Hello my friends. As bonsai has become popular the quest to make many different plant species into bonsai has also become popular. The pursuit of bonsai has led many away from the realm of woody plants into succulents. Many of you already know this, and to others this may be very surprising. A very popular tree to use a s succulent is the Crassula or jade tree. I have no experience with those. I do have a desert rose though.
adenium obesum is native to sub Saharan Africa. Its range extends to parts of Arabia. It loves warm sunny places and can tolerate drought. One thing of note is that if the temperature drops below 50F then it will lose its leaves.
Some people love the flowers on this plant. Some varieties do produce amazing colors. I however dislike the flowers as they remind me of Oleander. That is probably so because both plants are in the dog bane family. What I find so pleasing about this plant is that it has an incredible trunk and exposed roots, it is fairly simple to maintain healthy, It has incredible growth rate, and it is easy to clip and grow.
The trunk of this tree is like a barrel. It will be thick and if it is pruned correctly it can have a very nice taper. It will grow roots from the side of the trunk. These roots will also grow and thicken giving the plant nice character.
I found baby adenium obesum at a big box store. They could not have been bigger than four inches. I bought one for myself and one for my mother in law. My mother in law loves plants. I potted my desert rose in turface and volcanic sand. She potted her plant in potting soil. In two months my plant had grown nice branches . Hers had rotted away. I kept my tree moist in my potting mixture. She had kept her plant wet. I water my desert rose everyday during spring and summer months and it has grown exponentially. The key is to keep it in medium that stays moist but not wet. Turface is great for this (see: http://bonsai-misadventures.blogspot.com/2016/03/bonsai-soil-medium-plethora-of-choices.html).
During the spring and summer months I fertilize with liquid fertilizer every week to every two weeks. It's amazing, three days after applying fertilizer you can see the new growth. Since I bought my plant last year it has tripled in size.
Even though I don't especially like the flowers when the tree is covered in flowers it does look pleasing. I have Not had any flowers on my tree. Perhaps this is so because it is a young tree. Moreover, I believe that the flowers have not grown because of my clip and grow method. Desert rose can grow long branches. They are not really branches like a tree. They are fleshy fingers that grow out. These fingers can grow long. I cut them down to the size i like to keep the foliage closer to the trunk. I usually cut under the node. I have found that if you cut above the node the new branch will grow on the top most node and take the place of the piece that was removed. No new branches will grow. Cutting under the node will promote branches growing from the rest of the branch.
I have re potted the plant once in a year because the growth rate was incredible. I have placed the tree in a pot that is a little too big so that it has plenty of room to grow this next year. I think I will try growing a few from seed just for fun. Cheers.