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Growing Guide for Adeniums during the Rainy Season Page 1

Growing Adeniums in the Rainy Season


by Norby Bautista


Adeniums, or commonly known as Bangkok Kalachuchi or Desert Rose is a popular flowering house plant
during the rainy season as they respond to the abundant rainfall and as there as so many different
flower colors and forms available in the market. Scientifically known as Adenium obesum, the plant was
extensively grown and breed in Bangkok, Thailand, and with its resemblance to our common Kalachuchi
tree, it was given the name Bangkok Kalachuchi. Aside from their colorful flowers, the plant also valued
for their unusual, thick caudices or basal stem, which sometimes appear like a figure of a Buddha or a
pregnant woman. They are usually grown for many years in a clay pot and are commonly used for
bonsai.
Only seed- grown plants are the ones that develop a desirable thick caudex quickly, compared to plants
propagated by stem cuttings. Also, seed-grown plants are not genetically identical to the mother plant,
thus, selected desirable varieties are commonly propagated by grafting.
Growing Guide for Adeniums during the Rainy Season Page 2

Adenium plants are classified as a succulent, and behaves similar to that of cactuses, wherein they are
well adapted in dry arid regions. However, they will response well to generous watering and
fertilization, wherein they will produce a continuous colorful bloom of flowers.
As a precaution, gardeners should be aware that the sap of Adenium obesum, and two other related
species namely Adenium boehmianum, and Adenium multiflorum contains toxic cardiac glycosides and
is used as arrow poison throughout Africa for hunting large game animals.
Adeniums prefers outdoor full sun or high light intensiy for the plant to flower profusely. Though the
plant can tolerate dry and arid conditions, however, they can respond very well to good watering and
they will give you plenty of flowers. However, the plant needs to be provided with a porous potting mix,
maybe a mixture of sandy soil and a rich organic compost, in order for the plant get the much needed
nutrients, at the same time drain excess water to prevent root rotting. Keep the soil constantly moist
and supply the medium with a teaspoon of controlled release balanced fertilizer every two to three
months.
Use a thick walled clay pot, which are bowl shaped as the plant roots need ample space to grow and
Adenium roots tend to break pots. Also the heavy pot will prevent plants from tumbling down on its
side as they usually becomes top heavy. Plants may tend to be repotted every year or every other year
once they become bigger than their pot.
Adeniums prefer moderate temperature and also moderate to high humidity. Dormancy can induced
when temperatures fall below 10 degrees Celsius.
Inadequate watering and feeding are the primary reasons why Adeniums have been regarded as slow-
growing plant, however generous culture could produces literally unbelievable results. Sufficient water
and fertilizer can make plants grow faster and bigger.
Pests rarely damage Adeniums grown outdoors. However, if there are presences of deformed leaves
caused by probably thrips or psyllids, plants can be sprayed with a systemic insecticide for several
applications. Some pests like mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids, and white flies often infest plants and
may cause severe damage when there is an infestation. Despite the extremely poisonous sap, rodents
may occasionally gnaw on roots and trunks.
Adenium roots are susceptible to water molds which thrive in waterlogged soils. Prevention can be done
by spraying a fungicide solution during the rainy season and using a porous sandy potting mix instead of
an ordinary garden soil. Otherwise, move plants to an area with plastic roofing during monsoon rains or
to higher grounds in case of floods to prevent root rotting.


Growing Guide for Adeniums during the Rainy Season Page 3


An Adenium hybrid made as a Bonsai specimen plant.
Growing Guide for Adeniums during the Rainy Season Page 4

Adeniums are commonly propagated by seeds. There is a technique in pollinating flowers in order to
produce orka-like seed follicles, each containing a hundred seeds. Seeds usually germinates in a week
when sown in soil, but needs to be sprayed with fungicide to reduce loss due to rotting. Seedlings tend
to flower after a year. The plant can also be propagated by stem cuttings, however they do not produce
enlarged caudex at once, and there are some problems with not producing roots.
Although still expensive, Adeniums have grown in popularity in the Philippines, similar to roses,
gumamelas, euphorbias and santans. They are a joy to collect as there are many flower color and
varieties, including different caudex shapes.

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