Adenium arabicum, popularly known as the desert rose or elephant’s foot plant, are gorgeous indoor plants. These beautiful succulents with their unique woody stems and vibrantly colored blooms in red, pink and coral hues are strikingly attractive ornamental plants.
Native to Africa, Madagascar and the Middle East these sun-loving, deciduous succulent shrubs can grow in harsh, dry desert-like conditions with limited water. These houseplants with their glossy leaves, beautiful tubular flowers and unusual squat structure are often used across the world for bonsai growing.
Adenium arabicum is very easy to grow in pots, both indoors as well as outdoors, and is the perfect choice for gardening enthusiasts. The desert rose plant comes in several varieties and is known by different names across the world, including mock azalea, impala lily, dwarf bottle tree and sabi star.
Overall, the Adenium arabicum care requirements is minimal, which makes it very easy to take care of and maintain; you can see its blooming beauty for a very long time.
Adenium Arabicum Care Guide
While taking care of the Adenium arabicum plant is quite simple; however, it needs delicate handling. The two key elements required for the desert rose plants are regular watering and plenty of sunlight. The plant also does well in warmer temperatures and in colder areas usually, the desert rose plant thrives as an indoor plant.
Typically, the plant blooms in the summer months, with vibrant green leaves and gorgeous hued red and pink flowers, it loses both the flowers, as well as the leaves and goes dormant in the winter. Let’s take an in-depth look at how to care for your Adenium arabicum plant.
The Adenium arabicum plant usually grows in dry and desert-like environments. It thrives well in warmer temperatures, plenty of light and requires gravelly soil, sandy soil or soil mixed with perlite that drains well. The soil should have a pH that is neutral to acidic and be ideally around 6.0. It is also a good idea to put some gravel below and above the soil to prevent your plant from rotting.
The Adenium arabicum plant does extremely well in a sunlight environment, so it is important to place the plant in an area in your home that receives ample sunlight all through the day such as your sunroom, windowsill, etc.
If you have an outdoor area, then choose a spot in your garden that has good sunlight and is not completely covered by tall plants but has sufficient protection from the harsh noon sun, which can burn the leaves of the plant.
The water requirements of the Adenium arabicum plant vary with the temperature and the season. In the summer and late spring seasons, which are essentially the growing season, watering the plant will help to stimulate the growth of the plant and flowering. However, the soil must be moist, but not saturated. Make sure to check the soil regularly and let it dry completely before you water it again.
Ensure that the container (preferably clay or terracotta) in which you plant the Adenium arabicum has plenty of drainage holes, so that the excess water drains out, as the plant can rot if there is too much water. In the winter and fall months, when the plant usually becomes dormant, you can reduce the watering, preferably 1-2 times in a month.
Temperature and Humidity
Since the Adenium arabicum plant tolerates and thrives in dry conditions, they do very well in warmer temperatures. In fact, if exposed to temperatures below 50°F for a long time, the plant will die.
Adenium arabicum plants flourish the best in temperatures between 65°F and 90°F. If planted outdoors, the Adenium arabicum plant is not likely to survive the frost or snow in the winter or fall months. The plant does not require any humidity as it is accustomed to the hot and dry desert conditions.
Ideally, you should fertilize your Adenium arabicum plant during the active season when they are growing and blooming i.e., during summer and spring. Use a liquid fertilizer that is diluted with water once a month. Using a balanced fertilizer containing phosphorus helps in the formation of flowers. The plants are quite sensitive to elevated fertilizer salt levels so you must ensure that the fertilizer you use is balanced properly.
If the fertilizer is not balanced, the leaf edges will start turning brown. Also, when you apply the fertilizer frequently, then this can cause the soil to become toxic and so, you must leach the soil frequently with clean water and ensure that it drains out from the pot. Also, avoid applying fertilizer to the plant in the winter and fall seasons, when the plant is dormant.
Generally, the Adenium arabicum plant does not require any pruning, except if you want to manage the size and shape. Prune the plant only before the summer starts so that the new growth fills the plant in time for the growing season.
Pest and Disease Control
The Adenium arabicum plant is most susceptible to spider mite attacks. Since the plant requires dryness, this is the best condition for spider mites to thrive. The plant may also be susceptible to mealybug infestations from other plants which are close by.
Make sure to check your Adenium arabicum plants regularly for infestations, especially when you’re bringing them in for the winter after they have been in the warm, dry climate.
Stem Root Rot
Stem root rot is a common problem in Adenium arabicum plants and is caused by a fungus. The rot is usually yellow, dark brown or black and it can be dry or wet. A sign of rot in the Adenium arabicum plant is when the leaves turn brown and start falling off on the top.
If you notice rot on any part of the stem, simply cut off the portion and ensure that you cut the plant only to the portion where you can see the good part of the tissue. The Adenium arabicum plant also sometimes stops the rot by the formation of an abscission zone; however, this occurs only when the plant is in the desert rather than in humid, tropical or cooler climates.
Leaf rot is quite easy to treat in the Adenium arabicum plant. All you need to do is remove the affected leaves and move the plant to a dry place, where it can dry out. Avoid wetting the leaves when watering the plant or make sure that you water the plant early in the day so that the leaves dry out quickly.
Avoid watering the plant in the evening. However, this may not be a problem in the desert or tropics because the nights are also sufficiently warm for the leaves to dry.
Repotting the Adenium Arabicum Plant
You can repot the Adenium arabicum plant if required however, make sure to repot only during the warm season. And, when repotting the plant, ensure that the soil is completely dry and then remove the plant gently from the pot. Remove any old soil from the roots and also remove any dead or rotted roots.
Use an antibacterial solution or a fungicide to treat any cuts. Then, place the Adenium arabicum plant in a new pot and fill it with potting soil. Make sure that as you repot the plant, spread its roots well. Allow the plant to dry for 1-2 weeks and then start watering it very lightly to prevent root rot.
The desert rose is a gorgeous plant, especially when it’s in full bloom. All it needs is some water, the proper temperature and a bit of care to bloom and flourish. And, whether you place it on your deck, patio, windowsill or inside your home, the plant is sure to be a stunning showstopper and a fantastic addition to your home.