As a classic tropical vine, the beauty of the Mandevilla brings bright colors, lush foliage, and a cascade of blooms to any garden. But, like all living things, the Mandevilla is susceptible to death. While it may be difficult to accept, there are a few tell-tale signs you can look out for.
You will know your Mandevilla is really dead if it appears wilted and its foliage has become yellow or brown. Its flowers will be reduced to dry, discolored petals. The stem and leaves may become brittle. Mandevilla dieback is caused by poor drainage, nutrient deficiency, or pest infestation.
You can perform a simple test to confirm whether your plant is dead by gently scratching the stem with your fingernail. Your plant is likely dead if there is no green beneath the surface. Read on as I explain how you can tell if your Mandevilla is dead.
1. Reduced Growth and Wilting Leaves
A healthy mandevilla is a true eye-catcher with showy and abundant foliage and blooms (source). This trailing vine will usually grow vigorously and reach heights of up to 15-20 feet (4.5-6 m) with proper care.
When your mandevilla is dying, however, you will notice a significant decrease in growth and a wilting of the leaves. No new shoots or flowers will appear, and the foliage may also droop, curl, or turn yellow despite regular watering.
2. Discoloration of Leaves
The leaves of a healthy mandevilla are typically a deep, glossy green; however, when the plant is dying, the leaves may become pale or even yellowish. The foliage can also take on a burnt appearance and will eventually dry up and fall off.
Leaves play a critical role in photosynthesis and the production of food for the plant (source). The green coloring in the leaves helps to absorb light and convert it into energy.
When the leaves are discolored, the plant cannot produce food. This compromises the health of the Mandevilla and can eventually lead to death.
3. Dry, Discolored Blooms
The beauty of the mandevilla is its vibrant, colorful blooms. Available in pink, white, red, and other shades, the flowers attract bees and butterflies to your garden and add a tropical flair.
Unfortunately, when the plant dies, you will notice that the blooms become dry and discolored. The vibrant colors of a healthy mandevilla will be replaced by faded brown petals.
However, it’s not in all cases that dry and discolored blooms signify death. As winter approaches, the plant will die back, lose its leaves, and the blooms will dry up, waiting for the start of spring (source).
You can avert the plant’s death by providing the proper care during winter by bringing it indoors, reducing water and fertilizer, and avoiding frost by providing a warm environment.
4. Brittle Stems
Like any other plant, the stems of a mandevilla are also essential to its life. It’s through the stem that the plant receives vital fluids and nutrients from the soil.
Water and nutrients are absorbed and transported through the stem to the leaves, where photosynthesis can occur (source).
The stem of a healthy mandevilla is strong, flexible, and green.
When a Mandevilla dies, the stem will become brittle and easily snap when bent or touched. As water and nutrients pass through the stem, its cells remain turgid, keeping the stem flexible and strong.
When a plant dies, however, the stem loses its turgidity, becoming brittle and weak.
5. Black, Slimy, or Mushy Roots
Besides anchoring your Mandevilla in the soil and absorbing water and nutrients, the root system also stores food until needed (source). Roots can also tell you a lot about the health of your Mandevilla.
A healthy root system is firm, white or tan colored, and succulent. When a Mandevilla dies, the roots become black, slimy, or even mushy.
Poor drainage and fungal infection can lead to root rot, a condition in which the roots become black and slimy as they break down and die. Without a healthy root system, a mandevilla cannot absorb the water and nutrients it needs to survive.
Mandevilla requires deep, fertile, and well-draining soil, so monitor the health of your soil and adjust it accordingly.
6. Foul Odor
Don’t you love the heavenly, sweet fragrance of mandevilla blooms that fill your garden? It will make your outdoor space more inviting, cozy, and fragrant. When a Mandevilla dies, it will start to putrefy and give off an unpleasant, foul odor.
This results from the breakdown of plant tissues and the growth of fungi and other organisms as decay sets in. The decomposition also attracts insects like maggots and flies that further hasten the process of decay. If you notice a foul smell near your mandevilla, you must take immediate action to avoid spreading decay and fungus.
Corrective measures like the removal of dead or dying parts, sterilization of the potting soil, and pruning can help to restore the health of your Mandevilla. In severe cases, you may need to discard the plant altogether.
Avoid composting diseased mandevilla plants to prevent the spread of disease to other plants.
7. Lack of New Growth
A healthy mandevilla is full of life and periodically pushes out new growth. When it dies back in winter, it will revive in the spring with fresh leaves and stems.
This is a sure sign that it is healthy and getting the nutrients and water it needs.
When a mandevilla is dead, you will find no new growth or blooms. The leaves and stems will remain dry and discolored, with no signs of life.
Despite following the care routine religiously, applying the right amount of water and fertilizer, mulching, and protecting the plant from frost, if you find no new growth on your Mandevilla, it is most likely dead.
Losing a plant is every gardener’s worst nightmare. Understanding the signs that indicate when your mandevilla is heading toward death can help you take corrective measures before it’s too late.
Ensure your Mandevilla gets enough light, water, fertilizer, and sufficiently deep and well-draining soil.
Monitor for the above signs regularly and take action as soon as you spot them.
The proper care routine, timely help, and some tender love and care can go a long way in keeping your mandevilla plant healthy and blooming.