Is it difficult to grow Adenium or Desert Roses from seeds? The answer – is NO! They are also fun to discover new flower colors and forms only found in true seed-grown plants.
The Desert Rose, the common name for Adenium obesum [a-DEE-nee-um, oh-BEE-sum], is a flowering plant native to parts of southern Africa and Arabia.
It’s a succulent shrub producing tubular flowers with five petals. The flowers are often red or pink and their beauty helps light up any garden, porch, or windowsill.
The plant is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 10 through 11, natively growing in wet, humid areas.
To cultivate your own as a houseplant or garden shrub, learn how to start and grow Desert Rose from seeds.
What Is the Best Soil for Desert Rose?
Growing healthy Desert roses requires the right type of soil. Use a standard cactus or succulent potting soil.
The succulent Adenium rose needs sandy and porous soil that provides aeration and superior drainage. This keeps the root system from sitting in moisture, which leads to root rot.
A homemade mixture may also work as a substitute for commercial cactus soil mix:
- One-part garden soil
- One-part sand
- One-part pebbles or gravel
Desert Rose also requires lots of nutrients.
Adding a small amount of vermiculite, pumice, perlite, or peat moss should help improve aeration and drainage while delivering extra nutrients to the plant.
Harvesting Seeds From Mature Adenium Obesum Plants
Along with selecting the best soil, it helps to select the best seeds.
Fresh Desert Rose / Adenium seeds provide a higher germination rate and tend to germinate quicker.
To ensure the quality of the seeds, purchase from a trusted dealer or garden supply store.
It’s also possible to harvest seeds from mature plants.
- Seed pods appear on adult plants, resembling small cigars.
- Remove the pods after they mature.
- They start to turn a dark brown color and appear slightly shriveled.
- Don’t allow the pods to open naturally while still attached to the plant.
- After the pods open and the seeds disperse, they become unsuitable for harvesting, as they may not remain fresh.
- Clip off the mature pods and allow them to dry on a flat surface.
- Peel open the pods and collect the seeds.
How To Plant Desert Rose Seeds in a Tray or Container
Use a seedling starter tray or small pots for the seeds. We like a starter tray for seed germination.
NOTE: If the trays don’t have drain holes, use a pen or sharp instrument to carefully puncture a hole in each section or compartment.
- Add cactus or succulent potting mix, or use a homemade potting mix to the tray or containers.
- Scatter the seeds over the top of the growing medium.
- For starter trays with compartments measuring less than 4″ inches, place one seed in each section.
- With larger compartments and clay pots, add several seeds.
- Cover the seeds with soil, adding only enough medium to keep the seeds from blowing away.
- Don’t bury the seeds.
Add small stones to a shallow, waterproof tray, such as a cat litter bin.
It needs to be large enough to hold the starter tray or clay pots.
Pour water into the bin until the water level just reaches the top of the stones.
- Place the tray or pots on top of the stones and set the bin on top of a heating pad.
- Every three days, spray the top of the soil using a spray bottle.
- The soil should be moist but not heavily saturated.
- Check the water level in the bin regularly.
- Try to maintain a level just below the surface of the stones.
- Keep the heating pad on to maintain a temperature between 80° – 85° degrees Fahrenheit (26° C – 29° C).
- Adenium obesum seeds don’t take long to germinate. They typically sprout within one week.
- After the seedlings appear, stop watering from above.
- As the seedlings grow, they’ll develop several sets of leaves.
- Wait until the young plants grow at least six leaves before transplanting.
- This should take about four weeks.
Transplanting Desert Rose
Before transplanting the plants, prepare the new homes.
- Start the new seedlings off in 4″ pots – clay pots or plastic containers with several drainage holes are fine.
- A smaller allows the plant to become rootbound, which encourages better growth for a future Desert Rose bonsai.
- Add your potting soil or homemade soil to the container.
- Mix slow-release fertilizer pellets into the soil. More on Adenium fertilizer.
- Use your finger or potting stick to make small holes in the soil.
- The hole should be about the same depth as the container currently containing the young plants.
- This ensures the root system doesn’t get crushed while transplanting.
- Carefully remove each seedling from its current container.
- When removing seedlings from the starter trays, it helps to lightly squeeze the edges of the compartments to break up the soil.
- Place the seedlings in the holes and gently pack the soil around them to keep them upright.
- Acclimate the seedling slowly to full sun, such as a south-facing window.
- It needs at least eight hours of bright sunlight each day.
After growing Desert Rose from seed to young plant, follow the standard plant care suggestions for this succulent shrub.
We’ve had plants growing from seed flowers within a year to 18 months.