Brrr brrr... the cold wind is blowing by. Winter is fast approaching and you want to take the best care of your lovely adenium. Among all the other species, Adenium Multiflorum and Adenium Swazicum are two of the most cold-hardy adenium. The popular Obesum and Arabicum don’t really take the cold weather very well.

With that said, all of them still need to be watched closely through the cold winter months because frost might damage them. There are a few key points you should keep in mind. Let's put our coats on & check them out right below.

Going Into Dormancy

Most adenium varieties will show signs of them going into dormancy as fall approaches, regardless of the conditions. This could be a sudden yellowing and partial or total dropping of the leaves. Or the slowing down of branch growth.

Some weeks before the yellowing-n-dropping, you may notice a significant decrease in water consumption. So water them sparingly at this time as winter comes close. If however you see the stem tips are still pushing out new leaves, then keep watering them as normal.

The timing and length of dormancy varies among different varieties, and even among clones of the same variety in different environments from year to year. So recognizing that your plants are going into 'sleep mode' can help tremendously for their winter care.

Adenium variety Some dormancy signs
Boehmianum, Swazicum Defoliation
Somalense, Arabicum Slowing stem growth

Near the end of December 2020, a reader shared with us: We live in BAJA IN THE WINTER. DOES THE DESERT ROSE GO DORMANT AT THAT TIME? THE LEAVES SEEM TO GO YELLOW AND FALL OFF.

Based on their description, this is definitely a signal it's going dormant. And in the US, you can overwinter the plants from November to April in the garage, the basement or in a greenhouse.

Continue Reading Below

1. Overwinter Your Desert Roses

Cold-hardy adenium swazicum | Source

If the outside is not too cold, you could overwinter your desert roses outdoors. Placing the adenium in places with absolutely no frost or somewhere bone-dry will help.

Try placing them against a wall or under a roof cover like your porch roof. The heat trapped by the wall could help keep the plants warmer. Make sure no rain or water gets into contact with your plants.

It is okay at this point just to let your adenium go dormant. Cold winter nights trigger the dropping of the leaves. You can also force this by cutting off the leaves. If temperatures hit under the 20s F (-6C), you should move your plants indoors or cover them with at least two layers of covers.

If you want to cover your plants, try using a plastic drape and wrap it gently around the plants. Suspend the layers over the plants to keep them warm. Place some stones or bricks on the drape so the wind won't blow them away.

Warm Plant Cover
* Keep plants warm
* Cut into any size & length
* Reusable

After keeping them warm, we can then look to watering for our desert roses in the winter:

2. Water for Your Adenium During Winter

If you’ve already overwintered your plants with temperatures of 50F (10C) or above then you should keep the plants absolutely dry until the weather warms up and the plants begin showing signs of growth.

This may be in spring, April or May. Then you can begin watering your plants again. Remember to thoroughly drench the soil to avoid any salt buildups, especially in terracotta pots. And don't water too much too soon or over-pot them, because it might cause root rot.

If you have a small plant in a smaller pot, you may only need to water it once a month or none at all during the dormancy period. Bigger, leafless plants don’t really need extra water because their caudex–the water storage part–will have enough for them to survive the cold months. You could water it as little as once per month.

3. Indoor Care for Your Desert Rose

If the outdoor temperatures in your local area are too extreme for the plants, take them indoors before the winter hits. If you do so, make sure the indoor temperatures are from 55F (13C) and above. Some varieties like Obesum, Swazicum and their hybrids can be kept active during the winter at temperatures above 50F (10C).

Light is not essential for the adenium during dormancy. However some winter bloomers like the Somalense and Multiflorum may not flower in low light condition. Because of the low light condition, some may grow spindly (or leggy) branches in the winter.

If your plants haven’t gone dormant at this time, you may want to force it to do so. By not watering it for some time, the leaves will begin to turn yellow & drop, and the plants will begin to “fall asleep” during the winter months.

4. Post-Frost Care & The End of Dormancy

If some of the branches are affected by frost, you can prune them back in spring or when the weather gets warmer. When left frozen, the stems might rot and might eventually affect the whole plant.

After winter is over, replant your desert roses into a nice, nutrient-rich adenium soil mix. And remember not to over-pot (plant them in a too large pot). Give them a comfortable pot to live in and lots of sunlight gradually.

When the overwintered plants get their first sunlight again, their foliage may scorch (get sunburned). This is not a big issue however because new, sun-adapted leaves will grow out soon.

Watch for the sprouting leaves and buds. And increase the watering frequency gradually into full growth. Your plants will begin growing and blooming happily again.

Warm & Happy Desert Roses

Smiling flowers after winter is over | Source

These are a few key points you should keep in mind when taking care of your adenium in the winter. You can overwinter your plants outdoors or indoors. Make sure to give them warm, protective covers with at least two layers.

During the dormancy period, keep your plants bone dry. Excess water with little sunlight might lead to rotting. For smaller plants, we may just need to water them once a month or none at all. If your adenium roses branches have been frozen, wait until spring to prune or cut them off.

Here's a simple guide on pruning desert roses:

>> Link Blog post: How to prune desert roses

After pruning, replant your babies into a good, healthy soil mix and give it lots of sunlight. The plants will begin growing happily again.

Hope this brief post was helpful to you. If you have any questions, please let us know. And as always, happy gardening. Be well.


