Cactus and Succulents forum: Squishy spot on desert rose?

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Oct 13, 2013 12:53 PM CST
Is this serious? The rest of the plant is hard. I just brought it inside for the winter (live in Maryland) the leaves are browning and falling off which I understand is normal. The tips of the "branches" are still green. What should I do?

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Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
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Oct 13, 2013 6:06 PM CST
Welcome! to ATP Otis.
Squishy usually means rot. I would dig the plant up and clean it well, remove any rotting material, then sprinkle cinnamon on the cut parts and hang it up to dry. Then when it is not rotting any further you can pot it up again.
Name: Mark Mallon
seattle wa
Region: United States of America Region: Pacific Northwest Region: Southwest Gardening
Oct 13, 2013 7:42 PM CST
WAIT i had a desert rose get all squishy it was not rot. they get soft and squishy when not watered enough.
If you cant put your finger through it it might not be rot.
and having been cut to remove rot the chance of it being ok again are not great
has the brown spot been growing? is it the only soft bit?
good luck
Name: Mark Mallon
seattle wa
Region: United States of America Region: Pacific Northwest Region: Southwest Gardening
Oct 13, 2013 7:47 PM CST
read your post and did not even get the "The rest of the plant is hard" line.
whoops it prob is rot. All i can offer is use clean sharp razor to cut it and second Hettys great instructions.
Good luck
Name: Calin
Weston-super-mare UK (Zone 7b)
Bulbs Lilies Plant and/or Seed Trader
Oct 14, 2013 1:29 AM CST
I had a few rotting adeniums over the last years.
Sometimes it was too late to do any surgery on them and even if I did, they never fully recovered ...
If it's not a really really big/rare/expensive Adenium, I think it's always better to stary with a new one.
For me... they rot super fast.
I am down to last 3.
When these decide to rot, I'm gonna move to a new type of plant.

PS. Hetty, you were right about the Aloe polyphylla (difficult to grow). My last one just rotted Sad
Again, I'll choose another succulent. So many to choose from.

Name: Ursula
Fair Lawn NJ, zone 6b
Orchids Cactus and Succulents Region: New Jersey Region: Pennsylvania Native Plants and Wildflowers Greenhouse
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Oct 14, 2013 7:49 AM CST
I agree with Hetty!
I would wait a couple of weeks before potting it up again. And make sure you are not over- potting and you are using a potting medium which drains super well. No plastic pots and no real watering until growing season starts again. ( unfortunately you don't give your location.)

As a last resort - I had ( have) an Adenium tree, I always thought it was a somalense x obesum hybrid and I used to top it off once a year at about 6 foot. Had it for years, growing it from a small baby plant. Then I noticed some rot at the foot of the trunk. I took it out of the pot, cleaned it, waited a few weeks and potted it up again. It was ok for another year and then the same happened again, this time the plant was doomed. That was in the Spring of this year.
In a desperate attempt to save it, I chopped off the top branches and dumped them into a bucket of water. That sat the whole Summer on the deck. By Fall some of the pieces actually started to green out and - upon closer inspection they also started to show small roots. I potted up the whole thing, several pieces together in the same pot! So far so good. I also added some small Senecio fulgens pieces, in the hope that down the road they might mop up some extra moisture to prevent another rot-attack.

Oct 14, 2013 10:51 PM CST
You said cinnamon on the cut parts, does that mean I should attempt to cut out the rot? I tend to water my outside plants more frequently then the inside this time of year. I work at a vineyard/winery and things are crazy, my plants get neglected at there most vulnerable transition, outside to inside. When it's outside during the summer it's out of rainfall. I'm surprised it's rot, which I would assume is over water? We had one die last year, that was around 8 years old. It was pretty sad, but we had only had it for about a year.

Do you have any pictures of how to hang it or how to cut out the rot? I love these plants, but they are so finicky it's almost infuriating!
Name: Nancy Mumpton
Sun Lakes, AZ (Zone 9b)
I'm NancySLAZ on some sites
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Oct 26, 2013 9:46 AM CST
DutchLady is absolutely right on what to do. From the picture it looks like just one area of rot. When you water, try not to wet the caudex of the plant. I have one that I did the same thing Otis probably did. For some reason too much water accumulated in the area causing it to rot. I did what DutchLady said and my plant is fine. It calloused over in that spot and I'm careful not to pour water right on the caudex. You can see the spot in the photo.
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Feb 18, 2017 3:00 PM CST
I have two dessert roses that I just got last summer, I live in mid Michigan, so I have been keeping the plant inside. I very rarely water it, since I am afraid to cause rot. When I got them I followed the directions that came with them, I planted them in shallow pots, with cactus mix potting soil that drains well.

