Desert Rose Bonsai Care InfographicDesert rose bonsai is an exotic plant from the Saharan and Arabian terrain. Its alien-like stems and gorgeous flowers make them a funky plant to own. However, growing it at home isn’t really simple.

This guide is to help you navigate your way around this plant like a pro; keep reading, and find out everything there is to know about this gorgeous plant.

What Is Desert Rose Bonsai?

The desert rose bonsai trees are native to the warm regions of Africa and Arabia. Also known as Adenium obesum, it has exceptionally thick and strangely shaped stems and fleshy leaves. It also produces large pink or red flowers during its blooming period, which is early spring.

Desert Rose Bonsai Care

A desert rose bonsai plant care involves bright direct sunlight or its artificial equivalent. Maintain temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity below 40 percent. Plant it within bonsai potting soil and fertilize it every third week during summer.

– Water Requirements 

The desert rose adenium bonsai plant doesn’t depend too much or too soon on watering. This is because it is a succulent that needs consistent watering only during the hot summer.

The right time to water is when the soil becomes thoroughly dry at least halfway through. There is no better indication of watering succulents than this. Put your palm on the surface of the soil to see if it feels dry.

If you want to be entirely sure, you can also put your finger within the soil. Keep in mind that in the summertime, the soil will dry up within seven to ten days. In the wintertime, you will have longer time intervals between waterings.

Watering succulents, like this plant, need moderate amounts of water. The water should be at room temperature or lukewarm. Direct your water beam towards the base of the plant on the soil.

The critical point is to keep watering slowly till it comes out of the pothole. Allow the extra water to accumulate in the drip tray for some time. Then you must drain this water to prevent the risk of developing rot and other related problems.

Succulents can tolerate being watered with tap water even though it contains salts and minerals that are not entirely healthy for the plant. To release the chlorine from the water, pour it into a bucket. Then leave this bucket uncovered one whole night before use. If you want to be entirely on the safe side, then go for filtered water.

Desert Rose Bonsai White flowers, red edges

– Light Requirements 

This succulent loves bright and direct sunlight for most of the day. You can put it out in the yard without any shade or worries. The more light it soaks up, the more it grows and thrives.

What about if you only have an indoor living space for this plant? Inside a room, you need a window facing the south. This window receives the exact bright light that this succulent needs directly. 

Place the desert bonsai pot right on the window sill or directly next to the window. No curtain will be needed to mitigate the light for it. The windows towards the rest of the sides do not receive adequate light, but the eastern or the western windows will do just fine.

If the window or windows within your room aren’t adequate, you can and must use artificial grow lights. Turn these lights continuously for at least 13 to 14 hours daily. The good thing is that they are pretty reasonable to run and will not be too heavy on your wallet.

Buy LED lights and install them about 20 inches away from the plant. It would be best to use a combination of natural and artificial light.

– Soil Requirements 

Buy a specialized bonsai soil in order to grow desert roses at home. This soil has the perfect mix of clay, dirt, and organic matter. It doesn’t allow the water to stay accumulated within the soil yet provides the right amount of essential nutrients for plant growth. 

If you find it challenging to obtain this soil, use a succulent mix instead. It comprises coarse clay and medium grit sand, creating air and water channels within the soil. Your plant will breathe and grow freely in a succulent mix as well.

You can add more nutrients to the soil by using home-churned compost. The plant will survive without it, too, considering it is a hardy species.

– Temperature Requirements 

The desert rose bonsai tree needs more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive. It can withstand temperatures as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Below 70, your plant will surely suffer, which will affect its growth. The window this plant is kept near should be closed at night. This is to protect it from the cold night air.

Some tips for maintaining the temperature around your plant are as follows, and you must start by keeping temperatures during summers is easy outdoors. However, a room chilled with an air conditioner inside the house is unhealthy for them.

Remember that during winter, the easiest thing is just to move this plant inside the house.

– Humidity Requirements 

Forty percent is the ideal humidity for the bonsai desert rose plant. How can you keep an eye on the humidity levels around this plant? By investing in a tiny little instrument called a hygrometer.

You will most likely not have any problem maintaining humidity for this plant. However, if moisture begins to exceed 50 percent, there is cause for concern. Succulents store water within their leaves, so high humidity puts them at significant risk of fungal attacks.

You can bring them inside the house and use a dehumidifier. As additional precautionary measures, never mist this plant nor use a pebble tray under it. It will cause more harm than benefit 99 percent of the time.

– Fertilizing Requirements 

Fertilizer is an essential component of the desert rose bonsai grow kit. This plant grows actively during the summer months when you need to fertilize it every third or fourth week.

A well-balanced fertilizer is what you need for the desert rose plant. Such a fertilizer will have an NPK ratio of 1:1:1 written on the back of its package. Don’t take risks and always choose a product with good reviews.

Liquid fertilizer is the easiest to handle and quickest to deliver nutrients. You can also opt for a slow-release formulation. It must be buried into the soil every three to four months.

For beginner plant enthusiasts, it is essential to know that fertilizing can be a very tricky thing to do. Succulents, especially, are pretty prone to over-fertilizing. Here are some solid tips to assist you in bypassing this problem.

  • If the roots are watered deeply before pouring a liquid fertilizer, it saves them from burns.
  • The fertilizer should be diluted to one-third of its strength before use. 
  • Mix filtered and cleaned water when diluting the fertilizer.
  • If your plant seems to be turning too dark or yellow dramatically, cut back on fertilizing immediately.
  • There is no use in fertilizing during winter when the plant is undergoing a rest period.

