June 14, 2020

Adenium obesum, commonly called the desert rose, is a plant species native to the Sahel region south of the Sahara and eastern and southern Arabia. Its swollen trunk, plump leaves, and beautiful crown of blushing flowers make it a popular ornament for both indoor and outdoor display. The desert rose is also perfect for the self-proclaimed horticulturally hopeless. Just give it the appropriate care and watch this low-maintenance plant flourish!

Light and Temperature

Given its xeric origins, the desert rose thrives with plenty of light and temperatures of around 80-90Fº. In tropical climates, it can be left outside all year, always making sure that direct sunlight is not burning its foliage. In temperate weather, the desert rose should be kept outside only when the temperature is above 60Fº. Any temperatures lower than that will make the plant wither. For indoor display, place the desert rose near a window with at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. 


Watering the desert rose correctly is key to ensuring its survival. For proper care, water it every two to three weeks during the spring and summer. Slightly reduce watering frequency in the winter months, but make sure that its leaves stay hydrated. This watering pattern mimics their natural environment, resulting in more luscious blooms in the springtime. 

Overwatering is the fastest way to kill your desert rose. These plants come from semi-arid regions, so water your desert rose only when the soil has dried.

With the right temperature, sunlight, and water, your desert rose will be happy and healthy, and its rounded trunk will soon be covered in chubby leaves and bright, trumpet-like flowers! 

Want to learn more about this unique plant? Here are 4 fun facts about the desert rose:

  1. While the desert rose resembles a shrubby tree, it’s actually a succulent! All succulents have engorged parts where they store water in order to survive in dry conditions. The desert rose retains water in its trunk, giving it a bulbous appearance.
  2. Don’t let the name deceive you! The flowers of the desert rose are not in fact roses. They are tubular blooms with long, white throats that expand into five lively pink or red petals. These flowers might not be as popular as roses, but they’re certainly just as beautiful and grow with rarely any fuss!
  3. Because of its chunky trunk and its ability to prosper in small containers, the desert rose can be used as a bonsai tree. Most people prefer to let the desert rose grow with no interference to its shape. However, with the right procedures and a lot of patience, you can turn your desert rose into an artful replica of a full-sized tree.
  4. People love the desert rose for its tubby stem and eye-catching flowers. But this succulent isn’t all flash and no substance. Its roots, stem, and leaves produce a sap that contains cardiac glycosides - an organic compound that can be used to treat congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias. This sap is also incredibly toxic. Historically, it has been widely used in arrow poison across Africa to hunt animals as large as elephants. So if you plan on pruning your desert rose, don’t forget to wear gloves!


By Maria Veronica Perez

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