In the melodic words of Sting, an English recording artist

“I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in pain
I dream of love as time runs through my hand
I dream of fire………………………………………

Sweet desert rose
This memory of Eden haunts us all
This desert flower, this rare perfume
Is the sweet intoxication of the fall”

(Dessert Rose- Sting, Album – Brand New Day 1999)

Adenium Obesum

Adenium Obesum Splash of Red

Encapsulates the essence of the Adeniums or more commonly known as the ‘Desert Rose’ - through all the hardships that one faces, the only thing that gives hope is that one beautiful memory that prevails above all challenges and would give one the strength to carry on.

Just as the lyrics captures the spirit of Adeniums so thus the real flower that inspires it. Native to the harsh environs of arid regions of South and East Africa, Arabian Peninsula and dessert regions of the Americas. With blooms of pinkish-fuchsia petals and white with red and highlights. Hence the moniker “desert rose” came about.


Adenium is a genus in the family of Apocynaceae and have almost 12 species. A close relative to the Frangipani, a Plumeria sub genus. The difference between the two stocks is that, the Adenium has smaller leaves and a swollen base trunk. The most popular species is Adenium Obesum. Some others are Adenium Crispum, Adenium Somalense and Adenium Multiflorum. Many are hybrids. Hybrids are mainly from Taiwan and Thailand with layered petals of different colour tone with exotic look. Adenium flowers are beautiful with bright colour and unique trunk structure. One would be fascinated by the exceptional structure of the plant, the uniqueness of the stem or rootstock, known as the Caudex, with its fleshy base trunk that hold up the head of the branches plus its swollen appearance gives this distinctive plant a bonsai appearance akin to a sumo wrestler in an opening stance facing-of an opponent.

Adeniums are mainly planted as ornamental and for display purposes especially in big pots. It is preferable to plant Adeniums in pots where drainage can be controlled. In the landscape world Adenium are planted as an accent or specimen plant. Adenium is both at home either indoors or outdoors.

Adenium can be propagated either through seed germination and also stem cutting/ bud grafting method. Seed germination will produce large tubers (caudex) compared to stem cutting .However in order to have a collection of different flowers on one trunk, Bud Grafting method is used. A wonderful hybrid collection with myriad colours of petals from bright pink to red and many other colours on one plant.

Adenium requires excellent drainage soil also at the same time able to retain nutrients. Ready-made media are easily available or make d-i-y by mixing these three in the same ratio of 1: charcoal, sand and organic material.

Adeniums will start to flower after 1-2 months of planting. In order for Adenium to flower, it needs a lot of sunlight considering the plant’s desert origin. Full sunlight will give optimum blooming and healthy growth. In order to achieve more branches and more bloom, it can also be attained by cutting or pinching the tip of the plant.

As its moniker suggest, this plant do not need daily or frequent watering. Just water once in 2 days is sufficient. Adenium can even endure without water for a couple of days. Over watering will cause stress or stunt the plant as this will create a water logged and over damped soil resulting the root to rot. As for the nutrient, used granular fertiliser for more blooming, supplement with folier fertiliser and spray once a week.

Do take note that the sap of the plant contains cardiac glycosides, an organic compound that is potent in disrupting function of the heart. Be cautious when handling the plant during pruning, a pair of good rubber lined gardening gloves would suffice. Discourage children from plucking flowers as they might break a stem and expose themselves to the sap.

Come to Anjung FLORIA Putrajaya from 30th October to 1st November 2015 for the FLORIA Lifestyle October Fest event where the Adenium is the theme flower. Don’t miss this wonderful event and get to know this beauty of the desert.


Original Article By:

Puan Siti Zakiah Mohamad, Landscape Architect.



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