How to Grow Desert Rose in Pot | Adenium obesum Care in Container

Learn how to Grow Desert rose in the pot to create a spectacular display of adenium flowers in a limited space like you never did before!

desert rose in pot

Botanical Name: Adenium obesum

Common Names: Sabi star, Adenium, Kudu, Mock Azalea, Desert rose, and Impala lily

Adenium obesum, also commonly known as desert rose, is a popular flowering plant in tropical and climate regions. The bulbous trunk of this ornamental flowering is why it’s used as a bonsai tree. Being a slow grower (12 inches per year), it fares exceptionally well in containers and blooms in brilliant pink, white, and red hues. As it doesn’t fare well in the cold, grow desert rose in the pot, especially if you live in temperature zones. We discuss all about growing desert rose in the pot in this post!

How to Grow Desert Rose in Pot

Growing desert rose in the pot isn’t much different from growing it in the backyard. Choose a more wide and thick pot than a thin and tall one. Locate it at a spot where it receives 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. In temperature, zones move the pot indoors when the temperature falls below 50 degrees F. Fertilizer twice a month in spring and summers to facilitate blooming.

Propagation Desert Rose

adenium obesum in pot

You can propagate desert rose by both stem cutting and seeds. When grown from cuttings, likely, the characteristic bulbous base of the parent plant won’t pass on the offspring. The thick trunk is intact when you grow it from seeds.

Propagation from Seeds: Ideal time for planting the desert rose seeds is in the spring, which you can get from the nursery or online gardening center. Below we mention the steps needed to grow desert rose in the container.

  1. Soak the seeds overnight to facilitate germination before planting them.
  2. Place the seeds a couple of inches apart in a seed starting tray or container and lightly cover with the potting mix.
  3. Keep the potting medium moist and locate the pot in a warm spot with bright indirect light.
  4. Seeds will germinate in 7-10 days, after which you can move the pot to a sunny location.
  5. Transplant the healthy offshoots into separate pots and watch them grow into stunning plants!

Propagation from Cutting: Growing desert rose from cutting is easy and requires no special skills. Here is how you do it!

  1. Take a cutting 5-6 inches in length from the end of a healthy stem using sharp and sterile pruning snips.
  2. Place the cutting on a clean cloth or tissue in a shaded spot and allow it to dry for a couple of days.
  3. Dip the end of the cutting in rooting hormone and plant it a couple of inches deep in a well-draining potting medium.
  4. Cutting is established in 2 to 6 weeks, and you’ll start to see new growth in this period. Congrats, you have successfully propagated adenium obesum!

NOTE: Wear gloves while taking the cutting as the sap of adenium is toxic and can irritate the skin.

Desert rose blooms 7 to 8 months after planting, provided it receives adequate sunlight. Fertilizing in the spring and summer months also promotes blooming but make sure not to overdo it. Depending on the variety of desert rose, the blooms can be in the varying mix of red, pink, and white.

Choosing the Container

Initially, begin with a pot 10-12 inches wide with thick walls and drainage holes at the bottom. The material of the container isn’t of much significance but if you plan to move the pot around, go for a plastic container. You can also choose clay pots as they absorb excess moisture from the soil and thus reduce the chances of root rot.

desert rose in a bonsai pot

When growing adenium as bonsai, choose bonsai pots that are in proportion to the size of the plant. Bright-colored pots further accentuate the beauty of desert rose!


When the adenium outgrows the pot and becomes pot-bound, growth slows down and eventually stops. The ideal time for re-potting is when the new growth emerges, that’s late winter or early spring. Allow the soil to completely dry out, then gently tug out the plant from the container. Remove the potting mix stuck to the soil and re-pot in the container a couple of inches bigger than the parent pot. Wait for a week for the plant to adjust to the new home before watering.


Desert rose thrives in full sun so locate near a south-facing window, well-lit balcony, or any other spot with access to direct sunlight. In most regions of the United States, it’s advisable to grow it indoors apart from UDSA zone 11 and 12. Provide some protection from the afternoon sun if you grow it outdoors, especially in summers.


Any cacti or succulent potting mix will do wonders to the growth of adenium. The soil must be well-draining made of perlite, pumice, grit, gravel, or sand. Regarding pH, slightly acidic to neutral soil is ideal, with pH ranging from 6 to 7.


The summer and spring months keep the potting mix moist but do not overwater. Water thoroughly and allow the mix to dry out completely before watering again. Reduce watering to once a month in winters as the desert rose tends to turn dormant in the colder months.

TIP: Swollen thick trunk is an indication that the plant is well watered and healthy.

Temperature and Humidity

Desert rose is native to tropical and subtropical plants and thus thrives in warm weather. Ideal temperature ranges from 65 to 90, and it can survive even up to 100 degrees F. It does pretty well in cold regions, but you need to move it indoors as soon as the temperature falls below 45-50 degrees F. It’s used to dry arid conditions, so humidity isn’t of much concern.

Desert Rose Care

desert rose (adenium obesum) blooming on windowsill


Desert rose does not need overwintering in tropical and subtropical regions. Still, you need to overwinter it in regions where the temperature falls below 50 degrees F. Bring the plant indoors and place it in the garage or basement where it’ll be protected from cold. Stop watering until the springs arrive and resume watering, and move the pot to a bright spot with the onset of sprigs. Do not be alarmed with dropping leaves, as it’s normal for desert rose to shed leaves.


Well-balanced liquid fertilizer diluted half to its strength is ideal for promoting blooms. Apply fertilizer twice a month in the growing season, and don’t fertilize in winters when it’s dormant.


When the plant comes out of the dormant stage with new growth, cut back the cold-damaged branches. For symmetry, cut back long leggy branches just above the leaf nodes. Using wires, you can train the stems as a bonsai and prune back the ends, so it doesn’t become leggy.

Pests & Diseases

Common garden pests such as aphids, mites, and mealybugs can cause some trouble, but it’s usually safe in the container. Handpick the pests or spray neem oil solution if the infestation gets severe, which is highly unlikely. Root rot can kill the plant if it’s allowed to sit in water for prolonged periods, so do not overwater. Also, make sure that the pot has drainage holes at the bottom!

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