Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Cactus help - what kind and how to save?

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Name: Julie
Kenmore, NY (Zone 6a)
Region: New York Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Houseplants Daylilies
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smiley
Aug 23, 2016 10:14 AM CST
Hi ~

We have had this cactus for quite a while, my mom had it back in the 80's, if not longer. As you can see, it suffered last winter in our unheated sunroom.

How do we save it? Or is it ok? Can anyone ID for me? There is also a light spot (similar to what is above the brown spot) on the other side, about half way up the cactus.

Any advice is much appreciated!

thanks!
Smiley/Julie Smiling

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Name: April
San Francisco (Zone 9b)
Cactus and Succulents
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alovealoe
Aug 24, 2016 7:18 PM CST
Pilocereus
Name: Laurie Basler
Western Washington (Zone 7b)
Houseplants Region: Pacific Northwest Sedums Orchids
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lauriebasler
Aug 24, 2016 11:31 PM CST
Oh such a big nice plant. Wish I was an expert on these. I would definately share this with the peeps at the Propagation forum, as I think there is a good chance you can cut off the top, above the rot and have a good shot at saving it. Sad story, Losing a plant one has had that long, is just torture.
Name: Julie
Kenmore, NY (Zone 6a)
Region: New York Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Houseplants Daylilies
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smiley
Aug 25, 2016 4:12 AM CST
Thank you April and Laurie. I tip my hat to you.

I thought maybe I could cut off the top and at least save a piece of it, I'll wander around the Propagation forum. I'd hate to totally lose that plant.
Name: Bob
The Kau Desert, Hawaii (Zone 12a)
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OrchidBob
Aug 25, 2016 1:13 PM CST
It may just be 'corking' which is cactus term for growing bark. Is it soft or squishy? Can you take close up photos of the damage you perceive?
Name: Julie
Kenmore, NY (Zone 6a)
Region: New York Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Houseplants Daylilies
Image
smiley
Aug 26, 2016 10:55 AM CST
It is not soft or squishy. I'll get a photo of the spot on the back side later when I'm home.

I think the pictures might be deceiving. This isn't a large cactus, that pot is only 4 or 5" in diameter.
Name: Julie
Kenmore, NY (Zone 6a)
Region: New York Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Houseplants Daylilies
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smiley
Aug 26, 2016 12:05 PM CST
Here is a photo of the bottom of the plant:


Thumb of 2016-08-26/smiley/9c0f08

And a photo of the spot that is about half way up the column.



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Name: Bob
The Kau Desert, Hawaii (Zone 12a)
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OrchidBob
Aug 26, 2016 12:52 PM CST
These photos are much better detail and show the problem.
I do not believe that this is corking.
That spot on the back side is suspicious.
Surgery may be the only solution.
I hope others see these photos and can give you a better analysis. Confused
Chopping off the head is easy to do, but timing the rest period
and re-rooting the cutting is not so easy.
This cutting will need time to form a callus. Maybe a month or even more.
Then you start the rooting process by standing it on top of the dirt mix.
I use several wooden/bamboo stakes to support it, to keep it from wobbling during the rooting process.
It might be wise to plan the start of rooting to be in the next active growth period, like next spring.
I am not an indoor grower, so do not feel comfortable with advising when to do it. Shrug!
If more spots appear in the upper growth then you should not hesitate.
Name: Julie
Kenmore, NY (Zone 6a)
Region: New York Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Houseplants Daylilies
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smiley
Aug 26, 2016 1:39 PM CST
Thanks for the info, Bob. A lot of our plants took a beating in that sun room that winter. I think it may have been 2 years ago?? Confused It was a very cold winter, and the cold days lasted a long time. The cactus has been like that since then, so we'll probably wait until spring to do surgery.

However, if I see anything new we'll re-think that.

Again, we thank you. It gives us an idea of what we can and shouldn't do!

Smiling

Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
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tarev
Aug 31, 2016 12:44 PM CST
Hello Julie, usually I would check the base of the plant. Either doing a pin prick test or totally unpotting it to thoroughly check below. If plant is really rotted at the base, I would consider chopping of the base and let the good part dry off and callus then repot in a cacti media making it really very porous. It will need to acclimate again and grow new roots first so got to leave it alone, no watering. In an ideal situation this is best done in Spring. But sometimes just got to do it now, to save the plant.

Good luck, hope your plant recovers. I would also consider using unglazed clay pots with drain holes it allows faster dry out time. Winter time is dormant time for cacti, at times got to provide extra lighting for them.
[Last edited by tarev - Aug 31, 2016 12:45 PM (+)]
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Name: Julie
Kenmore, NY (Zone 6a)
Region: New York Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Houseplants Daylilies
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smiley
Sep 2, 2016 2:11 PM CST
Thank You! for your input, tarev. We are slowly repotting things, finding new pots, etc.. but I have pretty much left the cacti to husband. We'll take a look at the roots and repot it in something more suitable, if nothing else, until spring.

Can you cut a cactus like this in chunks, or would it only continue to grow from the top? Just curious..
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Bromeliad
Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier
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Baja_Costero
Sep 2, 2016 2:52 PM CST
I don't know about this particular cactus but I have had good success with chunks. When it's a fast-rooting plant, a chunk can sprout a new head(s) within weeks to months. The key thing to remember is to orient the chunks head up. However you choose to make it happen, they need to remain right side up in the end.
Name: Julie
Kenmore, NY (Zone 6a)
Region: New York Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Houseplants Daylilies
Image
smiley
Sep 3, 2016 6:39 AM CST
Got it! Thank you.

I have to try that, just to see if it works. Sprout a new head.. reminds me of 'Men in Black'. Hilarious!
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Bromeliad
Hummingbirder Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier
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Baja_Costero
Sep 3, 2016 3:21 PM CST
Yes! Or if you want an obscure '80s reference, "How to Get Ahead in Advertising" (pun intended).
Name: Ken
East S.F. Bay Area (Zone 9a)
Region: California
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CaliFlowers
Sep 23, 2016 6:39 PM CST
How cold do you think your cactus got over last winter?

Last fall I wanted to propagate some 'San Pedro' cactus. They were fairly thick, and I wanted them to callus well, so I hung them inside a south-facing garage window using 3/8" white cotton rope. I used an overhand knot near the bottom to secure them, and added a couple of half-hitches above, with the last one near the top so that they'd hang vertically. I took the cuttings around September/October, and more-or-less forgot about them until spring, when I noticed root initials at the bases of the cuttings. I transferred them to my rooting mix (half potting soil, half perlite) and they rooted quickly.
Name: Julie
Kenmore, NY (Zone 6a)
Region: New York Enjoys or suffers cold winters Container Gardener Houseplants Daylilies
Image
smiley
Sep 25, 2016 5:42 AM CST
How cold? There were a few nights we probably should have covered some plants.

We have a bunch of plants in an unheated south-facing sunroom. In the summer it's great! Usually not too much of an issue in the winter for most of the plants we leave in there. It heats up real nice if the sun is out, but I think the issue we had last year was the sustained cold days & nights. There were a couple nights it got around 0 - 10° and we lost a bunch of plants.

This is Buffalo.... Smiling

I wonder if the spots on my cactus might be the results of 'frostbite'? We did end up repotting it in a clay pot with new soil, at least. I think in spring I'll probably try to take a cutting or two.. see what happens.

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