Branch rot

astrlApril 6, 2013

I was really bummed to discover that my Polynesian Sunset has some damaged branches. Just above the branch joint, the three small branches all are wrinkling and have squishy spots.

Is it time to snip them off and see if I can find some good wood? Maybe the tips themselves will be salvageable.


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If it's really mushy, I would start cutting. When you make the first cut if there is no brown, stop. It may just be dehydrated.

If it's brown, keep cutting until there is no more brown inside. Use alcohol and wipe your cutting tool after each cut so if you do reach healthy wood, you won't reinfect it.

I just did my Elsie this morning and even though the top 4 inches or so of the tips and the trunk looked good, the entire thing was rotted inside. It was just a matter of days before it totally collapsed. My winter losses are now at 23. UNBELIEVABLE!!

In the Keys there never were any winter losses unless it was cuttings I was trying to root. These were all 2 years or older. :( and many had bloomed for me down there in the summer of 2011 and 2012.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 3:21PM
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Ouch? You had 23 suffer damage? So sorry to hear that!

I guess I will get to cutting. :(

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 3:33PM
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Not damage. I lost 23. All were 1-2 year old rooted cuttings, I believe a lot of it was due to the fact they were happy in the ground and did not like being moved in October. I had no choice, we moved. Hindsight, I would have left them there and gotten them this spring but what is done is done. I had no idea so many would react like that.

Here is my current loss list, added Elsie today :( :


  3. Kaneohe Sunburst
    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 8:10PM
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Andrew Scott

Hi Powderpuff.
So sorry to hear of all your losses. I love my Elsie and that indeed is whyt I bought 2 more of them this spring!!

So you lost them all after you transplanted them? I feel so bad for you. I know you said that they may had issues in the ground. Were they not in an area that was fast draining and in full sun?


    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 8:16PM
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Actually, it was my Leona Hoke, not Polynesian. Anyways...

I cut the tips (only two might be salvageable) and there was more damage than I thought. I originally just cut down to clean wood, but I looked it up in the JL book which suggests only leaving 4 to 5 inches. So I re-cut leaving only 5 inches or so.

I thought I could keep the middle section for cuttings as well, but it was completely brown inside. I guess it was just a matter of time before the entire branch died.

That worries me a little though. My Celadine has a section of rough trunk like that. It almost looks as if an animal took a chunk out of it. I hope it is dying, too.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 6:56PM
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Powderpuff, every time I see that list I cringe. What a shame you lost so many wonderful babies! I hope your others thrive and make up for it a bit at your new home.

Some of those listed seem like they should have been a bit hardier, like Kaneohe, Plastic Pink, Mary Moragne and Bali Whirl. The reds, purples and oranges, though, are not as surprising. My experience seems to be that the really exotic ones we ooh and aah over tend to be less robust.

Astrl, hopefully you cut away all the rot on Leona. I had a new cutting do the same thing, and the tip looked great but everything below, starting around the middle, was brown inside :( We've had a cool, wet spell so I hope my Leona is okay out there. At least she's grafted and about two years here in Austin, so I figure about four years of good root development total. I think they can handle a lot more at that age.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 9:44AM
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Astrl, you can try the pin prick method to see when you get white sap. Its kind of like pretending your Poly Sun is diabetic. that should help you localize the area to start cutting. Be sure to sterilize the snips like powder said.

Powder so sorry...I spent numerous mini seasons with my dad at his place in the keys. I warned him I was going to fill up his yard with plumerias.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 11:00PM
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Jen, i'm getting worried about all this cold wetness...I don't know how much longer my plants will be ok sitting there wet and angry :( The temps are dipping again Wednesday night - this is what I get for thinking spring had sprung.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 9:32AM
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Andrew.... there weren't issues when they were in the ground. They were all doing well. They were in very well draining soil in the Keys, so too cold of temps was never an issue. We moved 350 miles north of there in October. I dug them up and brought them with me. They were all young rooted cuttings, 1 and 2 years old.

I believe had I left them and gotten them this spring when they were coming out of dormancy and the weather was warm, they would have had all summer to recuperate and grown new roots.

I only lost ones that had been in the ground, none that were left in pots. I still don't know why it happened. The garage was never below high 50's and on most days was in the 70's.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 12:44PM
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Janey... thank you, I cringe too knowing what I paid for them. :( Plus many had not even bloomed yet. I agree with you 100% that many of the exotics are not as hardy.

