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Is this branch rotting?

May 19, 2013

I planted a rooted cutting last October. Over the winter, two of the four branches rotted at the ends, so I cut back to a healthy spot. They rotted more, and I kept cutting back until I got to the stem (now I learned that I should have used a fungicide on the cuts).

Now a third branch is mushy near the base (where my hand is touching), but the end is green and firm, and red claws seem to be growing. The other remaining branch is firm and growing new red claws.

So... Do I keep it as is and hope it recovers, and that the rot doesn't spread and kill the tree? Or do I cut off the healthy branch and try to root it (which I've never done before), and maybe cut off at the top of the main stem?

This post was edited by tropicgal on Mon, May 20, 13 at 17:33

Comments (16)

  • honeybunny2 Fox

    Cut it back to where it is white, and spray with peroxide. Information I got from Franks wife in Corpus. Barbra

  • tropicgal

    But the end is strong and growing. Does this mean that the mushiness is not root rot and that it could recover?

  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    To me it depends on the softness. Sometimes plants can be soft along the stem, but really just need hydration. They swell and harden once roots begin to take in moisture. Other times it really is rot that has set in. Upper part will eventually collapse if that happens.

    I would have no way to tell for sure in your case. Did you try to prick it with a pin to see if it is still bleeding white sap from that area?

    This post was edited by dave_in_nova on Mon, May 20, 13 at 13:53

  • elucas101

    If your plant is not dehydrated then it is most likely rot. Because the other branch is not wrinkly, it leads me to believe it is not dehydration. Because of where the rot was in the plant, it is also points to a serious possibility of not being dehydration since it is now starting where it essentially left off. how does the plant feel where the two old branch scars are and just below that spot?

    It can be very difficult to stop rot in a plant once it has started. Be sure if you cut or poke the plant that you sterilize the tools in between every cut with rubbing alcohol before touching the plant again.

    It is a judgement call you are going to have to make, I know it is not easy.

  • xerophyte NYC

    Looks like rot at the joint where the previous inflo was located. I would snip the tips and treat them as cuttings. The tips are probably salvageable if they aren't too short.

    Take a sharp knife and cut a small wedge in the suspected area. That will give you a definite diagnosis.

  • tropicgal

    Thank you so much for your responses. I bought this from a Plumeria show after sniffing so many of them to get the one that looked and smelled the best (it's called Nebel's Rainbow).

    Here's the growing end in case this helps diagnose it any further:

    And here's the stem below the branches:

    It does feel firm on the two dead looking ends and on the main stem.

    Also, I poked the soft spot with a pin and squeezed it and it came out clear.

    I'm watering it just in case while I wait for the rooting hormone I ordered online. I've been so afraid of overwatering it that its been awhile. Maybe it will work?

  • elucas101

    I'm so sorry to say that if it came out clear, it is really sounding like rot - you want white latex to come out. I would seriously consider trying to salvage the tips.

    Chances are it was too cold over the winter, as the two biggest enemies of plumeria are cold and too much wet, especially if combined. Plumeria need to be brought indoors if possible if the temps are going to be below about 45-50 for extended periods of time.

    The good news is, you can try to salvage the tips. And although I know saving your original plant is preferred, we can help you obtain another Nebel's Rainbow to try again if you need to. I'm sorry that happened, we know it sucks to go through that.

  • tropicgal

    I appreciate the empathy. I guess you guys know how it feels to get heartsick over a failing plant. I'll give it a go with rooting the tips in a few days when my rooting hormone gets here.

  • astrl

    I had the same problem with my Leona Hoke. Over the winter, I noticed the wrinkles and parts of the stem felt mushy. The tips were green and healthy for a while. I ended up cutting a lot more of the branch off than anticipated after I discovered how deep the rot actually was. It rotted much lower than I originally thought and just survived for a while. I cut the tips off and I'm trying to root them now.

    Good luck to yours!


  • No-Clue

    Oh no that was how some of mine looked this past winter too. I lost six total and had to amputate another 3. The most precious was JL Golden Pagoda. I am still upset over it. Hopefully you will have a better out come. Keep us posted.

  • HilaryMT

    I have a slightly different question about the same general panic. My root cutting is now growing herself three beautiful leaves, and she looks really good up top, but the base of the stem is slightly wrinkled. It's not brown, and it bleeds white sap when I poke it (it hurts me to do that, but I understand the value of it). What do you think might be happening? I've been watering her very lightly every couple of days (trying to mimic light Hawaiian rain).

  • tropicgal

    Update: The branch was indeed rotting through the middle. The rot extended into the main stem where it looks darker in the picture. So I had to remove both branches (I'll try to root the cuttings, but the formerly rotting one is now only 5 inches) and cut the main stem back to where it is healthy. I sprayed all the cuts with a sulpher fungicide (hope that was a good idea) and put silicone caulk on top of the main stem.

    Hoping for success...

  • elucas101

    Hilary, it is really hard to tell but if you're getting white sap that is a good sign. Sometimes they get wrinkly due to going a while without water. I think you're doing the right thing by giving it just a little bit of water, especially if it has 3 leaves. How long has it been rooting? I think you are on the right track.

    tropicgal, so sorry to hear that but you did the right thing. Let those cuttings develop a good callous - if they make it through the callousing stage you should be able to root them. Sometimes with the rot the plant has lost so much moisture the cuttings will just shrivel but it's worth a try. Many people callous by putting the end in perlite or dipping the end in rooting hormone & then putting the end in hardwood mulch and leave them for about 2 weeks.

  • HilaryMT

    elucas, thank you for getting back to me. This plant was planted in February or March, if I remember correctly. I am warming the roots with a warm rice bag now that our weather up here is in full rainy cold "spring" mode. I also am making a screen for the stem, in case this wrinkling is a result of direct sunlight (we had a run of about 8 days with very little cloud cover). I'm hoping to see some improvement as the water and warmth soak in! Thanks again, this forum in general has been critical in my success so far.

  • GP dooner

    My plant has a rotten branch and I've cut it back to the main stalk and it's still rotten, the other branch of the two looks good and firm. I'm assuming the rot will go up that branch and that I need to re-root it. There are several tips on this branch, all with leaves. Should I try to re-root the entire branch or take each tip (less than 10" long) and root them individually? And the leaves

    -- should I leave them on and root as is? I'm thinking the will drop off on their own accord.

  • PRO

    I cannot tell with any level of accuracy from the images if rot is continuing into the main trunk. the brown is unmistakable but I cannot tell if its girdled the plant or not. I would hate to see someone chop up their plant based on an assumption. Let that assumption become a real issue first. The end result may not be too much different than what you are thinking but at least you will know for sure that you had to do it.

    There is a chance the plant will be able to wall of the rot without loosing the entire structure. The best thing to do is wait and observe if the rot progresses before doing anything. and I would recommend using wax, caulk or something to prevent any water from standing in that hole.

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