To prepare the best adenium potting mixture, there are three key factors you should keep in mind:

Knowing a bit about these improves your gardening knowledge & keeps you informed of the best things to do with your desert roses.

How about we check out the first one right now, which is:

1. Nutrients

Elements like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) are essential for your adenium’s growth. First we have:


Nitrogen for green leaves

Nitrogen helps make the plant and leaves green and healthy. It is a critical element of the amino acids that make up enzymes and proteins.

This is why in some countries people call nitrogen fertilizer the “protein” fertilizer, giving green plants the energy to absorb sunlight and grow.

You can find nitrogen in organic sources like composted manure. Fish emulsion or plant-based amendments from soybeans are also good nitrogen sources.

Here are some good plants to grow to make the soil richer in nitrogen:

• Beans / Peas
• Clover / Lupine
• Rye

By preparing the soil this way, you can help protect it from corrosion, improve the soil texture, and suppress weeds and bad bacteria. All of this will help in promoting the health of your adenium.

Next up, we have:


Phosphorous for flowers & fruits

The "Pho" element is vital for flowering and fruit development. It’s usually that red tip we see on matches that create fire. It helps flowers grow beautifully and helps the plants create sugars and starches for energy.

The phosphorus we get from many plant fertilizers come in a group, and not a single element alone. For example, phosphoric acid (H3PO4) and phosphate group (-PO4).

(We have an idea that this element may be a factor in the color of our desert roses. Perhaps by increasing or decreasing a certain amount of phosphorous, we can get darker or lighter shade on our pink or red petals. However, we will try testing this fun idea and let you know what we find.)

Update: We had a chat with some growers. And according to them, it's actually Potassium that can affect the color of the flowers, not Phosphorous. If we put more Potassium into the mix, the flowers can bloom with brighter colors. It also helps with the blooming rates, meaning, we'll get more flowers on our plants.

Now, where do you find phosphorus? Here are some good sources:

• Bat guano
• Worm castings
Bone meal

Remember to mix in some good amount of phosphorous especially around the time when your desert rose is beginning to bloom. It helps their development.

Finally, don't forget about:


Potassium for strong growth

Potassium helps our desert roses fight against diseases. It helps move water, nutrients, and sugars throughout the body like a hardworking pump.

This is also a vital element for stem and root formation. Without enough potassium, the plant’s stems may be weakened.

With less potassium, the plant may not get the essential nutrients it needs to the higher places or branches.

That’s why we may see the tips of the leaves curling or possibly turning brown.

To give our adenium a good amount of potassium, you can add:

• Worm castings
• Liquid seaweed
• Kitchen scraps (banana peels)

So we've seen nitrogen, phosphorous & potassium, now:

Let's Recap Quickly!

Right, it may be a bit too much but let's take it one step at a time. We need N, P, K to fully nourish your plant.

Although they are not the only nutrients the plant needs, they are the most essential macro-nutrients almost every plant on this planet needs for survival.

The good news is that you can find good N, P, K sources right around your kitchen at home or in many stores for very cheap.

Check out this quick sum-up of what we’ve just seen so far.

Nutrient Function Where to find
Nitrogen Energize plant & make it healthy Beans, clover, rye, vetch
Phosphorus Support flower growth Bone meal, worm castings, bat guano
Potassium Strengthen our plant, stem & root Chicken poop, worm castings, kitchen ash

But hey, let's turn to soil pH for our desert roses next (Psst: you don't need to be a chemist to understand this stuff):

2. pH

pH level of the soil for adenium
pH below 7 or 6 is good for desert roses

Like many other succulents, your desert rose loves an acidic environment. If you can keep the pH of the soil below 7 or specifically at 6, that would be perfect to make your plants happy.

