In a previous entry I wrote about how the warm temperatures indoors this winter were causing my Adenium obesum to break dormancy. Since my Adeniums don't want to stay dormant and prefer to grow during this time I figured I'd take advantage of the situation and propagate a branch or two from my plant. Normally propagation of plants is done during the spring and summer when plants are actively growing but I think I can have some success with a little extra care. Here I used a specialized bonsai tool called a 'concave cutter' but a sharp pair of scissors or shears should be adequate. The reason I used a concave cutter is because unlike garden pruners you're familiar with a concave cutter doesn't make a flat cut but a concave one. The reason a concave cut is desired is because this help a tree heal faster and when the wound closes it isn't as noticeable. To see larger pictures in this entry click the images to enlarge them.
Propagating Adenium obesum by cuttings is pretty easy you just need to take a few things into consideration. Make sure your tools are clean and sharp to make the best cutting. Wear protective gloves and glasses when cutting into an Adenium-all parts are considered toxic.
The branch on my Adenium I chose to cut is about six inches in length and I removed it from the plant at the caudex (or 'fat trunk') as you can see from the photo. If you look closely you'll notice that the concave cutters left a circular would and not a stump like a pair of regular pruners would do in a case like this.
This how the tip of the cutting looks. If you look carefully you may be able to observe the concave nature of the cut here. The yellow droplet you see is the sap of Adenium obesum and the reason why I recommend wearing gloves and glasses when making cuts into an Adenium. The sap of Adenium obesum is considered to be highly toxic and in some places the sap is used to coat arrow heads. If you're currently not at war with a neighboring tribe or don't need to take down any wild game set your cutting aside and allow it to dry for 2-4 days. Keep your cuttings and plant away from kids, pets and the painfully stupid.
After you've allowed your cutting to dry and callous over you can then plant it in a gritty and fast draining potting medium. Keep your cutting away from direct sunlight and any watering done during this time should just barely moisten the soil. In a couple of weeks your plant should have started producing new growth. When you see new leaves emerge on your plant that's a good indication that the plant is forming roots below the soil.
When you take cuttings from many plants they'll experience a bit of die back before the cut heals. This isn't any different with Adeniums but this summer I noticed that they die back a bit and it made me nervous. Look at the Adenium photo with the yellow arrow; it is pointing at a cut I made this summer see the dry piece of the branch? That's how much of the branch died before the plant healed itself and started producing new growth. Also note how the new growth put out by the Adenium obesum occurred right below the spot where the die back finally stopped. If you're not going to remove an entire branch in the cutting process make sure to leaves some room for the die back that will occur.
As I mentioned above cuttings are best taken during the spring and summer when the plant is normally growing and temperatures are warm. Since I'm taking my cuttings in winter I'll have to find a way to provide my cutting with bottom heat to stimulate the production of roots. You can buy propagation mats also called heating mats or seedling mats that will produce the warmer soil and root conditions that the plant needs to make roots.
When central heating and air was installed in my house the morons installing it placed the vent in my bedroom almost in the center of the floor. This design flaw has turned out to be a blessing in disguise because in the winter I'll set seeds and cuttings on top of the vent and use it as a ghetto propagation mat. If you don't have heating and air technicians that are dumber than a 5th grader try placing your cutting on top of older refrigerators and televisions. The older models aren't very energy efficient and will emit a bit of heat when in use. Alternately, you can also place your cutting on top of the lights of an aquarium.
If you're like me and you're growing this succulent plant because of the 'fat trunk' (caudex) you should know that a plant produced from a cutting will not grow the caudex that attracted you to these plants. If you want an Adenium with a fat trunk you have to grow one from seed, cuttings will still develop into nice plants but the trunk of the plant will not be all that interesting. You should also be aware that many of the Adeniums you'll find that don't have a large caudex are grafts. A piece of a Desert Rose that produces great flowers is grafted onto the root stock of an Adenium that is common or is known to have strong roots. A cutting from the grafted piece will kind of defeat the purpose since you'll be growing the plant with the weaker root stock.
Related posts about Adenium Obesum- Desert Rose:
Desert Rose Breaking Dormancy.
Adenium Obesum Care.
Adenium Obesum Fertilizer Damage.
Adenium Obesum Seedlings.