Pachypodium problem

Austin, TX

I have a large (5 ft) P. geayii that refuses to put out leaves. Last flush was spring of 2007---a small flush which promptly dried and fell off. The trunk is firm with no damaged or rotted areas. We recently noticed that it seems to have lost many roots and is listing in it's pot. However it still does have some large roots. Don't know what the problem is---this plant is about 12 years old, we have others larger and smaller---the species is generally easy to grow. Anyone have any advice or suggestions?

Plumiedelphia, PA(Zone 7a)

20-20-20 produces greenery ;)
Check for root rot also

This message was edited Jul 26, 2008 1:05 AM

Adelaide, Australia(Zone 10a)

Root rot gets my vote as well. I had a lovely little P. geayi about 10 inches tall which suddenly dropped all of its leaves near the end of the growing season. I thought at the time that it was just going dormant early and let it go - the next thing I knew if went dark and squashy from the base upwards and I was unable to save any part of the plant. The P. lamierei I purchased at the same time (about the same size and they were both repotted together into the same size pots with the same soil mix and kept together in the same location) is still TO THIS DAY perfectly fine - Go figger! After that experience I cast a VERY beady eye on my Pachypodiums on a regular basis in the hope that, if there is anymore trouble, I can catch it before total disaster strikes.

If I owned your plant, under the circumstances, I would dig it up and wash ALL the soil off the roots. Any damaged or rotten stuff should come off and the plant should then lie around in the shade somewhere dry for at least two weeks to callous over and heal. Then I would replant in a fresh, very gravelly and free draining potting mix and water VERY sparingly for the next year or so.

I hope this helps, Ciao, KK.

Plumiedelphia, PA(Zone 7a)

iT IS CRUSHED marble and holds no water at all.
Very fast draining!!
Sorry for the kaps lok :(
I have leanrned to hate perlite
It floats to the top of the pot and holds water too.
Chicken or turkey grit holds 0 water and adds weight to the pot for those unexpected thunderstorm gusts where our plants become parachutes lol!!

This message was edited Jul 26, 2008 3:50 AM

Austin, TX

Thank you all for your kind suggestions. I too first thought of root rot---but it's not---the plant has lost some but not all of it's roots and there is no evidence of any rot. My soil mix is 50% a local "cactus" mix and 50% pumice and granite sand---we've used it for years with no serious problems. We are going to liberate it from it's pot and knock the soil off and repot---then we'll see. I've moved it out of the greenhouse into a partially shady spot---this far south you have to be very careful about sunburn of leaves and tissues---to see if the change in environment shocks it into action...

Adelaide, Australia(Zone 10a)

Keep us posted, ash.

It would be an absolute shame if something were to happen to a lovely Pachy of that size. I wish you all the best with what will no doubt be a monumental task. Have you ever seen the creeping "dry rot" where the whole plant gradually goes woody and then turns into a dark grey/blackish powder? (I don't mean the normal basal woodiness of age) That one is nasty - it goes very slowly at first so all you see is a plant that looks "off its feed" for a long time then you cut it open and find the plant is mostly hollow, with just a skin of living tissue around a dark core. Often, the plant tries to heal it self and there will be a solid corky layer of demarcation between the dead and living areas. I haven't seen it often, but it is something you never forget!


Austin, TX

kaelkitty---I have seen that woody/ashy transformation of a plant---but I don't think that's what I'm dealing with here. The trunk/stem is completely normal in appearence, firm and turgid, for its entire length---the apical meristem seems to be healthy (as far as can be told) and shows no signs of damage. Don't you find that sometimes plants have minds of their own??? Occasionally I get a plant that behaves mysteriously for no obvious reason. I was given a large Dioscorea caudex last year---which I planted and it sat there in its pot for over a year---I was going to throw it out in May but I thought No I'll let it go for another spring and low and behold about 3 weeks ago it put out a vine which is now well leafed out and vigorous---go figure. Thanks again for your suggestions.

Hollywood, CA(Zone 9b)

You didn't mention how often you water it ( or least I didn't see it in the posts). My P.geayii grows like a weed during the hot summer months and I water it at 1-2 times a week. I don't water it at all during our winters but it gets some of the natural rain (what little there is) during the winter. It loses most of the leave during the winter but puts out dozens and dozens of new ones each summer. My understanding of these pachypodiums is that they like regular water when it is hot, and little to no water when cold. Perhaps it hasn't gotten enough water to break it's dormancy. When a plant dries out the smaller roots will die, but grow back quickly when the right conditions return.
Just my thoughts.


Austin, TX

Lonny---We water basically the same way you do. Plenty of water during the summer growing season---a gradual cut back in the fall to almost no water in the winter and a gradual resumption in spring as the T's increase and days lengthen.
This is not a young plant---I don't have the exact date we got it but it has to be at least 10 years old. Additionally we have 4 other large geayii's, a couple over 10' that have branched and now produce blooms. Never had any trouble with any of them---I don't know what's gotten into this one. But it is outside the greenhouse now in the shade of a large tree, we'll see if it responds to the different environment. Thank you for your suggestions---everyone has been very helpful.

Austin, TX

The pachy seems to like it's outside environment---it is beginning to produce some new leaves. We'll see if they mature and last.

Las Cruces, NM(Zone 8a)

My paultry 2.5 foot geayii has grown tremendously. Bought it only one year ago as a 6" plant. Obviously is very happy, but sits in a clay azalea pot on a porch, receiving morning sun until about noon. Could your taller plants be suffering from sunburn on the tall stems? This would not apply, if your other geayii's are happy campers. Could you have some kind of burrowing insect/weevil that could get into the stems, if there is no sign of rot?

Austin, TX

P. geayii is indeed a good grower---all of mine are happy with no problems. Just this one---I still don't know what's going on with it. It is however throwing out a new set of leaves in its outdoor setting. No evidence of any insect damage and the stem is seemingly turgid and healthy. If it drops this new set of leaves I'm going to knock it out of it's pot and check out the roots. Hope I don't need to---repotting large awkward plants is a big fat hassle.

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