Family: Apocynaceae
Habitat: Eastern Africa, Namibia and South Africa
Cultivation: They require a place in full sun, but sheltered from air currents , especially if they are cold. The ideal temperature is around 20 ° C, minimum of 10 ° C. Watering frequency: low.
Curiosity: Adenium’s milk is poisonous: in Namibia, indigenous people used it to poison the arrows before hunting.


The genus Adenium group succulent evergreen plants  mainly appreciated  for their beautiful flowers, very similar to the oleander ones, which  give to these succulents also the names of “desert rose” or “oleander of madagascar”. It is a caudic-shaped plant: this term indicates that the stem gets  very big, forming what is said “caudex”. The function of the caudex is to reserve water and allows it to tolerate, in nature, even periods of prolonged drought. In the most common variety, the Adenium Obesum, the caudex is even more swollen and accentuated than in the other species. The stems are branched in the colors of brown / gray, with the typical swelling at the base, while the foliage has an elongated shape and it is of a beautiful bright green color. In nature, it can reach two meters in height and in some cases exceed them – while in our apartments it does not usually exceed 40 cm, because it needs a lot of space to develop fully. Even the flowers are quite large: they can reach 15 cm in diameter.

They can be pink, white or red, and generally have darker outer margins. Just the flowers, together with the sheen of the foliage, make it a very appreciated plant for decorative use even for apartments. As a general rule they need about 4/5 years before the plant flourishes. The flowering of the Adenium is, however, very long: it lasts from spring to the end of summer. Sometimes you notice before the flowers and then the leaves. Adenium is a succulent, evergreen plant with an aerial part formed by small branches covered by a  shiny oval brilliant green leaves.


The Genus Adenium belongs to the Apocynaceae Family and includes five different species:

  • A. boehmianum 
  • A. multiflorum
  • A. obesum
  • A. oleifolium
  • A. swazicum

The most common and well-known species is Adenium obesum, so called because of the base (roots and stems, or caudex) that has a more pronounced swelling than the others.


Developed in warm, arid climates, Adenium particularly suits our apartments because it does not tolerate low temperatures and should always be kept above 10 ° C.

These are the main indications for a good growing:

  • The plant loves the full sun, though the ideal would be to have the caudex in the shadow and only the upper part of the stem, with leaves and flowers, directly under the sun’s rays. This is a situation that can be achieved by placing the Adenium outdoors next to other plants, or in an apartment near a window or window sill.
  • The ideal temperature is around 20 ° C and in any case it must remain above 10 ° C. Take special care, therefore, at night temperatures if the plant is outside.
  • He does not like rooms too dry, nor the cold air currents.
  • Scarce watering. Few in the summer: every seven/ eight days, and always check that the ground is dry. Almost absent in winter, when the plant loses all its foliage and enters in a state of vegetative rest. In winter you can check the condition of the caudex and water the soil only when you see it is too dry.
  • A highly draining soil, such as those that are already ready for cactus, or obtained with a mix of earth from gardens and inerts. Fertilize every two weeks in spring and summer using a poor nitrogen product for cactacea.
  • Plants remain small in size (up to 15-20 cm in height for 10-15 cm in diameter) and therefore there is no need of repotting.
  • Repot every two years in deep vessels, because Adenium has a very well-developed radical apparatus.
  • The plant multiplies through the seed, which is placed in a soft and humid soil. We can reproduce it even by cuttings, by grafting it on an oleander stem.

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