Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Please Help Me Save My Desert Rose - Soft, Squishy Spot but Roots Look Fine

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kayintx
May 17, 2016 4:37 PM CST
Hi, This is my first post here. I have five Desert Rose trees and one of them is sick, I hope someone here can help me save it. My late mother's favorite color was yellow and this one was bought in rembrance of her. The tree in question is between two and three years old, I'm not sure of the name, but it grows pale yellow flowers with red stripes. I live in Southeast Texas where it is warm most of the year with hot summers. The trees are in clay pots in a well drained soil and watered thoroughly twice a month in spring and summer then come in and go dormant for the winter, all are doing beautifully except this one. The tree looks healthy but the other day I thought it was leaning oddly and went for a closer look and found a soft, squishy spot in the cadeux just above the soil. When I took the tree out of the pot to examine the roots and lay it out to dry my nail accidently scraped some of the skin off and it was slimy green underneath with white under that. The roots look very strong and healthy, I don't see any signs of rot. I would have posted a photo but as luck would have it my camera has died on me and my phone takes terrible pictures. I love my little trees and I hope someone can help me save this one. Thank you for your time.
Kay in Texas
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
May 17, 2016 8:48 PM CST
Hello kayintx! Has the plant made new leaves yet, has it come out of dormancy? Where is the plant positioned right now, indoors or outdoors? When was the last time it got repotted with well draning soil?
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 17, 2016 10:06 PM CST
Pictures!! please....

kayintx
May 17, 2016 10:47 PM CST
In respose to tarev - the plant has nice green leaves, it was dormant in winter but all the leaves grew back in late February, it looks perfectly normal except for the soft, squishy spot I have described, roots are also strong and plentiful and appear healthy, no rot that I can see and I have looked carefully. It was repotted last May. It was on the porch, the weather is in the high 70s and low to mid 80s and mostly sunny here, except for rain a few days ago. When the weather is good and sunny my trees go out into the yard to enjoy the hot Texas sun but if there is a chance of rain because I sleep odd hours due to my work I move them onto the porch to avoid getting too much water, I only let them have rain on bright sunny days, never cool or cloudy ones, when I am awake and can keep an eye on them so this tree has not been out in the rain but on a covered porch during the recent rainfall. I have taken it out of the pot to dry out to see if that would help so it is the garden shed by a window right now. I haven't done anything else to it because I really don't know what to do.
To Daisyl - I'm sorry as I said in my original post I can't provide pictures, my camera just died on me and I can't get a decent one with my phone, when I try to get close to the soggy spot it just gets blurry but a pic from further away you can't tell anything is wrong. I ceratinly would have included photos if I could.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
May 17, 2016 11:13 PM CST
Hi kayintx! Thanks for the additional info.

Typically, I do not mind if my Adeniums gets rained on, once it is wide awake already and leafing actively and as long as I am sure the plant has really good well draining media. Unless your forecast is really days of torrential rains, then I would try to protect it. But if it is just for short duration of rain, the plant can take it, it is already awake, and I will allow it to receive as much sun as it can, it loves the sun and heat. I would be cautious of getting it too wet as you said if the temps are forecast to be cold like below 50F. Above 50F, the plant can handle it, since it is not dormant.

Without a photo, I have no way to gauge if your plant is still young that it needs more watering so it is having a soft spot. And you have already done the taking it out of the pot to dry out too.

I guess for now, just allow the plant to get as much sun as it can get. What type of soil did you use for your plant?


kayintx
May 18, 2016 1:02 AM CST
Thank you tarev. I guess I tend to be overly cautious. It is in a cactus soil that drains very well. I will try again with my phone camera tomorrow. The sickly tree is between two and three years old, though it has always been the smallest and skinnest of the five I have, it's about eight inches tall and has been kept in a 10" wide 8" deep terra cotta pot. How long should I allow it to dry out before giving up hope? And if it is the opposite, that it needs more water, am I going to kill it by drying it out like this? I don't want to do the wrong thing and make it worse.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
May 18, 2016 7:58 AM CST
The stem of the plant holds water, so it won't suffer that bad if you allow it some dry time. Just try to keep it warm as well. I don't know how long to allow dry time, you just got to observe. We have varying humidity levels and indoors it will take longer for the plant to dry out. On the other hand, sometimes the plant maybe needing some more water, if it is still young, so it is already having a softened part. You did say it has leaves already, so it is actively growing now, needs as much sun and also water.

