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Freeze Damage on Your Plumeria, Crown of Thorns, or Desert Rose?


Lots of folks will find freeze damage on some of their favorite tropical blooming succulents. Neglecting these damaged plants may not mean the end of them, but most of us are itching to do something to help them!

I have seen frozen plumeria tips shrivel, dry up, and then drop off, replaced by new tips sprouting below the damaged tip. But if cool and rainy weather persists, it may encourage rot to occur in the damaged tips and proceed to damage healthy tissue. If you want to be proactive, squeeze the stem until you find you are below any squishy or shriveled portions, to a healthy portion of stem that feels firm like a fresh carrot.Make a pruning cut  in the healthy stem to remove any damaged tissue. Sterilize pruning shears with alcohol before the initial cut and any subsequent cuts. Check lower down on the stem, because if you have damaged areas below healthy areas, you are wasting time by not cutting out the lowest damaged area.

Some folks like to coat the fresh cut tip surface with DAP latex caulk to seal out any moisture and rot, and some do not bother. Do not try to encourage new growth with watering and fertilizer while temperatures are still cool, wait until you see healthy vigorous growth.

Cold-damaged Crown of Thorns.

Tiny new growth emerging from cold-damaged Crown of Thorns.

More new growth.

Crown of thorns will be much the same, except you are more likely to get healthy growth from the base of the plant after pruning, rather than just below your cut, and people generally do not use caulk on the cuts.

Healthy, protected Desert Rose.

Cold-damaged Desert Rose

Rot starting at the base to remove Desert Rose.

Desert rose may also need pruning to remove dead tissue, and if a portion of the base, below the branching, is freeze damaged, surgery to remove that tissue, followed by dusting sulfur to inhibit rot, may be the call.

If your plant is small enough to travel, and you’re not sure what to do, you are welcome to bring it by for diagnosis. And if it is too big, send us a photo on Facebook and we’ll have a look.


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