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Please, what in the world? Mushy branches and yet healthy roots.

Posted by meyermike_1micha 5 ( on
Tue, Feb 8, 11 at 16:01

I hope everyone here is doing ok. It has been a while and am glad to be back.

All my plumeria are ok except this one. I just don't understand.

What could cause the tips to rot and recede back into the main trunk?

The rot did not come from the bottom up, but from the top down. I treat them all the same. They are in a warm dry cellar and I let them stay dry, and beyond dry for about a week, then water. They are root bound just about and the mix in these pots dries out within a couple of days.

Is it possible that this is from dehydration that causes the tips to go mushy, from holding back too long on providing water? The same thing happened to my DR tips, until I watered them the other day.

Thank you so much anyone.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Please, what in the world? Mushy branches and yet healthy roo

Hey Mike, what variety is it?

I think you're probably right about the too-low level of water it received. Some varieties will get tip rot easily in winter if they stay too cold (40's) for too long, like Singapore and reds, but if you have them in a warm environment then probably the roots got a little too dry on that one and the sap quit running all the way up to the tips. That would explain why the tips rotted first.

I think for some of these plants bone-dry roots are as stressful as soaking wet ones. From what I can tell by observing mine, they all still use some water through the roots in winter, and one cutting of mine with no leaves is also sucking up water on the stem. It's dry a few minutes after I mist it, every time. We're so fearful of root rot that I think sometimes we deprive them of enough water in winter.

Fortunately rotten tips can be cut back where a rotten base means sure death. Hope it recovers for you!

RE: Please, what in the world? Mushy branches and yet healthy roo

I agree totally with jandey.

I always water mine enough in the winter to keep the root balls from shrinking. For my 'garaged' plants, I usually check them about every two weeks.

Since your plants are in warmth (what about light?), the chance of them rotting from water in the soil is a bit less. But to be on the safer side, when I water, I try to water around the perimeter of the pot rather than right at the base of the trunk. I would make sure they get some light - maybe add a cheapo flourescent if you don't already. Keep it at less than 8 hours.

Last winter I watered too much and the garage got too cold for some plants (low 40s for prolonged periods), so I had some major rot on both stems and below the soil surface. This year I am watering a bit less and keeping the temps in the garage at between 53 deg. and 60 deg.F. They all look really good and some new inflos are starting to develop!

55 degrees seems to be a magic number for a lot of tropicals. It keeps them dormant, but they don't get overly cold. And bugs are not a problem.

In the house where the temps are between 60 and 70, I don't worry quite as much about watering. I feel down about an inch into the soil. If it's bone dry, then I'll water a bit around the perimeter of the pot. Many of the indoor plumerias still have leaves and are pulling up water.

Also, keep in mind that warm house areas are usually very low in humidity. Heck, even with our whole-house humidifier, I can't seem to get the humidity any higher than 40%. So that dryness will act to descicate the plants even more. In the South where they bare-root store them in garages, there are frequent warm-ups AND much higher humidity, which helps preserve the dormant plants, in my opinion.

RE: Please, what in the world? Mushy branches and yet healthy roo

Hey Mike,

I too think that the lack of water is the reason for the problem...Some Plumeria react differently to watering need during the summer as well as in dormancy...

If this is the only problem that you see...then I wouldn't worry to much..give it a little water..and set it out to receive some filtered light. Just make sure the others are given a "drink" especially if you haven/t given them any water at all.

Like the needs some water during the dormancy phase...minee like more water than the Plumies during the winter....If you still have a firm base on your will probably come back with no problem...could you post a pic?

The pic of your DR...looks fine...(give it a little water some light) and you will see a big difference!!!

Take care will be fine!!!

Laura in VB

RE: Please, what in the world? Mushy branches and yet healthy roo

I think I have to agree with you all!

It makes perfect sense. They were doing fine the whole time I was watereing them once a week every week such as Dave said, "around" the edges of the pots.

I forgot last week and didn't realize I forgot until this week which makes 3 weeks I forgot to water.
After I watered, that is when the rot developed on this one. These pots dry out so fast that 1 day after I looked at them, the mix was already dry again. They are all root bound.

The cellar is at 55 degrees most times and very dry, which leads me to think they are still looking for a drink just a couple days after each watering.

I have turned on a sodium high powered light, 650 watts and will leave it on for at least 6 hours. I am desperate to get inflo's this year and start them early, even if my electric bill goes through the roof. Since they did not provide any flowers for me last year, I am pushing for some this year and early so I can watch them mature in summer and not into the fall and winter.

Good to see you all again and thanks a million for all your help.

Laura, as regards my DR, I think I was holding back on water way too long too. The branches have stopped rooting since I watered it and is doing very well in the full sunny window at work. I might cut the plant back even shorter.

You are the best and everyone here is just so caring and I really appreciate it.
I missed many people here.


RE: Please, what in the world? Mushy branches and yet healthy roo

Hi Mike, I just ran across this tidbit on the site I bookmarked for you on another post about watering in winter:

"There is no scientific evidence that watering a plumeria in the winter will harm it. It is just the opposite. If your plumeria are dry they are stressed and more susceptible to frost or freeze damage and that is a well known scientific fact."

Jack goes on to write that the key is well-draining soil as you would find in Hawaii, where it actually is very rainy during their dormant season. I would add that if your plants are root-bound you might try adding a few tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide to your watering can because it super-oxygenates the water and kills fungus spores. He details the benefits of that as well on the site. I've been doing it all fall/winter and especially on my seedlings and had great success with it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plumeria watering and soil

RE: Please, what in the world? Mushy branches and yet healthy roo


I really appreciate your time and what you did for me.

I will look that up and take to heart what you shared.

Thank you very much and have a great weekend!


RE: Please, what in the world? Mushy branches and yet healthy roo


That is a great link. I had forgotten about Kimi's. They are not too far from where I live, close by to where I train my labs in fact. I decided to stop by there last summer one day, but they were closed. I will have to make a point of calling ahead and getting over there one of these days.

I had contacted So. Coast Plumeria Society about joining and Mike sent me the March newsletter. In reading it, I found out an interesting thing, in Hawaii where plumerias grow everywhere, there aren't any plumeria clubs or groups, they just take them for granted! So sad!

RE: Please, what in the world? Mushy branches and yet healthy roo

Mike, we're all in this together! It's good for me to go back and re-read this info myself. I hope it helps.

Jen, you are so lucky to be close to all these great plant places in SoCal! Jack at Kimi's is getting up there and I think his health is keeping him from being as active as he'd like, from what I've heard. He does have some amazing info on his site, and very well researched facts on maintaining healthy plants. I guess if it weren't such a struggle to make them thrive we probably wouldn't band together so much either!

Mimi at the Aloha plumeria forum goes around and prunes large trees in her neighborhood (with permission, of course) and sends big cuttings out to people stateside for very cheap. Heard she's got a ton of very large Samoan Fluff right now. Their trees do so well there in Hawaii I think a lot of homeowners are happy to have someone haul their trimmings away!


RE: Please, what in the world? Mushy branches and yet healthy roo

  • Posted by mare2 5bSt.Louis (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 1, 11 at 17:45

Just thought I'd add this in case anyone else has this problem and is wondering what to do. I've had it happen twice now with Miami Rose, where the plant suddenly looks rotted (but from the top down). Always happens in late winter/early spring. The first time around I figured it was rot and cut back. The insides were clearly shriveled rather than rotted.

This year, I just watered and it plumped back up. Even had some darkened parts that eventually normalized as well. This post kept me from cutting the plant, so thank you for saving it!

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