Starting your own desert roses from seeds can be fun & exciting. There are, however, many ways to get it wrong–especially if you're new. It's no better way to learn than actually get your hands dirty & just get to it.

Come join us. Let's have some fun right now.

Must Keep In Mind

When you grow your own baby adenium trees from seeds, remember these things:

  • Not too much water
  • Not too much sun
  • Not too much food
  • Not too much touching / squeezing
  • No transfers or re-pottings

Our Own Mistakes

Oh my. The above are the mistakes that we made & learned along the way–at the costs of some "sacrificial" lovely desert rose plants. Still painful to look at.

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Rest in peace my baby desert roses

You don't want to overwater them because the tiny roots can't take in too much water at this point. It might lead to root rot if we're not careful.

Definitely don't put them under full sun or high-temperature areas yet. The leaves will get burned, especially if there are water droplets on them.


It will look like some dark greenish-gray spot spreading out from the tip slowly spreading to all the leaf body. Then, the leaves will turn bronze/yellow & die off. Have have a look here:

sunburned-desert-rose-seedlings
Sunburned and over-watered leaves

These are the early signs of your young plants getting sunburned & over-watered. Help them immediately.

Here are the adenium seedlings that have been 'cooked' by the sun. It gives off a strong smell of steamed veggies:

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Overheated desert rose seedlings

So you see, not too much sun or too high temperature for the seeds right now. Remember, no fertilizer at this point as well. Too much nutrients will burn or fry your baby plants.

We know these baby plants look so cute. But try not to be tempted by their adorable stem & touch or squeeze them.

We couldn't resist the temptation & touched the little body, ugh (very gently as we remembered). It died off. Now we make a clear cover with some holes above the young plants to keep our fidgeting hands away from our babies.

At this point, it's better not do any transfers or re-pottings. The roots are too young to experience any big shocks or too frequent changes. Choose a pot or tray & just leave your babies in there for a while. They will be thankful for that.

What's A Good Way to Start Adenium Seeds Then?

1. Soak seeds in water

Before sowing, soak your seeds in water for 2-4 hours or 24 hours. This helps loosen up the shell, compensate for moisture loss during shipping, and boost germination rate.

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Soaking a small batch on June 20

For Adenium Tiny Ding Dong, we soak the seeds in water for 2 days. It was an accidental find actually (we were lazy to take the seeds out). The results were surprising and good.

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Soak seeds in water to improve germination rate

Sometimes when you soak the seeds, you may see some floating on the water surface while others sink to the bottom of the containers.

floating-sinking-seeds

We think this is because when some amount of water seeps in, the seeds get heavier. To a point when they are heavy enough, they will sink down. This may be a sign that the little seeds have drunk enough water and are ready to be planted.

Soaking seeds in fungicide

To reduce the risk of fungi on adenium seeds, you can soak the seeds in fungicide or mix the seeds with anti-fungal powder.

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You can soak in fungicide solution or mix in fungicide powder

In some cases, add it to the soil too so fungi can't take over the seeds:

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Fungi attacked adenium desert rose seed

With this step, you can avoid yellow fungi on adenium seeds.

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Yellow fungi on adenium seeds

2. Place seeds horizontally on medium

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Place the desert rose seeds horizontal with the medium

You don't want the plants to sprout up upside down. The safest placement is horizontal. The little seeds will know their way out & adjust accordingly.

If you look closely, you'll see a small thin line on the seed. This is like the door where the plant will sprout out. Sometimes, even if you place seeds horizontally, they may sprout roots-up. So have a quick look at the line & place that side down facing the soil.

Even if you plant the seeds upside down, the smart plants will know & re-orient themselves around over time. It just takes longer though.

3. Put a thin layer of growing medium over

Place a 1/4 inch or 0.5 cm layer of sand, coco fiber or charcoal over the seeds. This helps them not be buried too deep & can start seeking for warm sunlight to sprout out.

4. Keep your plants moist for the first week

During the infancy stage, adenium seeds need a lot of moisture to get themselves up. Be sure to keep your pots moist with moisture-retaining materials like perlite, a towel, tissue paper or sand. Be creative in your own way but remember don't overwater.

