Desert rose: care and varieties

Desert rose: care and varieties


The desert rose, botanically adenium, is actually not a rose at all - it belongs to the dog-poison family. It owes its beautiful name to its rose-like flowers, which delight in their splendor even under hot, dry conditions. Because the plant is adapted to such environmental conditions - its habitat is a semi-arid, i.e. a climate that is characterized by long dry seasons. Specifically, the desert rose is native to the steppes of Africa and Arabia.

also read

  • Does warm water affect the desert rose?
  • Desert rose - the right care for the steppe dweller
  • Desert rose: wintering properly is not difficult!

Which location is suitable?

For cultivation in our latitudes, this means that the desert rose needs a sunny, warm location. It thrives best in a bright place on the window sill and can conveniently cope with intense sunlight and heat. However, you should turn it a little now and then so that it does not grow diagonally towards the side facing the light. In summer you can and should put them out, because here the light output is always greater than in the room. In winter you have to make sure that your ambient temperature does not fall below the 10 ° C mark.

Desert rose location rules to remember:

  • Place warm and sunny
  • Rotate occasionally for balanced, straight growth
  • Can / should also be placed outdoors in summer
  • In winter no ambient temperatures below 10 ° C


The desert rose is assigned to the shrub trees, but it grows as a stem succulent. So it forms a caudex, a heavily woody trunk, which makes its habitus rather tree-like. The caudex is used for effective, long-term water storage and turns the desert rose into a veritable plant camel because it can withstand long periods of dryness without any problems. The water storage capacity makes the trunk very thick and the thickening in the lower area makes for a striking overall appearance.

In the wild in its original home area, the trunk of the desert rose can reach a diameter of up to 2 meters. In height it reaches up to 5 meters, but in Central Europe it remains smaller because of the lower light and heat supply. It grows very slowly, reaching a Methuselah age of several hundred years.

The growth characteristics of the desert rose at a glance:

  • Stem succulents with a water-storing caudex stem
  • This gives it a striking appearance and is very drought-resistant
  • Reaches a height of 5 m and a trunk diameter of 2 m in the wild
  • Slow growth
  • Reaches several hundred years of age


The desert rose owes its name to the attractive, pink to reddish, white or violet cup flowers. Their shape also shows their close relationship with the oleander. They are terminal, five-fold and tubular and intensify their color towards the outside. With a diameter of up to 5 centimeters, the flowers are relatively large. They appear in late spring to early summer, roughly between April and July.


The leaves of the desert rose are also quite attractive with their fingered structure and their lush green, and their leathery texture gives the plant an exotic look in addition to the grotesque caudex trunk. The leaves are heaped on the shoot ends and are about 5 to 15 cm long. The shape of the single leaves is inversely egg-shaped and with entire margins. In its home area the desert rose is almost evergreen, but in this country it sheds its leaves during the winter rest phase.

Pour the desert rose

As a stem succulent, the desert rose makes it easy for the hobby gardener to do watering. Since she can hoard so much water in her caudex, you can forget about it or go on vacation for a few weeks without organizing a casting agency. In general, it gets by with little water; waterlogging is much more critical than lack of water. It can lead to root and stem rot and must be avoided at all costs.

Over the winter you hardly have to and should not water at all - that would be against the given lack of light. Also, after the winter break, you should just gradually get her used to more water.

To note:

  • Desert rose needs little water
  • Can survive for a long time without watering due to the caudex trunk
  • Avoid waterlogging at all costs
  • Hardly any water needed in winter


The dwindling light available in our Central European winter inevitably means a period of rest for the desert rose culture. However, you should not place them in the dark, but leave them in a light window seat. In accordance with its vegetative break, it also needs cooler temperatures in winter, but these should not fall below 10 ° C. A good location is a window sill in a not too warmly heated room. It is important not to water very much or not at all - too much vegetation drive through watering can prevent flowering in the following spring and summer!

The winter rules for the desert rose:

  • Place a little cooler, but light
  • No temperatures below 10 ° C
  • Hardly or not at all watering

Continue reading

Fertilize desert rose properly

You can fertilize the desert rose a little over the vegetation phase, but at most every 2 weeks. Use a fertilizer with balanced potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen levels.

Loses leaves

Although the desert rose is almost to completely evergreen in its homeland, it loses its leaves here in the course of autumn. This is quite normal as far as she needs a rest period in view of the fading light. So don't worry about the fall of leaves in October.

However, if the desert rose sheds its leaves in the light-rich vegetation phase, this is worrying. In this case, different factors can be to blame. The most likely are:

  • Unfavorable location
  • Too quick change of circumstances after winter break
  • Waterlogging
  • Overfertilization

Unfavorable location

The site conditions for the desert rose are unfavorable if they are too dark or too drafty. Always make sure that the African plant gets lots and lots of sun. She also doesn't like draft at all.

Too quick change of circumstances after the winter break

Due to its slow metabolism, the desert rose has to get used to the increasing amount of light and more water after the winter break. Avoid a radical start to the vegetation phase as far as possible by placing them in the blazing sun in spring and trying to force them to sprout and bloom with vigorous watering. Instead, it is better to put it in a slightly lighter place and start watering very gradually.


Too wet a substrate is very bad for the desert rose. Always make sure that the substrate is not permanently wet and remember that the plant stores enough water in its trunk. Root and stem rot can not only lead to temporary leaf shedding, but also damage the plant permanently.


