that a lot of people have with the adenium plant is that they tend to overwater it at times. It can be avoided by planting the plant as a container plant and keeping it in full sun. The good thing about Adenium Bonsai is that it can thrive well in both conditions. At times, it is planted as a live fence, and the wood is at times used as fuel. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is planting Adenium Bonsai a good idea for home planters?

    Yes,Ā the adenium plantĀ is an excellent home plant. You can plant it in a container, and in only a few days, you will start seeing theĀ adenium flowers.Ā For thriving, the plant needs to be placed in a place where it receives approximately four to six hours of direct sunlight.

  2. Why should you graft Adenium?

    You can consider grafting theĀ adenium plantĀ if you want different coloredĀ adenium flowersĀ on one plant. There is no surprise that the grafted plants will yieldĀ adenium flowersĀ faster than the plants, which are grown via theĀ adenium plant seeds.

  3. When should you prune Adenium in India?

    TheĀ adenium plantĀ pruning must be done at the end of the month of February.

  4. How can you make Adenium bloom?

    The amount ofĀ adenium flowersĀ you see has a lot to do with the pruning. So, if you prune theĀ adenium plantĀ well in the blooming cycle, the plant will grow well. After the limb is done with the blooms, you can cut it down above two to three inches above the fork that is connected to and add fertilizer, which has a high potassium and phosphorus content in it. It will encourage the formation of large flowers and buds. When the plant is in its flowering season, the degree of water should be less.Ā 

  5. Which adenium plant fertilizer should you use?

    The bestĀ adenium plant fertilizerĀ is the one that is rich in phosphorus and organic nitrogen. You can use theĀ adenium plant fertilizerĀ during the summer months, from March to June.Ā You can use NPK 19:19:19 or Slow Release Bonsai Fertilizer

  6. Is Adenium a cactus?

    No, yourĀ adenium plantĀ is not a cactus. In fact, it is succulent.Ā 

  7. Why are there no adenium flowers on my plant?

    At times, your plant may not bloomĀ adenium flowers.Ā It could be because of a couple of reasons. So, if you have just recently re-potted theĀ adenium plant, you will not see anyĀ adenium flowers,Ā especially in the ongoing season. This happens because the plant directs the energy into developing the roots instead of yielding blooms. In case yourĀ adenium plantĀ does not get adequate sunlight, in that case, too, you may not see anyĀ adenium flowers.Ā Further, when you leave the plant to stand in the soggy water or soil, the plant will stop blooming. More so, a poorly drained soil, too, can hamper the growth of theĀ adenium flowersĀ as the roots tend to die.

  8. When will my plant bloom and produce adenium flowers?

    TheĀ adenium flowersĀ usually bloom in the summer season, that is, from March to June.Ā 

  9. Can I place my Adenium plant indoors?

    Yes, most definitelyĀ adenium plantĀ can be kept in an indoor location, such as a sunny window or a sunny balcony. Regardless of where you place the plant, do ensure that it gets about four to six hours of direct sunlight.Ā 

  10. Are the adenium plants poisonous?

    Yes, all theĀ adenium plantsĀ are toxic. They must thus be kept away from pets and kids.Ā 

  11. Who do the Adenium leaves turn yellow?

    TheĀ adenium plants’ leavesĀ turn yellow probably because of the overwatering, underwatering, insufficient light, disease infestation, and cold temperature.Ā 

  12. Is Adenium a bonsai plant?

    No, Adenium is not a bonsai. It is only a plant, which looks like a bonsai.Ā 

  13. When should you re-pot your Adenium plant?

    When yourĀ Adenium plantĀ outgrows the pot it is in, or the roots tend to come out of the drainage holes, you need to re-pot the plant. For this, you can use someĀ adenium plant fertilizer,Ā along with fresh potting soil.Ā 

  14. Is Adenium a succulent?

    Ā Yes, your adenium plant is succulent.Ā