Adenium desert rose itself is not picky when it comes to soil environment. Because its natural habitat is the desert where water may be scarce, and nutrients may be lacking. That’s why if we can provide the basic nutrients, give our adenium a good amount of sunlight and water, the plant will grow beautifully.
To find the best soil for desert rose, there are only some few key points you should keep in mind. You can try mixing your own soil by combining various organic (with Carbon & Hydrogen) & inorganic components. Many folks get bonsai or cactus soil mix for the desert rose as well—which work out well for them.
Let's come with us to explore three mixes that can be best for your adenium at different stages. Maybe it can be good for you, the gardeners, as well.
How about we try the first one, which is:
Mix #1 – Good for Seeds & Baby Adenium Desert Rose
|1 handful perlite||air flow, new root formation, drainage, water retention|
|1 handful pumice||moisture retention, fertilizer saving|
|1 handful vermicompost||additional nutrients|
|1.5 handful Akadama||supplement nutrients, enrich soil acidicity|
The benefits of Akadama & peat moss
Japanese Akadama soil is a light, porous ingredient mined from volcanic soil. The soil itself doesn’t provide a lot of nutrients for the plants. It is used as a well-draining substrate to provide a firm place for tiny roots to grab on and grow.
You can also replace Akadama with peat moss or sphagnum. Peat moss has an acidic pH level from 3.6 - 6, which is awesome for acid-loving plants like adenium. Add it moderately as peat can retain quite a bit of moisture.
Perlite & pumice benefits
Perlite & pumice are lightweight volcanic rocks with thousands of little holes on their surface. This makes them great for air flow, water retention & drainage. In general, they are more well-draining material than vermiculite rocks.
With these mixed in, our baby desert roses will have a lower chance of root rot. These rocks can be quite dusty so you might want to rinse them first before mixing to increase germination rates.
Vermicompost as the protein for your babies
In a way, you can think of cow manure or vermicompost as the “protein” in your mix. It gives your baby desert rose the energy to start up new root and begin growing. Cow manure and vermicompost have nutrients like N, P, K that are essential to the plant’s growth and health.
Summary of Mix #1:
As you can see, with this Mix #1 right here, we have created an environment that is well-nourished, well-drained, and well-ventilated for our seeds to wake up and say, “Hello world!”.
If this soil mix sounds like too much work for you, then how would you like a mix with only two main ingredients? Baby adenium will be happy living in this soil mix and so will the lazy (or efficient) side of some of us gardeners.
Mix #2 – Good for Baby Adenium & Lazy Gardeners
|40-50% garden soil||Essential nutrients for desert rose growth|
|50-60% coco coir||Moisture retention & aeration|
For this mix, you can simply use garden soil to feed the baby plants with all the good bits. Many folks use bonsai soil or cactus/succulent soil as well.
This is fine because adenium is a succulent plant. We just need to make sure the soil provides good nutrients to promote root formation and growth.
|Get A Gallon of Magic Soil|
|* Retains nutrients up to 9 months|
|* Contains no peat or peat moss|
|* Light, fluffy for happy desert roses|
For water retention and drainage, try mixing in coco coir. In some other places, gardeners also use peanut shells or rice husks.
Just like perlite or pumice, these mighty warriors have tiny little holes on their shells for air and water. Rice hulls, or the outer shields of the grains of rice in particular, have the silica (Si) component that is similar to that of perlite (SiO2).
Although these things might look very soft and breakable, they are actually pretty tough. The advantage of using these is that they are not as dusty as the rocks. Over time, these decay into the soil and become fertilizer for it.
If the garden soil is too acidic, you can try adding garden lime or phosphate fertilizer to balance out the pH level.
When the baby plants grow a bit bigger, mix in some fertilizer to give it more energy to grow. Speaking of growing up, have you checked out a mixture that might be good for adult adenium?
Mix #3 – Good for Adult Adenium
|1 part garden soil||Vital nutrients|
|1 part river sand||Moisture retention, air flow|
|1 part sand gravel||Aeration, drainage, oxygen|
|1 part surki||Retain moisture|
|1 teaspoon leaf mold||Diverse micro-organisms addition|
You can use this third mix when you are re-potting your growing baby plants. It is recommended by Dr. Surja Agarwal, one of the most passionate gardeners with practical experience.
Here is his video explaining the mixing process:
If at the young stage we focus on providing a medium that allows new root formation, here you can see we balance out the nutrients, water and air flow in our soil mix.
|Get Mold-Free Western Desert Sand|
|* Clean, mold-free sand|
|* Absorbs moisture|
What is surki?
Surki is the powder made from red bricks that people use to build houses. Many gardeners use this ingredient to retain moisture for the plants. It is sort of like coco peat in a way.
Because the bricks are made from clay that are heated at a very high temperature, the chance of harmful bacteria surviving on it is relatively low.
Thus, adding it will help keep the growing root system moist but not too wet. Plus, this material can be had for very cheap.
If surki is not available in your local area, you can find other great alternatives that serve the same function like coco peat, charcoal, peanut shells or rice husks.
The benefits of using sand & gravel
With sand and sand gravel, we are trying to toughen our desert rose up by creating a desert-like environment. Sand gravel is slightly bigger than our perlite and pumice. Still, it allows good aeration and drainage for the lower part of the plant.
From our own experiment, I have found that sand produces incredibly good results for starting seeds. If you want to have a look, here's the results:
The Benefits of Leaf Mold
We just want to add a teaspoon of leaf mold or compost to introduce more varieties of micro-organisms into our soil. Some people say a teaspoon is too little, but it actually contains a good amount of micro-organisms for our desert rose to adapt to already.
We want to train the plant so it can grow stronger, but we don’t want to create too much of a shock during an environment change. This, in a way, is like a training for the adenium’s metabolism system.
Because now our plant is a little bit bigger, we can let it meet new “faces” and begin creating relationships with good ones and strengthening its resistance against the potentially harmful ones. Thus, growing it up tough inside and elegantly beautiful outside. Every gardener’s dream!
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