Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Why is my cactus changing color?

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Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
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keithp2012
Mar 25, 2016 6:34 PM CST
I got this variegated cactus 3 weeks ago. When I first got it, it was yellow with hints of green all over. Mind you, it's from seed on its own roots.

I repotted it, slightly watered it, and have it on my warm windowsill with my other cacti.

Since then, it's lost almost all its green color and gotten golden yellow with slight specks of pink!

There is no sign of rot, roots are healthy, plant is firm and spiky spines, no sign of anything wrong except the color change.

What's going on!?

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[Last edited by keithp2012 - Mar 25, 2016 6:34 PM (+)]
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
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mcvansoest
Mar 25, 2016 7:00 PM CST
Hi Keith,

I am not sure, variegated cacti are not really my thing, so I have little experience, but I wonder if it is not expressing some kind of stress response. It looks like the Gymnocalycium that you get in all the weird chlorophyl lacking colors that have to be grafted. I have a few of those with chlorophyl but they will still turn al sorts of weird colors when water/sun/temperature stressed. So it could be some kind of transplantation/transportation shock - any idea if you have it getting a lot more sunlight despite being on your windowsill?


Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
Vegetable Grower Garden Photography Hybridizer Spiders! Annuals Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
keithp2012
Mar 25, 2016 7:16 PM CST
mcvansoest said:Hi Keith,

I am not sure, variegated cacti are not really my thing, so I have little experience, but I wonder if it is not expressing some kind of stress response. It looks like the Gymnocalycium that you get in all the weird chlorophyl lacking colors that have to be grafted. I have a few of those with chlorophyl but they will still turn al sorts of weird colors when water/sun/temperature stressed. So it could be some kind of transplantation/transportation shock - any idea if you have it getting a lot more sunlight despite being on your windowsill?




I'm pretty sure it's getting more light now, thinking ahead I moved it to indirect light with more shade but it hasn't changed the color back.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 25, 2016 8:23 PM CST
Read this:

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/colored-leaves-ha...

And then find the brightest sunniest spot you can for your cactus. It will not be an immediate color change - I would think 1 or 2 months minimum.

Daisy
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Mar 25, 2016 8:54 PM CST
DaisyI said:Read this:

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/colored-leaves-ha...

And then find the brightest sunniest spot you can for your cactus. It will not be an immediate color change - I would think 1 or 2 months minimum.

Daisy


I'll just move it over, as its under a plant light but also gets window sunlight.

Funny how many of the colored grafted cacti are said to die if not grafted, however according to the article and my cactus that can't be fully true, at least for yellow. They just grow REALLY slow!

And, it said plants in the shade that aren't green change green to make up for lack of chlorophyll, I bet this before me was kept dark, hence why suddenly in bright light it lost the green! But that means the myth of colored cacti dying from no chylorophyll is a lie!
[Last edited by keithp2012 - Mar 25, 2016 8:59 PM (+)]
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 25, 2016 10:03 PM CST
No, not a lie. If a plant has chloroplasts (which manufacture chlorophyll), it will attempt to utilize them. The green color we can see is chlorophyll and indicates the presence of chloroplasts. Sometimes the chlorophyll is masked by another color. A plant is born with the ability to make chlorophyll or it's not. Your plant was showing some green, indicating to me that chlorophyll is there but being masked by the yellow. Sometimes, a Moon Cactus with a failing graft will develop enough green (indicating the manufacture chlorophyll, and will survive the death of the graftee).

You are trying to encourage your plant to use the chloroplasts it has available. So providing maximum light is what it needs. A plant that is normally red or purple or yellow, if put in the shade, will turn green because those chlorophyll making bodies are working double time. Put it in better light and the color will come out.

I'm not sure from your posts if it is getting more or less light than previously but it needs maximum light for maximum color. If your plant came from a greenhouse or spent some time in a dark box until it reached its destination, chances are you did not see its true color to begin with.

Daisy

Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Mar 26, 2016 12:02 AM CST
DaisyI said:No, not a lie. If a plant has chloroplasts (which manufacture chlorophyll), it will attempt to utilize them. The green color we can see is chlorophyll and indicates the presence of chloroplasts. Sometimes the chlorophyll is masked by another color. A plant is born with the ability to make chlorophyll or it's not. Your plant was showing some green, indicating to me that chlorophyll is there but being masked by the yellow. Sometimes, a Moon Cactus with a failing graft will develop enough green (indicating the manufacture chlorophyll, and will survive the death of the graftee).

