Desert Rose – Everything You Need to Know!

Updated: May 03, 2024

Desert Rose – Everything You Need to Know!

Desert rose, also known as Adenium obesum, gets its name from its rose-like flowers and is a popular succulent plant for both indoor and outdoor gardening. Desert rose looks stunning when planted in the landscape as an annual (in the North) or perennial (in frost-free areas), but it also makes a wonderful tropical plant for container gardens. Desert rose is a great companion plant for cacti and other succulents, no matter where it is grown.

In this comprehensive guide from Planet Desert, we will explore the many fascinating features of the rose in the desert succulents and provide tips and advice you need to keep your Adenium Desert Rose Succulent thriving. Plus, we'll also provide a helpful buyers' guide so you can find the perfect specimen for your needs.

So, let's dive in and discover everything there is to know about this gorgeous succulent desert rose! 

About Desert Rose

There are six varieties of true desert rose plants, with Adenium obesum being the most popular, but Adenium arabicum is most loved by bonsai enthusiasts as it has a larger trunk, or caudex. 

These beautiful, drought-tolerant desert rose succulents are native to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula Desert, adapting well to arid or semi-arid climates, yet they can all adapt well to tropical and semi-tropical settings. 

Adenium flowers have an irresistible charm that makes people fall in love with the flowers, which are not actually roses but rather beautiful, vibrant trumpet-shaped blooms that are sure to turn heads.

Desert roses can grow up to 10 feet tall but grow slowly, so it's unlikely that they would grow 12 inches per year. Their growth rate can vary depending on various factors such as the specific variety, growing conditions, and care provided. 

Desert Rose Flowers  

The desert rose is known for its striking showy flowers, which are typically pink or red and can be up to 3 inches in diameter. The flowers of the desert rose are trumpet-shaped and have five petals that are arranged in a star shape. The flowers are highly fragrant and attract a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies.  

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The desert rose flowering plant thrives well in desert settings and will bloom exquisitely in full, bright sun. They can also thrive in bright morning or afternoon sun, though they may not flower as profusely. These plants get lanky and weak-stemmed if kept in the shade.  

Even though the bright sun stimulates blossom production, the Desert Rose takes a break during the hottest and rainiest months of the growing season. This results in two periods of blooming. You’ll see flowers begin to develop in early spring. With the right amount of light, your desert rose should bloom steadily until mid-summer.

At this point, blossoming will cease for 6–8 weeks, only to resume in the early autumn months. Give your desert rose plant a good pruning and bring it inside when the temperature drops to 55 degrees Fahrenheit or less frequently.

One of the great things about desert roses is the flowers last for much longer than other succulents. The blooms are long-lasting and are attractive to hummingbirds and pollinators such as bees and butterflies. When the weather begins to cool, you must bring your Adenium indoors to enjoy during the winter.

Desert Rose Care

Maintaining a desert rose plant is simple, but it does require a bit of knowledge. Indeed, these rugged desert dwellers adapt to almost any situation as long as they have plenty of sun, warmth, and well-draining soil. In very hot climates, Desert Rose is happy and prolific outdoors all year round in USDA zones 11-12 and happy indoors other than these zones. These desert rose plants love to be in the direct sun with temperatures of at least 70°F, but they can do very well in temperatures of up to 100° Fahrenheit.  

Water moderately in warm weather and sparingly in cool weather  

The Desert Rose enjoys a nice, warm rainy season, but when cool weather comes, you’ll need to cut back on watering. Some say it is best to think of your Adenium as a tropical plant in the spring and summer and as a cactus in the autumn and winter.  

The most important thing to remember is that the roots should never become waterlogged. During the growing season check the soil every few days in container plants. When the plant is completely dry, water slowly and carefully. Saturate the soil, but do not soak it. The soil should be moist, not wet, and there should be no standing water. Use well-drained soil and allow the soil mix to dry completely before watering again for your desert rose cactus. 

