Desert Rose Soil: What Kind of Potting Mix Is Best?

So you want to know – What is the best Soil for growing Desert Rose plants?

The short answer is well-drained soil. Since the Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) is grown around the world, you’ll find soil mixes made from all kinds of available soil components.

beautiful desert rose flower growing in the right soilPin

Trumpet-shaped flowers are pink, white, or crimson red, Adenium obesum subsp. swazicum: Also known by its common name, summer impala lily. 

This is a dwarf species that usually doesn’t get larger than 2′ feet tall; native to Swaziland and South Africa. Showy flowers are pink to deep reddish pink.

The one quality every Adenium potting mix provides is it must be well drained.

The Adenium is an attractive succulent plant hailing from the hot, dry deserts of Arabia and East Africa. 

The easy-care desert rose Adenium obesum plant has an attractive structure and vegetation and stunning trumpet-shaped flowers in brilliant shades of white, pink, and rose.

Although easy to care for, the Adenium Desert Rose does need exactly the right type of soil to keep it happy.

This article shares advice to help you purchase or make the perfect substrate for your exotic plant.

Mimic Natural Growing Conditions For Success

Most people often ask, what’s the best soil for desert rose?

Desert Roses like bright, full sun and sharply well-draining soil. But this does not mean that you should pot these plants in sand or pebbles. A mixture containing a combination of:

  • Good inorganic matter (e.g., coarse sand, perlite, vermiculite, etc.)
  • Quality organic matter (e.g., compost, potting soil, etc.)
  • Organic peat and/or bark (such as that used for potting orchids)

…provides just the right substrate for your Adenium. [source]

The ideal is to strike a balance between quick, thorough drainage and just the right amount of water retention. 

Tray with arranged soil and decorative stones.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @plantwithana

Additionally, you want to create a planting mixture that is slightly acidic: 6.0 is ideal. There are some ready-made and homemade cactus mixes that provide all of this in a trouble-free way.

If you live in an area where it can be grown successfully outdoors, the best place to plant the desert rose is in a spot not shaded by taller plants but with some protection from the sun, which can scorch the plant’s leaves. 

Along with a well-draining potting medium, you’ll need a well-draining pot. Choose a fairly substantial pot made of a natural material such as terra-cotta to provide good air circulation. Drainage holes in the bottom should be plentiful.

The best time for repotting is in the late winter or early spring, preferably as soon as new growth emerges. Trim long and lanky stems to balance the stem growth symmetrically.

Yellow flower in focus, blurred nature background.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @rosasdodesertoholambra

Pruning, Watering, and Fertilizing Desert Rose Plants

When you water the plant, allow the water to run freely through the substrate and through the holes. This desert dweller should never stand in water, or root rot can begin.

To encourage blooming, ensure your plant receives at least six hours of sunlight and provides fertilizer at least once a month during spring and summer. 

For an added dose of nutrients (and potentially more flowers), you can feed your desert rose with liquid fertilizer (diluted by half) once a month during its active growth period. Do not fertilize the plant during its dormant period. 

Desert rose is a relative disease- and pest-free plant. The biggest problem affecting this plant is overwatering. More precisely, it is often attacked by sap-sucking insects such as aphids, scales, and spider mites.  

Variety of planting materials labeled clearly.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @creativeplantmama

 Here’s how to propagate from a stem cutting: 

Before you get started, have these items on hand: garden gloves, sterilized pruners, rooting hormones, a clean pot, and a well-draining potting mix for adenium. 

Put on garden gloves to avoid the toxic sap of this plant touching your skin. Using your pruning snips, take a 5- to 6-inch cutting from the tip of a branch. 

Allow the cutting to dry out for a day or two. Wet the cut end and dip it in the rooting hormone.

Plant the cut end into a well-draining growing medium like perlite or sand mixed with potting soil for desert rose.

Do You know the answer? – What is the Best Desert Rose Fertilizer?

Can You Add to the Commercial Soil Mix To Make Adenium Soil Better?

Yes, if you begin with a very high-quality desert rose potting mix, you need only add ingredients that will increase drainage capacities and improve the acidity levels to make the potting material suitable for your Adenium.

To make the adenium soil mix more sharply draining, you can include a combination of coarse sand, perlite, pumice, or vermiculite.

Colorful potted desert roses in a row.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @plantando_rosas

For increased acidity, you can use coconut coir or peat moss, which will also help improve water retention qualities. Of these two, peat moss has greater water retention capabilities.

A measure of fir bark does triple duty by lightening the soil mix:

  • Improving drainage
  • Better air circulation
  • Slightly increasing acidity

To combine these ingredients into a usable soil mix for your Desert Roses, follow the adenium soil mix ratio:

  • 65% sharply draining material such as perlite
  • 10% coconut coir or peat moss
  • 10% coarse sand
  • 15% potting soil
Hands holding soil, gardening conceptPin
Photo Credit: Instagram @plant.ana_

It is important to note, however, that actual cactus soil is not necessary for the Adenium. These plants really do quite well with a soilless substrate.

Two Soilless Adenium Recipes

For a mature plant, begin by making a base substrate of equal parts ground fir bark and peat moss (or coconut coir). This makes a good base for potting mixture for both tropical and desert cacti. This base is an important component of both of the recipes that follow.

Terracotta pot with succulent mix, highlighted as light and airy.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @prakrti_garden_boutique

Recipe #1 Well Draining

  • Two parts base substrate
  • One part coarse builders’ sand

Recipe #2 Sharply Draining

  • Two parts base substrate
  • One part pumice, vermiculite, or perlite


Combine all of the chosen ingredients thoroughly. Be sure to break up any large chunks or clods to make a smooth mixture that is easy to work with.

Lush burgundy flowers with green leaves, indoor plant display.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @jardimdajoselerj

Soak the potting substrate thoroughly before using it. Let it soak for at least an hour, and then drain away any excess water.

The mixture should feel moist, but you should not be able to squeeze any moisture out of it.

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