Shriveled plumeria branches

lolaluvsflowersSeptember 29, 2008

I've had 2 rooted plumeria plants for a few years now and have lost several cuttings to stem rot. I had "given up" on cuttings until I was given a few recently and now I am "addicted" all over again. This forum has really helped me. I have a large cutting with 3 branches and 6 tips that I planted in begining of August. It now has new leaves growing about 1-2 in I assume it is rooting but, the branches are shriveled looking. They are not squishy/soft so I don't assume stem rot. I didn't water it for about a month after I planted it and only water when soil is dry. My older established plumie stems don't look like this. Actually my more recent potted cuttings are starting to look this way. I must add that I can't bring myself to cut off any of the inflos on all my cuttings. So they are still there. I know people have a conflicting opinion on this. Any advice would be appreciated. I don't want to lose any more.

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t0etager(Zone 9)

Hello Lola,
You could try getting a water meter at lowes or walmart they are like 4 buck and can check to see how dry your plants are. When they are in the red zone its ok to water. It sounds like they are just thirsty. If there are leaves and its steadly growing I doubt it is rot. I also keep inflos on while rooting never seems to hinder the process for me. My success rate has been quite good usualy only 1 out of 10 or more wont make it. Good luck

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 10:59PM
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I don't like to cut off inflos either. but on new cuttings, I have started to let them bloom a couple flowers so I can enjoy what the bloom will be. then I cut the large inflo and put it in a glass of water. It then allows the plant to grow. I cannot imagine I said that..but am doing that. ha ha

Your cutting with 2" leaves are growing, but no roots until about 6" long. That is quoting Dave, Water around the edge not in the middle roots will seek the water. On the shrived part, water around the edges, see if it helps, or spray with water.
Karen B

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 3:30AM
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lopaka_mikale(PBG, FL 10A)

My feeling would be that if a plant is struggling, get rid of the inflo. Which is better, a plant that produces one inflo and dies, or a plant that skips this season and provides years of beautiful flowers. Tough love is hard to swallow, but I wouldn't take the chance.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 8:13AM
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I bought a moisture meter today and all my plumies are reading moist or wet even though I haven't watered in a week. Boy is that top dry layer of soil decieving. On my "problem" shriveled looking plumiera when I moved the pea pebbles around to insert the meter it was full of black ants. I hope they are not causing the problem. Don't they eat roots on plants??? How do you safely get rid of them. Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions. I really appreciate it.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 2:51PM
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I myself lost two plumies just as you seem to be doing so due to too much moisterin soil. If your roots stay damp,not even wet for too long, especially on plumaria, they will rot, or at the very least not take up moister from the soil and die of dehydration even though your soil is wet.
I would if I were you, change your soil into something fast draining. I mean fast. A soiless mix that dries within a couple of days even if it were watered in the winter. I used potting soil on mine before I was introduced to Al's soilees mix. If you don't want to use Al's mix, then I would take what potting soil you use and do half the soil and half perlite. Lighten it up alot. Your soil is staying wet to long.
Remember, the faster your soil dries out, the faster oxygen will hit the roots , what all plant roots crave for. It is vital you do this so that your plants roots will breathe, take up nutrients better, and stay bug free.
Also if you change your soil, be gentle with the roots, for they break easily. I would probably wait until the soil completely dries out. Then rinsethe soil off the roots,which in turn will rinse away any insects, then repot in your new mix. Just watch your plumies take off once the root system gets more air to breath within a few days instead of suffocate after days of damp soil.

Hope this helps. My plumarias are huge this summer and I started them all off from cuttings in the spring.

P.S. I left my inflos on mine, and still they grew darn well.
Also, in spring don't forget to fertilze once you get new growth and are ready to put them outside. My professional grower uses "Dynamite" 13,13,13 only and they love this fertilzer! You need to fertilze right to get good inflos.
In summary,
As soon as possible, change your soil, and they will be fine. Shriveling is a sign of dehydration even if your soil is wet. The roots are not working because they are not drying out fast enough to breathe and you will loose them if the soil stays as wet as you say it did for that long.
The key is to get rid of your perched water table. That area in your soilin your pot that stays wet even though the top couple of inches is dry. You want the soil to dry evenly through out.
Be sucessful. Keep us up to date. Don't hesitate. Get on it