If you plant directly into the landscape, be certain to position your Adenium desert rose plant on a bit of an incline so the water can drain off after heavy rains. The Desert Rose growing outdoors is amazingly drought tolerant and may not need watering once established. In times of extreme drought, water deeply for several hours during the coolest part of the day, occasionally with a slow drip.   

Ideal Lighting Needs for Desert Rose 

The desert rose plants can withstand full sun, but they prefer to grow in areas with some partial shade. Learn to adjust your adenium desert rose to avoid burns if the location where you have the plant is exposed to a lot of sunlight.  Gradually increase the exposure until it can handle the full sun. 

It's critical to remember that during a heatwave or periods of extreme heat, your desert rose could still sustain sun damage or get sunburned. You can protect the plant in this situation by moving it indoors or to a shaded area.  

In a very bright, warm environment such as a greenhouse, Adenium can remain active throughout the winter months. If you bring your desert rose plant into your house for the winter, it will probably stay in a semi-dormant state until spring arrives. Simply keep it in a warm room with bright, indirect light during this time. 

Choosing the Right Soil & Fertilizer Requirements

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When it comes to choosing the right soil for your adorable adenium desert rose, it's important to be cautious.

This is because the amount of moisture in the regular potting soil can be the primary reason for the early death of most succulents and cacti. Like many other succulents, with desert rose it is important to avoid excess moisture because this can promote root and stem rot.

We believe the best option is to use our specialty potting mix that contains 5 natural substrates and organic mycorrhizae to promote the development of a strong root system that helps your succulent desert rose thrive.

During the growing season, it is a good idea to provide a light feeding of a balanced fertilizer (NPK) 5-10-5, or a water-soluble liquid fertilizer from time to time. In the springtime when the plant is rousing from its winter rest, you can give a diluted fertilizer once a year to encourage blooming. As the weather cools, stop feeding so that the plant can wind down for the winter.  

If you bring your Adenium plant indoors for the winter, you may want to give it one weak fertilizer in mid-winter; however, this is not necessary as the plant is likely in a state of semi-dormancy.  

Our Favorite Desert Rose Varieties 


Desert Rose (Adenium arabicum)



  • USDA Hardiness Zones:10,11
  • Blooming Period: Late Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Mature Size: 9 ft. tall
  • Flower Color: Pink, White, Yellow, Red

Adenium obesum var. arabicum, also known as the Desert Rose, is a stunning succulent native to the arid regions of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It is frequently used for desert rose bonsai plants and is the most popular and most favorite variety of Desert Rose and is characterized by its thick, bigger caudex resembling a miniature baobab tree and beautiful clusters of pale pink flowers that range in color from pink and red to white. Its wider, light green fleshy leaves with tiny hairs, are arranged in a spiral pattern, adding to its unique aesthetic appeal. It is monoecious and self-sterile, and drought-tolerant leaves.  Lear more...


Desert Rose (Adenium obesum)



  • USDA Hardiness Zones:10, 11, 12
  • Blooming Period: Spring, Autumn
  • Mature Size: 9 ft. tall, 5 ft. wide
  • Flower Color:White, pink, red, yellow, rose

The dazzling Desert Rose, also known as 'Adenium obesum' is native to Southwestern Africa. This slow-growing plant is characterized by its unique swollen trunk, vibrant bright flowers, and waxy, shiny, narrow leaves than the arabicum broader and rounded leaves, making it an excellent choice for xeriscaping gardens or indoor cultivation. It is also used as a desert rose bonsai or adenium obesum bonsai plant! It's easy to fall in love with this stunning beauty. Learn more...


Impala Lily Desert Rose (Adenium obesum swazicum)



  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10, 11
  • Blooming Period: Late Summer, Fall
  • Mature Size: 28 in. tall, 6 in. wide
  • Flower Color: Pink, deep reddish pink

Adenium obesum subsp swazicum is also referred to as the desert rose and the summer impala lily. This variety of desert rose plant enjoys warm weather, is a dwarf that typically has a few short stems, and doesn't grow larger. If you have an Adenium swazicum plant sending out long shoots, it's a good idea to prune as a way of guiding and controlling plant growth Learn more...


