The Desert Rose Plant aka Adenium Obesum Is Just Amazing

Follow a complete review of the desert rose plant below; including its ability to be grown as a bonsai, growing and caring guide, common pests, and diseases associated with it.

By: THURSD. | 06-04-2024 | 7 min read
Indoor Plants Outdoor Plants
Desert rose plant

Adenium Obesum, commonly known as the Desert Rose Plant is a very elegant and captivating succulent plant, native to Africa, and the Middle East. It is distinctive due to its striking blooms, which come in different color ranges; red, pink, white, yellow, and golden among others.

Additional names for the Adenium Obesum include;

Desert rose plant has a thick succulent caudex or trunk, which is essentially a water storage tool. If its caudex is thin that is an indication that your plant is underwatered. Depending on your location, the desert rose can be grown either outdoors or as a houseplant. However, it prefers warmer temperatures between USDA zones 11-12 and is highly susceptible to frost and cooler temperatures. You can learn more about Caudex plants here: 'Caudex Wonders - Exploring the Fascinating World of Caudex Plants'.


Adenium Obesum


Despite being an easy plant to grow and care for; Adenium Obesum can be unforgiving if you exposed it to cold temperatures, overwater it, and deny access to at least six hours of bright sunlight. Spring is the ideal season to grow your desert rose plant, grow it indoors if you are in a cooler region and outdoors if you experience temperatures of 40 degrees F and above. Did you know this plant is also a favorite Desert Plant?

Follow a complete review of the desert rose plant below; including its ability to be grown as a bonsai, growing and caring guide, common pests, and diseases associated with it.

Desert Rose Plant as a Bonsai

Despite Adenium Obesum being popular as an ornamental plant, interestingly with the right bonsai growing techniques, the desert rose plant can be grown as a bonsai plant. For all the bonsai plant lovers; the desert rose plant seems like a good bargain with its array of blooms due to its ability to be hybridized, this plant will bring character and texture to your space.

Due to its ease of growing and its blooms and the canopy shape formed by its greenery at the top, manipulating a desert rose plant into a bonsai can be easily achieved. The downside of growing desert rose as a bonsai plant is unlike other bonsai trees, you will not get a ramified branch structure from it and the plant easily shades off its leaves during winter.

Learn more about the desert rose plant as a bonsai and other bonsai here


Adenium Obesum
Picture by @Suman Parige


Growing and Caring Guide for a Desert Rose Plant

Whether you are a seasoned or beginner gardener and houseplant parent, growing a desert rose plant is effortless. The following basics are a must-have for your desert rose plant to fully grow and eventually give you those beautiful flowers.


Desert rose plant aka Adenium obesum
Picture by @Easy Gardening



 A well-drained soil is perfect for growing your Adenium Obesum plant; sandy or cactus soil is a great choice. To enhance optimal results, keep your soil PH neutral to acidic levels, making it a minimum of PH 6. Given that desert rose plant prefers minimal moisture, a poorly drained soil, leads to waterlogging and root rot, which in turn affects its growth.

Temperatures and Humidity

Quick tip; your desert rose plant will die easily if exposed to freezing temperatures below 40 degrees F. Contrarily, your desert rose will thrive when grown in warmer temperatures between 50-90 degrees F. Keep in mind the fluctuations in temperatures in your location, this knowledge will come in handy when deciding whether to grow your plant indoors or outdoors.

Given that desert rose plant is well accustomed to dry climatic conditions, humidity is not crucial but keeping it low as much as possible is highly recommendable.


Adenium Obesum
Picture by @ Guia Rosas do Deserto Oficial



Excessive watering can easily kill your desert rose plant! Having well-drained soil mentioned earlier is crucial to managing the watering of the Adenium Obesum. During the growing seasons (spring and summer), increase the watering rate slightly but ensure to check how moist the soil is before adding more water.

Reduce watering during the winter, mainly because the plant goes into dormancy. Watering once a month is important to protect your desert rose plant from any root rot and eventual death. Check regularly the size of the trunk to ascertain if you are giving your plant sufficient water, a thick caudex is a positive sign, while a thin one means your desert rose plant is water deficient.


Exposing your plant to bright sunlight to a tune of at least six hours a day is crucial to enhance its growth. If you are growing the desert rose plant in your garden, ensure there are no taller plants that can provide undesired shade, while also protecting it from the scorching noon sun.

