A tale of two Adeniums

penumbraMay 31, 2012

Hi everyone! I've been a lurker for a little while now, but have finally been prompted to emerge from the shadows. I could use all of your expertise to help me with my two Adeniums. They are extremely sad looking compared to others posted here, but I have hope.

The larger one I got about a year and a half ago at a nursery in Iowa. I'm pretty sure it is a cutting because of the small caudex. I lifted it a little when I repotted and pruned back in April (before that, it was in its original plastic pot and was really root-bound). It has never flowered and I'm not sure this is its year either, considering it is the end of May and it still barely has leaves. Any general advice?

The second one I got 3 weeks ago from a nursery up here. It clearly started out as a seedling and is still pretty young (I think). When I first bought it, it had some nice red flowers that have since died because I got antsy and repotted a few days after getting it. My main question is this - how can I get it to not lean so far to the side? I thought about whacking the leaning part off, but I also don't want to ruin it. My husband (who grew up on a farm but has no idea about succulents or anything with flowers) suggested strategically taking a small chunk out of one side and letting it heal together so it will be straight, but instinct tells me that this is a bad idea.

Having now seen my two woeful adeniums, any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


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Your plants are looking quite good to me.

Plants in general will tend to lean towards the light source, so it's a good idea to rotate the pot occasionally, especially when you see a lean starting to happen.

Am I correct that you are growing your plants indoors all the time? Obviously the more sun you can give them, the better. Their ideal growing conditions are full blazing sun. In those conditions the plants tend to not grow leggy and you get nice compact branching instead. Plus more flowers.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 4:36PM
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Thanks, plumeriafl!

The second one was already leaning when I got it. I'm having buyer's remorse and wishing I had gotten the other one, which didn't have as nice flowers but didn't lean. So it goes. ;-) I have it leaning away from the light source, in hopes that it'll straighten up, but it seems pretty determined. I guess time will tell.

Yes, right now my adeniums and succulents, with the exception of one jade plant, are inside in front of our sunniest window. I'm in an apartment, so it's impossible to get full blazing sun all day - all of our windows face east, so the plants get full morning sun. However, we have a tall building with a lot of windows across the street from us, so they get reflected sun as it goes down.

I think the bigger problem is that I live in MN. It is still definitely spring here - weather in the 60s and 70s, getting down to the 40s at night sometimes. We also have been getting quite a bit of rain (which is a relief after such a mild and dry winter). But, that means less sun. Probably not really an ideal place for keeping adeniums - I get pretty envious of everyone in the south with their pretty flowering plants!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 8:55AM
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You could also possibly try staking the leaner and slowly encouraging it to straighten? I wouldn't prune it until it gets bigger, and only at the correct time of the year.

You could also get a grow light, but I know that can be kind of a pain.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2012 at 5:21PM
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I may try staking it. As it grows, it is slowly curving back the other way, but I think I'd prefer it to be straight.

DH has no idea why I like these "twigs," as he calls them. He has no use for a plant unless it is edible in some way.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 10:59AM
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If you withhold watering you plant for a couple weeks, it will become "limp" and then you could stake it to a slim bamboo stake or something? When you resume watering, if it's secured tightly to the stake, it should more or less hold the straight shape. Wiring with heavy bonsai wire can also accomplish the same thing. Either way you are going to have to watch it carefully so that it doesn't get girdled by the wire or whatever you used to secure it to the stake.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2012 at 2:26PM
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Penumbra, you can easily prune back the leaning top few inches--this is the right time of year to do it--or just splint it straight as suggested with a couple of popsicle sticks. Pruning should give you additional branching.

Both plants look like they need more light. A couple of years ago I bought a round "plant bulb" at Home Depot for $4 and put it into an inexpensive reflecting dome fixture (like a shop light) and that helped my plants keep going over the winter. You could place yours in an attractive lamp near the east window and just set a timer to go off for a few extra hours of light in the afternoon/evening and that may help boost your desert roses into flowering. Then when you're in full summer in MN you can place them on your balcony for the heat, too.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   June 7, 2012 at 4:17PM
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justmee(7 Okla.)


There ain't nuttin' wrong with your plants!

The only thing your plants need right now is SUNLIGHT and FERTILIZER. Wean them into full direct sunlight so they get it all day and you will be amazed! They love sunlight. Then fertilize. I use a water soluble fertilizer -- usually 20-20-20 -- about every week using a slightly weaker solution than the box says. This advice is known as fertilizing "weekly weakly." Any fertilizer with a larger middle number will help with blooms. A fertilizer with the first number higher than the 2nd and 3rd numbers such as 20-10-8 will promote green foliage rather than flowers.

DON'T FREAK when it loses leaves. The leaves turn yellow and drop off in response to a change in environment or a change in seasons or because you looked at it cross-eyed. Even if the plant has no leaves and looks dead -- IT ISN'T. Give it light and water and good drainage and it will come back.

Adeniums are hard to kill. The only problem I've ever had is one that became mushy. I cut out the mushy part with a knife, sprayed with fungicide, kept the cut dry till it healed over, and then treated it as usual. I still have it and it blooms!

The plant you say was 'pot bound' is how I get my adenium caudexes to take on funky shapes. After leaving in a pot long enough to cause the caudex to 'circle' I pull my adeniums up out of the soil and set them higher in the soil to make a bigger caudex -- about once a year.

Leaning is fine. Not watering for a couple of weeks likely won't make the stem flexible. I have an adenium I left UN-POTTED ALL WINTER (inside) and it never got flexible. I potted it this spring and it's even blooming already!

If you don't like the leaning plant, cut it off below where it leans. It will branch at that point and give you more limbs that each will bloom. That was the hardest thing I did to my first adenium -- cut it back. After a couple of years, it was very leggy and not blooming and I was advised to cut it back. I did. It went nuts putting out limbs and each one put on multiple blooms and some of those got fertilized and made seed pods from which I have grown many plants!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 1:42AM
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justmee(7 Okla.)


Take a look at this website to see what some have done in the way of carving the caudex into fanciful forms.

Here is a link that might be useful: Carving an Adenium Caudex

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 1:47AM
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Plumeriafl - I think I'll just stake it using bamboo and probaby a twist tie. I'll remember not to make it too tight.

Jandey - Thanks for the lamp suggestion! I think I might go with that. Living in an apt, I only get east light, and I don't have much choice in the matter. Someday we'll have a house, and I'll be able to put them in a window that is sunny for a good part of the day. They do go outside on the hot days we get (though we've only had a few of those so far this year).

Justmee - Thanks for the tip on the fertilizer! The stuff I have is 20-20-20. My husband fertilizes our veggie plants and herbs with whey (we make our own greek yogurt), but I won't let him feed my succulents with it. They have no need to be organic.

They ARE hard buggers to kill, and that's what attracted me to them in the first place. When leaves dropped last fall (the first fall I had one), my hubby got concerned that I was killing my "twig." I had to explain to him that it was going into dormancy and this was a good thing, haha.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 9:43AM
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