Plumeria cutting with 4 leaves is wilting-- is it rot?

threnApril 27, 2010

Hello, and thanks all-- I'm a beginning gardener who went and rotted out a couple other plumeria cuttings because the instructions they came with said to water every week or two, and it was only when I looked online I read not to water them at all at first.

So I got this new one, made it very porous soil and put pea gravel on top to hold it steady. Alas I only read to let the cut end dry out after cutting off the end and planting it drippy. >_Never having gotten this far before I poked around a lot online before watering any more, worried to ruin my progress but found sites saying 3-4 leaves of 2 to 3 inches means you can water. I also pulled on it lightly and it stayed, I hoped that meant good roots. So I got it pretty wet with a bit of organic fertilizer mixed in as per instructions, and did so again two weeks later, the soil seemed quite dry by that point.

I have watered it three or four times at two week intervals, poking my finger in the dirt first to see it feels dry, but in the last week and a half the little claws inside turned black and shriveled, the stem in the middle got a bit wrinkly but didn't seem squishy, possibly just barely squishier than the base or tip, and then in the last few days the leaves started yellowing-- two have gotten brown spots and one is shriveling.

Is this a sign of rot or under watering? I read sites that said they would shrivel when they had not enough water or when rotten, and all the posts I've found on rot are for leafless plants..? I also read a post suggesting poking it with a pin and seeing if white sap comes out, and it does at the top, bottom and middle. I'm perplexed, but the leaves and growth just seem to be getting worse and worse. Any help would be most welcome, I'd really like to get this right finally..!

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Me again, Got pictures too:

Thanks again everyone!

Here is a link that might be useful: My Plumeria Pics

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 12:00AM
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Did I do something wrong to not get any replies..? I am new to the forum and read the instructions, I hope I didn't commit any faux pas..! It seems like there are lots of nice and knowledgeable people here-- maybe it's because I posted the follow up with the pictures so everyone thought someone had answered?

I'm going to keep trying to succeed with a plumeria cutting in the meanwhile..! Mine rotted since my post, I have about four inches now, though one leaf actually stayed green on the poor little guy...I don't know if I should pull it off or see if it stays through the drying and replanting. It's been drying maybe four days, is it really best to wait two weeks before repotting?


    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 9:56PM
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thren your posts aren't being ignored. I just don't think that anyone has an answer for you.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 7:15AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hey Thren,

I'll just give you my 2 cents worth!!!

Sounds like you are watering way to much...and fertilizing to much. Let it dry out completely before you water it again. Buy a cheap water meter at your local hardware store and don't water again until it becomes more on the dry side.

We all seem to try and do more for our Plumeria because we love them so...but they really like to be ignored, and not given water as much as we think that they need!!! Full sun is the best medicine for an ailing plant!!!

You may want to consider the soil type that you are using as well. Check back some of the threads on soil types and that may help you. Also about questions on repotting... is your plant root bound? If not, then I would concentrate on drying it out and getting it back to health before I repotted it!!!

Hope this helps...maybe someone with more experience will help you as well....

P.S. Don't pull off the last and only green leaf!!! Ouch!!! LOL...

Have a great day everyone!!!

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 9:30AM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

Laura is correct in my book. I water my new cuttings once and then put them on hot concrete and forget about them until they have leaves. I do not fertilize until the leaves are 6" long because new roots are very brittle and sensitive. It takes usually over 8 weeks and in some cases much longer to root so the people that cannot keep their hands off their plants usually kill them. I sometimes mist the tops but not that often, perhaps once every 10-15 days.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 6:08PM
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Yay, thank you for the replies! I'm glad I wasn't doing anything wrong! (On the forums anyhow) I'll let the chopped off 4" stick dry out a bit longer then, before I pot it again. It's not root bound because the rotting part was the bottom so I had to chop off the top from the roots. ;_; The one green leaf on the poor little stick is still going, which is surprising to me but gives me hope.

OK I'll not fertilize it next time till way later! How much water do you guys give a small newly rooting cutting once it does start having a handful of new leaves typically? Do you drench it or give it just a bit? Thanks for the advice, I think I will indeed get one of those water meters so I can see when it is actually dry deep down, and I read somewhere else here about making a trench around the edge of the pot to pour water in so it's not all concentrated in the middle where the trunk is.

Here's the poor little guy now:

Thank you !

