Desert Rose Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Adenium Obesum”

Our Guide to Desert Rose plants for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting & caring for “Adenium Obesum"
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If you’re looking for an attractive but also easy-to-care-for plant, we have a great one for you – the Desert Rose a.k.a Adenium Obesum.

Adenium Obesum, or better known as the Desert Plant, is a slow-growing ornamental succulent that is a must-have in any novice grower’s garden. This tropical plant is very low maintenance, despite looking really unique. Caring for it basically requires two very important things: a sunny location and well-draining soil.

If you can provide your Desert Rose with that, it’s going to be a great focal point in your garden!

This succulent thrives across the US, in zones 10, 11, and 12. Growers living in cooler zones can grow the Desert Rose as well, but only indoors. They can, however, move the plant outdoors during the hot season. The good news is that it doesn’t matter whether you grow your Adenium Obesum indoors or outdoors. In both scenarios, this succulent will enhance your space with its blooming beauty.

Ready to learn more about growing and caring for the Desert Rose? Keep reading below!

About The Desert Rose

  • The botanical name of the Desert Rose plant is Adenium Obesum. This succulent is also known by names like Mock Azalea, Sabi Star, Kudu, Impala Lily, and Dwarf Bottle Tree.
  • Adenium Obesum belongs to the family of Apocynaceae.
  • Native to the deserts of Africa and the Middle East, it’s no surprise that the Desert Rose is a tropical plant that loves warm climates.
  • As mentioned above, if you are lucky enough to live in zone 10, 11, or 12 areas, you can enjoy your Desert Rose as a garden plant. If you live in a colder area, grow your Desert Rose as an indoor plant. Just keep in mind that tropical-like growing conditions are necessary for this succulent to thrive.
  • Wherever you grow it, know that the Desert Rose won’t give you a hard time if you pay attention to its basic requirements. We promise you that all the hard work to provide it with everything it needs will pay off in the blooming season.
  • To best imitate its native growing conditions, ensure that you provide your Desert Rose with a lot of sunlight. Choose the sunniest spot in your garden or home and place the plant there. Exposure to enough sunlight is among the most essential things it needs.
  • Besides full sunlight, the Desert Rose plant needs temperatures up to 90°F (32 °C). If it is exposed to temperatures below 40°F (4°C) for too long, the succulent will not survive.
  • Another essential need this succulent has is well-draining soil. Like most succulents, the Desert Rose is very sensitive to root rot if the soil doesn’t allow excess water to pass through it. Make sure the soil provides good drainage and won’t keep the plant in soggy soil.
  • Adenium Obesum is very toxic and poisonous to humans and animals. Whether you grow your succulent indoors or outdoors, make sure that you place it somewhere out of your kids’ and pets’ reach. Desert rose ingestion can give symptoms like reduced heart rate, lethargy, low blood pressure, dizziness, and stomach problems. The sap of the plant is also poisonous when it touches the skin, causing severe skin irritation.
  • The Desert Rose has the same problem with pests that most succulents have. More precisely, it is often attacked by sap-sucking insects such as aphids, scales, and spider mites. These pests literally suck the life out of the succulent. To protect it from pest infestation, you can use insecticidal soaps or pick the insects from the plant in mild infestation cases.
Desert Rose
Desert Rose

The Desert Rose: An Overview

  • The Desert Rose is a slow-growing tropical succulent. It typically only grows about 12 inches (30 cm) every year.
  • This succulent can reach heights of 3 to 9 feet (91- 274 cm) and 3 to 5 feet (91- 152 cm) wide when reaching maturity.
  • Unlike other succulents that have swollen leaves used to preserve moisture, the Desert Rose develops a caudex or swollen trunk, which it uses as a water storage system.
  • As the succulent ages, the swollen trunk or caudex divides, gaining the appearance of a buttress. This is the reason why many people believe that the Desert Rose resembles a bonsai tree.
  • The Desert Rose also features a succulent stem from which the branches grow.
  • During summer, which is the blooming season of this plant, Adenium Obesum produces deep pink flowers that resemble the trumpet shape.

Growing the Desert Rose

Taking care of a Desert Rose plant is simple. But it does require you to provide the plant with some basic growing conditions that mimic the climate and elements of its native location.

Generally, there are two key things that a desert rose needs to grow healthy and happy: plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil.

Let’s discuss its lighting needs – remember to choose the sunniest spot in your garden or home to place this succulent. It really doesn’t matter if you grow it inside or outdoors as long as the plant can have full sun. We recommend choosing a spot where your succulent will get at least 5-6 hours of full sun daily.

If you live in a cooler area and you grow the plant indoors, it’s best to give it a summer vacation during the hot season by taking it outdoors for as long as the weather is warm.

Fertilizing your Desert Rose is also important to help it grow healthy and encourage more flowers to bloom in summer. Feed your succulent with a liquid fertilizer, diluted by half, once a month during summer, the active growth period. Never fertilize a Desert Rose during the dormant period, in winter.

Adenium Obesum
Adenium Obesum

When it comes to pruning your Desert Rose, you can do it when needed. But keep in mind that it is best to avoid pruning the succulent in late fall as this may promote new growth in the plant, which can make it sensitive to cold weather damage.

The best time to prune a Desert Rose is right before its active growth period and blooming season. This way, you’ll encourage more branches to grow, which will also lead to a more abundant blooming.

Planting the Desert Rose

Planting a Desert Rose requires you to keep in mind the same essential growing needs it has to develop into a healthy and happy plant. These needs include a lot of sunlight, well-draining soil, and warm temperatures.

Keep in mind that this succulent needs a lot of sunlight to thrive. It is a tropical native plant, so it makes perfect sense that it loves the sun. If you choose to plant it in your garden, find the sunniest spot in your outdoor space to place it. If you plan to grow this succulent indoors, move the container next to a window that allows a lot of sunlight to come inside your home.

Desert Rose plants prefer to grow in sandy, well-draining soil. Again, this is not a surprise considering where it comes from. The plant is used to grow in naturally dry soil, and it is also not used with significant amounts of water. Thus, make sure that the soil allows good drainage. To improve drainage, you can mix the soil with sand or pebbles yourself. This will allow the excess water to pass through.

Last but not least, remember that the Desert Rose loves warm temperatures. This succulent thrives in areas with temperatures that go up to 90°F (32 °C). If you live in an area with such hot temperatures all year-round, you can plant your Adenium Obesum in your garden without worries. If you live in cooler climates, plant it in a container that can be moved indoors over the cold months.

2 Desert Roses, Adenium Obesum one Year Plant, From Amazon

Watering the Desert Rose

The watering needs of your Desert Rose can depend on the time of the year and the climate you live in.

Generally, this succulent prefers to be kept in moist soil but never soggy. It is sensitive to root rot which is precisely why it needs its soil to provide good drainage.

To keep its soil moist, you have to water it regularly. How regularly? That depends on how hot or cool it is. In summer, you may have to water it every week. As the plant goes dormant in winter, you only have to water it once a month to reduce moisture.

As a general watering rule for this plant, use the “soak and dry” method. Check the top few inches of soil to see if it is dry and water the plant if that’s the case.

Propagating the Desert Rose

Adenium Obesum can be propagated via branch cuttings. The new plant typically fails to develop a bulbous stem unless you help it by planting it first in a tall, thin container. Once the root system starts to develop you can move it to a shorter container.

In Conclusion

The Desert Rose is a lovely succulent to have around. It is low maintenance, looks fantastic in the blooming season, and will make an eye-catching focal point in any home or garden.

Whether you are an experienced or novice grower, get yourself a Desert Rose to enhance your plant collection.


Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact

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