How To Repot A Desert Rose – Repotting Adenium Plants

The most popular Desert Rose (Adenium obesum) is a perennial succulent tree that is 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 and it makes an excellent container plant.

When kept as a container or bonsai, it forms a thick, swollen trunk or caudex that is quite attractive. The trunk produces twisted, grayish green or brown branches from which spirally arranged, fleshy, leathery gray green leaves grow.

Close up of Desert Rose FlowerPin

The plant produces very attractive bell-shaped flowers that are approximately 2” inches across. Flowers bloom in shades of white, yellow, pink, rose and red. In this article, we share tips on repotting your Desert Rose. 

Desert Rose Repotting Q & A

How Do You Repot A Desert Rose Plant? 

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, simply 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.

When Do You Repot Desert Rose?

Generally speaking, it is best to repot the plant during warm weather and the plants’ active growing season. Early to mid spring is best. When you do this, the plants’ 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 it is possible for this plant to stay in a pot that is 12” inches or less for its entire life.

How Deep Should You Plant Desert Rose?

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 in 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 get any old soil off them before you begin the repotting process.

Once you have the plant settled in its new container, firm the soil around the 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?

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. 

It’s best to use a clay or ceramic pot that is no more than 4″ inches deep and 6″ inches to 12″ inches wide. Look for a pot designed for cactus. 

Avoid the use of plastic pots. When you replant, be sure to choose a sharply draining cactus soil and take care not to 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 a coarse, sharply draining soil that retains some water and has pH level of about 6.0. A commercial cactus mix will do, but you may wish to add perlite for more drainage and bit of peat moss for more water retention. Peat moss is also acidic, so it helps maintain the correct pH level.

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. Having rocks in the bottom of your planter may damage your plants’ roots. Additionally, the 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.

Generally speaking, when repotting, 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 that has 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.

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

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

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

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 results.

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