Adenium 'Bonsai' .....Training Techniques

bronxfigsApril 18, 2012

I became interested in growing Adenium, and specifically in the training techniques that are employed in creating "bonsai' style plants.

I have seen some videos on You-Tube showing these strange looking, and very stylized plants, that remind me of a short version of the famous Baobab trees of Africa.

How do they get the roots to spread so evenly spaced around the trunk?

How do they get branches sprouting from a relatively short area at the top of the trunk?

Are these plants specially bred for short, fat trunks, with branching at only the top?

What training "tricks" are employed to get such unnatural looking, plants? Are branches wired, bent, twisted...root grafts, etc.?

Are there any guides, books web-sites that show HOW to train Adeniums in this style?

Very interested, but I have a feeling this style takes years, and plenty of experience to get results. Even more than conventional bonsai training.

Any help would be appreciated.


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Frank, I also have the same question as you, but I think because there are 4 kinds of adenium out there.
1- obesum which is most of us have.
2- arabicum, this is harder to bloom.
3- Thai Socotranum
4- Thai Somalenses
The last 2 kinds are more expensive and need experience to train.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 11:59PM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

Hello Frank, you have a good question there, unfortunately I don't have the experience to answer! I have seen an Adenium on Gweb (who it belonged to I can't recall) that had been planted over an upturned saucer. I think this was following a severe root prune when the plant was much younger and when the thicker main roots were chopped off. It went on to produce a ring of roots that sprung from the base of the caudex that sounds like what you mention. It was later planted so that the roots were 'on show' so to speak. Someone may recognise my vague description and help more. As this new forum progresses, we may well get the answers you seek.
Gill from the UK

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 12:09PM
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I had a feeling some specialized root training would be used to develop such a evenly spaced roots. Sooner or later I will find out the rest of the story behind these stylized plants. Can't believe there are no step-by-step books published! Even if they are in a foreign language the pictures should tell the story.

Thanks for the insight.

I wonder if certain Adenium species are genetically programed to look like a bonsai? So, then training the wrong species would mean a constant fight with the plant material.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 8:21PM
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Hi Frank,
I've been wondering the same thing. Wether its right or wrong, I dont know, but a couple of weeks ago I took a 6" seedling and cut the tap root off --then I arranged the other roots in an even pattern around the caudex. I'll let you know by the end of summer if it seems to have worked.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 10:07AM
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I would love to know how this is done as well. I have a seedling that I've been playing around with for several years. I've been able to keep it small (4.5") with multiple branches but I can't get the caudex to enlarge much and no flowers yet. It just came out of dormancy and I need to prune away a few branches but want to wait until the temps warm up. I tried it in a bonsai pot last year but it started dying so I repotted it and am going to try a bonsai pot again. This time I'm going to place it over a rock and allow the roots to grow down over it. I think I crimped the roots trying to spread them out the last time. If the caudex would enlarge and become gnarled I'd be thrilled. As of now it's just short with no interesting shape : (

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 10:54AM
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Looking at you photos, you seem to be on the right path to a "bonsai" Adenium,...but I have a feeling that this whole process will take many years of intense training and pruning...probably even wiring branches into different positions....and a lot of praying.

You-Tube shows many prize-winning Adenium, but I think we are looking at the final products, the results of years of special techniques of growing, and we aren't seeing all the hidden, tricks-of-the-trade. There has to be more to this story! It probably starts with selecting the correct plant material.

Maybe, this forum will reveal the secrets.

Happy growing.


    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 3:14PM
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Do a search on the C&S Forum (now we can say 'Back before there was an Adenium Forum...') and look for a poster named Randy. His posts contain the information you need. I don't know how far back the archives go, but with him first being a bonsai guy, he had good training for his entrance into Adeniums.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 9:33PM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

Yes Jeff, where is Randy these days, I have not seen a post of his for ages and have been wondering about him, does anyone know if all is OK? His user name was rjj1 if my memory serves me correctly.
Gill from the UK.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 8:23AM
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Thanks for that information. I will track down Randy's postings.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2012 at 8:55PM
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U P D A T E .....

Durham Botanicals sells Adenium arabicum "bonsai" styled plants for very reasonable prices, as well as grafted hybrids, specimen plants, Plumerias, etc.

Check-out: "Lucky Sumo Adenium"....first-rate plants.

Happy hunting.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 6:45PM
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There are few articles on YouTube which show a method of using a sm. Plastic disc under roots to train them to grow wide so they can be raised later on.
If you check out either adeniumindia site or Webshots.- nrsundaram, they are very knowledgeable on Adeniums, but also on manipulating roots.
very informative.
There is a nursery in Florida called Lucky Sumo Nursery and they specialize in bonsai Adeniums.
Hope some of this helps

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 9:44AM
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