Hello, I was given a 40 year old Elephant Bush that had been in the same stop for the last 20 years. Since bringing home it has started to rot. The main trunk is squishy and has started to mold. We did not over water it and it is placed in a sunny window.
We don't have any idea how to save it or if it can be saved. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
First of all. This is not an elephant Bush (portulacaria affra), but a crassula ovata. Both of them is sometimes called jade plants, wich easily gets confusing. Anyway, the care is the same.
Your tree has been overwatered at some time. Or really, watered too often not too much. It is very important that this species dries up quickly after watering and stays dry for quite a wile in between. The best way is to have a very well draining soil and soak it really good when watering.
My jades kept in frost free greenhouse stays bone dry from early authum to mid spring without no watering whatsoever. The rest of the year they gets a good soak every 2-3 weeks. Only increasing to once a week in the peak of the summer. Local conditions can demand other frequency. I live in Western Sweden but still the greenhouse is up to 35 degrees daytime most of the summer.
I have one more mature tree out on the benches in the summer. That one I never water, but rely on summer rain only. Works good as well.
This kind of rot is hard to stop. I would suggest cut healthy cuttings and start them from scratch. When done you can try to cut all rotten tissue and dispose. Keep the tree dry until there are signs of backbudding. If grown healthy during the season you can try to repot into better substrate in a year.
But as said, it is hard to stop once started. Good luck!
Hello, I just wanted to say thank you so much for your help last week. I tried to reply to your answer but I kept getting an error message and since I am a new member I had to wait 7 days to privately message you. This is the message that I tried sending:
Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to respond so thoroughly!
After reading your post we definitely watered too often. We were watering once a week. The woman that gave it to us didn't know what kind of tree is it and said it had been forgotten about for some time. It makes sense now why it was still alive after being neglected. We are in northern Scotland and I imagine there is enough moisture in the air to give it what it needed. As soon as we got it we felt bad for it and drowned it with the best of intentions.
Is there special soil that we should have it in? We are going to cut off the rotten part tomorrow. It is interesting because all of the branches have new growth coming out of all the places that have leaves. It looks like small roots shooting out. Is there a particular way that we should cut the mouldy and rotten part off? Or do we just cut below the rot and hope for the best?
We are going to put it in our green house and pray that it likes that environment better.
The main trunk is dead down almost to the first branch. The leavs with new roots is a sign that all roots in the soil is dead.
I would focus on making cuttings and restart new trees. For the main tree there are not much hope left. What you can do is to take it out of the pot, bareroot it and cut all rotten tissue off a few cm into the still healthy tissue and leave it to dry for a week or two. Then pot it up in new well draining soil. Do not water before you see signs of new growth. Most likelly this has gone too far, but it does not Hurt to try.
Is there something we should be doing for the mold on the top of the main trunk. We have cut it twice but it keeps molding. I heard somewhere that we could cut it and sprinkle cinnamon on it to prevent more fungus/rot but we are hesitant since this old tree seems to bee hanging on by a thread.