New baby desert rose, need advice

sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)August 27, 2012

Hi everyone, just discovered this website and it has so many desert rose lovers i just had to join. I just bought this little one from a school fete for 50cents about 3 and a bit weeks ago. It was just so cute I had to get it and as you can see the leaves are abit brown on the edges and the leaves down the bottom were dying so i thought he needed some love. He was in a very small pot about 2 inches across so i had to repot it when i got it home. I read a bunch of info online and raised him up so only the roots were in soil and at the moment because its winter in far north queensland in australia i have only been watering every 3 or 4 days depending on how wet the soil feels. I put him out on a shelf on the fence(which he gets sun half day and shade the rest) if it is a fine day or keep him inside under our fish tank lights on a rainy day. (our climate is wierd its winter and cold at night but hot and sunny during the day) I bring him inside at night because of the cold. The weather since i bought him though is getting warmer which is good. I read info that said they shouldnt be rained on as the trunk and leaves dont like to get wet??? is that true? The picture attached is him just after i repotted him. As you can see there are new leaves growing up the top. There are now 5 new leaves, one the same size as his other leaves. The little ones down the bottom that are brown in the pic fell off. Now what i wanted to know was how old do you recon my plant is? What would you say about the brown tips on his original leaves (i thought it may have been coz he was very dry when i bought him and though he may be underwatered) his new leaves are lush and green looking so i hope im not watering him too much now. The info i read online said that you should water every 3 or 4 days in winter and every day in summer but check the soil to see if it is dry on the top first coz that means it needs a water...if not don't water it till its dry. Is that good advice? Also what about branching off? will it just do that or will i have to cut it to make it branch? looking forward to everyones advice :)

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i'd like to inform you that if at most you had that plant for a few weeks and you've been watering it every 3-4 days in winter and everyday during summer, it's most likely suffering from overwatering, and worse, rot.
beginners almost always find overwatering and over-pampering to be the cause of the death of their adenium. as the name implies, the desert rose is well adapted in places considered to be the driest on earth, and it receives about 3 inches of water per year in its native environment.
you ought to change the soil mix as it looks like it retains water for long period of time. combine that with the size of its pot, and it'll take weeks for the medium to completely dry out. search the forum and use the gritty mix which retains just enough water for the adenium to use, and appears to work for everyone here. you can actually use the biggest pot possible as long as you have the right medium to support the plant. also the color black absorbs everything and allows no escape, and is considered a good insulator. that means if you use a black pot for your adenium, you'd most likely cook it because the black pot will tend to heat up very easily.
unglazed terra cota pots do have high surface area, are porous and tends to dry out fast, but they tend to get salt build-up. adenium are pretty salt tolerant and since you're going to be repotting it every two years, it's not going to be a major problem.
you can however improvise and better use what available materials you can find that give the best results. it all depends on your watering habit, climate changes, geographical location...

i haven't watered my adenium for a month and half a month. they're doing fine and are still very active, thank to the humidity. (i'm situated 1 meter above the ocean so it's brutally humid here)

i have heard tell you can actually hang an adenium bare root for half a year for winter when it's big enough.

the best thing to do if the plant is overwatered is to let it dry out on its own pot, and if it's already rotting, you'd have to cut off the rotting part with sterile knife and let the healthy part dry and callous or until the wound feels like a cork.
if you want an adenium with heavy crown, you can prune it until the weather is not grim anymore.
good luck.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 6:31AM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

Yes i was thinking of going and buying a terracotta pot because i heard they were good for them...and i did read about the gritty have to go looking for it though, but bunnings would probably sell something similar i could use. I was thinking of laying of the watering too...Its just done so well in the few weeks ive had it with the 5 new leaves growing i thought i must be doing something right. I dont think it would have root rot if its been growing so well? wouldnt it start to die instead if that was the case?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 10:32PM
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it looks it's a few months old to me. i had lots of seedlings i planted a month ago and they don't look as big as yours. adenium babies need a lot of water compared to when they get bigger caudex, which allow them to store water in preparation for the recurring long period of drought, where they happen to be endemic to.
remember that they get water in abundance when the rain comes, so you have to let the water flow through the pot's drainage hole to reduce any salt build up.
adenium are also most active when they're still seedling size and they need lots of water this time. it's easy to find out if an adenium is asking for water. it's when they look limp and dehydrated just like most succulents.

