This group of succulents is mainly from Africa, though one variety is found in Arabia and one on the Isle of Socotra. The gorgeous blossoms of these bushy plants resemble those of the Oleander to which they are closely related. The open-faced flowers are ordinarily crimson, pink, or white and are followed by green seedpods. They grow periodically from spring to fall on new growth. Like the Oleanders, all the species in this group contain poisonous sap. A. obesum (Desert Azalea; Desert Rose; Impala Lily; Mock azalea; Sabi Star) forms a small bush with a large, underground caudex in its native habitat. Its shiny green leaves are covered with pale down underneath. This variety can grow up to 4 feet high with a spread of 15 inches. The flowers of this species can grow up to 5 inches across. They may be white edged with red, pink, white or crimson, each having a yellow throat. A. boehmianum is a deciduous variety that stays dormant for three to five months. Its slender stems grow 3 or more feet high and are covered with wide, grayish-green, downy leaves. The flowers grow to 11/2 inches wide and may be white, pink, or lavender with a dark colored throat. A. 'Crimson Star' is a cross between A. obesum and A. swazicum. If this species is provided with adequate care, it may produce its starry, crimson flowers for up to nine months of the year. This hybrid must be pruned once in a while to prevent it from becoming leggy.
These plants can be grown as houseplants and will grow best if moved outside during the summer. They need a temperature of at least 45º F. They should be grown in well-drained potting soil in a bright location. A slightly humid atmosphere is preferred. During the summer, plenty of water and fertilizer should be provided; while they are dormant in the winter, they should be kept fairly dry. Overwatering can quickly cause the roots to rot.
Seeds are ordinarily used to increase these plants, though cuttings may be taken.
- A. somalene;
- A. obesum;
- A. boehmianum;
- A. multiflorum;
- A. 'Crimson Star'.