If you want a printable, step-by-step guide, here's a good one:

>> Link Instructable: Start desert rose from seeds

When the seeds finally wake up, they will look something like this. So cute right!

adenium-seedlings-different-views

Sowing more adenium seeds

Once your adenium addiction kicks in, at some point it may or will, you may want to sow more adenium seeds. If this is the case, you could try something like a seed tray:

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104 holes (13x8) in the seed tray

The advantage of seed trays like this it requires less soil to get one seed sprouted. Because in cases some may germinate and some may not. So for bigger seed amounts, larger gardens/nurseries use these trays for efficient soil distribution, which also save some costs.

As each compartment is separate, we also get an approximate of the germination rates. As for sowing time, you can pour all the soil on the surface then use a piece of plastic or cardboard to fill up the holes and scrape off any excess. It's a less laborious and relatively quick process, imho, than filling up the soil one by one in each pot, which could get quite boring and time-consuming real soon. But then comes the sowing seeds part, which is fun.

The two minor problems I find with these seed trays are you may need to repot the seeds sooner than those sown in bigger pots. And when we water (mist) it, sometimes the water stays on the connecting joint between each four holes and the edges, which is a small waste. Not a big deal unless you're doing it large scale with thousands of trays to water.

But when they sprout, you'll love it. And enjoy the results :)

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Adenium small babies

How are the babies doing now:

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Adenium babies growing up

You could also do it in small 3 in. (8 cm) pots. These provide a bigger space for adenium to sprout out, which means less transplanting. The process of putting soil in each pot could be repetitive and laborious for some. And of course, you could do it in your own ways, whichever work best for you!

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Adenium sprouting in small pots
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So chubby, so cute!

At this point, when you see the little guys and girls sprout up, looking at them you may have a question in mind:

Why is the body of adenium seedlings red?

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Red and green adenium bodies
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Darker red and green adenium seedlings. Photo: Mr. Ko Adenium

Mr. Ko, an adenium master, helps us with the answer:

The body of seedlings, we call caudex, if the caudex is red, it means the seedlings belong to red or purple flowers. But if the caudex is very green, it means the seedlings belong to white or white with red edge flowers.

So it's not the sunburn kind of red.. Mr. Ko :) then we can have...

Seeds getting ready to say "Hello world"

Growing your own adenium babies can be super fun & easy. If you're a beginner, the goal is 1 seed. Getting just 1 seed to germinate means you're successful. Then, we move on to bigger & bigger amounts.

Stay away from the troubled paths & you will be set to great success with your desert rose seeds. Thanks for visiting & see you again next time! Let us know if you have any questions or if there's anything unclear.

And hey friends, have you checked out some of the best potting mixes for starting seeds? It's over here, please check it out:

>> Link Blog post: 3 adenium potting mix

This seed starting guide below is written in Thai. If someone understands the language, please help us with the translation:

http://www.thailandadenium.com/th/files/15howtoseedlingadenium.pdf

We can't wait to see how the baby adenium turns out to be. Good luck and hope you'll enjoy!

Responses to Readers' Questions

When do i water my newly bought adenium which are bare rooted and i potted them when received?

--> Thanks for your question. To begin with, you could check the overall condition of the adenium and your current local weather. Are the little roots good or a bit bruised upon arrival? If you try pop-squeezing the trunk, is it just about right or quite soft? If there are any damaged roots/parts, cut them off before the rot gets bigger or spreads to the other areas. If they're good, then you can leave them as-is.

Regarding the softness, if the body of your adenium feels quite soft, then it may need some water. In this case, to conserve water & energy to other areas, folks prune back some branches, leaves or flowers/buds so the plant can focus on building up its muscles (hardened body) again. If you choose this route, make sure the weather is a bit warm and sunny so the cuts can dry and heal as excess moisture could make it rot. Then let the bare-rooted adenium rest in a cool shady place. After 10-15 days of 'resting' or 'recovering' for the adenium, growers pot them in new soil and start watering them again.

This is the usual steps I have seen people do after receiving their adenium, even via long-distance shipping. However, if your adenium has grown up quite a bit and you think they can make it, then after re-potting, you could gradually water them again and observe. It may take some time for them to adapt to their new home. Some leaves may turn yellow after transplanting in cases. From my limited experience, after several weeks as things settle in, the plant will bounce back and start the momentum of growing very nicely. Bigger taller good-hard trunk, more bigger leaves. They'll overall look very healthy. You'll be able to tell & enjoy. And I hope this long answer helps!

>> More info here: Received an adenium by post - What to do next?

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