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 10:18PM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

I have used the trench for years as I feel water down the outside of the soil encourages roots to move outward in their search but keeps the new roots from sitting in water. When plants get leafed out, I soak the pot or bottle in the morning on a warm day and let it dry for several days before repeating using a water meter to check when the soil approaches dry. This is like the natural experiences of these plants in the Caribbean where sands and volcanic ash soils have storms and then dry periods. The fat plant stems are water tanks to get them through the dry periods especially the long dry period in the winter.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2010 at 11:39PM
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OK so when you finally do water you really do get them pretty wet then-- okay thank you!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 2:01AM
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I have similar situation!! I brought my cutting home from Hawaii in February, planted it in early march, and it started showing leaves in April. I held off on the water until I started to see leaves, and have only been watering it when the soil is dry. Right now I have one big green leaf and four leaves that seem to want to open...but don't. Am I overwatering? The stem is looking a bit wrinkly and I dug around the bottom to see if there were roots. What troubles me is that the stem is jiggly in the soil and when I tugged lightly I felt there was some resistance, but if I wanted too, I could have pulled it out. Also, below the soil line the stem felt squishy...which concerned me. So I poked it in several places, and there was the white latex....So now I'm confused and worried. It looks healthy! But it kind of just stopped. Is it still growing, should I just be patient? We live in Texas so the sun is starting to get really hot...Please give me some guidance!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 11:29AM
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Well what happened with mine is I kept poking it with a pin every day or two and then one day sap was very sluggish to come out or didn't come at all when I pricked low to about half way up...When I finally did pull the poor guy out the bottom part was really icky soggy rotted.. you might want to dig down and poke it with a pin deep down to test for if rot is happening? I'm also a very new amateur but that's what happened to mine so watch out for the rot >_

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 10:35PM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

plant and forget. Poking, pulling, digging every day- think about it. Leave them alone. If they root they root, if not, there is little you can do. However, messing with them really increases the chances of failure..

    Bookmark   May 15, 2010 at 11:31AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Also, these plants need HEAT (especially warm soil) and LIGHT to get them going. Indoors is just not to their liking long-term. Now if you are in Pacific NW with cool days/nights/overcast, you may be in for a challenge. Not to discourage you, but my plants don't really get going until June (read: HOT AND HUMID). In July and August when my plants are ACTIVELY growing and roots have filled the pot, I can't seem to water them enough, but then we are really warm here in summer.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 11:00AM
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I live in Mesa, AZ. I have had 3 Plumeria cuttings and lost 2 last year, I was good about not over-watering but our monsoon season kicked in and they were left outside in pots. I tried to save the last one I lost, but it appears once they get too much water, all attempts to save them are frugal (just my experience). I have one cutting now that has sprouted about 6 leaves and the stem is green. I only water every 1 to 2 weeks as the soil is dry. Mine is in a resin pot on cement near my pool and enjoys the company of potted Vincas along with other potted tropical plants. We are in monsoon season right now and I put mine on the patio when I know we are going to get rain. Otherwise, she is out in full sun. I do not water my Plumeria until it drains through the pot because the soil it is in is standard potting soil and I don't want to take any chances. I just quickly water the top soil and let it drain over the 1 to 2 week period. It seems to be doing fine at this point. I am just not sure when to fertilize for the first time. Any suggestions?


    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 4:45PM
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mauitom61(9a/Heat 11)

Hi kthycer, I live in N Phoenix with several plumeria cuttings growing on my apt balcony. You should be safe to fertilize now that you have a handful of leaves, just go easy on it as the root system is still quite small. Because it is in a standard potting soil, you still may have issues with rotting. Plumies really need a very well draining mix, especially when rooting a cutting. As soon as the plant is able to handle it(at least a few months away) I would re-pot it in a more porous mix. With a more porous mix you will be able to give it a proper thorough watering. It's better to let the water flow out the bottom of the pot as this helps to keep salts and fertilizer from building up in the soil. I have been using terracotta pots as an extra precaution against rot because of their 'breath-ability' and to keep them from blowing over. In regards to fertilizers, I have just started using Jobe's Oganic Knockout Rose Food (granular). It's a 3-4-3 and loaded with all kinds of beneficial bacteria and fungus that makes the soil 'alive' which is supposed to help the roots in nutrient uptake. A much more natural environment for the roots than what a chemical fertilizer can provide and no risk of 'burning' from the fertilizer. I hope these suggestions help.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 9:23PM
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I dont know exactly what type this is and would like to know.
It is about 5 years old now and never seemed to grow.
Now however the leaves begin to rot...
The pot is very small as the buds inside it began to grow over the years. There is little soil left.
There are 4 seperate plants in the pot I think.
I lifted it up for better photo.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 5:04AM
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