Adenium Obesum, also known as Desert Rose, is native to Eastern Africa and Northern Arabia. They like full sun and are very heat tolerant. In the ground it can grow anywhere from 6-12 feet tall, it produces very attractive flowers and it is a popular plant among cacti and succulent collectors for it's unusual trunk.
Growing this rare tropical plant in my indoor garden in Chicago has been a big learning experience. When I started hanging around gardening forums and reading about this plant I came across many threads and people that commented on how hard it was to keep this plant alive and healthy. Many people discouraged this plant for beginners to container gardening or for people who don't have don't have a greenhouse or windows that receive full sun.
The plant in the photo I bought at Wal-Mart, of all places, and since then I found two more at Home Depot's garden center. I didn't pay more than five dollars for each plant and considering the prices I've seen at on-line auction sites like e-bay I think I got a great deal on these beautiful plants and think I would add them to my list of easy care plants.
In the spring and summer I put my plants outdoors and sit them among the other plants in my container garden. Since I'm gardening in a small space and the plants are rather small I place the pots on top of a larger pot. They're heat tolerant plants and like a lot of sun and because of that they get a generous amount of water in the summer whenever I'm watering.
They stay in my outdoor garden among my flowers and other plants but in the fall they start to prepare to be brought into my indoor garden. I don't have plant lights or an indoor plant light set up so they have to make due with sitting in a west facing window. By the time they're brought it they have lost all of their leaves because of the cooler weather and are pretty much dormant. I allow them to go dormant because I don't have grow lights for them and I find it's just easier not to worry about one more plant. During the Adenium Obesum's dormancy I don't water much or any if I can help it because if I did it would spring back to life. The slightest amount of water that I give them after they've been brought in for the winter will start the plant up again. I allow them to get so dry that the caudex ( the trunk) starts to shrink but even then I'll hold back the water.
As the days start to get longer and it looks like spring will arrive I start watering it little-by-little and set it closer to the window when it starts to sprout so that it gets as much sun as possible. When spring finally gets here I just repeat the process of placing it outside.
The plant can be poisonous to people and pets so keep it out of their reach if you want to grow this plant indoors. Last summer my unattended nephew dug out a few chunks from the caudex of one of my Adeniums-lucky nothing happened to either of them. If you want to grow this unusual plant for it's interesting shape it's better to start them from seeds or buy plants that haven't been grafted onto root stock. The fat caudex that everyone likes on this plant can't be achieved with grafting. You can propagate Adenium Obesum from cuttings (watch out for the sap!) but again you won't get as nice a "trunk." If you want to read about how I started Adenium seeds use the search box on the left hand side and search my blog for the entry "Adenium Obesum Seedlings." If you have other questions or comments feel free to ask.
Other Posts on Adenium Obesum:
Adenium Obesum Flowers and Seed Pod
Adenium Obesum Seedlings
Adenium Obesum Propagation by Cuttings