A strangely beautiful plant, Adenium Obesum is known as the desert rose: yes, it’s from sub-Saharan Africa and the southern Arabian peninsula, but the tubular pinky red blooms (all summer long) don’t look very rose-like. But you get the obesum bit when you consider the swollen water retaining base of the short trunk. Stays pretty much evergreen unless winter temperatures fall below around 10C or the soil becomes particularly dry. Bright spot indoors. Well drained soil. 12 to 18 in. 1 litre decorative pot.
Adenium Obesum is a plant with a fun name and is certainly fun to have around, asking for little in the way of care and maintenance yet providing a succession of ridiculously colourful and showy flowers over a period of several months in the summer. We find it attracts the attention of the younger generation when we display it plant fairs, as they recognise it as being like the mandrake plant which is featured in the Harry Potter books. If you have no idea what we are talking about, take a look here.
Although there are a number of species names attached to the genus Adenium, the RHS seems to think that they are in fact synonymous and that there is just one very variable species which can be found in the Arabian peninsula and in eastern to south western parts of Africa. The trademark bottle shape base to the stem, or caudex, may in some cases be almost wholly below the surface of the ground, but is more usually very visible, and rightly so, otherwise there wouldn’t be much cause to call the plant obese in any sense. The variety Anouk, which we also offer along with the straight species, is quite a slender little slip of a thing, for example.
Give it a sunny spot, but avoid a totally exposed one which may cause scorching of the leaves if under glass. Watering is roughly once a week in the growing season and very occasionally in winter, when the plant may enter dormancy (losing some or all of its leaves in the process) depending on the ambient temperature and moisture in the soil.
Adenium Obesum can slowly grow into a fairly impressive specimen but can be easily restricted by a bit of judicious pruning, which will encouaging branching. Be aware that the milky sap can be an irritant, so you may wish to wear gloves when you are wielding the secateurs.
This video shows photos of some splendid Adenium Obesum plants of all shapes and sizes, accompanied by some odd music.
Adenium Obesum is a tender caudiform succulent with a swollen trunk, glossy evergreen leaves and tubular pink or red flowers in summer suitable as a houseplant.
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