Responses to Readers' Questions

Can I put mine in a outside greenhouse in the winter? I live on the coast of South Carolina and the winters are usually in the 40's

--> Thanks for your question. What is the temperature in the greenhouse night and day? Is it heated or cooled? Large adenium can be wintered in greenhouses where it reaches 90F/32C day and 40F/5C night. Their growth may eventually shut down during this period. Light is not essential, also reduce and stop watering when it hits below 50F/10C on a regular basis at night. But keep them in a dry, frost-free place. Frost could rot or damage the desert rose. Keep us updated, I hope this helps!

See more here (the 'Overwintering' part):

I still didn't get what is safe temperature for Adenium when keeping outside? what do you mean frost-free/ Can you be more specific? and how about the water of prain or snow? Could they a problem? My Adenium is 2 years old. I don't have a greenhouse. The outside temperature varies in autumn 16 C Day / 3-4 C Night. The winter is same with very rare under 0 C. Can I keep them all outside without a plastic drape or should I bring them inside and if I do so, ehat is safe temperature for inside? sth between 0 to 5 C is ok?

--> Thanks for your question. Frost free simply means don't let frost touch your desert rose, it could lead to rot, as one of our readers has experienced here.


Try to minimize rain and snow contact. You could find a dry location for the plant. The safe temperature for inside is from 10-13C and above. Between 0 to 5C might be colder than ideal for them. Under this condition, they may eventually shut down and succumb to rot.

You could move the plants inside, drape to keep warm, light is not essential at this point, water only sparingly (once a month for large, leafless plants) over the winter. Water and introduce to more sunlight as the weather warms up and the plants show signs of new bud growth. I hope this helps and answers your question!

Here is some more info for you (from this YouTube video):

Hello Zenyr Garden, I replied to You right away and just now found out that my reply is not here so I'll type it again: First of all I'm glad that You like this video. As for the cold temperature, I don't have personal experience but Dr. Mark Dimmitt who grew and hybridize Adenim in Arizona wrote that the older once had no problem stay dormant every winter while exposed to several nites a year to slight frost. They just stopped growing, lost all the leaves, he stopped watering them and in spring they woke up

I live on the east coast of India where winter temperatures rarely drop below 10°C.  How do I take care of my potted adendium which is losing its leaves now?

--> Thanks for your question. East coast of India. Does it snow/rain during the wintertime in your region? If it rains or snows, I'd say to protect your adenium against those as they could cause rot. You could either place it in a dry location or cover it if you're placing it outside. If you're keeping it inside, from 10C above will be ok. What is the night temperature there? If the nights outside drop below 10C, consider moving it indoors for warmth.

Since the plant is losing its leaves now, you can reduce watering (as leaves dropping signal dormancy and decline in water consumption). Give it only a little water during the winter as it's going to be leafless. Not much light is needed at this point. Watch for the new leaves growth. When spring comes, water it again and give it more sunlight naturally. The plant will wake up again. I hope this helps!


I was told by an employee at nursery where I purchased our desert roses here in Fort Worth that I can take them out of the pot and store them in a dark closet for the winter: no pot and no soil. I was too chicken to try that, so I have been storing them in their pots in a dark closet under the stairs. They are now much bigger, and I do not have room for the pots. Have you ever tried storing them out of the soil?

--> Hi, thanks for your question. I haven't personally for the purpose of storing it through winter; however the time frame when I've seen the desert rose out of the soil is when people prune them both top and bottom for something called root training or so for a bigger caudex. And in other cases they might dig the plant up and dry them from the fungi or root rot which can sometimes be signaled by a soft caudex. The out-of-soil period for such is usually 2-3 weeks. I'm not sure though if it could make it longer. Your message reminds me of a case where a lady was traveling with her desert rose interstate. As perhaps no soil is allowed, she had a plan to wrap her desert rose with wet paper towel. So if you're worried and don't have any more space for pots, would it be a crazy idea to try something more fitting like "wearing stockings" "of soil" for the desert roses? Could a ziploc bag work...or would it make a mess... In any case, just to remind you, desert roses are really resillient plants and they won't be knocked out easily. In the winter months, they might just slow down growth (not use a lot of water) and sometimes you might see some losing their leaves. But as long as the base (or aka the caudex) is still firm, chances of survival are still there. Don't worry too much! I hope this helps!

(P.S: I've seen a sort-of similar thing done to a type of fruit tree somewhere in Texas. It's a 12-year-old sugar apple plant in a 30, 40 or so gallon pot. Around late October or early November, they would take the soil out of the pot, water the dirt out of the roots then put new soil in just about half way and store away in the garage or basement. When spring comes, they'll bring it out and top up with the new soil.)

My adenium has flower buds on them even during this December. Should I water them while they are indoors?

--> Hi, thanks for your question. Some adenium do flower even in winter. I am not sure though about the watering for them in this case. Are you growing them indoors with or with low light? How is the overall caudex and branches? I'm thinking (and guessing) that you could give them a little bit of water to compensate for the flower growth usage. But not too much, especially in a low light condition or with a caudex that is still quite firm, as it might lead to an overwater for the months in dormancy, which could cause root rot. I think after the blooming, you may just leave it as-is to rest til spring comes. I hope this helps. See you again next time!

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