Caudex Shape/Characteristics

bronxfigsMay 1, 2012

If a seed grown plant makes a caudex, and stem that looks like an elongated tear-drop, or flask, tapering towards the top, will the plants just continue to grow this way, keeping this shape, or will the caudex at some point, start to fatten and get wider.

I want to grow a plant with a large, 2ft tall caudex, and only two or three fat, but short branches towards the top. I want it to look like those wild, giant, Adenium that you see in pictures taken in the African deserts.

If I let a seed-grown plant just continue to grow without cutting it back, will it reach a point where it will just stop getting taller, then get fatter? Do I have to do a radical stem-chop at some point to induce branching at top end?

Adenium obesum is the most commonly grown plant, so let's use this plant as my experiment.

How would you train this plant, so that it would look like a upright watermelon, with branches growing from the top?

Thanks for the suggestions.


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Frank, you had to most interesting question that I never heard of. There is nothing wrong to ask, and we all are learing from it. You and I should make a trip to ThaiLand and visit all the adenium nurserys over there. We will learn together and post for the people in this forum.
I was there in Thailand 4 years ago, but was with a group that I didn't have my own time to visit any adenium nursery and very much regreted.
I will go again in the near future.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:17AM
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Thanks for finding my questions interesting.

For the last 30 years, or more, I have never wanted to grow just some boring, conventional-looking, plants, and I always tried to seek out rare plants, or techniques for training, that would make them look "exotic". I'm always looking to break new ground. The braiding technique that you revealed, and illustrated, holds the most promise if exploited correctly. Manipulating plant material has always interested me, and weaving/braiding genetically similar plants together fascinates my interest. I just ordered some seeds, and when the plants are ready I'll be twisting the night away!

If my first efforts are successful, and I don't kill the plants, I will go large-scale, and weave together many more plants hoping to make a very fat, composite-trunk, Adenium. After a number of years, the individual plants will fuse together, making a short, but fat, bumpy trunk, with great roots. This technique is used in the Philippines to create Ficus bonsai, with very fat, trunks ... 20-30, or more, whips are woven/twisted together, grown hard and fast, then trimmed back to form bonsai trees. Anyone looking at some of these "trees" would think they were very old, but in reality, these "trees" might be less than 10 years old. another life we would find and use our common plant interests as an excuse to go all over the world and seek out exotic plants. I would love to visit Thailand, just for the food, and the Adenium nurseries. What they can do with these plants is nothing short of amazing. Their climate also helps. I'm sure they can get twenty year's growth in five years, with the heat, and sun. My great frustration with growing plants is my very limiting climate. Too cold for too long, and not enough clear, hot, sunny weather. But I do what I can. I'm proud to say that over the years I've killed some of the best plants that money could buy! : ) This trend, I'm sure, will continue.

Thanks for the interesting comments.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 11:55AM
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Hi Frank,
Take a look at this link it looks like this tree was put together like frankenstein.

Here is a link that might be useful: Franken-bonsai

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 12:07PM
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It never fails to amaze me....just when I thought I have come up with any original concept, or in this case, a training technique, I realize that I never had an original thought in my life. It's all been done before.

Marie's photos of braided Adenium, and the johnsonm08 photos of these super-fat Adeniums prove my point. Great photos...just what I had in mind, but my 'tree" will have a sightly, taller a Baobab tree.

These photos only give me more inspiration to try "making" an Adenium grow the way I want it to grow. Does that sound arrogant?

johnsonm08....thanks for the pictures.


PS...One of the MAJOR problems that I will face will be flower color(s). Notice all the beautiful "bonsai" Adsenium have the same color flowers. My braided stems may/will have differing flower colors because they will be seed grown...and I can't find any stinkin' stabilized seed that will grow true colors! Logge's Greenhouses is growing red Adenium from a stabilized, seed strain...and I need some of these seeds. Tell me where could I find some?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Frank, watch out for this seller. He charges you an arm and a leg for a small plant. I emailed him a few times before I got an answer from him. He deals with big buyer only. Small one like us he doesn't have time for. His catalog for price will make your jaw drop. But if spend time and reading his info on this website, you find it very useful.
He won many adenium contest for many years and a small one of his wining contest could cost up to $3k US dollars.

He had so many beautiful adenium that I will died to get one.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 2:15PM
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Thanks for the warnings.

Any plants, when I buy them, will come from growers in the US.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 3:22PM
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You guys need to go look at the carved caudex photos I have linked below...

