Rotten Desert Rose/how to root desert rose cuttings

tropicalzone7(7b)February 13, 2011

My desert rose has been dormant since it went outside in October. It was doing fine until I just checked it to find out that the base was all wrinkled. it wasnt long before I found out that the base was mushy and completely rotten. I dont know what I did wrong. I didnt water it once since late October because I heard that water will kill it when it is dormant. It is in a room where the coldest temperature was 50F and usually the temperature is in the mid 60s to low 70s. It doesnt get too much sun, but it does get some right as the sun is setting.

Any ideas on what I did wrong? I managed to find some live branches above the base that I hope I can get to root. (the branches are at the most 5 inches long so they arent very large). Do I root them in water or just stick them in some soil and leave them alone until they leaf out (like you would do with Plumerias). Should I apply rooting powder. I left some rooting powder outside this winter. Does cold temperatures effect how it works?

Thanks for any advice!


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labland(Inland Valley CA9)

I wish I had an answer. I brought mine indoors in December and put it in my window which is double pained, where my orchids live. I brought it back outside late last month. It too went mushy. I tried to break off a branch today, and it just tore, all mushy inside. Mine was light brown on the outside of the trunk, not green like I saw in some pictures someone has posted, but it was that color when I bought it from Armstrong nursery. I too would welcome suggestions. Is it salvagable?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 10:25PM
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At least Im not the only one. I looked at the cuttings today and they dont look good. Im going to cut a little farther back and hope that there is at least a tiny bit of life. I wont get another one until I know what went wrong!

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 11:34PM
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Alex, if I read Laura correctly on another thread, she said she waters her dormant DRs more than her dormant plumerias in winter. Check her recent post on her overwintered plants waking up, near the bottom of the page. I don't have much experience with them myself. Laura's look like she knows how to care for them.

I haven't done it myself, but my mom told me that you root DR cuttings just like plumeria. Wait for the callus and then just stick them in soil. Hope you can salvage something!

Here is a link that might be useful: loveplants2 post

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 9:11AM
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labland(Inland Valley CA9)

That is the post I was referring to.Laura's DR are definitely green! I did water mine, several tmes during the month, more so than my plumerias. Frustrating! I am guessing Mike and I would welcome suggestions! Jennifer

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 12:15PM
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Her desert roses look a little moist and very healthy, so thats probably what I did wrong! I feel bad because it made such beautiful white blooms. I got it at a local nursery and I guess I will be giving them a try again this summer because I really love their blooms!
Thanks for the advice!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 5:00PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone,

Hi Alex....I just saw your post of your DR....SOrry to hear the bad news...Is the Caudex rotten as well?
I have never rooted a DR...don't know if it roots like the Plumeria...I have heard mixed things about rooting DRs (like they are very difficult to root).

It sounds like it needed a little more water...I think that alot of people leave them alone...I do probably watch more than I should...but I feel like I would rather give a little more than less...but when I do give's only maybe a 1/2 cup.

I hope that you can cut it back and wait and a pic...that will help...I know that you really liked this white one...I'm so sorry..I hope that it pulls through for you...

Please let us know...

Take care everyone,

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 8:40PM
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Unfortunately the entire base is completely rotten. The cuttings I took are also showing signs of rot. Dont change the way you care for yours Laura, you are doing a great job! Apparently neglect isnt the way to go with Desert Roses, or at least not complete neglect. My plumerias are asking for a ton of water lately too, especially the one I have blooming which I have to soak 2 times a week now to keep it from wilting! My guess is it needed more water. But the base wasnt shriveled and it rotted pretty suddenly (or at least I didnt notice it). My next desert rose is going to be by a sunny window during the winter and watered more frequently (but still allowed to dry out). I wont buy it until the summer so at least it has a few months of weather to enjoy!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 12:49AM
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labland(Inland Valley CA9)

You know when I think of it, I was watering my DR like the plumerias, a little more so, I just now realized I forgot how small the pot was, and that it was left way too long between waterings. I cut off the stems, it was difficult because they were so mushy and pulpy. Wll have to wait and see! Mine has red with white blossoms. So pretty! Thanks Laura. Good luck Alex!


    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 4:52AM
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Thanks Jennifer. The pot on my desert rose was EXTREMELY small and the soil in the pot was so high up that even when it did get watered, the water never soak in too much. I definitely think the lack of water is what killed it and I'll have to try them again! I hope your desert rose makes it. If the Caudex is nice and healthy then it will have no problems!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2011 at 3:52PM
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So I had the same problem with my Dr today so I researched how to propagate but one Guy said said if you propagate from cuttings the don't get the fat cuadex does anyone know about this? Please help I don't want to loose my beautiful DR and I do want the big cuadex it was my favorite part!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 12:20AM
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I read that you getting a bigger caudex faster with seeds, that it takes longer with cuttings.
Not that it won't have a nice caudex from cuttings, but it takes longer.
So do it, you have nothing to loose anyway.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 8:47PM
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Michael grows his desert roses, from seeds that he buys from Thailand, and other countries. He starts the seeds in cold frame storage units that he builds himself. I had never even heard of them before seeing his, he has at least 20 of them. Michael is from Germany, and loves growing everything. Every time I go to his house, I come home with loads of vegetables , and plants. He sells his desert roses at Rockport Market Days, which is once a month. He sells out within 4 hrs hundreds of $5 and $10 desert roses. I have helped him when he gets swamped, and he needs to bring out more plants from his vehicle. He has grafted desert roses for me, from his treasured plants. He only does grafts, and not cuttings. Barbra

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 3:30PM
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