After repotting a bare-root adenium received via shipping services, growers sometimes experience a softened caudex or falling yellow leaves on their plants. Others often ask when can we graft it or water it?

Together, let's see the steps on how to care for your adenium after their excitedly-awaited arrival.

Unpacking the Desert Rose

Usually when you buy desert roses, growers ship them bare-root and wrap them in hay or newspaper for protection. If you get them from Maria's Garden, you may receive them in a little box like this:


It is preferable to do the unpacking outside, because sometimes the dirt left on the roots could create a mess in the house, which your housemates may not like. Other types of packaging you may see are:

Adenium wrapped in hay and newspaper

After unpacking:

Have an Overall Look Around the Plants

In certain cases, if the shipping service has done a good job, then our babies will look fine and healthy. In other cases, there may be some issues that we can step in and help.

Here are some few common possible issues growers may face:

A Few Possible Issues

Yellow leaves

As you take the plants out, you may see some dry-er yellow leaves on the branches. On a gentle touch, these may fall off. As the plants are packed inside a dark box without much sunlight (and water) for some days, leaves may gradually turn yellow and drop off to conserve energy for the plant's survival. With less light means there will be less/fewer leaves. This happens but it is not a totally big deal as the leaves will grow back again.


Bruised parts

In other cases, as you can see above, some parts of the plant may have been bruised. The bruised parts are often in a darker color than the rest of the plant bark (like a bruise on your knees). Touching that darker part feels a bit softer than the rest. If it's not too severely bruised, you could let the plant self-heal.

But if it's too much, we could help by carving out the damaged part before it starts to rot. Also, if you purchase in bulk and quite a few plants have been damaged, you could contact the seller to let them know or ask for some replacements.

Bigger adenium bruises

For flowers, especially on grafted adenium plants which may not be strong enough, they could fall off and turn a bit rotted, which could lead to stem rot. Some growers just snip the flower buds off or even before that they request the sellers to chop the flowers off before shipping.

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So..what to Do Now?

If there's still a bit of dirt on the plants, especially when sellers need to dig up lots of plants to ship, you could start the first step by washing the dirt off the roots.

Growers believe this could wash off some fungi or other disease-causing factors in the soil. You could also wash the sides of the leaves for dust or some small pests.

Washing the adenium

It does take a bit of manual work for many plants. But for one or two, it's a fun activity to do.

After that, let them dry under partial shade for about 3 hours. Then, we can bring them inside under a porch or your patio.

Two Things People Usually Do After Receiving Are...

Not plant them immediately. And let the plants rest in a cool shady place.

If your adenium is not grafted, here are some steps to care for it next:

For Non-Grafted Adenium Plants

Way 1:

For non-grafted adenium plants, after receiving, you could wash off some dirt or dust (if any). Let the plants dry a bit. Then, observe the overall condition of the plants. Are their any brownish damaged parts? Also check the roots to make sure the little ones are not damaged and won't cause any big troubles.

If you think there may be too many leaves/flowers for the plants to carry right now, or you just want to conserve the energy now, snip off some parts that you think could be let go. Then, let the plants rest in a cool, shady place. We don't water them during this time. After about 2 weeks, we could plant them in their new home and start watering.

The other way you could do is:

Way 2:

From what Maria's Garden has shared, after receiving the plant, you could pot the adenium a bit higher up in the soil their new pot. You could sprinkle some fertilizer, phosphorous, sulfur on the top of the pot. Then give it a nice shower of water until the water drains out of the pot. She uses cactus soil for potting.

You don't need to cut off some above-the-soil string roots at this point. Just let them grow and we can do the cutting later. Then place the pot in some shade or under your porch.

Some branches may be droopy at first. But as the plants recover, they will have the strength to get back up. Within about a month, your plants may begin to adapt to the new house and start absorbing the new nutrients again. It will then grow up nicely.

If your adenium are grafted, here are some ways to take care of it:

For Grafted Adenium Plants

Smaller grafted plants


If you order grafted adenium plants and the graft unions have just poked out (just like tiny buttons), then after washing them you could let the plants rest in a cool shady area for several days. If the graft branches are not too long, we don't need to prune back any branches (scion) in this case.


If there are some damaged young roots, snip them off and apply some garden lime powder or cinnamon ground to protect the cuts. After the resting period, you could take the plants out, pot them in good soil and gradually begin watering them. After several weeks as they begin to settle in, they will start growing again and enjoying their new home.

Bigger grafted plants


For bigger grafted plants with longer branches and flowers/buds, if you plant them immediately after receiving, chances are the plants may get exhausted. And from experience, the recovery or growth may take a longer time.

As the roots have been dug up and moved during transit, the ability to absorb water and nutrients may be slower. And if they have to carry grafted branches and flowers at this time, they may not have enough energy right now and could get softened or shrunk up.

So for these ones, what growers usually do is to let the plants rest for some time. They snip off the leaves. If the branches are quite long, you could prune some branches back and leave about 3-4 cm (1-1.8 in.) of the grafted branches. If there are branches from the scion growing up, cut them off too.

Cutting off leaves/branches/flowers

And if you decide not to prune the branches, you could just snip the leaves and leave one or two leaves at the top. Water loss will be minimal and this is to promote evaporation after you replant the plant later, which makes it root faster.

If there are any flowers or buds, snip them off as well. You could cut off some string roots to promote new growth. After cutting, apply sealant (e.g. cinnamon, garden lime, nail gloss, wood glue, cement) to protect the cuts.


You can trim the roots a bit:


Then, let the plants rest in a cool, shady place for 7-15 days. For the ones that you still have one or two leaves on, after about a week in the shade, you can plant them again in new soil (as long as the cuts have been already dried).

For the plants that we have pruned the branches back, you could rest them in the shade for 2-3 weeks. Even 4 weeks is fine, because we cut back the leaves/branches and put them in a cool place, water loss is minimal.

As you see some new buds or some tiny root buttons poke out, you could plant them in new soil and begin watering them. This time, when they catch on to the new environment, they will grow up strong and happily.

Happy Adenium Growing

As you can see, taking care of the adenium after receiving it in the mail is easy and can be fun. Once you go through the process once, the next and next times will be so much easier and still joyful.

I hope this makes sense to you. Check out the Adenium Desert Rose series for more adenium growing fun & craziness and unusual stuff. And happy adenium growing!

Beautiful adenium drawing by Katherine Saunders


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