Every two to three years, a desert rose plant (Adenium obesum) needs repotting. Regularly repotting helps keep up with the growing root ball and it gives you a chance to replace and refresh the potting soil. Grow this flowering shrub outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10b through 11 or indoors as a houseplant. Repot desert rose in spring or early summer when the plant is actively growing.
Desert rose has milky sap that is poisonous. Avoid getting the sap on your skin or ingesting the sap or plant pieces. Wear gloves whenever you're working with the plant. Keep desert rose and any plant parts away from pets or children who might chew on the leaves or stems.
Pot Selection and Drainage
When repotting a desert rose, or moving it from a nursery pot to a new planter, look for a pot slightly larger -- 1 to 2 inches wider around -- than the old pot. The most critical element of a new pot is drainage. The new planter must contain at minimum, one drainage hole in the bottom. New pots sometimes have plugs in the drainage holes and you should remove these before planting. The material of the pot is less important and can be glazed pottery, terra cotta, plastic, metal or wood.
Repotting Step by Step
Things You'll Need
Bark-based potting soil
Spread a 2- to 3-inch-deep payer of bark-based potting soil over the bottom of the new planter. Use new bagged bark-based potting soil when repotting a desert rose plant. Potting soil breaks down over time so discard the old potting soil and start fresh.
Lay the desert rose -- still in the original pot -- on its side and gently wiggle it free of the planter. Lift it by the root ball once its out of the original pot. Wear gloves to protect yourself from any sap that might ooze out.
Set the desert rose inside the new planter, then adjust the potting soil under the root ball until the base of the stem sits 1 inch below the lip of the pot.
Fill the pot with the bark-based potting soil up to the base of the stem. This leaves 1 inch of space between the top of the soil and the lip of the pot for watering and fertilizing later in the growing season.
Wait one to two days, then set the pot outside or in a sink and add water until extra leaks out of the drainage holes in the bottom. Add more potting soil if it settled below the root ball during the first watering. This is the best way to know you are watering the potting soil thoroughly.
After Planting Care
After repotting the desert rose you can set the planter outside in a full sun spot or keep it indoors in a bight, sunny room. Indoors, keep desert rose between 75 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Fertilize once a week with 1 teaspoon of general-purpose liquid fertilizer mixed with 1 gallon of water. Water when the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil start to feel dry, applying enough each time to moisten the soil to the bottom of the pot.
If you use a tray under the pot to collect excess water, empty it after watering the plant. Do not let the pot sit in water.