You are trying to encourage your plant to use the chloroplasts it has available. So providing maximum light is what it needs. A plant that is normally red or purple or yellow, if put in the shade, will turn green because those chlorophyll making bodies are working double time. Put it in better light and the color will come out.

I'm not sure from your posts if it is getting more or less light than previously but it needs maximum light for maximum color. If your plant came from a greenhouse or spent some time in a dark box until it reached its destination, chances are you did not see its true color to begin with.

Daisy



It's in full light now so we will see what happens!
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Mar 26, 2016 2:26 PM CST
I would be very careful in watering it Keith, it is coming back from dormancy. To me it shows stress. Keep it warm and dry for now and in bright light as suggested already. As you have already noted, they grow extremely slow.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 26, 2016 5:45 PM CST
Oops! Hope that move to full sun had some transitioning. Don't let it burn - maybe a very bright indirect light for now.

Yes, easy on the water. It is a cactus. Mine are in full sun and get watered every couple weeks this time of year.
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Mar 28, 2016 10:48 PM CST
The cactus started getting brown spots near the base, so I took it out. The tiny watering I did stayed in the pot for over 4 days, im wondering if the roots are dead and causing overwatering or too much sun and the cactus is dehydrated if the roots are dead? The calloused area indented area under the cactus is hard and was there since purchase. I again dumped out all old soil and put in fresh, dry soil so now the cactus is fully dry again. :(
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Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 28, 2016 11:24 PM CST
I suspect its rotting. Crying
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Mar 29, 2016 9:09 AM CST
I agree with Daisy, Keith..sadly.

Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
Vegetable Grower Garden Photography Hybridizer Spiders! Annuals Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
keithp2012
Mar 29, 2016 12:51 PM CST
Do the roots look dead? If I showed you how little I watered you would laugh, only a cactus unable to suck up the water would rot, which is why I'm suspicious its roots were dead.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 29, 2016 1:15 PM CST
What did the roots look like when you repotted it when you first got it? Was that brown area on the bottom there?
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
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keithp2012
Mar 29, 2016 1:15 PM CST
tarev said:I agree with Daisy, Keith..sadly.



The worst part is the rarity of this cactus. It's from Italy and pure yellow on its own roots, I've never come across another like it, heard it was impossible. Here it is, now sadly dying 😥
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
Vegetable Grower Garden Photography Hybridizer Spiders! Annuals Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
keithp2012
Mar 29, 2016 1:16 PM CST
DaisyI said:What did the roots look like when you repotted it when you first got it? Was that brown area on the bottom there?


The roots looked the same, and the calloused area below was there, just not the brown areas going up the sides.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 29, 2016 3:31 PM CST
It came all the way from Italy? How long did it take to get here? Was it bareroot?
Name: Keith
West Babylon, NY (Zone 7a)
Region: United States of America Winter Sowing Plays in the sandbox Birds Native Plants and Wildflowers Tomato Heads
Vegetable Grower Garden Photography Hybridizer Spiders! Annuals Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
keithp2012
Mar 29, 2016 5:41 PM CST
DaisyI said:It came all the way from Italy? How long did it take to get here? Was it bareroot?


A week, yes bare root looked fine when I got it.
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Mar 29, 2016 6:44 PM CST
I don't know what to tell you...

How brave are you? This is a last ditch effort (cactus growers, please chime in NOW!).

I have successfully rooted cactus pieces. It would require that you cut the bottom off and keep cutting until there was no brown. Coat the the whole thing with a fungicide. Let it sit.... For maybe 2 weeks. Then place it on a pot of cactus soil. Firm it down so contact is made between the soil and the plant (but no part of the plant is buried in the soil) and wait. No water, no touching, no nothing. I have gotten pieces to root (and lost some to rot) and it could be months before you see results.

The callus on the bottom is the important part. The cactus has to form a callus.

That's all I've got.

Daisy
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Mar 29, 2016 6:56 PM CST
Yes, that can be an option, patience will be your friend Keith. Worth a try. Hopefully the browning part has not gone way too deep inside.

Or on a long shot, try to experiment and graft with a healthy cacti rootstock, but do a good clean slice of that damaged brown part first. Either way, time and patience will be required. It is good it is Spring already, things are on the way to more warm up mode and growing time for cacti. I have not done grafting personally, but it seems like a good candidate, rather than totally lose the plant altogether.

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