Rose Cactus Leaves Turning Brown and Dropping - Knowledgebase Question

Name: Susan Ballard
Nashville, TN
Question by flgator28
November 8, 1999
I have a rose cactus or cactus rose that I purchased this summer. I set it outside in a pot in partial shade and only watered it when I watered all my other potted plants. It looked great. When I moved it inside three weeks ago, the leaves started turning brown on the edges and falling off. I water it once a week inside. Can you tell what I doing wrong? Thanks!

Answer from NGA
November 8, 1999


Two things come to mind: shock or salt burn.
Moving plants indoors from outdoors can be a real shock to their system because the conditions are usually so different. Yellowing and dropping leaves is a typical reaction. Don't fertilize for a month or so, but continue watering at a slightly reduced level. Wait to see if some new growth starts before pruning, as cutting back at this point is also a shock. Resume fertilizing at about half strength. The plant might go dormant for a while and then new growth appear. At that time, cut back as needed.

In spring, slowly acclimate your plant to moving back outdoors by putting it outside in a sheltered location for a couple hours at a time, gradually increasing the time period. In fall, do that in reverse, rather than abruptly moving from outside to inside, which will help lessen the shock.

Salt burn caused by salts from either fertilizer or water accumulating in the soil. This excess salt accumulates in the leaf edges, where it kills the tissue and the leaf dries out and turns brown. Browning usually occurs on the old leaves first. It's important to water deeply, slowly and infrequently. At least once a month, water deeply enough to "leach" or push salts below the root zone. Frequent, light "sprinklings" allow salts to accumulate in the top layers of soil, where the roots are, which is bad news.

Similar symptoms occur when too much fertilizer has been applied. I hope this info helps!

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