i'd rather underwater my adenium than overwater because rot damage can be permanent and can lead to the ultimate dismissal of the plant off its pot and under-watered plants almost always bounce back to their former glory.
but take note you can kill your adenium by underwatering.

if you are to repot your plant, never unearthen it until the soil is dry, or when you're sure the plant is healthy, because the plant will go through shock and go dormant after a transplanting process and also repot when the weather is not grim anymore. good luck.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 4:20AM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

ok well the soil was really dried out coz i was scared i was watering it too much so i hadnt watered it in a while. I today went n bought some gritty mix and a terracotta pot around the same size as the pot it was already in. I took it out tonight and checked the roots. No root rot YAY! i replanted it in the gritty mix in the terracotta pot and put some stones on the top (i heard thats good?) anyway the picture makes it look like the pot is really big but its not really its just the angle i took the photo on. See all those nice green lush looking leaves at the top..those are all the new ones...anyway thats interesting to learn its prob only a few months old. Ive had it now for 3 and a half weeks i counted. Growing 5 new leaves (and i noticed today its got a very small 6th leaf starting to grow) in that time i thought was a good accomplishment. Oh and the weather has really warmed up and isnt rainy now ...coz its coming into summer again so hopefully the repot will go ok. So seeing as you think it is only a few months often should i be watering it? just whenever the soil on top feels dry? and how old do they have to be before we start cutting down the watering? Also about my branching question, will it just start to branch on its own or will i have to wait till its older and then start cutting it to make it branch?

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 6:46AM
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hookilau(long island NY)

You did great! Hand pats for you =) I have 8 wee little seedlings as well. They look to be a little smaller than yours.

I wasn't sure how to care for them either so I did much as you did. First, put them in a good well draining mix, I chose soil-less. Then I did a search on here for seedlings. I found a post that included pics of someone's seedlings from re-potting in their community pot right through to the pruning @ 8 months old.

I now have a visual in my head as to approximately when to do what a my little guys grow. Do a GW search, I'm sure you'll recognize it when you find it :)

Your little guy looks great. Here's a pic of my community pot. I plan to pot them up separately this weekend.

The short version to your questions is simply wait and see :) Since your summer is just starting (mine is winding down) you should see lots more good growth. I would'nt sweat it, you can always prune. I would'nt though until the caudex starts to form and become textured.

Use a skewer to test for watering. Stick it in all the way down to the bottom of the pot, pull it out. If it feels cool, cold, damp, wet or you can see the wood has darkened indicating moisture, I would not water.

If it comes out bone dry, I water. How much?....depends on your mix. Too many variables to say 'a b & c'. You'll get your groove as your little plant will tell you what it needs, all you have to do is respond =) Use this as a guide, your mileage may vary. After a while, you'll be able to gauge how often to water.

Do a (GW) search for fertilizing too & you'll find how to feed your little guy. While you do your searches, pay close attention to folks in your zone. Care of these guys seem to vary a bit from climate to climate.

Good luck & keep posting updates as your little one grows! I love to see them during the course of their growth.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 7:53AM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

Oh wow! yours look so cute and with so many leaves! I shall wait then before pruning. I saw some nice ones at some markets the other day. They were alot older and had lots of branches and some even flowers. They were $15. Then she had some other ones that were around the same age but im guessing they hadnt been pruned or something anyway they were just tall stalks with a couple of leaves and a couple of flowers. They were like $5-$10. I thought they musta not been pruned so they hadnt turned out all tree like with lotsa branches like the other ones. Theres also one down the street from us in someones front yard. Its rather big but only has very few branches. Im guessing it hasn't had much love. But must be pretty hardy if it survives all our hot days and torrential downpours and flooding in the wet season. Anyway im hoping mine will grow up to be all tree like and branchy like those ones ive seen at the markets or some of the beautiful ones ive seen on here. :)

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 8:44PM
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hookilau(long island NY)

Sounds like you live in a great climate for Adenium! I'm in NY, less than optimal, but it will do :)

There are different varieties of adenium with variable growth habits which may account for the differences. That or folks are hesitant to prune hard. From what I've heard & seen in the short time I've had mine, pruning makes it send out lots of new growth & keeps the plant looking lush & vibrant.

Search the different varieties on google when you have some free time, there's 4 or 5 different kinds, give or take.

Isn't it funny how you suddenly start seeing these adorable little guys everywhere? I'd never laid eyes on one prior to a month ago. Since then, I've found a single mature plant at 2 separate Walmarts that I go to on a regular basis.

