How much water do you give a desert rose? How often do you water desert roses? What's the temperature range for desert roses? When we're growing desert roses from seeds, these are the frequently asked questions. If you're wondering the same thing, then let's find out together.
We'll go through this process from baby seeds to grown-up desert roses plants to see how much sunlight and water they need in this timeline below:
If you get adenium seeds, try soaking them in water for 24 hours to compensate for moisture loss during shipping & increase germination rate.
For the first 7-10 days, keep your growing medium moist & not soggy. At this point, we don't bring them out to full sun yet. Semi-sunlight (semi-shade) for about 2-4 hours a day is good for the babies.
After about 5 days, you will see a curvy green stem sprouting up. It's adorable! We try to keep the moisture high so they can easily crack out from their shells.
After 10 days, the little sprouts will now stand taller with some tiny green leaves. If the brown shells do not drop, you can just leave them as-is. They may fall off later as the tree grows.
In some cases, the brown shells act as "sunscreen" or shade cloth. When they eventually fall off, then possibly the area covered by the shell will be paler than the rest of the adenium body around. Just like somebody wearing sunglasses for a long time.
1 Month Old
When the plants are about 1 month old, they will have about 4-5 leaves. If you notice that the leaves are a bit saggy & dull, then mist them lightly.
If they are full, glossy & green, you don't need to water them at all. They can still survive & it's best that we not overwater them at this point.
It's not really good to water them when the temperature is too high. Also, don't let any water droplets stay on the tips of the leaves. It will cause sunburn & browning.
The best temperature range for your desert rose plants now is 35C (95F) highest in the daytime & 23C (73.4F) lowest at night. Within this range, the plants will grow well.
For the seedlings that you've seen above, I've actually been applying some stuff called EM (effective micro-organisms). It's like fertilizer, but sustainable and powerful. It has given the desert roses very strong growth from what I've seen so far. You can learn more about it here:
6 Pairs of Real Leaves Stage
When they develop 6 pairs of real leaves (not counting the first 2 leaves or cotyledon), you can re-pot them into a bigger pot. Make sure to leave no air pockets in the soil mix. Because it may take longer for the roots to develop & grab on.
After re-potting, mist the plants. They are now stronger & more ready to go outside. About 6-8 hours of sunlight will be great for their development.
Now, our babies are about 2 months old. We can keep them in these pots for about 5 months before they grow bigger. Check the plants every 7-10 days, if the soil is totally dry, then water them.
Otherwise, pretend they are not there & do not disturb. When watering, make sure the soil drains well & the water does not sit around. Otherwise, it can cause root rot. Keep going this way until they reach about 6-7 months old.
6-7 Months Old
At this point, you can transplant the desert roses into bigger individual pots for the roots to grow out more. Again, we leave no air pockets in the new soil (it makes newer roots harder to grab on the soil because of the space created).
With the same idea, you check the soil & if it's bone dry, give your plants some water. You can also look at their leaves. If the leaves are quite curled, pale & the caudex is a bit shrunk, then your plants may be thirsty.
If your leaves are turning yellow or you see spots popping up on the caudex, it may be a sign of overwatering. This may cause root rot. When you see this, cut the water amount immediately. Cut out the rotted part, let it dry out under the sun for several days & replant the adenium into the soil.
1 Year Old
Congrats, you and your adenium have made it this far! Desert roses grown from seeds are usually healthier than those grown from cuttings. Thus, many can produce flowers within the first & a half year. During this growing phase, make sure you give them lots of water, especially if you live in a very hot climate.
When leaves are getting bigger, you can water them every three days. When flowers start forming, water them daily. Always remember to have a well-draining soil so water can exit out easily.
Placing the plants in full sun at this point will tremendously help their growth, flower & seed pod formation. You can keep going this way as your desert rose grows bigger.
Growing On & On
And those are the watering & sunlight guidelines for your adenium from seeds to 1 year old. It's not too complicated, right. Remember to be flexible in your approach depending on the weather, soil or adenium species. If you have any questions, please let us know. Have fun & enjoy this exciting process.