Many folks place their fingers into the soil to get a quick feel. Doing this may be good for moisture testing but for pH it may not be that accurate. To measure the pH or moisture of the soil, a pH soil tester or a 3-in-1 tool might help:

Get Cheap 3-Way Soil Tester
* 3-in-1 accurate reading of pH, moisture & light
* No batteries needed, ready to work out of the box
* Compact & portable for indoor and outdoor use

Using this tool, you can measure the pH, moisture & light of your soil. To use it, you just need to first switch to the mode you want to measure. Then, insert the shiny metal probe about 2-4 inches or a finger deep into the soil.

Adjust the position slightly until the needle swings. After about 10 minutes, come back & get your accurate soil reading. Sometimes it doesn't even take that long–just a second or so. This way of measuring is quick & easy while cutting out any guesswork.

Here is Maria from Maria's Garden using the tool:

Testing soil pH and moisture is important & easy | Source

If you find the soil too acidic (meaning the pH level is low), you can try adding garden lime powder to increase the pH level & hence making the soil less acidic.

Checking the soil pH | Source

Adding peat moss can help make your soil more acidic.

To water or not to water | Source

And remember, no plants can live with no air:

3. Aeration

Air for young plants
Don't forget to provide air flow for the roots

Air flow is extremely important for young, sprouting adenium and adult adenium.

What we want to make sure is to add a good amount of space in the soil for the plant, the roots, and the micro-organisms on the roots to breathe.

You can mix some perlite into the soil to create good air circulation. Perlite is also good because it holds moisture well, so you don’t need to water your adenium too many times.

Another good alternative is pumice. Mixing in pumice adds space in the soil, especially when our soil becomes wet and compact.

When using perlite or pumice, you’d want to wash them carefully to remove all the dust that may have spores or bacteria in it.

You can also screen out the bigger pieces and the smaller pieces. We’d generally want pieces about 3 mm to create a nice, even air circulation in our soil. But here's a bonus tip:

4. Drainage

Drainage for adenium plant
A well-draining mixture helps adenium growth

Drainage is super important when it comes to adenium, a sun-loving plant. To increase the drainage of our soil, you can try mixing in coco peat or coco fiber. This is the shredded or powdered component we get from coconut shells.

Coco peat works great for drainage. It also holds moisture well and decomposes very slowly so you can have it working for a long time.

In some places in the world like Hawaii, gardeners also use red wood fiber. It’s also a great component for drainage. The unique benefit of red wood fiber is that mites, red spider mites, and ants hate this stuff. Our adenium won’t be bothered by these unwanted visitors.

You’d also want to make sure to have holes that run from around the side down to the bottom of your pots—kind of like the letter L. This helps the root not get rotted during the winter season when there is less sunlight and when water evaporation may be slower. Oh, and remember:

5. Sterile Conditions

Having sterile medium or soil mix is important especially for young desert rose whose immune system is not well-developed.

If you’re starting your seeds, use ingredients that are fresh and free or have a lower potential for molds or spores.

If you’re using sand that is taken from some places outside, make sure to soak the sand in some anti-fungal solution before putting our babies into it. You don’t want the bacteria to chew up all our seeds before giving them a chance to sprout.

Fungi colonizing little adenium seed

So don't be like us. Try bathing the adenium seeds in anti-fungal solution to kill off potentially harmful bacteria on the shell. Carbonized rice hulls or charcoal contains carbon that also helps "shoo" off the germ.

When your adenium bonsai plant grows bigger and is more resilient, we can worry less about the factor of sterility. Then we can even introduce some leaf mold into our mix to train our desert rose to become tougher and fight on their own.

We still want to keep an eye out for weird insects or mites that might be eyeing our “tasty” adenium.

Let's Get Our Hands Dirty!

As you can see, preparing the best adenium potting mixture is not too difficult at all when you know the important factors to look out for.

Although the adenium seeds have some nutrients inside them, we’d want to provide our plants with good levels of N, P, K during their development stages.

Make sure the soil pH is around 6 for our babies to live in happily. Also, create good air flow by adding space with pumice or perlite. Create good drainage by mixing in some coco or red wood fiber.

Having sterile medium and pots is important, especially for young plants. With that said, hope you’ll have fun growing your desert rose & tell us more about your gorgeous babies! Peace.

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