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Sunday, June 21, 2020

How to Save My Dying Cameron Highland Roses?

These pictures are taken from the local Nursery from "Sg.Buloh Nursery" I wanted to show you have these plants are marketed here. Understanding this plant is considered a big deal especially you would be saving money, time and heart-ache handling the expectation as many nursery owners are very much like businessman and not gardeners.

Their ideology is very much based on the sale of the plants and rarely know much about the plants or plant care (let alone - even plant ID may be challenge for them)

There are few types only in Malaysia - the variants and some rare varieties that may have been imported and brought here for cultivation. 

These Highland Type may have an excellent bloom formation - often it comes from Cameron Highland and the flower is already blooming formation and almost at their prime when sold in nursery. It will last around another 2-3 weeks at most but it may never bloom again after that season. These all appear to be like in a dwarf stage which I'm suspecting that they might be (forced root) after they had set in bud-bloom.

These are however considered as BATA plants (Buy And Throw Away Plants)
Once their blooms are spend - it's often discard and thrown away, just like a cut flower types - these last longer in indoor setting - like by a sunny window stand.

However, all are not lost, they can still be cultivated as a perennial plant and may last for many years when cared properly.

The heart breaking moments happens when you start noticing bud drops and shoots turning black almost burned, the leaves start falling and then the whole plant turn black. You try to safe it by thinking it is lacking water and start drenching the pot with more water.

Whatever you do, it appears to be burned and eventually the whole this is dead.

A lot of my friends & family often purchase their roses from nurseries or supermarket and they somehow do not last more than a month. I had experience it few times myself even after some tender loving care - after the bloomed spend the plant shivered and dies. 

And at most times, they had given up on Roses thinking it is an impossible feat.
Some settled for the local types known as Kampung Rose - its more hardy and the blooms only last a day or two.

When you purchase Roses from a nursery and you find that the rose flower bloom is beautifully compacted and formed - understand that chances are those roses are actually grown on highlands (Cameron Highlands)
Highland Roses may face a shock when suddenly introduced to a hot lowland climate - that's why you will find that the flowers appear to be exploded, leaves falling apart and the plant eventually die from fungus or root problems.

What to do?

Most of these roses are laced with chemicals to protect them from pest. Do not consume them as they are poisoned with pesticide and fungicide. Also remember that the soil medium is actually cocopeat which will cause root rot when they are planted in hot lowland climate. They don't so well when the rose is over watered as the normal lowland counterparts do.

a) Keep the plant in shade for a week.

b) Water lightly and remove all the dying, yellow leaves.

c) Trim off all the spend rose blooms.

d) Enjoy the flowers until all of them are finish it prime blooms.

e) When you notice the newly formed buds turning into flowers - you will find that they are not so beautiful as they are first purchased. You can if you wish trim off those flower buds and keep the whole plant in leaf formation first.


Carefully remove the plant from the pot and slowly break of the chunks of the cocopeat from the root ball. They will be slightly moist and you can slowly break them off from the root base.

Use 50% fast draining medium together with the 50% existing potting mix (cocopeat) together as the potting mix - normally there might be 2-3 rose stalk plant in that small pot. Remove carefully each of them and plant them separately as they won't be competing with each other when they grow bigger.

Keep them in bright shade and just lightly water the plant - keeping the soil moist. 
You will notice new growth appearing in a few weeks time, slowly introduce it to open bright sunlight, The plant will slowly acclimatize and becomes more hardy.

You will notice the flowers will be less showy and the formation is much different in comparison to what you had purchased. However they are still alive and continue to produce blooms.

Also using proper fertilizer is important - I had accidentally used a cheap fertilizer and it had burned up all the young shoots and buds. Therefore, do check and purchase a reputable good fertilizer - it does go a long way and save a lot of heart-aches in the future.


I noticed that Roses are indeed a sensitive plant - they are so much open for attack. I had terrible attacks with thrips, alphids, mealy bugs, whitefly and ants. Truly a pesticide weekly regime is required to ensure these roses don't go through heavy attack.

I had decided to do away with pesticide and so had sacrificed my roses when they had succumb to heavy attack and never recovered.


They are usually propagated using stem cutting. 
They can be grown by seeds but these do not normally bear fruits here in the tropical side and so most likely the best success would be using stem cutting. The branch should be about 5-6" long where there is a crown rosette of leaves. Remove the lower leaves at the bottom - at least 2-3 leaf nodes and poke into the planting medium in a pot. Place it in a cool bright shade.

It will take root and may able see new growth in few weeks time.


Rose is a sun loving plant. It does require bright direct sunlight for it to bloom. Without the sunlight - it may not bloom at all, the formed buds may bloom later in days time but no new bud formation may appear later on when placed in shaded garden.

Depending on the variety - some of the flowers can last for a week, others for few days. Eventually the petals fall or dries off on the flower stalk - it would do good to dead head them as more blooms will appear.

Once they had grown and established itself - It becomes hardy plant and there is nothing much to worry about except daily watering, weekly feeding and occasional pruning to keep the plant in shape.


Once the plant had established itself and in open sun, ideally it would be best to water them twice a day depending on the size of the pot and the condition of the day - whether it a hot dry day or no watering on rainy days.

Do take note that the roots can be sensitive and may face root rot that can kill the plant - and that another regime of fungicide may be required to ensure their healthy. I had lost a few due to root rot.


Also these still require pruning to keep them in shape - they can grow unruly and may produce less blooms - pruning them constantly makes them focus on the blooms rather than overgrowing themselves. 

It is important to do this when the plant is healthy - if it is dying - It may just be too late to do anything to revive it back. And so, give a week at most, once the flowers are all gone and the leaves are slowly turning yellow - it is high time to change the existing cocopeat into a new soil mix.

Once you get the hang of it, you will find that they are not difficult plant to cultivate.

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Tropical Garden, Batu Caves, Malaysia
My Malaysian Tropical Garden mainly focused on unique and colorful plants ranging from rare to common plants all around the tropical belt across the world. Ideal for inspiration for challenging areas in the garden space - indoor gardening, balcony gardening and small green spaces especially for ariods, bromeliads, begonias, edibles, cascading & vertical garden plants, succulents & cacti, orchids, together with both shade and sun loving plants.

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