help with Adenium arabicum?

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

I keep almost killing this poor thing. As soon as it gets a few leaves on those great branches, they die off.
I keep it with low water, in a west window (where I live, this means moderate sun, not high sun), and not much fertilizer. I tend to water it a little more when it starts to leaf out.
Do you have any suggestions? I am afraid to change anything because I really don't want to kill it.

By the way, is it deciduous?

Thumbnail by momlady
Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

Yes. Stems may go in and out of leaf all year. The plant will usually retain at least a few leaves this time of year. My advice would be to use a rocky mix (50% pumice or perlite, lava rock, whatever) and give the plant as much light as possible. If it's indoors, it should be right by the window.

When it's in leaf, you should water regularly. In lots of summer sun that means every 2 or 3 days, maybe more. Indoors is a bit trickier, you'll have to tweak the schedule and see how the plant responds. I like to give regular fertilizer at 1/4 the recommended dose.

You should water less often when the plant loses its leaves, especially during the colder/darker months. Maybe half or a quarter as often.

This is one of those plants that will grow very differently depending on how they are treated. They are geared for survival and their default response to drought is to go leafless. The more you can coax them into their zone and keep them there, the faster they will grow.

This message was edited May 27, 2014 7:05 PM

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Thank you, Baja! I really appreciate your help. It makes a big difference to understand its normal behavior better.
I clearly need to water more when it is active and feed more. I will do the best I can with keeping it in the sun. I will also look into an even lighter mix.

Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

I just noticed your plant is in a clay pot... that means it will dry out faster than a regular plastic one (especially if the sun hits the pot). That will give you some security against overwatering but all things equal you will have to water more often. Just another variable to consider if you find your plant is struggling during summer.

I consider myself a very amateur grower and am always amazed by what is possible with these plants in the hands of an expert. I do take some solace in the fact that my plant stays in leaf pretty much year round. Given the mildness of our climate, that's not a huge feat. But hey, I'll take what I can get. :)

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

My goal is for it to have leaves most of the year by using your information. I'll let you know how it goes.
(Always take what you can get!!!)

Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

Just remember that it's easier to kill the plant by overwatering at the wrong time than it is by underwatering at the wrong time. Things get real dark in your part of the world during winter... maybe it's better the caudiciforms lose their leaves that time of year.

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Baja, I agree it's better for it to be dormant in the dark winter here. I figure it'll hardly notice what going on through the sunless times and then it'll wake back up when it has a fighting chance.

Ok, I am giving it more water and more sun and it's getting more leaves. Some of the leaves are distorted, however. Should I be concerned?

Thumbnail by momlady Thumbnail by momlady
Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

No, they look totally fine to me. Just brand new. Plant looks great.

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Woo hoo! Thanks, Baja, for all your help!

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Here's today's pretty happy.

Thumbnail by momlady
Decatur, GA

Looking very nice!

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