If you have access to pumice, I would suggest adding some more pumice in your cacti media, if it raining more often on your side, just to further help in the drainage. I also use shallow and wide containers rather than tall and deep ones, so there is faster drying/draining time at root level.

Hope you get a photo! Smiling
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 18, 2016 12:57 PM CST
On top of the previous good advice, I would caution against leaving soft squishy tissue on the plant. This sort of thing has a way of taking over the whole plant, given time. My suggestion would be to do careful surgery with a clean, sharp knife and cut away the soft part so that the entire margin around the incision consists of healthy tissue. In other words, completely remove the soft tissue. You might want to dip your knife in rubbing alcohol before each cut so that you don't inadvertently infect the healthy part. Leave the plant in bright shade to recover afterwards. It will be disfigured (it already is, essentially) but it will have a greater chance of survival down the road.

My Adenium mix is about half pumice. Given a pot that's barely bigger than the roots of the plant, in hours of daily sun, I find a good watering interval this time of year to be about every 3-4 days. The key (as has already been pointed out) is to be sure there is lots of rock in the mix, so that it never stays waterlogged. If you pay close attention to how much the soil absorbs when you water, you'll have a better idea of when it is going dry.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - May 18, 2016 1:06 PM (+)]
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kayintx
May 19, 2016 6:47 PM CST
Thank you to everyone for your advice, I'm sorry I haven't replied sooner, I have had to leave town due to a death in my family. I will be home again in a day or two and will try to get a decent photo to share. Meanwhile, my poor little tree is still in the garden shed drying out, there is a window where it can get sun, I just didn't want to risk leaving it outdoors as rain is predicted.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
May 19, 2016 9:50 PM CST
Take your time kayintx. Prayers for your family. Group hug

kayintx
May 23, 2016 2:30 AM CST
Thank you to everyone who took time to reply and try to help me save my little tree. When I returned home (I had to leave town for a few days due to a death in the family) I found it much worse, drying out had not helped, the squishness had spread. I performed surgery as advised, it was a rather drastic operation, but I did find healthy tissue, and I am now waiting and hoping it will recover. I felt if I did nothing it would definitely die, maybe this way it has a chance. I hope so.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
May 23, 2016 10:02 AM CST
Sorry to hear that, hope the surgery does work. Sometimes just got to change approach as it goes. Good luck.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 23, 2016 10:18 AM CST
There are two related questions here which would be good to answer. One is what caused the body of your plant to go soft, and that may relate to care over time in the past. Two is what kind of treatment you should give your plant in the near future and beyond to aid its recovery. A week or two of healing in the shade is probably a good idea but from there on out more light and I do not recommend leaving these plants dry for very long this time of year.

The cycle you want to maintain in spring and summer is from very wet (water coming out the bottom of the pot) to almost dry (try to measure at depth because the surface dries out much faster). They do not like going all the way dry this time of year, which can happen surprisingly fast (again, depending on your mix and the exposure). If you wait too long to water on a regular basis, they will become cranky and may either lose leaves or stop generating new ones. This is generally reversible given observation and adjustment. Basically the good care of these plants involves fine-tuning the timing of that cycle so the plant stays in the zone during periods of active growth.

Rainfall is the best kind of water and I am a little jealous of those of you who get summer rain because we do not, and that can be the special sauce.

Another observation from experience is that rot situations (like the softening of the body of your plant) sometimes result from the plant lacking vigor to start with, which makes them more vulnerable to whatever thing causes the rot. In fact you can sometimes trigger rot by allowing the roots to dry out completely for too long then flooding them with water. (In other words, cause rot by underwatering, in essence.) These sorts of temperamentalities are something you often have to experience to understand, and that is what you're doing with the current situation. Just stay attentive and you can learn a lot from what the plant tells you down the road.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
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tarev
May 23, 2016 10:42 AM CST
It will be close observation indeed, since we all have varying micro climates. Keep us posted kayintx, really hope your plant recovers.

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