One plant is very small and has had a soft caudex for a while, but other than that the plant seems to be ok, the leaves are green and the stem is not really soft either.

The second plant is a bit larger, and has been doing good, occasionally a leaf would turn brown and fall off, but I assumed this was normal, until today when I noticed the caudex is extremely squishy, (almost gooey, feeling). The leaves are still green, and the stem is semi- firm. I am worried about loosing them to rot, or something else.

Neither plant has ever bloomed. Does anyone have any advice? I have not had these plants in direct sunlight, could this be part of the problem?
The first five pics are of the small plant the others are of the bigger plant.
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Feb 18, 2017 3:02 PM CST

I cant get my pictures of the larger plant to load.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Feb 18, 2017 5:35 PM CST


It looks like your plant would benefit from more light (these are not really great shade plants). As much sun as you can provide indoors during the winter.

The pot looks quite wide for the size of the plant. Which could be just fine, but my preference is to match the size of the pot to the plant, especially the roots, so it's not a whole lot larger. You probably would benefit from more rock in the mix too (like half pumice or perlite maybe), which makes the watering easier.

When you consider how often to water, try to remember that the natural cycle of growth includes a thirsty time when the plant is leafy and stems are growing, and a relatively dry time when the plant goes leafless or slows way down. Too little water during active growth can bring the plant to a halt, and too much water during the dormant phase can make it rot. Try watering your plant differently depending on the season (max in summer, min in winter) and its state of growth. The difference might be 2-4 fold in frequency, depending on the actual conditions where the plant is growing. If you can provide very bright light and good airflow, that will help with the watering.

Remove any soft spots with careful surgery if you can, and let the plant heal afterwards. If you think the caudex is lost but the main stem is salvageable, try cutting it (through healthy tissue well above the rot) and then you can try to root the cutting.
Name: Bob
The Kau Desert, Hawaii (Zone 12a)
Feb 19, 2017 12:07 PM CST
Baja is right... That pot is way too large for that size of plant.
Always match the root ball to the pot for best growing.
The shapely caudex of Adeniums is very important to the beauty of the plant.
Branch cuttings will grow but will never form a caudex. missing beauty.

Feb 19, 2017 1:07 PM CST
Thank you so much for the advice I will try putting them in an area with more light, and repotting in a smaller pot.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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Feb 19, 2017 1:26 PM CST
Hello adyka, I agree on the comments about your first plant. Make your media grittier, reduce container size, still using ones with drainage holes and keep them indoors but got to get some warmth and light even though it is in its dormant stage.

About your 2nd plant, basing on your description it is dormant so, if it were mine, I would try to lift the plant just to see the condition of the bottom part below soil level, and air dry it. But keep it in a warm spot. If the media is similar to your first plant, I would make that grittier. Add more pumice or perlite. No watering at this point, your plant is dormant. Hopefully if there is indeed some rotting going on, the plant may just try to callus it off.

Feb 27, 2017 2:11 AM CST
This is my plant after digging it up it is still really squishy!
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Feb 27, 2017 2:13 AM CST
Could this be caused by the plant getting too cold?

Mar 5, 2017 7:03 PM CST
Could this be caused by the plant getting too cold?
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Cactus and Succulents Plays in the sandbox Greenhouse Sempervivums
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Mar 5, 2017 7:05 PM CST
I have had plants die and get squishy from freezing. I just cut off all bad parts and the plant survived.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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Mar 5, 2017 7:09 PM CST
Cold conditions may contribute to it, if it makes your media stay too wet, watering it when not needed and all around conditions too cold for the plant. But if it were allowed to stay dry and warm as it went dormant, it should endure overwintering indoors safely, and wake up in mid Spring.

I also do same thing as Karen mentioned, timely chopping off squishy part and allow to dry may help plant survive. But got to keep it warm and dry.

Mar 6, 2017 11:11 PM CST
So as an update I have cut the squishy parts off of the plant I posted root pics of and am not letting it dry out. I have also dug up the other plant and the root is not squishy at all. Here of some pics of the root.
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