You must not overstrain the desert rose when fertilizing. As a slow-growing steppe plant, it only needs a small amount of fertilizer every 14 days during the vegetation phase. If you use too much or too aggressive fertilizer, the desert rose can easily burn.

Continue reading

Cut the desert rose correctly

The cutting chapter is quickly ticked off with the desert rose: Due to its slow growth and moderate branching, it does not need any pruning care.

If you really want a special shape education, maybe also in the direction of bonsai culture, you can of course work on the desert rose with a cutting tool - but it should be well sharpened and hygienically clean. As a rule, it also drives well from prunings. Under no circumstances should the caudex be injured, which as a reservoir of water represents the elixir of life for the desert rose.

Continue reading


When the desert rose has bloomed for the first time, it is best to repot it in the following early spring. Use a simple mixture of commercially available house plant soil and a good proportion of sand as the substrate. In the following years you only need to repot the plant if the container is very tight.

Continue reading


Would you like to multiply your desert rose? This is relatively easy to do with cuttings. This method is particularly recommended because the desert rose grows so slowly. When growing cuttings, you don't have to wait that long for a fully developed plant and the first flowering. To do this, cut a medium-length shoot and put it in a pot with potting soil, which you place in a light, warm place. For rooting, keep it evenly moist and cover it with a film if necessary.

Continue reading


Growing a desert rose from a seed is a little more time-consuming. However, patience pays off in several ways: In contrast to a cutting, a plant with a significantly better developed caudex develops from a seed - so you can expect a specimen with all the characteristic features. In addition, the desert rose seeds show good germinability. The flower color will often revert to its original shade of pink - after all, with this method, unlike the cuttings variant, you don't get a clone.

When planting the seed, you have to be careful not to get it too deep under the surface of the earth. It may not be covered more than an inch. To germinate, place the nursery pot in a bright, warm place and keep the substrate evenly moist. It usually only takes one to one and a half weeks for the seedling to appear. When it has reached a height of about 10 centimeters, move it to a new pot with cactus soil and continue to cultivate it according to the species-appropriate care rules. It takes at least two years for the desert rose drawn from the seed to bloom for the first time.

The seed cultivation at a glance:

  • Preferable to the cutting method when a specimen with a fully developed caudex is desired
  • High success rate due to good germination capacity
  • Do not set deeper than 1 cm into the earth
  • Warm, bright growing location
  • Time to first flower: at least 2 years

Continue reading


Fortunately, the desert rose is quite resistant to disease and pests. Spider mites or mealybugs may occasionally appear in the heated room. However, these can be easily combated by showering and, if necessary, spraying with an oily mixture or nettle broth.

Is desert rose poisonous?

The fact that the desert rose belongs to the dog-poison family says it all: it is poisonous, and indeed in all parts of the plant. In households with small children and animals who like to nibble on indoor plants, it should be avoided as much as possible. The milky sap, which was also used as an arrow poison by locals in their homeland, is particularly highly toxic. The toxic cardenolides are highly concentrated here and, when consumed, cause irritation of the mucous membranes, nausea and vomiting, cramps and circulatory disorders up to life-threatening cardiac paralysis.

Continue reading


The best known variety among the desert roses is the Adenium obesum. In addition, there are 5 to 15 other varieties that are cultivated as ornamental plants in this country. Here is a small selection:

Adenium obesum

This most widespread species can be found most frequently in plant centers, although there are still some subspecies with names such as A. honghel, A. Coetaneum or A. Somalense. They have different flower colors from white to dark pink and their appearance varies, such as particularly corky bark or differentiated branching. It grows up to about 3 meters high in the bucket in indoor and outdoor culture and requires a lot of sun and warmth.

Adenium arabicum

This variety is quite close to the Adenium obesum, but among the desert roses it is considered to be best suited for bonsai culture. Its caudex is a little more pronounced than that of the adenium obesum and its leaves are particularly large. Their flower colors vary between pink, clear red and deep purple with fire-colored centers. Adenium arabicum is often sold in the form of seeds, which gives bonsai lovers a free range of designs.

Adenium multiflorum

The Adenium multiflorum has its most important property in its name: its flowers are particularly rich and colorful, with colors varying between pink, pink tones or mauve nuances depending on the specimen. The joy of flowers is increased by a pleasantly sweet scent. Its leaves are up to 10 cm long and glossy dark green. Unfortunately this variety has neither leaves nor flowers for most of the year. Overall, the Adenium multiflorum reaches a height between half a meter and 3 meters.

Adenium oleifolium

In German this variety is called olive-leaved desert rose and shows a corresponding foliage with 4-13 mm long, olive-green leaves. In terms of size, it is the smallest desert rose variety with a maximum height of only around 30 to 45 centimeters. Its flowers appear in pink, salmon-colored to reddish tones.

Adenium swazicum

The Adenium swazicum comes from Swaziland and is a small exception among the desert roses in terms of location: it also likes it a bit partial shade and does not necessarily need as much sun as possible like the other varieties. The Adenium swazicum is also one of the smaller desert rose varieties with a maximum height of 45 to 60 centimeters. Its flowers appear a little earlier in spring compared to Adenium obesum and delight with intense pink to magenta tones.

Desert rose 'Red' 15.69 EUR Buy at baldur Desert rose 'Noble Concubine' 15.69 EUR Buy at baldur Aloe vera & Desert rose red at the special price 22.07 EUR Buy at baldur