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 5:17PM
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Wow what wonderful advice! I think the problem is solved now... I use cactus mix for my plumerias. Lately I haven't been mixing with perlite. After reading what meyermike wrote it all made sense to me that it was too wet, wasn't drying up and needed to be repotted. So I carefully dug around the plumie hoping not to disrupt the roots to much and to my horror there was no roots. I planted this large cutting begining of August. It should have some roots/hairs forming by now right? but, it was rotted :( Usually when I encounter stem rot it is squishy. This one fooled me it was firm and new leaves are forming. So I cut off the rot and made three cuttings out of it. I don't know if it will survive there wasn't any white, milky sap coming out of it. I will let it callus and hope for the best. Gosh it is such a downer. I don't water that much but, it just wasn't draining out. Now with my moisture meter and perlite/cactus mix I can only hope for success. Again thank you so much!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 1:21AM
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Hi lola
Now you have new cuttings.. make your soil mostly pearlite and third cactus mix..keep center dry, water around edges. Glad you found your problem..odd the leaves grew, with no roots. cut the leaves and leave part of the stem, will fall off when it wants too, keep top claws.. Late to do cuttings, may take awhile to leaf out..They should do ok, you are in Winter will have to bring inside
Karen B

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 3:06AM
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Would of love to know the perfect way to root plumies and never fail?
If so let me know and I will share. ok.
You will suceed everytime!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 11:23AM
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craftymama132001(Ohio (5))

Hi, Mike, Share with all of us, please!!!!!!! We'd all love success every time, especially with high priced cuttings we may obtain. I have a Sierra Jane coming in April, and at $150.00 per cutting, I can't afford to lose her! Thanks! Crafty

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 11:38AM
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This is what I do...
I have friends that live in Florida and Texas. What they do is pot them up in pots and stick them on the pavement so the soil gets very warm in the hot sun. We know how hot the pavement can get there..Within weeks they grow, roots and all...They never have to worry if the cuttings rot, after all it's hot there.
So for those of us that do not have the advantage I came up with a plan. M
Most of us get soil issues, rot issues, and can never tell if our cuttings even have roots right?
I take my cuttings as soon as I get them in the mail, or after I have hardened them off after cutting my own, and rub rooting hormone with fungicide on them. But not a necassery thing, for I have some that rooted without.
Then, here's the best part for most, so I can tell whether or not I have roots on them or not, I go to the local store and buy myself some see through 16oz water bottles. Then I cut the tops of the bottles off to make perfect see through pots. DO NOT CUT DRAINAGE HOLES AT BOTTOM. I will explain later
We know they like warm soil to grow right? So I bought myself a plant heat matt, although you can do just fine without one if you have a sunny window. But I tell you, a heat matt will speed up your process of me!!
Pour your 1/2 potting soil and 1/2 perlite into each plastic bottle. Then stick your plumaria cuttings no more than 3 - 4 inches into soil.
DO NOT WATER.... Why......once you put your pots on a heated matt in the sun, or just in the window in our warm winter sun, you will see condensation in the clear bottle pot. This is the perfect amount for rooting!
Only until do you see a leaf or two start to appear do you even add water. No water!! Just use a spray bottle and spray water onto the trunk or sides of temporary see through bottle pot.Do not spray water so that water builds up on the botton of holess bottles yet.
Then when 2 or three leaves appear, you can puncture holes into the bottom of pots, then water as needed. You will see roots by this time!
The clear bottles act like pots that let you see root growth.Believe me, when you start to see beautiful white roots grow on the sides, it's exciting! It is also fun to watch them develope over time and fill out the bottle by spring. You never have to guess if they are rooted or not. This process will never leave you with rot. Never leave you guessing if your plumie has roots. And the heat from the sun or matt will speed up your rooting process and never allow a moment for your cutting to die of cool soil and slow root formation.
This last winter, I grew 10 new cuttings, started in January AND THEY ARE ALL healthy and huge. I had inflos, if that is what they call it, or flowers on a couple of them.
When you transplant them into a 1 gallon pot in spring, it would be good at this time to use a good slow release fertilizer such as "dynamite fertilzer" or any other slow release mixed in with the soil. Use same type of soil mix you started with. Fast draining. You will do well rooting these plumarias...:-)
let me know if anyone does this and how you did. If you have kids, they will love this succesful experience.
Have fun.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 2:06PM
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One more thing especially to craftymama132001
If you're investing in expensive cuttings, then I would definately purchase an inexpensive heat matt and root your plumies on these in full sun, or at least as close to your grow lights as possble for even more heat. The key is...HEAT!
Just lay your pots on top of the matt and you will feel the soil get warm.
I just wanted you to succeed. That is alot of money for plumeria..:-)

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 2:17PM
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craftymama132001(Ohio (5))

Thanks so much for the info, Mike! I'll definitely try it when I get Sierra Jane. Have you seen the pic of this plumeria??? She is absolutely gorgeous! I try never to go over $40.00 for a cutting, but this one is the exception. So is Metallica, Kaleidascope and........ lol Crafty