To give enough sunlight to your plant indoors; identify a location in your house that receives adequate sunlight throughout the day; keep your Adenium Obesum there.


Application of fertilizer during the growing season is vital to stimulate the growth of your plant. Applying a liquid fertilizer once every month is pivotal and can immensely contribute to the healthy growth of your desert rose plant and blooming at the right time.

Application of fertilizer during winter or dormant periods is highly discouraged to avoid causing any harm to your plant.

Repotting a Desert Rose Plant

Consider repotting your Adenium Obesum plant when it is root-bound. In case you do not wish your desert rose plant to grow further, then you don't have to repot as this slows down continuous growth. However, for repotting ensure you follow the following procedure to avoid any damage to the roots or the entire plant.


Desert Rose Plant
Picture by @ Bruno Ferreira


Repot the plant towards the end of winter or the beginning of the spring season; wait until the soil dries out completely. Gently remove the plant from the container, when the soil fully dries up, it makes it easy to detach the plant from the container. Get rid of any soil stuck between the roots and carefully check for any sign of root rot or already dead roots, using sterilized secateurs cut them off before placing the plant in a new spacious container.

Once repotted do not impulsively water your desert rose plant, give it a few days to fully dry and adjust to the new container before resuming with watering it.

Common Pests and Diseases Associated with Adenium Obesum

Just like most desert plants, desert rose plants are hardy; thus they are resistant to most pests and diseases. However, in some cases; scales, mealybugs, and spider mites are most of the common pests which can be found in your plant. Rubbing the affected leaves and stem surfaces with alcohol and sometimes washing them with soapy water should get rid of the above pests.

Though pests and diseases are not a major issue when it comes to the desert rose plant; water can be a detrimental effort especially when the plant receives excess water. Often, when it is overwatered, the plant is weakened, giving pests and diseases favorable conditions to attack your beautiful Adenium Obesum plant.

Common signs to look for regarding overwatering your plant include; Leaf dropping and yellowing. In most cases, the damage can be alleviated by cutting out rotten roots and repotting immediately but in case of any further delay, the plant will be lost.


Adenium Obesum
Picture by @ Angelika Sverdrup


Additional issues include Powdery Mildew infestation, which is common when a desert rose plant is designed as a bonsai plant, when the leaves and stems bunch up it tends to create a suitable habitat for powdery mildew. Sprinkle some water or fungicide to manage and get rid of the infestation but the creation of spacing between the stems and leaves is necessary.

Toxicity of Adenium Obesum

Being a member of the dogbane family, the desert rose plant produces a milky sap, which can be extremely poisonous to pets and humans. In Africa desert rose plant's sap was used to poison hunting arrows, this is mainly because of the cardiac glycosides it contains, which is the main chemical used in poisoning arrows.

When handling your Adenium Obesum plant, be careful to avoid the sap coming in contact with your skin, which can lead to skin irritation. Always keep your gloves to protect yourself from the desert rose plant's sap toxicity.

Adenium Obesum; the desert rose plant is an enchanting ornamental with alluring blooms, distinctive caudex, and intriguing adaptability to arid conditions and even indoor growing. The Desert Rose plant's unique features and majorly its vibrant color palettes have created a lot of traction for this plant from all plant lovers globally. Through the provision of the highlighted caring needs above, you can enjoy the beauty of this remarkable succulent, whether growing it as a houseplant outdoors in your garden.


How many colors of desert rose plant are there?

Desert rose plant has trumphet-shaped flowers, which comes in different colors, ranging from; white, red, purple and pink. These colors are possible because Adenium Obesum can be hybridized to breed different varieties with the colors mentioned above.

Does Adenium Obesum do well as an Indoor or Outdoor plant?

Desert rose plant can be planted both indoors and outdoors depending on the existing climate. Grow a desert rose plant indoors if you live in a cooler environment but outdoors if the temperatures range from 40 degrees F and above.

How long does a desert rose plant last?

Adenium Obesum is a slow-growing succulent and can last for decades whether grown indoors or outdoors. Typically desert rose plant grows 12 inches annually and if you are satisfied with its height do not repot but allow it to be root-bound to slow its growth.



Can't get enough?

Subscribe to the
newsletter, and get
bedazzled with awesome
flower & plant updates