Adenium obesum [Vaso Ø18cm]
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The leaves are oval, bright and leathery, with prominent veins on the lower base. In the places of origin they are visible only during a short period of time corresponding to the rainy season. For the rest of the year the plant is bare, in order to avoid an excessive dispersion of precious humidity.
They are elongated and grow mainly at the apex of the branches: they have a leathery consistency and, in the adults, they can reach the 15 cm of length by 6-8 of width. The upper page is dark green, with a central vein in evidence, extremely glossy (to reflect the sun’s rays); the lower one, on the contrary, is much paler and velvety, in order to contrast the transpiration.
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Pink, white or crimson in colour, with darker outer edges, the flowers appear on the new branches and reach a diameter of 13 cm. The flowers are followed by green bilobed fruits.
Flowering is another point in favour of this shrub. In the summer season (but also in apartments throughout the year) large starry corollas (up to 5 cm in diameter) of bright colors arise directly from the bare wood. They are usually red with a white heart, but there are other colours in cultivation (pure white, bright pink, pale pink). If properly pollinated, they develop pod-shaped fruits containing the seeds, which are feathery.
Cultivation of the Adenium
Bright and sunny, the adenium in the apartment should be exposed in full sun. Adenium obesum can only be grown as a pot plant because, although in some regions of Italy the climate is very mild, in the winter months it would not be suitable.
Exposure and temperatures
It is a shrub originating in arid or desert areas and in nature does not know the cold. For its well-being it is necessary to avoid exposing it to temperatures below 10°C. In general, from September to May it should live in a house or in a heated greenhouse, exposed to intense light for most of the day. When the summer arrives we can move it outside, even in full sun, but proceeding gradually to avoid sunburn.
We always choose a location sheltered from the winds and, possibly, with a good level of ambient humidity, especially if we want to enjoy a beautiful flowering.
Soil of the adenium
The choice of the right soil is very important to avoid the onset of dangerous rottenness, one of the most frequent causes of deterioration. The specimens on the market are usually in a compound too peaty and therefore not suitable for anything. The advice is to change the pot immediately, avoiding to disturb the roots, especially from spring to autumn.
Let’s choose a rather small container (we will avoid water stagnations and we will favour the flowering), creating a perfect drainage on the bottom with a fine pozzolana, then let’s fill it with a very light bonsai compost or mixing citrus soil with sand in equal measure.
It is perhaps the most important aspect to keep in mind in order to have good results. The greatest damage is in fact caused by too much irrigation with water stagnation at the level of the roots. To have a lush plant with an almost continuous flowering (possible if kept at home or in a warm greenhouse during the winter) we distribute water frequently, but very slightly. The substrate should always be fresh, but never wet.
For specimens that enter into vegetative rest it is necessary, in the winter period, to suspend completely: we will recover when the first buds are spontaneously produced.
Fertilization of the adenium
Fertilisation is crucial to achieving vigorous growth and supporting flowering, which must be as long-lasting as possible. However, it does not tolerate over-concentrated products and, above all, products with high doses of nitrogen. Usually good results are obtained with products for succulent plants, distributing them every two weeks. To stimulate the production of corollas, at the end of winter, we can possibly add small doses of a simple product based on potassium or very little ash.
The most recommended method of propagation is certainly sowing, to be carried out in spring. Germination takes place quite easily as long as it provides the right amount of heat and humidity (in the places of origin it coincides with the rainy season).
Some propagators obtain specimens also through grafting, on oleander; it succeeds easily and guarantees the availability of many subjects that, however, will not have the typical “bottle” shape and will not even be able to develop the impressive root system, so appreciated in bonsai.
Desert rose, Madagascar oleander – Adenium obesum: parasites and diseases
The adenium has two great enemies: radical rot and cochineal. The first can be prevented with the right substrate and very light and frequent irrigation.
To avoid serious damage from cochineal, however, it is important to monitor the base of the branches and leaves frequently: as soon as we notice the presence eliminate them with alcohol and a cotton swab. In case of strong attacks we can resort to systemic insecticides to be administered by irrigation (excellent for the geranium butterfly), possibly assisted by white oil.
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