My large jade plant has a bit of rot...any ideas?

melmel1982(6b)November 17, 2012

I posted a little over a year ago when I had a problem with the plant (too much water and terrible soil) and you all were very generous with you comments and help (especially Josh) and I repotted the plant in a 1:1 mix of turface, bark, perlite, and a small marble rock. It did much better and put on lots of new growth.

I started a new job in August of this year and I neglected my watering duties a bit. This plant and my other jade (I believe it is a hobbit) both began dropping leaves and a few smaller branches and both were drooping. I jumped right back into a more regular watering schedule and the hobbit is doing well. I thought the jade was okay until I was inspecting it this morning and found a soft spot, which turned into a large rotten spot.

I trimmed off the rot to see how far it had progressed, but I wasn't sure how to proceed from here. Should I remove the whole section and the branches above where the rot was located? Or is it okay as is?

The first photo is the area where the rot was located.

The second photo is the rotten section that I cut away.

Photo 3 is the rotten area again, this photo just seemed a little more clear.

Photo 4 is the base of the plant and the section where the rot is, is at the top of the photo.

Photo 5 is a larger view of the plant.

Photo 6 is shot of the mix.

Photo 7 is a photo of my other jade that seems to be doing well. (hobbit I think)

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Whoops, not all of my photos posted

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 12:02PM
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Photo 3

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 12:05PM
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photo 4

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 12:08PM
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photo 5

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 12:09PM
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photo 6 - the mix

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 12:14PM
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That mix it's in is killing it - remove it from the mix and get the roots free of the soil and let air dry for a day or so - this will give you time to do some further assessment, but you have to get rid of all of the rot, that's for sure, to save the plant.

In the meantime you can read some of the Jade (Crassula ovata) threads here to get an idea of the soil you'll need, which frankly isn't complicated but can have endless variations.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 7:44PM
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That's an odd place for rot, isn't it? I can't tell, but did you cut all the way around? If so I'd think that will kill the branch. Keep us updated.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 2:38AM
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On re-examining the rotted piece, I think when the plant dropped the branch above where the rot is, it did not callous over and left the part of the trunk below it with rot.

I cut into where the rot was to see how extensive the damage is. It was only halfway through. I didn't know if I should take off all of the branches where the rot was or not.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 12:16PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hello! Welcome back!

That's a profound cut to the branch, so I think it best to remove it completely.
How is the plant doing otherwise? It certainly looks healthy.

Jeff, why on earth would you think the "mix" is killing it? Did you read the ingredients?


    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 1:13PM
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Photo #6.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 1:21PM
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Outside temps changes may also of been a factor to the rooted area adding your watering times and then rotting a odd area out is just my small thought. For size and location on plant an odd/uncommon area to rot.

Rest of Jade does look healthy even the inside of pics exposed cut looks good. Would also agree to cut the remaining top of branch.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 1:43PM
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The pieces of bark are larger than I had hoped to use but it was all I could find at the time, but I also used marble rock pieces (which are also slightly larger than the granite chips, but I think they balance with the larger pieces of bark), perlite and turface (which I found locally, oddly enough, at a place that works on baseball diamonds).

The plant seems to be fine, which is why this was so weird. I do worry about the branch that comes out at the trunk. I have it propped up with a rock, but it seems to sag more than it did 6 months ago. I have never really 'trimmed' the plant, but I don't know if this is the right time to give it a trim since it dropped leaves and few smaller branches. It started growing roots on the smaller branches that had two or three leaves and then they dropped off the plant (so I have a ton of rooted cuttings!).

I've had the plant 4 years now and it has grown a lot, but perhaps I should cut it back to promote new growth?? I wouldn't know where to start.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 1:53PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

please explain. I have no idea what you mean.

The bark is large, which Melody mentioned, but other than that the mix would seem to be fast-draining,
primarily inorganic, and durable. The trunks look healthy at the soil-line, as well. If the mix were
the problem, one would expect some indicator from the bottom up.

It could be that there IS some issue with the roots, but that can't be determined from these pics.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 2:00PM
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Josh, by definition, bark is organic. Large bark is generally not thought of a slivers smaller than a fingernail. Large bark is used in Phalenopsis (orchid) mix. the photo shows small pieces of bark mixed at a pretty low ratio to chips of mineral.

