All about plant fertilization

How and when to fertilize Adenium or Desert Rose

Adenium is a genus of shrubs whose origin is found in the tropics of East Africa and Arabia. Within the genus there are 15 recognized species, although without a doubt the most popular is Adenium obesum, or commonly known as the desert rose. It can grow up to 1.50 m tall, with attractive red or pink flowers similar to those of oleanders. This time we will take care of analyzing how to use fertilizer for Adenium or desert rose, but not without first studying the most important care.

Fun fact: within the popular name “desert rose” we can assure that the word desert is well placed. Since it comes from the desert areas of Africa and the Middle East. But the rose is not entirely correct, this plant is more related to plants such as oleanders or frangipanis.

1. How to care your desert rose

Before getting into everything that respects the fertilization of Adeniums, we will start by looking at the most important care that you must carry out so that this bush grows healthy and strong. And, as you can imagine, fertilization is just one of many important aspects to take into account for the health of this plant.

  • Location: it grows better outdoors, not being a good indoor plant. He likes areas with a lot of sun exposure. In any case, if you want to grow it indoors, look for an area of ​​the house with a lot of lighting.
  • Watering: Although it holds up quite well with little water, it is a succulent, so it likes fairly regular waterings. During the growing season (spring / summer), water twice a week, if it rains you can suppress watering. While in winter it will be enough to water only once every 7 or 8 days.
Fertilizer for Adenium or Desert Rose
Adenium or Desert Rose
  • Soil: He likes porous soils with very good drainage capacity. In case of growing it in a pot, make sure it has good holes for the water to escape.
  • Multiplication: this is done through seeds. Which should be sown during the spring.
  • Transplant: when you have it in a pot, it is advisable to transplant in spring every 2 or 3 years. In case of transplanting it to the ground, do it once the driest season of the year is over.
  • Fertilziacion: obviously it could not be missing from the list. We will dedicate the other sections to develop this point in depth.

2. NPK values – What do they mean?

We have already left the care of the desert rose behind. It’s time for us to talk about how to use fertilizers for this shrub. But first I need to explain an essential concept when analyzing the fertilization of any plant. And by this I mean NPK values.

I have no doubt that you have seen a bag of commercial fertilizer on more than one occasion. If so, you will have noticed that on his forehead there are almost always three numbers separated by a dash. These numbers are known as NPK values. Each letter being the initial of the three most important nutrients in the development of a plant.

  • Nitrogen (N): favors the growth of the aerial part of the vegetables (leaves, stems). It is, in part, responsible for the green color of plants and confers resistance to pests.
  • Phosphorus (P): it is very important in the ripening of flowers, seeds and fruits. It participates in the formation and development of roots and has an important role in resistance to drought.
  • Potassium (K): it is decisive in the development of the whole plant, it allows the roots and stems to be strong and the seeds, fruits and leaves, large. It provides resistance to pests and diseases, aids in the circulation of other nutrients around the plant, and regulates the functions of the plant.

On the other hand, each number specifically indicates the percentage by weight of the nutrient with respect to the total weight of the fertilizer. Since I know this may not be entirely clear, let’s look at a simple example:

“If you have bought a 5 kg bag of 10-15-20 compost. This compost contains 500 g of nitrogen, 750 g of phosphorus and 1 kg of potassium. The remaining weight is taken up by minor nutrients and other components.”

With this I think you should have no doubts about these numbers. Now we can go ahead and get fully involved with the fertilization of the Adenium.

3. Best fertilizer for Adenium

Generally speaking, it can be said that desert rose does not require large amounts of fertilizers. In any case, it is always good to make some applications, with the care required by the use of a fertilizer.

If we must define an ideal fertilizer to be used in desert roses, the truth does not exist one specifically. Rather, there are several that will adapt depending on various factors. Among them the age of the plant, its growth cycle, the rain cycle, the properties of the soil, etc.

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

3.1 Slow release fertilizer

Within the wide range of fertilizers that exist in the market, the slow release ones will be the ones that you use the most in your Adenium.

In addition to being slow release, the ideal is to look for those balanced fertilizers. We have already studied what NPK values ​​are, so you will notice that when we say balanced we mean those with all three numbers equal.

Depending on the gardener’s taste, you will find that they are recommended in different concentrations. Among the most common for the desert rose are mixtures 7-7-7 and 20-20-20.

3.2 Liquid fertilizer for desert rose

In general, liquid fertilizers are not the most used for Adeniums. But they are used for specific cases such as the application of some micronutrients, foliar fertilizers to promote flowering.

Liquid fertilizers, unlike slow release ones, quickly impact the plant, which in plants like Adenium can be harmful. On the other hand, in very rainy areas, liquid fertilizers are wasted very quickly, without having the desired effect.

3.3 Organic fertilizer for Adenium

Whatever plant we grow, we can use homemade fertilizers, of which we can mention dozens, although in the case of Adenium we will recommend the following three:

  • Fishbowl water: if you have a fishbowl at home, you can reuse the water that we extract from the fishbowl in each wash to use it as fertilizer. It is a good source of phosphorus and nitrogen and is applied in conjunction with irrigation.
  • Bone meal: this is undoubtedly another of the sources of phosphorus par excellence. In general it is very good to incorporate it in early spring to promote better flowering.
  • Compost: It is difficult to talk about organic fertilizers without recommending compost. This is the most complete fertilizer of all, although in the case of desert roses it should be used in low doses so as not to burn the plant.

4. How and when to fertilize Adenium plant

Let us now see how the fertilizer for Adenium should be used in the different stages of its life. To start in very young plants (with just a couple of weeks) it is not recommended to apply any type of fertilizer.

Some gardeners use Epsom salts when the seedlings are one month old. By containing sulfur and magnesium, it increases the acidity of the soil, at the same time that it favors better growth.

Once they are around 6 months old, you can start applying a slow release fertilizer. In this case, we will recommend a 7-7-7 mix. With this we will promote a better growth of the root system.

When the first buds start to grow, it is good to apply a fertilizer rich in phosphorus and potassium. While phosphorus promotes better and more abundant flowering, potassium improves the coloration and duration of flowers. For this case you can use a 6-30-30 liquid fertilizer, or some organic fertilizer such as fish tank water or bone meal.

When the plants are mature (around 3 years) fertilization is reduced to the application of a balanced slow release fertilizer. There are fertilizers that last 6 months, so two applications a year are enough (in early spring and late summer). In addition to the application of fertilizers that favor flowering as indicated in the previous paragraph.

5. When to fertilize you desert rose (video)

As in each and every one of our articles, we will end it with a video (from Maria’s Garden channel) . I have no doubt that by seeing it you will be able to clarify some concepts seen here. And as it says in the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. I shouldn’t have said that, or you’re going to stop reading my blog. 😉

If you are reading this post, you will probably be interested in learning about fertilizing these other plants.

And with this we can finish the post, I hope it has been useful. And do not have any doubts when you should use fertilizer for Adenium or desert roses.

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