Ask a Question forum: Dying/rotting plants and succulents

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Houston, tx
Wolfywolf
Nov 7, 2016 5:48 PM CST
I had to leave my home for a long time and came back to my garden in terrible shape. I have a few questions..

There are some tree-like plants (sorry I'm not versed on the names) whose leaves were all dead.. I trimmed the branches and there is some green, but will they grow back without leaves?

Some are in even worse shape with only one branch left green.. Are these hopeless?

And the branches aren't extremely green.. Only a bit

As for the succulents.. It's a bit confusing cause they tend to grow out of the rotted parts...

I have one where one branch is half rotted yet the leaves are still alive...should I trim this branch anyways?

Another where the branches are completely drooped over but again, the leaves/flowers at the ends are still colorful..


Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Nov 7, 2016 9:08 PM CST
It would be most helpful if you could take a picture so we have a better idea what you're talking about... regarding the succulents, without a picture, basically you need to get rid of the rotten parts and try to save the non-rotten parts, if that makes sense. Like if one branch is rotten then remove it (try to use a sharp knife and cut through healthy tissue) but leave the other one that isn't. When rot occurs in a stem, sometimes you can save the terminal rosette (the leafy part at the end) if you can cut above the rot and restart that healthy rosette as a cutting. There are various tricks and surgical maneuvers but the bottom line is you want to keep the healthy stuff. Pictures would help a lot here in sorting out the details.

With rot and succulents, the bigger (causative) issue often has to do with water management. Either they are receiving too much water or they don't have proper drainage. When you do go about saving your plants, try to be economical with the water so that you don't end up repeating history.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
Nov 8, 2016 4:56 PM CST
Hello Wolfywolf, if you can get some photos please and advise too where is your growing location.

I don't give up easily on my plants, and I have experienced similar event last August while I was away too. Some bounced back, some are still in waiting to recover mode.
Houston, tx
Wolfywolf
Nov 11, 2016 12:27 PM CST
here's some pictures

just one stem on this one..it was one of those that fold their leaves at night:
Thumb of 2016-11-11/Wolfywolf/740ae6

this one's left with nothing but branches:
Thumb of 2016-11-11/Wolfywolf/7ccbcd

i had put this one in a pot with no drainage so it's moldy..seems the ends are the only parts that made it:
Thumb of 2016-11-11/Wolfywolf/6a3046

another one with only one green stem:
Thumb of 2016-11-11/Wolfywolf/e2c836

you can see on this one some of the stems are okay and some are completely drooped over:
Thumb of 2016-11-11/Wolfywolf/f8232f
Thumb of 2016-11-11/Wolfywolf/11a5a9
Thumb of 2016-11-11/Wolfywolf/6ee2e9

this is the one where one branch is okay and the other half-rotted:
Thumb of 2016-11-11/Wolfywolf/947293
Thumb of 2016-11-11/Wolfywolf/59d13c

another one where the branches are all that's left..i put one of the dead branches next to it if you can identify it..it had yellow and red flowers:
Thumb of 2016-11-11/Wolfywolf/b5d5e4

as for my location i'm in houston, tx





Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Bromeliad
Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator
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Baja_Costero
Nov 11, 2016 12:41 PM CST
You can probably restart the jade (pics 8-9) from whatever healthy stem you can find near the end of the branches. Cut with a sharp knife, leave the cutting in the shade to heal for a week or so, and pot it up in fast draining soil. Wait a week to water. Branches falling over like that are a sign of low light, and you do not see that behavior when they are growing in full sun.

The crown of thorns (pics 6-7) looks like it could be salvaged if you trim off the branches that are falling and try to leave everything else that's healthy. That plant and the jade are suffering from insufficient light and will most likely resume problematic growth if they continue in the same location. Try to provide hours of direct sun every day with these plants. In Houston (owing to the heat) the jade may suffer with much more than 2-3 hours of sun.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Nov 11, 2016 1:03 PM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Nov 11, 2016 12:44 PM CST
The sticks are probably all dead. You can do a scratch test to determine for sure. Scratch the stems with your fingernail. Green under the top layer means they are alive. Brown or hard as a rock means they are dead.

The third photo is Crassula perforata and can be easily started from cuttings of the alive part of the plant.

The Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) and Jade (Crassula ovata) look like they too have been over-watered. If the rot is only in branches, you can cut back to healthy tissue but if the roots are affected, than you can grow these two plants from cuttings from the healthy parts of the plants.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
Nov 11, 2016 1:11 PM CST
Hello Wolfywolf, thanks for the photos. A lot of patience will be required from you looking at the condition of the plants. To be frank, some may come back, some may not. But it will be up to you if you are patient enough to wait if it will try.

Looking at first two photos, not knowing what they are, try to see the stem closely, is there any part there, which may have some green left on the bark. I would prune that stem, maybe half way mark. And then everyday, spritz water on the bark and the top soil. No use soaking the soil in too much water, no leaf is there to benefit from it.

The third photo, the one growing in a glass container, looks like some type of Crassula, actually reminds me of my Crassula thrysiflora 'Pagoda Village'. I would do a complete repot on this plant. Change the container with proper drain holes, change your media to a cacti mix, add pumice make it grittier. The plant likes more light, so it is growing too lanky. You can either cut the good part, let the cut end callus, and stick it back to the soil. To the part left with brown leaves, you can carefully remove those brown leaves, the plant may resume growing on those nodes.

It is better to remove the dried out leaves, so no nasties hiding under it, and makes it cleaner looking. It will look like this when it tries to make new growth. Spring and early Fall is active growing time for them too:
I was testing the plant to see how it reacts when I removed some of the leaves, and some I allowed to stay on. Better to remove the dried out leaves.
Thumb of 2016-11-11/tarev/687e63
Thumb of 2016-11-11/tarev/6a2f22

The 4th photo you have, that still has good potential, seeing there is still a green stem and roots. Just have to spritz with water, and remain patient. NO full sun, just part shade for now.

The 5th and 6th photos are Euphorbias. They like to be kept warm and lots of light. Be careful with handling, toxic sap. I see some white stuff on the underside of the leaves, you can get a cotton swab with alcohol to remove them. The warmer it is, then it will take more water. If temps in you area are still holding like 70F to 85F during daytime, and overnights still at 50F and higher, then it can still stay outside.

7th and 8th photo is a Crassula ovata. That has good potential of recovery, as long as remaining stem and branch remains firm and base is not showing mushy and rotten. Usually it goes on a phase where it starts dropping lower leaves, but it will be slowly redirecting energy to new growth at the tips or anywhere up and down the branches and stems. It is more actively growing during the cooler months. What you may want to do is to carefully unpot and if possible stake your plant so it goes more upright.

Your last photo, similar to the first two photos you have, I would check the stem, any signs of green remaining on the stem bark..prune the stem, move to part sun. Keep spritzing the stem, and the top soil, it may or may not come back.

So good luck, sometimes it may bounce back.
Houston, tx
Wolfywolf
Nov 12, 2016 2:59 PM CST
thanks so much for the answers, hopefully i can get them back in good shape

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