I added them both to my growing collection. They were about 14$. The one on the left is my first and the one on the right is my 'Walmart rescue' as I found him, prior to pruning. They are obesum. I'll post an update as he leafs out. Have fun! :)


    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 9:40PM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

Oh WOW! yours are beautiful! I dont know what your rescue one looked like before but he looks great now :) I went to bunnings the other day and couldnt find any in their plant department...though i didnt bother asking i may have just missed them. Anyway i am going to another school fete this arvo. They claim to have a large plant stall with over 1000 plants. Im looking forward to it...perhaps i will grab another more mature one. My mother told me if i got another more mature one, i could put it next to my baby one and say "you will look like that one day" to encourage it to grow. I thought that was rather funny. Id like to get a gangly looking one and try pruning it to practice for when my baby one gets older. So then i figure out what and what not to do. Yes please do post updates! will I with my little one and any others i get in the future :)

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 7:32PM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

Hi there and welcome to the forum, I hope you find it useful! I fell in love with Oz back in 2002 and are due our 4th visit this Nov to visit my rellies in WA again. Have been to your hometown on the first trip over and are doing Darwin this time round...any tips? lol!! On the 2nd trip the stop-over on the return leg we chose Bangkok ...and that was where my adenium addiction started after I saw my first plant I was hooked but I never imagined I could ever grow them here! haha!
Your little plant will soon benefit from the tropical climate you have, just don't let it get too wet during the rainy season, far better to bring him indoors or under cover at the least if its is warm enough. Its surprising how much water they can take up during the summer but dont let it sit in a saucer, it needs to drain straight out again, thats why the mix should be very very gritty. Let it get used to the intense sun gradually as its only a baby at most, they can get sunburnt which was a surprise to me! I would let it grow and develop a caudex first before you prune it. Most caudex growth is in the seedling/young 'adult' plant stage, so it will soon start to swell and show its form. Feed it with a diluted general fertiliser weekly, keep it moist if the temps are high, it will not hurt to dry out for a day or so, but not dust dry when in leaf. I doubt if it if will go dormant whilst young, most dont for a couple of years I have found, older plants will drop all leaves and require very little water to keep them alive and ticking over.

If I can grow them in the UK, you will do amazingly in Cairns!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 5:16PM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

Yes, ive heard there is alot of places over in bangkok that grow them in bulk from seedlings and then sell them off. A few are on ebay. Anyway yes i think i baby him haha coz i bring him in whenever i think it will rain or its too cold outside. Oh no would never sit him in a saucer, and i think i should be good with the gritty mix as i have read lot of people use it. I am excited to see how his caudex will turn out...hurry up and grow little one! haha and i will wait to prune. In the meantime i have a question for a few people. I picked up a plant on the weekend. It was rather tall and spindly looking (needed a prune) it looks exactly like a desert rose, same branches and leaves and even has desert rose like pink flowers yet it doesnt have a fat caudex. In fact it looks alot like a normal trunk ...i am confused. The woman at the shop and i both thought it was a desert rose yet the trunk is so different then any other one ive seen. I have attached a picture of the trunk so you can have alook. I am going to prune it back and give it a better shape but would love to know what you people think of the trunk? and if you think its indeed a desert rose or not.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 9:46PM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

actually i might post this in a separate thread seeing its not about my little baby desert rose. [see thread "is this a desert rose"] for advice on the trunk. More advice for baby desert rose is welcome on this thread though :)

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 10:40PM
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hookilau(long island NY)

lol! Sounds like the beginnings of a healthy new obsession =) Fear not friend, you're in good company! I realize now I use any excuse to go to Walmart, (the only place I've been able to find these guys cheaply) and hunt them.

He looks great to me, mature & healthy!


    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 7:10PM
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sbrow156(Cairns QLD Australia)

Haha yes i am finding any excuse to go to markets now or bunnings or nurseries to have alook for them :P

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 7:59PM
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Hi there I've been growing them for. Over a year now I pinch the top out of mine when their small and they shoot out more branches below. If u don't want them to be to long and not many branches . If I want short and bushy I find that works well I'm new to this forum so I hope got this right :)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 1:14AM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

Hi Lukay and welcome to the forum, I hope you enjoy it here and please do post some pics of your plants.
You are correct in what you say regarding pinching out, it does force them to most cases anyway.
Gill from the UK.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 12:21PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I would just like to add that pinching should be done at the beginning of the growing season, when the plant is active, not when the plant is dormant or getting ready to go dormant.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 2:53PM
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