Seed-grown adenium usually have a smooth connecting caudex with the stem all the way around the roots. Whereas on cutting-grown adenium, you may see some creases at the border of the stem and the caudex. The overall shape of a seed-grown plant may get gradually bigger from top to bottom. The shape of a cutting-grown one may not get as big unless the roots are trained.
As you can see right below, the adenium on the left is grown from seed. And the adenium on the right is propagated from cutting. Let's see some more details on how to tell which is which before getting one.
The easiest and fastest way is to look for:
The caudex-stem connection
On seed-grown adenium, you'll see a very smooth connection between the caudex and the stem.
If you have a look around the bigger roots, you can see it's all one-piece connection. There are no visible scars or creases.
On cutting-grown adenium, you'll quickly recognize the creases.
This is usually because adenium cuttings have a flat-cut end. The roots will start growing out from there, forming the creased borderline. The bigger plant will take the shape of the smaller cutting.
Some other differences
Resistance against rotting
As the caudex-stem-root system of a seed-grown adenium runs one-line smoothly through out, if there are any fungal infections, the fungus may easily run its thread through and around the base. And because of its bigger water-storing caudex, chances of rotting for seed-grown adenium are higher. From some growers' experience, if the infection is really bad, the seed-grown adenium may have a harder time self-healing than the cutting-grown one.
Cutting-grown adenium, especially its creased borderline, turns out to be an advantage regarding resistance to rotting. If one of the roots gets rotted and it cannot self-heal, the rotting part may run upwards. However, the max it can run up is usually to the creased border. With its smaller caudex, chances of accidental rotting for cutting-grown adenium is thus lower.
Right about the creased borderline is a sort of joint. The stem of the adenium usually has more older fiber whereas as the root part has younger fresher one. Because of this, the plants can do something called detaching the joint. This happens when the root can no longer reach the nutrients in the medium or when it is pressed by bigger roots. The plant will stop growing (detach) that root part. When the infected root part is detached, chances of survival for the adenium plant are high. This is the reason why people say cutting-grown adenium could live longer than seed-grown ones.
For the first two years, seed-grown adenium grow very vigorously. Its caudex, branches, and leaves develop fast. For cutting-grown adenium, they may not grow as fast in the first two years. But past that time point, they can really do well when given good conditions.
The roots of seeded adenium are usually more curled up together. Sometimes, some roots may be pressed by other bigger roots, making them grow very small. Here is a natural seed-grown adenium root shape:
For cutting-grown adenium, you can easily shape the roots however you like. You can spread the roots out to form a radial root shape. Or elongate them for a high-root adenium style. This is why many growers, who love shaping roots on adenium choose cutting-grown ones to shape them to their eye of beauty and liking.
It is possible to find seed-grown adenium with some natural evenly shaped root system. But it's more random and more rare–like this one below as an example:
This tiny adenium looks like its roots have been shaped by a human hand. But they have not been so actually. It is all in its natural form. And in some growers' eyes, this is very nice and a natural beauty. Which partly explains why they are willing to pay more for this compared to other seed-grown ones.
Regarding the caudex part, seeded plants usually develop a bigger caudex. The cutting-grown adenium have smaller, slower-growing caudex and sometimes they don't develop any at all. To some growers, cutting-grown adenium have nice-looking caudex.
For seed-grown adenium, it may flower as early as month 7 or within the first year. For cutting-grown adenium, if the cut branch is strong, it can also flower 11 months after being planted.
Both seed-grown and cutting-grown adenium can produce seeds. For the seeded ones, however, the color of the flower is not known beforehand. This is because of gene probability. The offspring may produce flower with the exact same color like its mother or father. Or chances are it may be a totally different color.
For adenium cuttings, however, you will know the flower color beforehand. This is because cuttings are exact clones of the mother plant. They will have the same gene, the same age even (at the point of being cut off). Thus, if you know the color of the mother plant's flower, the cutting-grown ones will have that same flower color.
Both versions are good for grafting. When you graft the scion on a cutting-grown adenium, it will grow very well. This is partly again due to their lower chances of rotting. Which is again the number one reason why most grafting joints fail. So growers could use cuttings for grafting to lessen chances of rotting.
To promote more branches, you could prune the cutting-grown adenium back. It will develop more branches like the seed-grown one. Then growers graft on them double-petal or triple-petal adenium flowers.
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