Socotran Desert Rose (Adenium obesum socotranum)



  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10, 11
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Mature Size: 15 ft. tall, 8 ft. wide
  • Flower Color: Pink

This Socotran desert rose, also known as Adenium obesum subsp socotranum, is a sun-loving tropical species that is indigenous to the Indian Ocean Island between Yemen and Somalia. The developing plant has a trunk and is mostly known as the Desert Rose grafted plant. In the spring and summer, when the plant has no leaflets, colorful flowers appear. Learn more...


Adenium obesum somalense



  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10, 11
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Mature Size: 16 ft. tall
  • Flower Color: White, pink, crimson red

The Adenium obesum somalense, a sun-loving desert rose plant from Eastern Africa, is renowned for its twisted branches and narrow blade-like leaves that reach towards the sky. It's not just its unique appearance that makes it stand out, though; this beauty has a swollen, typically twisted trunk that adds character and charm. And let's talk about those trumpet-shaped flowers! They come in colors red, white, or pink, making them a feast for the eyes against their arid surroundings. Learn more...


Adenium obesum shada



  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10, 11, 12
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Mature Size: 9 ft. tall, 5 ft. wide
  • Flower Color: Pink, White

The Adenium obesum shada evergreen succulent shrub is a visually stunning plant with its broad, leathery, dark green leaves. The main difference between them lies in their flower color and pattern. Adenium shada typically has white or light-colored flowers, while Adenium obesum can have a wider range of flower colors, including pink, red, and even multicolored varieties. No wonder it's frequently cultivated as a bonsai in semi-arid climates. Learn more...

Understanding Desert Rose Hardiness Zones & Optimal Temperatures

When growing Desert Rose plants indoors, always keep them warm; they will die fast if exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time. The ideal temperature range for your desert rose is between 65- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit.

If you grow desert rose outdoors, outside of USDA zones 11-12, it will most likely not survive a prolonged winter or ice. To preserve the longevity of your desert rose, it is crucial to bring it inside or provide it with appropriate care during the winter months. The desert rose does not care about humidity because it is used to a hot, dry environment.

Overwintering Desert Roses

Desert roses cannot survive frost or prolonged cold. Bring your desert rose indoors when the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Find a bright spot near a window where it can still get sunlight.

During the winter, desert roses go into a dormant phase, so you'll want to reduce watering and let the soil dry out between waterings. Keep the temperature above 50°F and protect it from drifting. If the light indoors is not sufficient, consider using grow lights. Keep an eye out for pests and take action if necessary. 

Is Regular Pruning Necessary? 

The desert rose plants can grow quite large, a combination of pruning and under-potting is essential to keep them at a manageable size. A regular pruning schedule will help keep your plant fresh, vigorous, and well-groomed.

During the growing season, pinch back or prune stray growth. Before bringing the plant indoors for winter, prune back excessive growth as this will make the rest period more effective for the plant.

Additionally, it will be easier to keep a smaller, more compact plant stem growth symmetrically; indoors during the winter months.

Before putting the plant back outdoors for the growing season, good trimming is a smart idea. Trim off any dead or damaged vegetation. Cut back straggly branches to improve the plant’s shape. You can use these branches as cuttings to create new growth.

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What Kind of Container is Best for Desert Rose?

  1. Many lovers of Desert rose grow their plants or look to repotting desert roses into terra cotta clay pots instead of plastic to keep them on the dry side. Clay pots' porous nature allows water to be drawn into the pot, regulating soil moisture levels, preventing overwatering, and reducing plant root rot risk.
  2. If you use a saucer, make sure there is no water in it. You can use containers made of almost any material when planting Desert Rose. Just make sure the container is sturdy because Adenium's aggressive root growth can burst flimsy plastic containers. Any growing container must have ample drainage holes in the bottom.
  3. A porous container material is preferable to a nonporous material for better air circulation to the roots. For this reason, many experts recommend using terra-cotta containers instead of plastic ones, plus the shallow terra-cotta bowl makes a nice presentation. Well-made wooden planters might also be a good idea.
  4. In terms of planter shape, low, wide planters and containers are preferable to tall, thin ones. A lower, wider container will encourage root spread and provide a more stable base for the plant healthy growth.
  5. Planting an adenium in a tall, thin container results in a carrot-shaped root structure, providing stability but not much growth. This is beneficial for growing a thick, attractive caudex. It is possible to start an adenium cutting in a tall, thin container and then transplant it later into a short, squat container, leaving quite a bit of the interesting root exposed.
  6. Adenium is an ideal plant to consider for bonsai. An interesting fact about Desert Rose is that the Adenium obesum can grow as taller plants as an elephant's foot or as little as a bonsai.

