Adenium, also known as desert rose and sabi star. This beautiful succulent is truly a favourite around the world.. and it’s not hard to grow from seed. I have four sitting under a grow light at the moment. So here is how I am growing adenium from seeds!
While it has been somewhat easy to grow – that doesn’t mean they aren’t picky. The desert rose LOVES heat and any hint of cold, especially when they are young – it will let you know. When my seedlings were about a month old, I let the lid off for a night and the next morning the leaves were fading away. Thankfully the cadeaux (the trunk) held it together and they survived.
But it’s all live and learn. I now know that they really prefer a warm environment.
A warning about adeniums
Now before I delve further into how I grew adeniums from seeds, it’s really important for everyone to know that this plant is TOXIC.
I am talking about the whole thing, leaves, flowers, the sap. All toxic. Especially to animals and younger children but as well to adults.. So if you are planning on growing adenium, I would NOT recommend it if you have children or animals in the home.
This also doesn’t mean you should be scared of growing them. As long as you don’t ingest or lick any part of the plant. You should be ok.
Some precautions you can take:
- Use gloves to handle the desert rose.
- Immediately wash your hands after touching, especially if you touched the sap.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
I have handled my desert rose several times without issue. I always make sure to wash my hands whenever I am finished.
Can you grow adenium in colder climates?
If you’re wondering about growing adenium from seeds in colder climates – I am in Southern Ontario and I have successfully grown adeniums.
I would recommend starting the seeds in a takeout box (with a clear lid), filled with sterile cactus/perlite mixture. This will allow the moisture to stay inside as the seeds germinate.
Since adeniums are a summer succulent, you want to to make sure you plant them in the spring. Giving them lots of time to grow until fall when they will lie dormant for the winter.
When planting seeds in a colder climate, it’s best to use products that will simulate a warmer climate. For example, I use a heat mat, and once my succulent grew out of the original takeout box – I put them into a separate smaller pots and then placed those pots inside a plastic cover.
I also used a grow light. At first it was a cheap LED blue and red one but after a while I switched to a better and bigger grow light that used white/yellow light. That seemed to work better for the desert rose.
Sowing adenium seeds
Sowing & growing adenium from seeds is actually quite easy.
First let’s talk soil: Adeniums are a variety of succulent so it needs soil that is well draining. For mine, I used cactus mix with perlite. Around 1:1 ratio, perhaps even a bit more perlite than soil.
One thing I always try to do is to sterilize the soil. I mix the cactus soil with the perlite and microwave it for about 3 minutes on high. This will kill any bacteria that is harmful to the adenium. Make sure you let it cool.
While the soil is cooling – place the adenium seeds in a glass of warm water. This will help germination. I usually leave it for a few hours.
When the soil has cooled, I place some soil into a plastic takeout box that has a clear lid. I usually have it about 4-5 inches deep if possible. Give it a good watering so that it is all wet – but not drenched or pooling.
Place the adenium seeds on top of the soil, about 2 inches apart. Press them lightly into the soil and place a small dusting of soil over the seeds. Just a slight dusting – not enough to fully submerge them.
Place the lid on the container and place in a well lit, warm area.
Because I am in Canada and started these seeds in March, it was a bit touch and go at the beginning. Like I said above, to replicate that warm environment, I had to use both a grow light and a heat mat. I’d say if your desert rose seedling is in a well lit area – you could forgo the grow light but the warmth is necessary.
With the necessary heat and light, most of your desert rose seeds should germinate within a week. Keep the light and heat consistent until warmer weather. Once it hits around 20°C – I was able to uncover my seedlings to adjust them to the outside temperature.
At first, I gave my adenium seedlings succulent food – starting after a few weeks… However I have found that bone meal is the best food to give them! It smells awful but it really works wonders! I will place bone meal in the pot and give it a good watering. You will start to notice that the water will run brown – once it begins to run clear again (a few weeks or so) – you can add more bone meal back in and repeat.
I haven’t had my desert roses over the winter yet – but once September rolls around I will start to water them less to get them accustomed to winter. In the winter, I expect to water only 1-3 times.
What I learned along the way by growing adenium from seeds
Like I said – adeniums can be temperamental.. and there’s a few things I learned so far.
- A wrinkly cadeaux (trunk) – if you notice that the trunk of the desert rose has begun to wrinkle – that is usually a sign that it needs more water. Give it a good watering and let it fully dry out before you water it again. A good way to measure whether your desert rose seedling is getting enough water, is to lightly squeeze the cadeaux. If it feels squishy (or if it is wrinkly) – give it a good watering. If it’s thick and firm to squeeze – it’s doing alright for now.
- Red leaves (that die) – One thing I noticed quickly after I begun feeding my adenium is that the top leaves would turn red, then brown, then die. The leaves would not be crunchy, but somewhat wet. This is a sign that your adenium needs food – especially phosphorus. To fix this, I repotted each plant into its own separate pot. Sometimes when they are mixed in together – one plant can eat up more nutrition than the other. So once they were repotted, I added about a tsp of bone meal per plant and gave it a good watering. I also trimmed off the dying leaves. See the TikTok I made below!
@kaliestephan Reply to @kaliestephan repotting my desert rose seedlings. #adeniumobesum #adenium #adeniumlover #adeniumtiktok #adeniumarabicum #adeniumseedlings #sabistar #desertrose #desertroseplant #indoorplants #indoorgardener #indoorgardening ♬ Roses (Imanbek Remix) – SAINt JHN
I will continue to post pictures and care tips as these desert rose plants grow! If you want to learn how to grow an easier less temperamental succulent – take a look at how I grew cacti from seeds!