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Propagating Adenium Obesum By Cuttings

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.

Adenium Obesum Branch cuttings

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.

Adenium Obesum tip cutting

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.
Adenium Obesum cutting die back

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.


  1. I'm so glad you posted about this plant! They have one in the cafeteria at work, and I could never figure out what it was! It bloomed profusely last year, all white blossoms, and at first I thought it was a jasmine or gardenia or something, but the flowers didn't smell like anything. The one here isn't pruned, and stands about 5 feet tall, gangly and twiggy-looking. I did a search online to learn more, and found this link you may enjoy. Thanks again!

  2. Anonymous4:55 AM

    I came across your article on the care of Adenium Obesum - let me say one thing - its extremely good reading. Adenium Obesum or the Desert Rose grows profusely in Singapore. Keep up your good work. Alfred T.M. Kader

  3. Anonymous2:24 PM

    I read your article on how to sow the seeds but does that insure a thick, interesting trunk?

  4. Hibbek,

    Growing it from seed is the only way to get the interesting trunk. Growing it from cuttings will not get you a fat trunk.

  5. Anonymous10:39 AM

    Extremely well written. Where can one get adenium seeds? I live in Jaipur, India & have recently started gardening - & want to learn more about stem propagation.

    1. U can buy it from online shops like or and so on

  6. Anonymous8:41 AM

    A couple of adenium cuttings I had planted two months ago have started putting out new leaves. I gathered from your post that they will not produce a fat caudex (the mother plant has a beautiful caudex) but will they produce flowers, and when? Thanks in advance for information.

    1. Anonymous10:20 AM


    2. Hi,will plants from cutting produce flowers .If yes then after how long.Thanks

  7. Pratibha,

    I have a post in the archives here on starting adenium obesum seeds.


    Probably within a year or two.

  8. ok i had my DR for about 2 years and the branches got to high and thin so i cut them back and the ends turned brown and hard should i be worried will new shots grow from the branch ends should i take the brown off beacuse the one end i pulled a little and it poped of like a cap and shows a little greenish white should i do this with the other branches thanks

  9. Dirk, it is natural for the stem to die back if you didn't cut to an area that has a leaf or branch bud ready to grow. In most cases the stem may die back and fall off like I think you mention. If you cut another branch I say cut to an area that has a bud or branch growing off to the side.

  10. Anonymous8:02 AM

    hello mr brown thumb! i'm from Philippines and i just want to ask if what kind of fertilizer can i use with my adenium? or can u give me the exact brand :) thanks and God Bless!

  11. tyger898@hotmail.com10:58 AM

    Is there something that you can do to the caudex(sp) to make shoots come out of scraping it or something? Seems like I read something about it.

  12. Just found this blog and I love it!! I live in South Africa, and I have 23 Adenium plants. I started eight months ago, and although some of the seeds I planted died, with trial and error I still have 23. The climate is perfect for them here. I live in Durban. In the summer rains I have to be careful as that's when some of my seedlings died. I have taken cuttings and as you said (or one of your readers mentioned, they flower, but don't grow a thick caudex. Thank you once again for all your info.

  13. Romel Raghunath8:02 AM

    i Bought 3 bare root adenium about two weeks now. i have watered them once and fertilized them twice within the two weeks. i have noticed that one of the adenium root is feeling soft, and the others are hard, can someone give advice

  14. When I cut it from the main plant, should I take off all the leaves (just like the plumeria cuttings) then leave it to dry for 2-4 days? Thanks!

  15. Anonymous6:06 AM

    I planted a cutting of adenium about six months ago .How long will it take to flower
    One of the plants flowered profusely but sadly the flowers dropped .I could not collect the seeds .
    YOUR valuable advise please will be appriciated



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