As it’s commonly known, the Adenium Socotranum or Desert Rose is a popular succulent with gardeners. Its bulbous-shaped trunk (caudex) and twiggy branches make it easily identifiable, along with the socotranum’s dark green leaves and pink flowers.
Adenium socotranum is native to the Socotra Island in the Indian Ocean and can grow taller than some tree species.
Pronounced so-koh-TEAY-num, it’s part of the genus Adenium. Other types of Adenium species include:
The Socotranum is the rarest and most significant of the genus. It’s also the most sought-after among plant lovers.
Adenium Socotranum Care and Cultivation
Caring for an Adenium Socotranum doesn’t have to be difficult when you learn a little about the plant.
Size & Growth
The flowering succulent has a short growing season. When temperatures are warm enough, leaves appear during mid-summer in USDA zones 10b and 11.
Socotranums are slow-growing succulents, but they can reach incredible heights. The bottle-shaped trunk can grow up to 8′ feet in width. The tree can also reach between 10′ to 16′ feet in height.
Socotranum is the largest species of the Adenium family
The dark green leaves are long and wide, with attractive white midribs and veins, and the vertical grooves in the trunk set the Socotranum apart from other Adeniums.
Flowering and Fragrance
Blooms on the socotranum appear in mid-spring before the summer leaves appear. Flowers can be white, pink, or red, though pink is the most common in transplants and indoor plants.
The blooms are around one to two inches. Their saucer shape makes them a conversation piece, along with its unique striped trunk.
Light & Temperature
If temperatures do not fall below 40° degrees Fahrenheit year-round, the succulent can live outdoors. It thrives in weather up to 90° degrees Fahrenheit and requires plenty of sunlight.
Indoors, the succulent needs a southern window with at least 6 hours of bright light.
Even though Socotranum doesn’t mind a lack of watering, it does need plenty of light and heat to grow and produce flowers.
When the temperature drops or daylight hours decrease, move the Desert Rose to a cool, dry location. The plant needs a dormant period before blooming in the spring.
Adenium Watering and Feeding
Adenium socotranum needs weekly watering during the summer months or anytime the soil is dry to the touch. These succulents only grow during the summer and can quickly dry out.
The amount of sunlight the socotranum receives, along with the temperature, regulates its watering schedule.
Fertilizing Adenium once a month with a nitrogen-based liquid fertilizer will keep the succulent growing through the spring and summer. It also provides enough food to last through the formant period.
When you first plant your Desert Rose, start with 6 to 8 ounces of water to revive the root system. During the dormant season, socotranums do not need water or fertilizer.
Soil & Transplanting
A potting soil mix for succulents is good for growing and transplanting. A loose succulent mix retains water without it soaking the roots.
For more, read this article on the Best Soil For Desert Rose Plants
Transplanting in the autumn and winter when the plant is dormant.
Grown indoors, this succulent plant needs repotting every two to three years.
Outdoors, the soil only needs replenishing once a month in the spring and summer with a nitrogen-based fertilizer.
Check out our article on soil for desert roses.
Grooming & Maintenance
- Prune your socotranum at the roots every two years during repotting.
- Trimming the branches in the winter encourages new leaf growth.
- Trim dead leaves and branches as soon as they appear.
- Always wash your hands after grooming. The sap of Desert Rose is poisonous.
How to Propagate Adenium Socotranum
Adenium Socotranums are grown from seeds, measuring between 1.5-2 cm, or branches.
Place the cut branch in a sand and peat potting mix and wait two days before watering. Over-moist soil can cause root rot.
Desert Rose seed does best in a sand and peat soil mix or a blend for succulents. Place the small pot in a bright, sunny window. Water lightly after planting and then when the soil feels dry.
Warm temperatures and light and moist soil are essential when propagating the blooming succulent.
Adenium Socotranum Pests or Diseases
In their natural habitat, adenium socotranum is not susceptible to pests or airborne diseases.
Grown outdoors in favorable climates, aphids, and scale insects can infest the leaves. If left untreated, the insects can damage the plant. Use Neem pesticide oil for plants or an insecticide soap will treat the pest problem.
Indoors, scale insects and spider mites are common problems with socotranums. Poor growing conditions are the leading cause. High humidity and cool air are the ideal breeding ground for pests.
Mealybugs on succulents are another problem indoor growers face. The small insects often target the plant’s roots. The insects can also affect outdoor socotranums.
Adding a mixture of succulent soil and silica to the root base will kill mealybugs and fertilize the plant. You want to keep the soil moist and your socotranum fertilized during an insect infestation.