It's good to also take note of the life cycle of adenium. It goes from:
- Leaves & branches - needs nitrogen at this stage
- Flowers - needs more potassium & phosphorous for this stage
Take note to feed them accordingly for optimal results in each stage.
Responses to Readers' Questions
Why the caudex of my desert rose is too soft?
--> Thanks for your question. A softened desert rose caudex may be because of dehydration. Some folks receive the plants in a bare-root condition via postal service shipping, and during that time they may lose a bit of moisture. Which leads to a soft caudex.
You could also check the roots to see if there is any white fungal webbing around. This suggests that the root system may have been infected by some sort of fungi, which in turn could suck out the water from the plant and weaken water and nutrient transport. The desert rose may then need to suck up water and nutrients in the caudex (the 'back up' reservoir) to keep things running. This makes the caudex soft and sometimes shrunk up. The white fungal webbing I mentioned look something like this:
Check around to see if there are any bruised/damaged string roots. Cut off some if needed. If your desert rose is grafted and the mother plant does not have enough energy to carry all the grafted branches, the caudex may be sucked up and the grafted branches may also droop downwards.
To save the plant, you could cut off any energy spenders like flowers, buds, leaves, or some branches. Dry the plant to let the cuts heal. Then let it rest in a nice, cool place (not too sunny). You don't need to water it at this point. Just let it rest well. After 7-21 days, you could replant it in new soil. Give your now super-thirsty desert rose a good shower of water. It will gradually bounce back again. The caudex will harden up again. I hope this helps!
>> More info here: How to save soft caudex on desert rose
Good article..thx. Have been growing them from seed for fun for a number of years. Old lady in fl. Have grown in seed trays and pot. They've done well this year out in al l the rain we get and at least morning sun. Hot here! They've done beautifully. Am bonding some. Have one 4 yrs old in 1" pot. ..still tiny😀😀. Have a 20 yr old plant. Decided to pot it a year ago...found the bottom half very squishy. Left to sit for months. It released and flowered twice. Finally pitted and it's doing beautifully out on full sun as rain. Fun!! Any suggestions for 3" tall lush seedlings? Want to try unusual things. ...
--> Thanks so much & wow it sounds like lots of fun what you've been doing with your desert roses there! I mean, I have some seedlings in pots too and use something called EM1. Don't know if that's something unusual to you but folks seem to like it. I have an article about it here if you want to have a look:
EM1 (Effective Microorganisms) At Home - How to Make: https://zenyrgarden.com/how-to-make-em1-effective-microorganism/
I've been making and using it for quite some time.
And regarding bonding desert roses, you gotta show me pictures of your bonded desert roses some time. Enjoy & Hope this is useful!
In hot Florida. Best time of year to repot, trim, raise my 4 year olds???
--> Thanks for your question. The best time to repot a desert rose is during its active growth season, which is usually spring-summer time, when it grows the fastest and wants a bigger home. I guess you could then base on this info to time the repotting in Florida. When you do the trimming, make sure there are some sunny days ahead so the cut can dry and not get affected by rot-causing fungi in the humid environment. Alternatively, you could use cinnamon or lime powder to cover the fresh cuts after trimming just to be on the safe side. Wood glue could be applied at least 2 weeks after to cover the scar. We don't apply wood glue immediately after trimming because it is non-breathable, which could block moisture evaporation and make the trimmed branch go rot.
How big are your 4-yo now? From my limited experience, some people keep part of the caudex underneath the soil for it to grow bigger. If you notice that the outer skin of the caudex still has some green and wrinkles, then it suggests that that part is more active and growing. If it is gray, then it is more mature and growth may have been stabilized. They raise the plant when that caudex part has grown to the size of their liking.
I'll drop a few links here for you:
- How/When to prune desert roses: https://zenyrgarden.com/how-to-prune-trim-desert-roses/
- How to get big fat adenium caudex: https://zenyrgarden.com/ways-to-get-big-fat-adenium-caudex/
I hope this helps!! See you next time.
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