Kaneohe was a young cutting and didn't have many roots yet same with Plastic Pink, Mary Moragne had more roots and was bigger, have no idea what happened to it and Bali Whirl was also a small one.

The one that shocked me the most was a BIG one that is not on the list. It was a 10 tip small tree that I rooted in the summer of 2011. I collected it in the Keys, a pretty yellow, not Aztec gold,( it looked sort of like JJ's yellow) but wasn't. The limbs were big, it was about 4' tall and 3' wide and very robust. It was doing fine until around February and it just collapsed almost overnight. The only thing I can think of is that possibly it's tips were touching the cold garage wall since the larger ones were closer to the wall.

It was really shocking to me because in the past I rarely lost any and when I did it was a cutting I was rooting that got too much rain when I forgot to move them out of the rain, or when I was sent a weak, not too healthy looking cutting.

I did notice I didn't lose any of my JJ's, so that is where I just place a new order.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 12:53PM
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The tree looks great so far where I cut it. One of the cuttings callused over well. The second one is iffy.

I just re-potted everything I have because I didn't look like the previous medium I used. I hope all of the plumies are happy now.

I'm really sorry to hear about all of the losses other people are having. I know I would be upset.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 8:21AM
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Oh, puff, I would be in tears! How dreadful.

Good luck Astri!
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 1:19PM
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Powderpuff, is it possible there's some pathogen/fungus in the soil at your new home that the young plumies just couldn't fight off?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:29AM
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I thought about that a couple of days ago. I did use bags of potting soil purchased up here. However, it seems if that were the case, they would have rotted from the roots up. Some of them got tip rot and it progressed \down. Some I cut off and they are fine. Some was from bottom up, most were from tip down.

I used to have about 300 orchids. My husband said yesterday, you almost never lost an orchid, these are NOT easy to grow. I think he is right. They are EASY to grow in the ground in the Keys, just put them there, feed them once in a while, water once a week if it doesn't rain in the summer.

If they got rained on in the winter and we had a cold front down in the 50's it never hurt them. I personally think they do not like to be in pots. I think Emerson Willis has the right method, ground in the summer, lift them and store bareroot in the winter. Make sure garage stays above 55. He's done it for years and it works for him.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 3:09PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia


I cant believe that list.. ;-( Makes me sick inside, but im sure you have already felt enough sad feelings..

Keep looking forward and hopefully the new ones will love your new home too!

I plan to go down to the keys this summer.. I will email you and find out some info!!

Thinking of you as i read this thread and hoping you are doing well..

Take care,


    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 5:41PM
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Definitely email me. I have a list of addresses and trees for you to look at and most on the list will be glad to share cuttings with you.

I'm really not sad.... well maybe a little... :P... More shocked than anything else because I cannot believe how many I lost. I am not one that loses many plants and I've grown Plumeria for many years. There has to be a reason, but we may never know because it may have been a combination of things.

The strong survived, even some that had rot on one branch that was cut off and sealed are doing well now.

I did lose another this week, Heart of Gold, and I really liked that one a lot. I've been cutting off, and cutting off, it's gone now. What was strange about that one was the rot was in the trunk down low but it didn't feel like it had rot, not at all soft. The indication it was having issues was the tips got soft and dehydrated. I cut one tip and it was green inside, but soft, no latex, but no brown. I kept cutting, never did get latex. I sealed the cuts, and thought maybe the main trunk would generate branches but within 3-4 days the trunk went soft, so the problem was the bottom part not allowing any energy to get to the tips.

I am checking all of them daily, about 7 have no claws yet, they are on my watch list. Lurline is the only one I see struggling. It's been struggling fora year, but it keeps hanging in there.

I have no clue what my Golden Pagoda is doing. It's firm, looks great, but getting tall with one tip and has not bloomed for me yet. I got it late in the summer of 2011. It has zero claws and it may have sealed over. I am going to get some pictures of it and post them on here, see what others think is going on.

Several of them are putting out inflos and lots of green leaves on most. I'm using Root Excelerator when I water and holding off on food for some until they get leaves, feeding the ones with leaves 1/2 strength and hoping the daily rains hold off until the roots recover from re-potting into the gritty.

I'm going to put some of my tall, more common ones in the ground, see what happens.

I hope all is well with you and your beautiful Plumies!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 10:07PM
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