Here is a link that might be useful: Carved caudex art

    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:34PM
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Frank, you may find this info useful;


    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 9:53PM
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Thanks for the new links....interesting plants, useful information. Incredible carved Adenium plants.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2012 at 10:51PM
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Frank this cracked me up. "I'm proud to say that over the years I've killed some of the best plants that money could buy! : )" I know that experience only too well.

Some great links were posted. It really is an art form. I'd like to learn how to make the caudexes on my plants more contorted. I get some good size caudexes but most are rounded. Many of my other caudiciform varieties have more interesting shapes.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 7:22AM
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I won't even speculate as to how these growers of such fantastic Adeniums get the caudex to grow in such distorted shapes. These specialty growers always have some unconventional tricks up their sleeves, and I wouldn't be surprised if some constriction device is not used at some point. God knows what these plants might endure to form these shapes. Of course we see only the final product, and we scratch our heads and say: How do they do that"?

Marie provided some information that might fill in some blanks. In the Braided Adenium Thread, she informed us that if you let the Adenium stems dry out and go limp for a few days, the stems can be bent and twisted. Maybe these guys let the stems go limp, bend them around a form/support/frame, and then grow them until the stems take on the desired form(s). Who knows?

Killing plants? Just ask me. I specialize in slow, rotting, fungus-gnat infested deaths! Right now, I just received two very expen$ive Cyphostemma juttae plants, which when grown in the South African deserts, will make a caudex the size of a small Chevy. So, with the best of intentions, I potted these plants into a quick-draining medium, and now I'll pray a few Rosaries, light some candles, and hope they live and thrive, in new York City. If not,... the price of a some Florsheim Shoes goes right out the window!

I'll try Adeniums, and see what happens. I'm getting pretty good at keeping plants thriving. I use soiless mixes now, and have many more triumphs, and fewer botanical funerals.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 4:54PM
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Frank, I know some of the DR grower in Viet Nam take adenium out of the pot, hang it upside down in the shade for 6 months before the caudex completely limp and the owner bend it the way he wanted, then pot it again. Yes, for 6 months.
I also agree with Karyn about the statement of what you said ("I'm proud to say that over the years I've killed some of the best plants that money could buy!) Count me in, because I just kill one plant that I bought $120 in summer 2009. Not only the money, but 3 years caring and watching it grow into a nice shape. One small rot appeared, I was busy that week and didn't get a chance to take care of it until a week later, non saveable. Marie

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 5:32PM
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See...I knew they had to use some tricks-of-the-trade. Who would think of hanging a plant upside-down for 6 months?

Yes, sadly, Marie...we all kill our most expensive, most loved, plants. But for me, "The Serial-Killer of Chlorophyll"...I just go out and buy new plants to fill any vacancies. See...happy ending! : )


    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 6:08PM
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Frank, my husband once told me to stop, not to buy anymore plants, but I said, I will stop buying plants and start buying diamonds, which one do you want me to buy?
He said, okay, go ahead and buy more plants. Hehehe

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 6:15PM
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Marie....You're bad. YOU made him pick his poison!

Frank : ) : )

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 11:01PM
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Oh, Marie, you are a woman after my own heart!

I stopped buying diamonds years ago and switched to plants. My husband never says a peep about my plant habit!


    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 3:31PM
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johnsonm08 posted a link to a strange looking Adenium called: "Franken-Adenium". The link is provided in a previous posting within this thread.

I looked over this plant very carefully, and I could see where different pieces of plant material were grafted together to create a respectable "bonsai" type tree, including wired branches. The caudex is all different colors....probably differing pieces from another plant, grafted together...

Question: If branches can be grafted, could not whole sections of a plant also be grafted together? Maybe a branch, including a slice of caudex...or, plugging some roots into the base of a caudex to correct a poor root problem?

The piecing together of plant parts to create a different, composite-plant is interesting to think about.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 11:11PM
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I've been thinking about this too, I think the perfect growing conditions in Thailand -- heat and humidity-- make the likelihood of sucess much better. I have a plant that is basicly laying on its side and I may try cutting off the growth end and grafting branches to the top side to create a squat fat little guy. Of course, I will try this in July/August when its hot and humid here...

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 9:29AM
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You are probably right about the perfect growing conditions. Plants probably heal, and recover from drastic treatment very quickly when they grow at full tilt the whole year.

Glad to hear that you will try something different with your plant. Chop that thing up and pray for the best. All you could do is kill it :)...but, if successful, you might have your new, favorite plant!

Good Luck.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 10:06PM
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