How To Grow: Adenium Obesum aka Desert Rose Plant

How To Grow: Adenium Obesum aka Desert Rose Plant

Do you want to try something which takes your home’s look a notch up? Or do you want a plant that is mesmerizingly beautiful yet easy to maintain? If the answer to any of the two questions is yes, then getting the Adenium Obesum, aka desert rose, is what will satisfy you. 

The adenium obesum is a type of slow-growing succulent which grows less than 12 inches in one year period. It boasts a succulent, thick stem along with a bewitchingly beautiful desert rose flower that will make you drool over its beauty. This plant belongs to the Apocynaceae genre and is native to Madagascar, Middle East, and Africa. It is the only adenium that can be found widely in cultivation, and hybridized forms with different desert rose flower colors. 

In the article below, we will tell you how to grow this exotic beauty in your home or garden. You will find some other facts about the adenium obesum in the article below. 

Adenium Obesum 

This plant is a popular ornamental plant among the people living in USDA zones of 11 and 12. It is grown as both outdoor and indoor plants for its blooming beauty. 

Botanical Name Adenium Obesum 
Type of PlantSucculent 
Common NameSabi Star, Impala Lily, Desert Rose, and Mock Azalea
Mature Size 3 to 5 feet in width and 3 to 9 feet tall. 
Soil Type Well-Drained and Sandy Soil 
Bloom TimeSummer 
Hardiness Zones 11 to 12 USDA
Sun Exposure Full Sunlight 
pH Of SoilAcidic To Neutral 
Color of Flower Red and Pink
Native Areas Africa and Middle East 
Toxic Toxic for Human and Animals 

Desert Rose Care

When it comes to tending then, the adenium obesum is a simple and easy-to-care plant. However, it does need some finesse. 

In the desert rose plant’s optimum growth, like any other succulent plants, there are two main elements that play a role – regular watering and good sunlight. The plant also prefers consistently high temperatures, so they bloom better in warmer climates. This is why except for the USDA zones of 11 and 12, it is an indoor house plant. 

The desert rose generally blooms during the summer season, faring up with vibrant red and pink flowers. Its leaves are bright green in color, which adds to the beauty of this tree. But during the winters, this plant loses its leaves and flowers and goes dormant. Although we agree that the desert rose is an enticingly beautiful plant, caution is needed with it. The reason is that its sap is highly toxic to both animals and humans both. Thus keep it out of pets and children’s reach. 

Light For Adenium Obesum

The adenium obesum requires environments with full sun for blooming and thriving to its best levels. This is why when you get a desert rose plant for your home, you must choose the spot where it can get an ample amount of sunlight in the day. Some of the best sports in the home where you can keep it include a sunroom or a windowsill. 

If you are living in areas with warmer climates and can grow the desert rose plant outdoors, then also you will need to choose the spit wisely. The best spot for it can be the places where it not get shaded with other taller plants. You must also be careful that the spot should provide slight protection to it from direct noon sun as full noon sun can scorch its leaves. 


Like the name of this plant suggests, the desert rose is used for conditions where the soil is dry naturally and desert conditions. This also holds true when it comes to its love for the warmer temperatures and sunlight. 

The best soil which you can use for these exotic and rare plants is the well-draining gravelly or sandy soil. For the best results, you should also see that the soil you use has a pH level of acidic to neutral. Its levels should hover around 6.0 for the optimum growth of your plant. One thing to remember is that proper drainage in the soil is an essential quality; otherwise, the soggy conditions may harm the roots and stem of this plant. 

Water For Desert Rose

The water needs for the adenium obesum vary from season to season. Its water needs also depend on the temperatures and what time of the year it is. 

For the best results, follow these steps:

  • During the growing season of the desert rose, late springs, or early summers, the soil must be kept a little moist. However, you should be careful not to make the soil saturated. 
  • Before watering again, you must also check on the soil periodically and allow the soil to dry out.
  • Another thing to know is that when watering, make sure that the container in which the plant is standing has proper drainage. It is essential as otherwise, the plant can rot in situations where the soil is too moist. 
  • Using a terracotta or clay pot can be helpful with this plant as they provide ample drainage. 
  • During the winter seasons, these plants in the wild go dormant. So you can reduce the watering cycle drastically, and you will only need to water it once a month. 
  • If you want to find out that whether your adenium plant is fed enough with water or not, you can do a simple thing. All you will need to do is look at the size of its trunk. If the trunk of the plant is swollen in comparison to the size of the plant, then it means it is well-hydrated. 

These are some watering steps that you will be needing to follow for the optimum blooming of your desert rose flower. 

Humidity and Temperature

The desert rose plant needs to be kept in warm environments at all times so it will die. It needs temperatures that exceed 50℉ at all times. If you keep it below the temperature of 50℉ for a long period, then the plant will die out. 

