Adenium/Desert Rose: Low Care best Succulent Bonsai Plant for Beginners

Adenium/Desert Rose: Low Care best Succulent Bonsai Plant for Beginners
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Photo by Yaopey Yong on Unsplash

Adenium or Desert rose is a succulent plant native to Africa. They are one of the most commonly grown bonsai plants. The bulbous base, woody stem and bunch of flowers (multiple colors) add to the beauty of the plant. The bonsai however has to be trained and groomed accordingly. The sap is poisonous. These plants are resistant to most of the pests and diseases which may reduce your care efforts.

Quick Details of   Adenium

Other Common NamesDesert rose, impala lily, mock azalea, sabi star, kudu
TypeOutdoor flowering plant (Perfect for Bonsai)
MaintenanceModerate/ high in case of bonsai
FloweringSpring and winter (under certain climatic conditions).
LightBright direct sunlight, can tolerate partial indirect light.
WaterWhen the soil is dry
TemperatureWarm humid conditions
SoilWell drained sandy soil
FertilizerAny liquid cactus fertilizer
HabitatSahara, Africa
ToxicitySap is toxic, a gloves should be used while pruning the plant. should be kept away from children and pets.
Common DiseasesRoot rot when over watered
Scientific nameAdenium obesum

Adenium Buying Instructions

  • As its a common bonsai plant so make sure shape of the plant should be of your choice.
  • Stem of the plant should be thick.
  • Flowers comes in variety of colors, so make sure you are buying plant which blooms with your choice of color. Normally nursery plants have flowers in it. If flowers are not there ask them the color of the flowers.
  • Price of the plant varies based on the plant size, shape and age.
  • Plant should by bushy while purchasing as it will drop some amount of leaves once you bring it to home.
  • Do not re-pot the plant immediately after bringing it to home. Re-pot after at least after a months time.

Overview of Adenium

They are evergreen succulent flowering shrubs native to Africa and belonging to the family of Apocynaceae. They can grow up to a height of 1-3 m. the stems are pachycaul with a stout base called the caudex. The leaves are arranged spirally and present towards the tip of the branches. They are leathery, round and have simple margins. The flowers are mostly pink in colour and tubular with a single whorl of five petals. Some varieties can also have more than one whorl.

Special feature: They are one of the most commonly grown bonsai plants.

Usage and Advantage of Adenium

  • They are grown as an ornamental plant.
  • Used to make Bonsai

General Care for Adenium

Placing the plant: During summer and spring place the Desert Rose bonsai outside such as on a patio, terrace, balcony or garden where there is ample amount of sunlight in morning and shade during afternoon.

During winter they should be placed indoors preferably near a south or north facing window. The plants should be able to get enough bright direct sunlight during the day. In tropical climates the plants may lose leaves during winter.

Watering: Water ones in 7 to 10 days only. Preferably spray water till the soil turns moist. They do not prefer excess water. The plant should be watered enough to keep the soil moist. Excess water can result in water logging leading to root rot. Water can be sprayed on soil once a while to maintain moisture. Regular watering can promote blooming.

Pot Type: Selecting a right pot plays a very important role in growing bonsai. The height and growth are maintained by under-potting. Choose a smaller pot that has just enough space for the roots to develop and help in maintaining healthy plants. Any kind of pot can be used. Preferably a small shallow pot suits best for the bonsai.

Soil: They prefer a well-drained, well aerated soil. A cactus mix or succulent mix should be fine for its growth. A mix of gravel, peat, perlite and soil can be used.

Light and temperature: They shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight.They prefer direct bright sunlight. They ae native to the desert and prefer dry conditions. The plants can also be placed indoors with bright indirect sunlight. Care should be taken to rotate the pot once in a while for the plant to receive equal amounts of sunlight everywhere or the plant tends to bend towards the light. They cannot handle cold conditions so should be shifted indoors to warmer places. Bright direct sunlight promotes blooming. The plants bloom during spring to summer and also during winter if the conditions are not very cold. Extreme cold winters make the plant dormant. Except for in tropical climates, the plants shed its leaves during winter.

Fertilizer: The bonsai should be provided with fertilizer as it is the only source for developing a healthy plant. Any liquid fertilizer can be given once a week. The leaves can also be fed directly by spraying the liquid fertilizer once a month. Half of the recommended amount of fertilizer is enough for bonsai plants.

Bonsai Training for Adenium

Image by Phuc Nguyen from Pixabay

Pruning, trimming and re potting plays an important role in maintaining and growing a bonsai. The plants can also be shaped by wiring ropes to the branches to get a desired shape. To do this the plant can be stripped off all leaves, uprooted from soil. The roots are cleaned to remove any remains of the soil and the roots are trimmed. The plant is left to dry for a day or two till callus is formed on the cuts of the root. This can be replanted, the branches can be wired with ropes to get the desired shapes and left to grow. A proper understanding and experience are required to perform this. This is a more intense method to grow a bonsai.

An easier method involves trimming and pruning the branches regularly. The new growths can be pinched off or trimmed back till a safer point. Few of the new growths should be left as it is to support the growth of the plant. Trimming can be done regularly during spring and summer seasons and before the plant is shifted indoors for winter.

Repotting: The bonsai should be repotted regularly to maintain the growth of the root system. Re potting can be done once the roots become pot bound. The plant should be carefully uprooted, preferably the pot can be tilted to the side and sprayed with water to wash off the soil. This prevents any damage to the root. The root is cleaned to remove any remains of the soil. the root is further trimmed ¼ its height from bottom. The plant can be repotted back to the same pot after this. To prepare the soil, the drainage holes of the pot are covered with a screen and then a layer of gravel is added. This helps in proper drainage which is further layered with soil. The soil is filled all around and below the roots. Avoid any air pockets. The soil is further topped with gravel. This is watered thoroughly.

Pests and other problems in Adenium

A well-maintained plant does not attract any pest or diseases. The plants can get attacked by aphids, mealybugs and spider mites if not taken care properly. Any pesticide, neem oil or soap solution can be sprayed to get rid of them. Excess watering can lead to root rot.

Propagation of Adenium

The propagation can be done through seeds and stem cuttings.

Stem cutting: A healthy growing stem can be selected and a 6-inch-long stem can be cut out from the plant. The stem cutting is left to dry for 48 hours. The dried stem can be dipped in rooting hormone and can be planted in soil. it should be watered to keep the soil moist. Proper sunlight should be provided for its growth.

Seeds: Fresh seeds are used for growing the plants through seeds. The seeds are sown in sand or cocopeat and watered to keep the soil moist. The germination is mostly done indoors in a well-lit area. The germinated plant can be later shifted outdoors and placed under bright direct sunlight. The seedlings are watered to maintain moisture.

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