Pro Tip

To create a desert rose bonsai, get a special bonsai pot, or a small pot that will restrict root and plant growth by restricting plant growth, they grow less tall and become a bonsai. The term "bonsai" refers to the traditional art of growing decorative, dwarfed kinds of trees and shrubs in trays, pots, or other containers. Adenium bonsai truly means "planted in a container" and is a symbol of love, fertility, and health.

How Often Should You Repot Desert Roses?  

The desert rose plants are relatively slow growing, and they should not need repotting more often than once every two or three years. When planting a desert rose, be careful not to provide an oversized container as this will encourage root growth and may detract from the number of blooms your plant produces.  

Select an attractive container that gives your desert rose succulents plant’s root mass one or two extra inches for growth all the way around. Make sure to shake the old soil off the roots and completely replace it with fresh, new, nourishing well-draining potting mix

Like other succulent plants, use cactus potting soil when replanting desert rose. These desert rose flower plants want well-drained soil to prevent stem and root rot.   

Propagation of Adenium Plants from Cuttings and Seeds  

When you start Desert Rose with a cutting, the resulting plant will not develop a thick, interesting root structure above ground. The caudex will develop below the soil level and can later be exposed without harming the plant.  

The advantage of starting from a cutting is that you can do lots of interesting things such as grafting cuttings that produce one flower color onto plants that produce another color. You can also graft several different cuttings together to form an artistic grouping.  

In Europe, you sometimes find the Desert Rose grafted onto an Oleander stock. The Oleander graft combination allows the Desert Rose to grow faster and produce more flowers.  

The Basics of Starting Desert Rose Adenium obesum from Cuttings:

If you have a plant sending out long shoots, it’s a good idea to prune as a way of guiding and controlling plant growth. You can use the pruned sections to create brand-new, interesting plants.

  1. Cuttings at least 6 inches long are ideal for rooting succulent stems. Sort through the shoots after pruning the plant and select the best ones.
  2. Place them in a warm, dry area away from direct sunlight, and spread them out on a newspaper or a paper towel. Let the cuttings dry for 48 hours.
  3. After two days, prepare a pot or container with a gravelly, well-drained potting mix.
  4. Dust the cut end with rooting powder and insert it into the planting mix. To thoroughly soak the planting mixture, use a spray bottle. Mist every couple of days to keep the soil moist but be sure not to allow it to become thoroughly drenched. Desert Rose does not like to be waterlogged, and the roots will quickly rot if you allow the soil to stay too wet.
  5. Place your developing plant in a warm, bright, still, area either indoors or outdoors and keep a close eye on it. If you are using an indoor location, be sure to turn the growing plant every day or two so it will get even sunlight. Otherwise, it will tend to bend toward the sun.
  6. When it begins to sprout new leaves, you’ll know it is well-established enough to move the young plant to a sunnier place. Mature, well-established Desert Rose plants enjoy bright, full sunlight. They can be planted directly into the ground outdoors, but because they are tropical and not cold-hardy at all, it is usually better to plant them in containers to make moving indoors for the winter easier.

How to Sow Desert Rose Seeds  

  • To plant seeds, start with a well-drained soil mix. Use a shallow pot or a tray placed in an area with bright indirect light. You may want to use a warming pad to keep the growing medium at a steady temperature of 80 to 85°F.
  • Evenly sprinkle the seeds over the surface of the growing medium and cover them very lightly with a thin layer of sand.
  • Use a spray bottle to saturate the growing medium evenly with water. This process should be repeated on alternate days until the seeds sprout.
  • Seedlings sprout should appear within three to seven days. Every couple of days, keep misting them to keep them evenly and lightly watered. Seedlings should be large enough to transplant into individual containers in about a month.