The desert rose plant dies when kept in temperatures ranging between 65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In case you have planted your adenium obesum outdoors, then it will not be surviving any kind of frost that occurs during the winter and fall months. So you will need to bring it indoors during these months. When it comes to humidity, it is not an essential thing for these exotic plants as they are well used to the hot and dry climate of the desert. 


To give your exotic beauty an additional dose of nutrients and increase the chances of more desert rose flower blooming, you can use fertilizers. 

The best fertilizers which you can use for the adenium obesum are liquid fertilizers, but remember to dilute them to half. You will need to provide this plant with nutrients once a month during its growth months. Never go for fertilizing this plant during its dormant season like winters. 

Propagating The Adenium Obesum 

You can propagate the desert rose plant in the following ways:

  • You can propagate the plant using branch cuttings. However, using this method may not lead to the development of the highly desired characteristics in the plant. The bulbous stem is also absent in plants that are propagated using branch cuttings. 
  • Another way you can use for the propagation is using its roots. For it, plant it into a small container, and this will allow the exposure of its roots. Once you see the exposure use the roots for propagating into another new plant. 

These are two methods by which you can propagate the adenium obesum plant. 

Repotting The Adenium Obesum 

For repotting of the desert rose plant, follow these steps:

  • You can repot this plant as you need, prefer the repotting during the warm seasons for the best results. 
  • One thing to remember with the desert rose, or any kind of succulent, is that make sure the soil is completely dry.
  • Once you are sure of the soil, gently remove the plant from its pot.
  • After it, knock off the previous old soil from roots and while doing this, make sure that you also remove any dead or rotted roots. 
  • If you see any cuts in this plant’s roots, then treat them using an antibacterial solution. You can also use a fungicide solution for it. 
  • Now place the plant in the new pot and go backfilling the pot using potting soil. During this process, spread the roots of the plant. 
  • After repotting these indoor trees, don’t water them for at least a week. After a week, begin watering it, but go for slight watering. 
  • The one week’s gap after repotting for watering is essential as it helps in the prevention of root rotting. 

These are some of the steps which you need to follow for repotting the adenium obesum. 

Is Adenium Obesum A Toxic Plant?

The desert rose is not a good pick if you have pets or young children in your home. The varietal is famous for being very dangerous because of its milky sap, which possesses lethal l toxins. In fact, the desert rose sap was used in the African continent for poisoning the arrows. 

All the adenium plant parts are toxic, including its stem, roots, flowers, and leaves. The toxin of this plant can make animals instantly sick even by just licking the plant. In case an animal or pet comes in contact with the sap of this plant, immediately contact the emergency services. Humans should also take care, especially when working with the desert rose plant. Always wear gloves when you work with the adenium obesum. 

In case you come in contact with the sap of this plant, immediately wash off your hands using soap. If any symptoms persist even after washing off the sap, then contact poison control for treatment. 

Poisoning Symptoms

The symptoms of desert rose sap poisoning occur after a period of 12 to 36 hours if you are exposed. Its common symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Throat sores
  • Dilated pupils
  • Weakness
  • A low temperature of the body
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Diarrhea

If you see any of these symptoms after coming in contact with the desert, rose then contact the emergency poison service. 

These are some of the adenium obesum care and growth tips that you must know for optimum results. The good thing about this variety is that it is a suitable option if you have a busy schedule as it doesn’t require much watering and care. All you need to do is look out for any poisonous effects from this plant. However, they are something that will be occurring only if you are careless with your plant. 

Other than the adenium obesum, there are also other varieties of the desert rose plant available in the mallet, which you can try. The good thing about most of the varieties is that they are easily available and will not let you down when it comes to beauty. 

Different Varieties of Desert Rose

If you want to try something more than the adenium obesum varieties of the desert rose, then you can also go for its other varieties. Some of the deserts rose varieties are:

  • Adenium Arabicum
  • Adenium Swazicum
  • Adenium Boehmianum
  • Adenium Socotranum
  • Adenium Multiflorum
  • Adenium Somalense
  • Adenium Oleifolium
  • Adenium Crispum
  • Adenium Arizona

These are some of the attractive varieties of desert rose which you can try for your home. The good thing about all these varieties is that they are equally beautiful and easy to care for. So, you can get any of these varieties if you want something unique, exotic, and mesmerizingly beautiful for your home. 

The Adenium Obesum, Adenium multiflorum, and the Adenium Arqabicum are the three most popular varieties of this plant. These three varieties of this plant are considered to be the most beautiful among all the available options. 


The adenium obesum is a popular variety of the desert rose plant, which is famous for its mesmerizing beauty and low maintenance needs. 

If you want indoor trees or plants which take your home’s curb appeal to the next level, then getting the adenium obesum plants is best. The good thing about the desert rose plants is that they are well used to dry situations, so you don’t need to have a watering schedule for them. This makes them a good option if you have a busy schedule. 

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Jatin Choudhary

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