Jades use a good bit of water. Small bark like that will quickly rot and hold a lot of water. A Jade with water retentive soil is a disaster waiting for rot, not only because of the moisture, but also because the fact that a zillion kinds of fungus look for rotting organic matter to reproduce. A dry Jade reduces roots to sit out a drought. Add water to organic soils with a semi-dormant plant, and the fungus think the cast off roots, still connected to the plant, are just an extension of the bark. Therefore, growing a succulent in small pieces of bark can be sometimes be done, but you can't do it for long before it catches up with you.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 10:03PM
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I've been growing jades and other succulents for over 50 years and never heard of adding bark to the mix. Why on earth would you put bark in a succulent mix. It holds too much moisture and when it starts to break down it will rob the mix of nitrogen. It is great for some orchids, but not all.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 12:07AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Many of us use bark in our mixes, but a much smaller bark. Josh is very successful with it and has beautiful Jades!

I've been using it for several years now and with great results.

The bark in this mix shown seems large, and maybe too much perlite, but that's all I can see that may be wrong with it.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 1:34AM
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JoJo, nobody is attacking Josh. I think the fact he has bark in a mix for Crassulas is a testimony to his attentiveness to his plants. Anyone can grow a Jade in a coarse mineral base, growing them in a mix with high organics, now that is a trick.

I too used to think good soil (defined as high organic, very nutritive) would benefit Jades. I grew one to almost 3 ft tall, about 2 ft diameter. It bloomed so profusely I was offered $100 (a lot of money for me in the late 80s) one year when it was blooming. Then came the year of constant rain and the plant was outside. When I picked it up to move it in Oct, it literally fell to pieces. The 4inch trunk was actually rotted with only the bark remaining over a brown rotted stem. Quite a shock.

Another thing I learned was that organic soil often causes the roots to be short. Some species are almost allergic to this. And some, especially Haworthias and Gasterias, will die before rooting in organic soil.

On the whole, I always say that if it works for you, great. Good plant care can overcome deficiencies in other things.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 9:01AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I know that bark is organic, and that's why I said the mix was "primarily inorganic" -
meaning that it is mostly a mix of Perlite, Turface, and Marble chips. While a mix like
this is certainly capable of holding a good amount of moisture, it is also very durable
and won't hold as much *saturated* water as an organic rich mix. I don't use mixes high in
organics - the opposite in fact. When it comes to succulents, my mix is 1/3 bark or less.
That's a ratio that many of us use: 1/3 organic (bark), 2/3 grit (turface, pumice, granite, quartz).

Ron, the reason we add bark is because it doesn't hold an exceptional amount of water, but rather
equalizes the moisture between the ingredients. Further, bark is very durable compared to something
like peat or coco coir, and in general it lasts longer than one should go between re-pottings.
The incidence of nitrogen immobilization is overstated, in my opinion and experience, particularly if
one fertilizes. Remember, this is the *bark* we are using, not sapwood and not the bark from
deciduous trees. In the proper ratio, bark is an exceptional material for any container mix.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 10:15AM
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In photo 6, which I take to be representative enough, I see large pieces of bark, as well as almost-powdered perlite / marble chip (I thought it was that yellow mold, but discounted that). To me those first two things are inappropriate to a mix (not only serving very little, if any, function but also causing harm, due to its lack of porosity / water retention). But that's just me - everyone has to find what works for them with the materials at hand. It seems to me to be (just from a visual) detrimental to the healing of the jade.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 10:44AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The size of the bark is too large, but will actually hold less moisture *in the mix* than fine pieces
of bark would. Also, I agree that Perlite ought to be screened for the best results. However, if the
trunk is as large as it seems, then that Perlite isn't much worse than what most folks are dumping
into their succulent mixes. Perlite also has the advantage of holding water externally, so it further
reduces the overall water-holding capacity of the mix.

This mix is miles ahead of mixes using bagged potting soils or fractions of compost, for example.

I think we need to look elsewhere than the mix to determine this peculiar rot issue.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 11:42AM
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