So, you’ve got yourself some very good adenium desert rose seeds but now you wonder what the best soil mix or potting medium for your unborn babies is.

Join us. Here you will see three different types of potting mix that you can use immediately to provide a great environment for your seeds and wake our babies up to say, “Hello world!”.

But for seeds, remember a few things:

  • Don't overwater
  • Don't overheat
  • Don't overfeed
  • Don't over "touch"
  • No re-potting

Let's get to our #1 substrate right now:

1. Sand

Sand holds moisture & drains well

Sand is excellent for starting our adenium desert rose seeds because it holds moisture well and has good drainage.

Sand itself doesn’t provide any extra nutrients for our babies. Here we use it as a substrate for seed starting. The seeds can feed themselves at the initial stages with the nutrients they inherit from their mamas.

If sand is available around your local area, then you can get something like river sand for free. If not, you can get some at your local stores or online for pretty cheap.

Get Mold-Free Western Desert Sand
* Clean, mold-free sand
* Absorbs moisture
* Well-drained

The thing we need to make sure when getting sand from outdoors is to sanitize it properly. We want to create a sterile environment for the seeds so no bacteria can do them harm.

You can dilute some anti-fungal powder into water and pour all over the sand. Another thing you can try to reduce the chance of harmful bacteria attacking your seeds is to soak the seeds in anti-fungal solution before sowing them.

Some gardeners believe this is one of the business secrets of many successful nurseries. It guarantees better germination rates to over 90% in many cases.

For a more in-depth video on this process, check out this video by Gardening is my passion (a passionate and funny team of gardeners):

Secret revealed: how to grow adenium from seeds successfully

From our own experiments, sand has given baby desert rose seeds incredible results. They are tall, green & healthy. We will take pictures to show you guys soon.

Okay, we got the pics guys. Here is the result:

Babies in sand almost outgrow those in coco fiber

The baby on the left is start from coco fiber. The baby on the right is started on the same day from clean sand. You can see the difference.

When transplanting these babies into a bigger home, we have noticed this root formation:


Because wet sand is quite compact, the tiny roots need to push more to extend out. This results in slightly fatter root strings.

As wet coco peat is less compact, the tiny roots have more room to breath & extend out. The baby adenium then chooses the expansion strategy of "focus on one thing & do it well". You can see one core root shooting out with thinner root strings.

The next seed starter you can play with is:

2. Perlite

Perlite retains moisture & is sterile

Similar to sand, perlite retains moisture very well, has good drainage, and is sterile out of the bag. There are many tiny holes on the surface of perlite allowing the seeds to breathe. When new roots are formed, they will also be able to breathe and grow easily.

When you use perlite for desert rose seeds, make sure it is clean and sterile. We usually use perlite that is new out of the package.

Generally, you wouldn’t want to use perlite that has already been used or exposed for a long time. Because it might house micro-organisms that can hurt our seeds. For bigger and stronger adenium, that would be fine but not for seeds usually.

See the fungi attack right here:

Fungi eating up baby desert rose seed

After placing your seeds into the perlite, give it a good amount of water as well. Also, before that, make sure you rinse your perlite to get rid of the fine dust. According to Dr. Mark Dimmitt, the dust could lower our germination success rate.

You can sift the perlite through a screen to get the bigger pieces in one place and the smaller pieces in another place. Many folks use smaller ones around 3 mm as the medium for adenium seeds because that size is more suitable and creates a nice, full surface.

Want something more creative? Try mixing perlite with these ingredients:

• Red wood fiber or coco fiber
• Lava cinder rock
• Compost

Here is the balanced mix recipe if you want to try it out:

Proportion in mix Ingredients Purpose
50% or more Perlite, lava cinder rock Aeration & root formation
50% or less Red wood fiber, coco fiber, compost Drainage & moisture

This is the best perlite with great volume you can get at Home Depot:

Invest Best Amount, Cheap Perlite
* Clean environment for starting seeds
* Make room for new adenium roots to breathe
* Separate packages to prevent contam

You can replace perlite with red wood fiber or cinder. Red wood helps keep the ants & termites away from your plants. So that's another bonus.

Check out Garden S video on how to make this awesome seed starter mix:

Mixing adenium soil

3. Soil Rock Fertilizer

This third soil mix has a bit more components in it. What we’re trying to create is an environment that is nutrient-rich, has good moisture, and drains water well.

For this we use:

• Garden soil
• Osmocote fertilizer (NPK 20-20-20)
• Volcanic rock or pumice

You'll also need some trays. Greenhouse Megastore has some good ones.

So now, prepare 2 trays. The tray on the top will have holes underneath. You’ll put your garden soil in about two inches thick on that tray.

Then, put in some fertilizer and mix it well. On the 2nd tray in the bottom, you put the volcanic rocks in & spray water into it. This tray doesn’t have holes.

After that, sow your adenium seeds in and give them a nice shower of water. Then, place the two trays on top of each other. If you use this method, remember to soak your adenium seeds in water for about 24 hours before sowing.

After placing the seeds into the soil mix, put the tray somewhere with shade like your porch or patio. We can then begin the waiting game.

Maria’s Garden has a cool YouTube video showing you this fun process:

The 2-tray method for starting desert rose seeds

Bonus Mix: Soil Coco!

Here is another bonus potting mix recipe you can try for your desert roses. We call it Soil Coco. It has only two ingredients:

Ingredients Purpose
40-50% garden soil Provide seeds with nutrients
50-60% peanut shells, rice hulls, or coco coir Retain moisture, provide good drainage, create air flow

Many folks use bonsai or cactus/succulent soil for this as well. This is fine because adenium is a type of succulent plant.

We found this good one:

Get A Gallon of Magic Soil
* Retains nutrients up to 9 months
* Contains no peat or peat moss
* Light, fluffy for happy desert roses

You might be thinking, “Peanut shells?”. Yep, that’s right. In many other parts of the world, people don’t throw away this valuable ingredient.

They use it in their soil mix to help the soil retain moisture and create a nice, good air flow all around. Peanut shells decompose slowly and that’s another benefit for using them.

Peanut shells
Peanut shells for moisture retention

So, the next time you have some peanuts (hopefully you’re not allergic to peanuts?!), alright, try saving some pieces of shells.

With those, you can mix them right in with the garden soil in your yard and have a nice, good potting mix ready for your baby adenium seeds.

Rice hulls
Rice husks for air flow

Ever heard of rice hulls or rice husks? These are the outer shields of the rice grains. Even though they look soft and thin, these are actually mighty warriors.

The rice hulls actually have a similar chemical component as the perlite or sand we saw earlier. All three of them have Silica (Si) in their chemical makeup. Silica is a tough, strong material that also provides good air flow.

Off to Mixing the Food for Your Adenium Seeds!

Muddy man

And that’s about it for the best adenium potting mix for your seeds. It’s not too difficult, is it? What you should keep in mind is to create a starting environment that is sterile, has good aeration, has good drainage, and has good moisture.

And the results?

It's all your world of creativity. Desert rose babies are not picky.

Here's a quick summary of the ingredients you can use & their benefits:

  • Sand: drainage
  • Perlite: sterile
  • Coco coir: moisture
  • Carbonized rice hulls: potassium, aeration, germ killer
  • Vermicompost: nutrients
  • Peanut shells: moisture, aeration

If you can achieve these basic needs, your adenium babies will wake up soon and grow up strong and healthy. There's no more soul-satisfying feeling than seeing that tiny green dot sneaking out of that brown shell. You can totally do this! Good luck & have fun.

Share or pin this post!