Unidentifiable damage...how to fix?

aasonalkApril 14, 2010


I have two 1-year old Plumeria's that I rooted from stem. I brought them in for the winter, and placed them by a sunny window. They did well. This year, they dropped all old leaves and grew new ones early Spring.

Last week, the weather got really nice (88F) and so I got greedy for a head start and took them outdoors. Suddenly on Day # 4 temperatures dropped to the 50s or 60s with a lot of rainfall and wind. One of the pots toppled over. The plant that didn't topple over is doing good. The toppled plumeria is not looking good since. Here are it's problems:

1) The leaves softened, browned and wilted away. But seems like new growth is coming up again.

2) Stem shows some wrinkling and skin peeling about 1/2" from the top inflos on two of the three stems. The wrinkling extends about 1" down on one stem, and about 1/2" on the second. The first stem was soft and mushy in the wrinkly part last week, but is strong and hard this week. (though the 1" wrinkly part is now narrower than the rest of the stem). The second stem was hard last week but now seems mushy in the 1/2" wrinkly area.

Also, the top 1/2" of both stems is green and has new growth coming out. It is not soft and mushy either. The mushiness is in the middle part, which is DRIVING ME CRAZY with speculation. The lower part of the stem looks good too.

3) One more thing...the tips on the plant are black in color, though they are growing at a good rate. While this sounds like a fungus or rot, let me tell you that I saw this last year too...but the tips grow out fine. I guess this variety "Lei rainbow" grows darker tips??? (Is that possible?)

To me, it looks like a combination of cold damage, physical damage, and/or animal damage. What should I do to restore the plant? Should I just let it harden, or get aggressive and chop off the stems up until just after the mushy stuff? I would hate to loose the plant.

Thanks so much in advance for your comments.

Here is another fellow member's post from this forum, whose plant looks exactly like mine.


I will try to upload my plumie pics in the evening.

Thanks so much.


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Follow up:

I decided to cut the damaged parts, and I did find that the stem was bad inside. so, I cut it down till I saw white/green wood.
The only problem here is that I did not see any sap oozing out. The white stuff was pretty much dry. Does this mean I need to cut further down until sap oozes?

I'd really really appreciate some advice.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 7:25PM
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Hi Kathy, a picture of your plant would really help. If your plant looks like the one in the link you provided, I'd toss it. But then again, I'd disregard any advice anyone offers you without at least seeing a picture of the plant.

Thanks so much in advance for your comments.

Here is another fellow member's post from this forum, whose plant looks exactly like mine.


I will try to upload my plumie pics in the evening.

Thanks so much.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 6:43PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA


You may have done all you can at this point. Just be patient and don't overwater. The plant may send out new shoots below your cut line in a few weeks or in a month or so. Keeping the plant warm, in a bright spot, and NOT overly wet will be the best environment.

The plant sounds like it got stressed. It could have been from shock from cold temps, root loss, over- or underwatering or not warm enough temps over winter. There are many variables and it's difficult to say. Late winter and early Spring can be the most vulnerable time as they come out of dormancy. The plumerias want to grow, but if conditions are not ideal (warm enough, bright enough), the plants can get stressed. They exhibit stress by aborted growing tips or by mushy spots within the stems, which can possibly spread. At least that's been my experience.

This has happened to a number of my plants in my garage which got too cold. And it has happened to some of my plants indoors which dried out too much, or got a really bad infestation of spider mites on the tips.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 11:13AM
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Thanks so much Dewaine & Dave. I am hoping that what I did to the plant, is the best thing for it, and that it will spring back. I totally agree that early spring is an especially vulnerable time for plumerias. The plant was doing so well before I took it outside, and I feel so badly about that.
The other plant is growing new claws like gangbusters and, since both were subject to the exact same environment, I think one might have been a more delicate variety.

Will keep you posted as I see any new signs of growth/further decay, etc.

thanks so much for responding.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 11:57AM
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