Help for Newbie- Adenium Obesum 'Canary' looks sick

Central Coast, CA(Zone 10a)

I am brand new to Adenium and bought this one about 3 months ago from a reputable online nursery. It arrived in a 4" pot and I followed the directions and did my own research. It has not seemed to adapt to it's new home very well. During the summer, I placed it in strong sunlight outdoors. When new growth would appear, the leaves seemed to fry so I began leaving it in full morning sun, gave it a break during the peak afternoon sun and then placed it back in direct sun in the evening. Surprisingly, Montana summers are very hot and dry so it seemed as though the conditions were "right".

The plant didn't seem to do much, but it was putting out new growth at a regular rate. Once the days started getting shorter, more and more leaves would yellow and drop. I am now left with what you see in the photos. It has been in the house for about a month due to extreme temp fluctuations. I have it in a South window and the average temp stays between 65-80 day and night.

The leaves continue to yellow and drop, I have ceased watering. I have it planted in a mostly perlite mix with a gritty soil (70/30?). I do fertilize about once a month with Schultz 10-15-10- all of my plants get this treatment. This plant has only received water about once a month for the past 2.

Am I fertilizing wrong? I have also noticed that one of the larger leaves appears to be dying from the side, almost as if it were attacked by an insect. The photos show that. Does this look like a normal neglect/ignorance issue or does it look like a pest? I potted it in a small clay pot, just slightly larger than the shipping pot. Does it need a new pot?

Thanks for any advice. I have also included a photo of it next to a large coffee mug for scale. Thanks!

Thumbnail by GeminisGreen
Central Coast, CA(Zone 10a)

Underside of leaf

Thumbnail by GeminisGreen
Central Coast, CA(Zone 10a)


Thumbnail by GeminisGreen
Yardley, PA

Sounds like you are doing fine. As long as the caudex is firm, you are ok. The brown on the leaf looks like it may be getting too much water. They tend to lose their leaves in the winter especially if you don't water them. It may just be going dormant. Also, when I put my adeniums out for the summer, the leaves will all burn off and then new leaves grow in. I keep mine in full sun.

Sun Lakes, AZ(Zone 9a)

I let mine rest in the winter and water very little. They lose most of their leaves then. I would not feed it in the winter either but wait until it starts actively growing toward spring.

Central Coast, CA(Zone 10a)

Whew! Thanks for the reassurance! The caudex is nice and firm with no soft spots anywhere.

Sally- I suspect that my suddenly and overly helpful12 year old may have watered it a few times (she has commented on how "dead" it looks). I didn't even think about the brown spots on the leaf having to do with water- could it be that I use tap water (chlorine). Do your Adeniums prefer filtered water? It's funny, I thought I read a lot about this, but it seems like everywhere I look there are varying opinions and it creates so much confusion. There are almost always wildly varying degrees of "fact"- Adeniums are either the easiest houseplant that was ever exploited or the most exotic, intangible beast reserved for only the greenest of thumbs, haha. That's why I like DG, I can get real-life experience-based advice. yay!

From what you're both saying, it sounds like some leaf drop is normal- once it gets used to winter, can I expect ALL of the leaves to fall? And if they do all come off- is that OK? I think I understand that it's the caudex that really keeps all of the nutrients in store, so I guess they wouldn't need leaves when "sleeping".

Nancy- when I put certain plants to "rest" for the winter, I normally remove them from any strong sunlight. This is just my very rough UN-educated interpretation of the word, but I think of rest as: cool and dark as well as no food and little water (thanks for the reminder about the fertilizing).

Does this apply to Adenium? During the winter, should I move it into an area where it isn't getting strong sun all day? If I were to stick with my leaf hypothesis above, I probably wouldn't be too concerned with sun- just the temp?

OR- is the winter's shortened day enough of a change to be considered rest for a plant like this?

Sorry for all the questions, I'm just trying to get this figured out :-) I do thank you both so much for the advice, I've never even seen an Adenium "in person" before I bought one.

Greensburg, IN(Zone 6a)

I have several(15) and I do lose some leaves in the winter but not all, I water about every three weeks because most are in shallow pots, I leave them in the brightest part of the room by the window, and they do just fine.

Yardley, PA

In the summer, my adeniums prefer full sun. The first leaves will burn off but most of my plants do that when I first put them out into the sun. They are usually the old winter leaves anyway. Most of my adeniums do not lose their leaves either in the winter but they basically stop growing. The leaves aren't a problem but if the caudex gets soft, then you have a problem.

Sun Lakes, AZ(Zone 9a)

I usually just stop watering and feeding and leave them where they are (in a sunny spot). However, someone I know who is very knowledgeable about adeniums, puts them in his garage here in Arizona and so they aren't getting sun either. His plants are really nice and bloom well.

Central Coast, CA(Zone 10a)

Hi everyone! I wanted to thank you all again for reassuring me about my Adenium. I stopped watering, the leaves ALL fell off and I left it in a bright, warm window. I watered about 2 weeks ago and I am seeing new leaves start. I've paid attention to the caudex as you've mentioned and it's nice and firm. Thank you all, I was annoyed with myself for buying the plant without having a clue!! Hopefully I'll be successful and will have the confidence to get more...maybe in a few years ;-)

Greensburg, IN(Zone 6a)

I think if you go to this site you can learn a lot about growing Adeniums.

Los Angeles, CA(Zone 10a)

Congrats on the favorable signs!

I think it's perfectly acceptable to buy first and do research (soon!) afterwards. Nothing like trouble to make you learn fast. And it's not like you're experimenting on a hundred-dollar—or irreplaceable—plant.

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