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Adenium Obesum: Fertilizer Damage

Adenium Obesum Fertilizer Damage
A couple of weeks ago I somehow mistook my liquid houseplant fertilizer for my bottle of liquid cacti & succulent fertilizer when I decided to fertilize my Adenium Obesum plants. The next day the leafs starting showing signs of fertilizer burn and were browning at the tips.

Within a couple of days all three of the plants were defoliated and the largest of the three started showing signs of rotting. If you look at the picture above you can see that one stem has turned down about half way down from the tip, oddly enough the tip is green and I may try to root it. I'm not 100% sure this rot is a result of the rotting but it happened at the same time that I mixed up the fertilizers. On the plus side is that the a whole new set of buds broke to replace the stem that had rotted and the new leaves on the plants are a lot smaller. You can see the difference in the leaf size of the same plant from the previous entry titled Adenium Obesum Care.

The new leaves are a lot smaller and thinner and this is because the plant is growing in full sun. When I bought it they had been growing in pretty low light so the leaves were larger. I don't know if this will affect the possibility of blooms this year but I'm keeping my fingers crossed and will make sure to fertilize my plants in the future with the properly balanced fertilizer for each plant.


  1. Good lesson on the fertilizer for everybody. I hope it doesn't do too much damage in the long run. I once made a mistake of putting lawn fertilizer (very high first number) on a huge Impatient planting I did. The plants got 4 feet tall but only had a couple of flowers.

  2. Anonymous3:33 PM

    Experiments in fertilizer, I like it.
    I have put the wrong fertilizer on the wrong plant before but I didn't notice much of a difference. My plant was probably just happy to get any fertilizer at all.
    Thank you for the information.

  3. DFP,

    You just reminded me of being at the garden center earlier this year and having to pull someone aside after the employee told them to use a lawn fertilizer on the emerging plants. LOL.


    You know sometimes nothing will happen but I think that the AOs a little more sensitive and succulents in particular need a fertilizer specially designed for them since they are slower growing plants.

  4. Anonymous8:28 PM

    How about how can you fix fertilizer damages ? I reallllly need to know that.

  5. Hello,
    I started growing desert roses from seeds about 4 months ago but they are only about .5 - 1 inches tall. They have considerably swollen trunks and green leaves. I'm wondering what I need to do in order to make them grow more quickly! I have fertilized them one or twice, have given them moderate water, full sun and they are kept at approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit. I'm so impatient! Is this normal or do I need to do something in order to make them grow more quickly?

  6. Alexa,

    It is normal you can't really make plants faster than they want to unless you have a greenhouse. I say just enjoy your adenium obesum plants because it sounds like you're doing great with them.

  7. Anonymous3:39 PM

    Great website!


  8. Anonymous8:29 PM

    I have had my adenium obesum for 30+ years and it has never bloomed. It is 22" tall and just as wide. I have been using Miracle Grow powder to fertilize it. Today I went to a cacti garden and they said I need a better fertilizer with more phosphorous. What would you suggest that I use? It is also getting mealy bugs on the new leaves. I have treated them with a systemic and sometimes I put the plant upside down in soapy water, but they keep coming back! I need your help!
    Thanks so much for your help.
    email me at
    Thanks so much!
    Naoma in Utah

  9. Anonymous4:52 AM

    I don't know if I can give any advice as I have only started to grow a few Desert Rose 3 weeks ago. I put the 5 seeds I bought into warm water over night. The seeds were wrapped in kitchen tissue, then put into a small plastic bag with the warm water, and left floating in my tropical fish tank '78deg/f.
    Some 18 hours later I planted them in a 50/50 mix of sharp sand and typical seed compost.
    First seedling germinated after 3 days, 4 other came through between days 6 and 9. and one has failed to germinate so far.
    I planted the seeds in a plastic bottle.
    I cut 3inches off the bottom of the bottle and filled this with the compost mix, and covered the seeds with teaspoon of sharp sand.
    The upper part of the bottle was shortened to about 4inch, and put back on top of the seeds, with a wrap of clear sticky tape to keep the two parts together. they were placed in a propagator at 72 Degrees f
    The bottle top was left on for 4 days, then removed. I noticed that a grey mould was forming on the sand, so gave them a spray of dilute 50% fungicide, and unscrewed the bottle top, leaving the top open.
    Today after a total of 25 days the largest is just over 1inch tall with 4 leaves, and the stem is about 3/16 inch diameter, but does not show any swelling
    being the same thickness over its full length/height.

    I do not know if this helps and of course my seeds may be different type to yours, also I understand that seedlings do not generally come the same as the parent.

    1. iem44,

      Thanks for chiming in and offering your tips on growing adenium obesum seeds.

  10. Anonymous10:44 AM

    I'm a new owner of an OA. It sits in a SE window along with my orchids. I have not given it water for several weeks. There are leaves/maybe flower buds forming. Should I start watering and feeding it again? I have been using Miracle Gro fertilizer but diluting to 1/2 strength suggested for house plants. I haven't noticed damage on the OA when I was watering it with this food. After seeing what you think is fertilizer damage, should I get the cactus/succulent food?

  11. corab824@yahoo,com12:55 PM

    I have an OA that I've had for at least 20 years. It finally had seed pods a few years ago. I planted probably 40 seeds and got about 6 plants from it. I didn't get any seeds until I cut it back. It is enormous and I don't know what I'll do if it needs more room...I can only drag the pot inside for winter. I have several plants I have started from cuttings. They mostly have tall single stems but one has lots of stems and is growing proportionately. I large, original plat now has 34 beans (seed pods) and I'm waiting for them to open. Anyone want some seeds?



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