How to Harvest Desert Rose Seed Pods  

The advantage of propagating Desert Rose from seed is that you can be sure of growing plants that develop the thick, bulbous, fat base above-ground caudex that makes these plants so interesting and attractive. It will take several years for the Caudex to develop so be patient!  

You can buy Adenium seeds online or from specialty nurseries; however, be careful to get fresh seeds. The fresher the seed, the better your results will be. If you have several plants for cross-pollination, you can harvest desert rose plant seeds from your plants at the end of the growing season and plant the seeds in the springtime.  

For seeds on your plants, look for the development of bean-like seed pods. These usually appear in pairs. As the pods ripen, they will begin to look swollen. At this point, you may want to place a net bag over the pods and secure it with a twist tie, twine, or a rubber band. This will prevent your seeds from flying away when the seed pod bursts.  

When the pod bursts, gather the seeds and remove the dandelion-like fluff from the ends. Plant the fresh seeds right away for the best results.  

Medicinal Value of Desert Rose  

Desert rose adenium has been used to make traditional medicines all over the world. The entire local Adenium obesum species is significant and has historically been utilized in medicine to cure a variety of illnesses.  

The paste of the entire desert rose plant is used mostly to cure sexual problems in Omani culture. Desert rose is a helpful plant having anti-cancer, anti-parasitic, and anti-microbial qualities. Additionally, it can strengthen the immune system, lessen discomfort, inhibit garden pests, treat tooth infections, heal wounds, and treat nose illnesses. 

Please consult with a healthcare expert before consuming this plant as the proper dosage is unknown. 

Common Pests and Problems With Desert Rose   

Desert rose is a relatively disease- and pest-free plant. However, it can be susceptible to most common problems.

Aphids: These tiny insects can infest the leaves and stems, causing damage and stunted growth. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control them.

Mealybugs: These small, white, cotton-like insects can be found on the plant's leaves and stems. They suck sap from the plant, leading to weak growth. Remove them manually or use insecticidal soap.

Oleander caterpillars: If you notice caterpillars on your plant, pick them off by hand (wear gloves) and treat the plant with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) as quickly as possible. These caterpillars can quickly defoliate your plant but don't give up. Once the caterpillars are in check, the plant will quickly regenerate with fresh, dark green leaves.

Spider Mites (tetranychus urticae): These tiny pests can create webbing on the leaves and cause yellowing or stippling. Regularly misting the plant and using insecticidal soap can help control them.

Root Rot: The most pervasive problem for Desert Rose is root rot. Over-watering should be avoided at all costs. These plants retain water in their thick roots. They do not need or want to stand in water, so it is far better to err on the side of underwatering when it comes to watering. Remember to water sparingly and make sure your plant’s drainage system is working properly. 

Leaf Spot: Powdery mildew is a fungus that causes blister-like marks on upper leaf surfaces and distorted growth. It spreads more frequently during cool, damp nights and warm days. To prevent it, mist leaves, apply a fungicide, prune when stems and branches bunch up, and maintain adequate plant spacing.

Leaf Drop or Yellowing of Leaves: A fungal disease called Anthracnose is sometimes a problem for Adenium. If your plant’s leaves develop tan lesions and then turn yellow or cause sudden leaf loss, Anthracnose is probably the problem.

This disease usually occurs in the early summer or in the autumn and resolves on its own. Just reduce watering and rake up the fallen leaves to remove the fungus spores. Your plant should recover nicely.

Sunburn: Desert Rose plants can get sunburned if exposed to intense sunlight without acclimation. Gradually introduce them to direct sunlight to avoid sunburn.

Remember to regularly inspect your Desert Rose plants for any signs of pests or problems and take appropriate action to keep them healthy.

