Tips On How to Repot Desert Rose Adenium Plant

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The most popular Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) is a perennial succulent tree native to the sub-Saharan parts of the Arabian Peninsula and Africa.

In its native setting, this small tree can grow to be about 9’ feet tall. Even so, its growth is easily controlled, making it an excellent container plant.

Close up of Desert Rose FlowerPin

Other common names of this plant include:

  • Impala lily
  • Mock Azalea
  • Sabi Star

When kept as a container or bonsai, it forms a thick, swollen trunk or bulbous caudex that is quite an attractive characteristic.

The trunk produces twisted, grayish-green or brown branches that grow spirally arranged, fleshy, leathery gray-green leaves.

Person repotting a plant, focusing on roots.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @dosidovi

The plant produces very attractive bell-shaped flowers approximately 2” inches across. Flowers bloom in white, yellow, pink, rose, and red shades.

In this article, we share tips on adenium repotting and when to repot desert rose.

Desert Rose Repotting Q & A

How to Repot Adenium Plant?

So, how to repot a desert rose?

Plant in a white planter with exposed roots.Pin
Photo Credit: PCT @PlantCareToday

Put simply, remove the plant carefully from its container. You may need to cut or break it away from its root mass.

Once you have the root ball free, set it into a new container, the next size up, and fill around it with a good quality cactus mix or other sharply draining soil mixture.

Hands repotting a plant in a brown pot.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @dosidovi

Just a reminder. Desert rose plants have a toxic milky sap released by the flower stems, trunk, and branches, so it’s best to wear gloves and safety goggles when handling them.

When To Repot Desert Rose?

Hand holding plant with dense roots above a pot.Pin
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Generally speaking, the best adenium repotting time is during warm weather and its active growing season. Early spring to mid-spring is the best transplanting desert rose time in a new pot.

Repotting during this time allows the plant to recover more quickly and adapt to its new container. 

It’s important to handle the roots carefully during repotting to avoid any damage or stress to the plant.

Exposed tree roots in planter box.Pin
Photo Credit: PCT @PlantCareToday

Moreover, it’s also good to repot your plant in late winter as soon as new growth appears.

When you do this, the plant’s roots will have plenty of time to grow and establish through the spring and summer before their dormancy in the winter.

Repot your plant every couple of years to the next larger size pot if you wish, but understand that this plant can stay in a pot that is 12” inches or less for its entire life.

How Deep Should You Plant Desert Rose?

Overgrown plant roots escaping potPin
Photo Credit: Instagram @lagisukaadenium

Generally speaking, you should plant it at the same depth as it was before; however, it’s also possible to leave a little bit more of the caudex showing for dramatic effect.

If you want to do this, you may want to support the plant with a fairly thick layer of potting mix at the bottom of the container first.

Additionally, if you want to highlight the appearance of the trunk, you may want to wash the roots and trunk thoroughly to remove any old soil medium before you begin the repotting process.

Gloved hand planting in soilPin
Photo Credit: Instagram @mai_gardening808

Once you have the plant settled in its new container, firm the soil around the desert rose roots and add more as needed.

Give it a good watering and continue to water regularly a couple of times a week throughout the growing season. When the weather cools, you will want to reduce watering.

What Kind Of Container Is Best For Desert Rose?

When repotting a desert rose (Adenium), choosing a pot that meets the specific needs of this type of succulent is important. 

The best pots for desert rose should have good drainage, be slightly larger than the current root ball, and be made of materials that allow for air circulation.

Succulent with roots in a potPin
Photo Credit: Instagram @mai_gardening808

These plants like broad, shallow pots that let the soil dry out quickly and provide room for the caudex to spread and expand.

This type of container is also best for highlighting the interesting appearance of the trunk and roots.

Young plants and cuttings on a table for gardening.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @ange7856

The best adenium pot size is a clay or ceramic pot that is no more than 4″ inches deep and 6″ inches to 12″ inches wide in diameter. Look for clay pots designed for cacti with drainage holes in the bottom.

Remember, using a desert rose pot that is too large can lead to excess moisture retention in the soil and potentially harm the plant.

Hand holding an uprooted plant with thick trunk.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @zap_tropicals

Avoid the use of plastic pots. When you replant, be sure to choose a sharply draining cactus soil and not plant any deeper than the original soil line on the caudex.

What Potting Mix Is Best For A Desert Rose?

These desert plants do well with coarse, well-draining soil that retains some water and has a pH level of about 6.0.

When repotting desert rose, acommercial cactus mix will do, but you may wish to add perlite for more drainage and a bit of peat moss for more water retention.

Freshly harvested plants with exposed roots in soil.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @realmhelsky

Regular potting soil mixed with equal parts of sand and perlite will also work well.

Peat moss is also acidic, so it helps maintain the correct pH level.

Related: Read this Desert Rose soil mix article.

Should I Put Rocks At The Bottom Of My Planter?

For many decades, a layer of broken pot shards or gravel was recommended at the bottom of planters. These days, we feel that this advice is incorrect.

Hands repotting a plant, with focus on roots.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @dosidovi

Having rocks in the bottom of your planter may damage your plants’ roots. Additionally, a layer of gravel simply takes up growing space that the plant could use.

How Often Should You Repot Desert Rose Plants?

Because these plants are slow-growing, you may never need to repot your Desert Rose. If it is well established in a 12″ inch pot, it may be fine in that container for its entire life.

Even so, do not put a small Desert Rose in a very large container. This will cause a great deal of root growth and not much foliage and bloom.

Hand holding a plant with bulbous base, roots visible.Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @cheydplantlady

Generally speaking, when repotting adenium, go up to the next size pot. Repotting should not be needed more often than once every 2 or 3 years.

Can I Plant My Desert Rose In The Ground?

If you live in an area with weather similar to the sub-Saharan regions that Desert Rose calls home, you certainly can. Desert Rose will grow well in a bright, dry, full sunlight setting.

Moreover, this plant also thrives in warm, dry climates.

"Blooming pink desert rose in pottery."Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram

NOTE: Adeniums growing in the ground need excellent drainage to reduce any excess moisture and the potential for root rot. Add extra perlite to regular potting soil to increase drainage.

If you live in an area that does not stay sufficiently warm all year, growing your Desert Rose in a container as an indoor plant during the colder months is better.

Is Repotting A Desert Rose Bonsai Different From Repotting Other Types Of Plants?

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Photo Credit: Instagram @caps_and_trade

Generally speaking, repotting a Desert Rose bonsai is similar to repotting any other type of bonsai. You are potting in a way that will limit root growth and help you control the height and width of the plant.

You may need to trim away excess root growth and sharply prune and train the top of the plant to attain the desired pots for desert rose

"Hand holding a small plant with soil roots."Pin
Photo Credit: Instagram @dirty.beets

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