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 11:08AM
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Meyermike- Thank you so much I am DEFINITELY going to try this! I pulled out my 4 cuttings that I planted within the last 3-4wks (no sign of any roots) and one of them was already starting to rot & I only watered it once when I planted it. So I recut all of them (seems drastic?) I am going to let them scab and try potting them as you suggested. Some of my cuttings are @16 inches with 2 tips a 1.5 liter or 2 liter clear soda bottle (so it would be more stable and not fall over) would do just fine right? I need to get a heat mat. I live in San Diego our fall/winter is mild here but, I want to make sure that I am successful this time. I have 2 new cuttings Hilo Beauty & Scott Pratt I heard red plumerias are harder/longer to root. Is this true? I will let you know how this worked for me. Thanks a million!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 2:42PM
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Hi Lola,
I have a cutting told on the board, seems to be Scott pratt or Hilo a mystery cutting from Maui Gardens. Totally different from any of my cuttings. Id only cause it has deep red curled claws..different. I got it in May, is just now in October leafing out, radical curled claws finally straightened up and became leaves. .. red on the back and deep green leaves. So it takes a long time to root. I am holding back on it, want the leaves to hit 6" then I know it has roots, then will water.

OOh take the pea pebbles away, that can burn your plant if too close to the trunk.
Karen B.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 3:24AM
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Hi lola,
What I did to stable mine was use small rocks in some, and piled them at least an inch high around the cutting, and in other a poured cactus sand on top for weight to anchor the cuttings in place.
If you have a few like 4 and you want to put them all on a matt, just stick them together to, and you could tie the pots together with sting.
If you want the cuttings to root good and the fastest way possible, definately use a heat matt..ok, comdines with the warm sun even through the winter.
Remember, DO NOT WATER even if your heart wants to, because the soil is so dry. It is the HEAT that makes them root at first, they can't drink without roots, and water does not force roots, it just rots the base of your cutting. But the moister that will build up in your "see through containers" from the condensation from the heat and from the sun too, will be just enough for the roots to benefit from once they start to emerge.
Please, tell me your progress on what you do ok. I would love it!!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 12:35PM
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Hi Mike,
the pebbles around your stem in hot/warm weather will burn. Pull them back from the stem, get too hot. Lot of us have had this problem. I do not use rocks anymore.
Karen B

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 3:38AM
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Thanks alot for the tip....I did forget to pull them away from one of mines and it did burn the stem....
When I put the pebbles around the cuttings is usually in the fall till spring, by then the cuttings are rooted then can hold their own. I will then take out the pebbles before summer so they won't burn. I never thought of this with the one I forgot to transplant,,,,Great advice!!!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 9:16AM
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remember, cuttings must have at least 6" long leaves to have roots..per Dave. Smaller leaves, no roots, no water, water around edges,not in the middle. Just mist with a spray bottle..use starfoam or heavy paper sacks to hold the plumeria stick upright. I also put in a plant stick and tie it to the plant. i have had shriveled plants too. but once the leaves get to a larger size and you can water, comes out of it.
Karen B

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 3:26AM
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My plumeria was shriveling too, but only the part above the soil. The tops have several leaves coming out and the bottom has very little to almost no roots.

After reading the advice, I pulled my plumeria out of the garden soil and put it in 1/2 cactus mix and 1/2 perlite in the bottle just like meyermike_1micha instructions.

I want to know that since there are already leaves starting to come out at the top, when will I know to start watering? I don't see any condensation at all in the bottle. It is dry here in the desert so maybe that's why. Any advice?

Again, my plumeria is shaped like a Y with one stem and two branches. The part that is shriveling is the middle part. The part in the soil looks okay. The from above the soil to about two-three inches after where it branches are really shriveled. It almost seems like the branches are going to shrivel off at the attachment. Then, the part where there are leaves at the top looks pretty good.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 6:07PM
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To clarify, the leaves coming from the plumeria were already there when I pulled it from the garden soil to stop the shriveling.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 6:09PM
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Toucan, so you're in the desert and the cutting already has some tiny roots and a few 4-6 inch leaves? If so, then that plant needs water. At the very least, some misting every day until the trunk plumps up. You can even wrap the trunk in very damp paper towels over night and see if there isn't some improvement. If it doesn't plump up then it may not be viable.

While meyermike needs the cactus/perlite mix because he's in Massachusetts, you may need more moisture retention in your location. Once you're ready to pot your plant up in a more permanent container you may want to add some compost or potting soil to that mix.

I'm in Texas and I use as a potting mix straight compost made from shredded wood, with some minerals thrown in. I quit using any perlite at all this summer because of our extreme drought and because I don't want to have to water every day. My plants are very happy with this. You may need to try out different soils and locations in your garden to find the best situation for your area.


    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 9:54AM
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