Where to Buy to Desert Rose?

When it comes to buying plant Desert rose, unless you have a local nursery that specializes in succulents; then you may have a hard time finding desert rose near you. Planet Desert is your easiest and best option if you're looking to buy affordable cacti online and have them conveniently shipped right to your door!  

Here is the link to our product page for Desert rose.  On Planet Desert we have a large selection of over 500 cacti & succulents in stock and we guarantee they will arrive happy and healthy.

Desert Rose Quick Growing Reference Guide 

Bloom Season Early Spring, Mid Summer
Botanical Name Adenium obesum
Common Name Desert rose, Sabi star, mock azalea, impala lily
Dormancy Winter
Family Apocynaceae
Flower Color Pink, red, rose, white, yellow
Genus Adenium
Growth Habit Shrub
Growth Rate Slow
Hardiness Zone 11, 12
Mature Size 10 ft. tall, 6 ft. wide
Native Area Tropical Africa, Arabian Peninsula
Plant Type Succulent
Propagation By stem cuttings, seeds
Resistance Drought tolerant, heat resistant, pest resistant
Soil PH 6.5, Acidic, Neutral
Soil Type Succulent potting mix soil
Special Features Showy flowers, Used as bonsai
Sun Exposure Full sun, partial shade
Toxicity Mildly toxic to humans, mildly toxic to pets (Keep away from children)
Watering Needs Moderate

Final Thoughts

The Desert Rose, also known as Adenium, is a single specimen of one of these rugged, long-lived plants can provide a wealth of gardening enjoyment. They can be planted in the landscape, maintained as container plants, kept as bonsai, grafted together, grafted with oleander or even planted upside down to create visually fascinating shapes and displays.  

In the wild and in ideal settings, these plants can survive and thrive for centuries.  In areas with cooler climates, the care needed by these interesting plants provides a touchstone for the transition from season to season.  

A long-lived desert rose plant enjoys the warmth of the summer, rests in the autumn, and hibernates in the winter. As you care for and enjoy this interesting botanical specimen through the seasons and years, you will surely grow to think of it as a good friend.

Like any succulent plant, it does have its share of pests and problems, such as aphids, mealybugs, root rot, and leaf spot. By being aware of these issues and taking proper care, such as providing well-draining soil and avoiding overwatering, you can enjoy the beauty of the Desert Rose for years to come. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is desert rose an indoor plant?

    Desert rose (Adenium obesum) is a beautiful indoor plant that requires bright, direct sunlight for 4-6 hours daily. It thrives near a south-facing window or under grow lights. It prefers warm temperatures, with a minimum of 60–65 °F during the winter. Well-draining soil is essential, and watering should be thorough but allow for drying. With proper care, you can grow adenium obesum indoors to add exotic beauty.

  • Is the desert rose plant poisonous?

    The sap of the desert rose (Adenium obesum) plant can be harmful if ingested, so it is important to keep the plant out of reach of children and pets. When handling the desert rose, it is a good idea to wear gloves and take care not to get the sap on your skin or in your eyes. With proper care and attention, however, the desert rose can be a beautiful and rewarding plant to grow and enjoy.

  • Is desert rose a lucky plant?

    In Chinese cultures, the desert rose is considered a lucky plant that brings good fortune and prosperity to the home. In Feng Shui, for example, the desert rose is believed to attract positive energy and promote wealth and success. The plant is also sometimes associated with love and romance, and it is said to help create a harmonious and peaceful atmosphere in the home. While there is no scientific evidence to support these claims, the desert rose is a beautiful and unique plant that can add a touch of exotic beauty to any space, and it is certainly a plant worth growing and enjoying for its own sake.

  • Why is Adenium obesum called a desert rose?

    The Adenium obesum desert rose is not actually a true rose, but it earned its name because its flower shape resembles that of a rose. Just like a rose, it showcases stunning and intricate flower formations. However, unlike traditional roses, the desert rose has adapted to survive in harsh conditions with limited water availability. Its thick, succulent-like stems and leaves store water, allowing it to withstand long periods of drought.

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