– Pruning Requirements

Grooming is an essential aspect of bonsai tree care. You will need to cut and shape these plants regularly to make their branches grow the way you want.

Pruning must be done with sterilized gardening tools and can be done at any time of the year. It promotes further stem growth and more flowering. 

If you have to use wires to keep these stems growing in your preferred direction, do not tie them up too tightly. Very tight wires will cut off the food and water supply to the plant parts, and they will begin dying.


Propagating this plant is accessible by using seeds or cuttings taken from the stem. However, be prepared to wait an extremely long time for this bonsai to grow large enough for pruning and shaping. Both methods have been given in a stepwise fashion below.

– Propagating Desert Rose Bonsai From Seeds

For newbies, it can be tough to get top-quality desert rose seeds. It is best to go to a bonsai farmer who has been in the business for a long time. 

Here are the steps you need in order to grow a desert bonsai using seeds.

  1. You will need a seedling tray to germinate the seeds in.
  2. Spread out a nutrition medium like moss evenly on the tray.
  3. Pack your seeds one by one within the slightly damp medium.
  4. You will also need a seedling heating pad under the tray to create the high temperatures required for germinating these seeds.
  5. Other essential requirements for successful germination are placing the tray in a bright, directly lit place and keeping the growing media evenly moist.
  6. Timing is of the essence here. The start of the summer growing period is the most suitable time for seeds to germinate.

– Propagating Desert Rose Bonsai From Cuttings

Before taking a stem cutting, place your instruments in alcohol for at least half an hour. Afterward, wash them thoroughly to prevent any potential cross-infection from a diseased plant to this one.

  1. Cut off five to six inches of a stem from its growing end.
  2. Wrap this piece in tissue paper which will accelerate it to dry up.
  3. Before burying the cutting within the soil that you have prepared, dip the cut end in rooting hormone.
  4. Find a sunny and warm place for your plant and avoid overwatering.


There is only one main problem faced by bonsai succulents: overwatering. In rare instances, you might face cold shock and pests attacks if you are not careful.

Find out how to solve these problems in no time below.

– Overwatered Succulents

Being a succulent, desert rose gets easily overwatered. Its pot will appear heavier than usual, the leaves will be swollen and feel jiggly on the touch, and the soil will feel moist and runny. 

Overwatering is extremely dangerous because it causes fungi to attack the plant immediately. Immediately stop watering the plant for a while. A dehumidifier would help lose water this extra water quickly.

Don’t allow a water-filled saucer to stay under the plant for long. If the plant is too overwatered, you might have to take it out and allow all the water to drain into a newspaper.

– Pests and Bugs

Your adenium desert rose house plant is prone to getting a bug infestation every now and then. Most bugs that attack this plant feed on the food flowing throughout the plant by puncturing it. They can be mealybugs, aphids, and scale insects.

Most of these bugs hide under the thick, fleshy leaves. Mealybugs are white and fluffy looking, whereas scale insects look like flat, brown spots. As for Aphids, you cannot see them with the naked eye.

A bonsai under pest attack develops yellow spots on the leaves. There may or may not be associated brown edges. Growth is seriously affected, and there won’t be the growth of new leaves.

Whether you are new to bonsai care or someone with little time on their hands, we have some great pest eradication tips for you.

  • Washing the plant is the key to removing as many pests as possible. 
  • Keep the plant under warm sunlight to let it dry afterward.
  • Larvae and some pests like scale insects need to be rubbed off with a brush or tissue paper.
  • The next step is to use a natural insecticide like neem oil or baking soda mixed with water and use it on the larvae colonies.
  • Another option would be to use chemical insecticides. Use only mild ones because bonsai can be sensitive to harsh chemicals.
  • Regular pruning and cleaning are very important to ensure the pests don’t return.

– Cold Shock

Your adenium obesum needs warm temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. In fact, as natives of the hot desert regions, it reacts negatively to temperatures falling.

Cold shock occurs when it experiences temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended time. Usually, what happens is that the plant undergoes a rapid descent into dormancy. It becomes quite difficult to get it to regrow afterward.

Sometimes the plant starts dropping its leaves all of a sudden. This is often seen during winter frost time. You should immediately move the plant to a warmer location.

Desert Rose Bonsai, adenium in flower pot.


What does Desert Rose Bonsai need?

A Desert Rose Bonsai needs ample sunlight, well-draining soil, occasional watering, moderate humidity, and protection from frost and extreme temperatures. Additionally, regular pruning and fertilization are beneficial for its growth and overall health.

Which kind of soil does Desert Rose Bonsai like?

Desert Rose Bonsai prefers well-draining soil with a mix of sandy, loamy, and gravelly components.

Should I water my Desert Rose Bonsai in the morning or at night?

Water your Desert Rose Bonsai in the morning to allow sufficient time for the soil to dry before night, preventing potential root rot.


Now that our guide on desert rose is over, the most important points to keep in mind are bulleted below.

  • This plant needs a warm, brightly lit area with less than 50 percent humidity.
  • It can be propagated easily, but a bonsai takes a long time to grow large enough.
  • You need to beware of overwatering this bonsai because it is prone to fungal and bacterial rot.
  • Bonsai is a game of patience, keep that in mind.

Being a bonsai parent isn’t easy. Despite the valuable information in this article, you will need a lot of patience and love to see this plant thrive.

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