Ask a Question forum: What is wrong with these two Lophophora williamsii cactus?

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Deutschland
edu2372
Sep 27, 2019 2:10 PM CST
I have tried to reduce the light, reduce the water and I have even completely changed the soil of the small one in case there was some infection affecting the soil. I have also tried with egg shell over the soil, since have read it provides protection against bugs. Both plants have stayed like this for over two months and I don´t know what else to try.

Does someone among you recognize the problem and know what should I do to save the plants. Thank you very much in advance for your help!

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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Sep 27, 2019 2:35 PM CST
Welcome!

How long have you had them? What kind of soil? Drainage? The egg shells are not doing anything. Reducing the light is never a good idea for a cactus. The soil mix does not look like a cactus mix.

The one out of soil is missing its taproot. Is the other one the same? Without a taproot, I'm not sure it can survive.





Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Sep 27, 2019 2:50 PM CST
I thought those cactus looked familiar... I googled to be sure...

What little I know about grandfather peyote could be probably be easily found out with google...

Namely they grow in the desert where it doesn't get below freezing...

https://www.wildflower.org/pla...
Distribution
USA: TX
Native Distribution: Southern Texas and northern Mexico.
Native Habitat: Limestone soil in deserts.
Growing Conditions
Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Conditions Comments: Minimum temperature 45 F.


So... I think that using a cactus blend would be an improvement over what you have them in now. And... stop watering so much!

I'm curious about the history (provenance) of these... Hard to believe that you've had them long in the current potting medium.

Also...
They are slow growing plants...

Although...
This guy seems to have a magic touch:
https://www.magicactus.com/pro...

Lights – I keep my lights on using timers. Nothing elaborate is needed. Lights should be turned on for twelve to sixteen hours a day.
[Last edited by stone - Sep 27, 2019 2:56 PM (+)]
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Deutschland
edu2372
Sep 27, 2019 3:04 PM CST
Thanks for the replies!

@Daisyl
I have already taken the egg shells from the pot. I was just desperate trying things I found in the Internet *Blush*

I have them for about half a year only. I bought them online. The soil of the big one is still the same soil in which I received it . The soil for the small one is special for cactus and succulents. As drainage just the holes in the pot. I thought that would be enough and the soil would already be appropriate for good drainage if special for cactus. Should I mix with perlite or put perlite at the bottom of the pot?

I think the big one has a taproot. At least it is attached to the soil whereas the smaller one is so easily detached from it. I am afraid to take the big one from the soil. Can I do something to promote growth of the taproot in the small one or is it already dead? Crying

@stone
I already use a cactus soil for the small one, but it does not appear to be helping. The big one is still in the same soil as I got it when bought in Internet, as I told Daisyl. I though the sellers would know best which soil to use. I am more used to Aloe Veras, which can so easily be taken care!

I was away for a month in August and I did not water them in this time. Still, no improvement Crying

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Sep 27, 2019 4:31 PM CST
I would leave the one still in the nursery pot in the nursery pot. Don't water until the soil is incredibly dry. If your house is cool, water even less.

As the smaller one is already out of the pot, mix some cactus soil and perlite (1:1) and mix in a handful of marble chips. Don't make soil layers - mix everything together thoroughly. Let the cactus dry on the counter for a week or more than pot it in barely damp soil. Don't water. Don't fertilize.

Heat, sun, very little water.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Sep 28, 2019 11:26 AM CST
Yes to all three, especially lots of sun and infrequent water. If the plants in question are indoors, they need the absolute maximum possible amount of sun. Ideally a position right in front of a sunny, unobstructed south-facing window. That still may not provide enough light in the winter if it's dark outside. You cannot provide too much natural light indoors.

"Drainage" as it applies to cacti usually refers to holes at the bottom of the container (required) and a fair amount of gritty aggregate (perlite/pumice/gritty equivalent) mixed into the soil. I would recommend at least 50% perlite or pumice for Lopohophora. It has to be mixed in, and it does no good if placed at the bottom of the pot.

Stone, we have very good information about the plant right here in our own database:

Peyote (Lophophora williamsii)

where you will learn for example that they do experience frost in habitat (and can tolerate it in cultivation if kept dry). However I would not recommend leaving them outside when it's cold if you can provide a warm and bright spot inside. My plants have done well with temperatures down to about 8°C/46°F outside, though it's usually in the 60sF (15-20°C) during the day.

I'm not quite sure what the problem is with the plants in the original post.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Sep 28, 2019 11:28 AM (+)]
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Deutschland
edu2372
Sep 28, 2019 1:21 PM CST
Thanks again for your replies!

DaisyI said:As the smaller one is already out of the pot, mix some cactus soil and perlite (1:1) and mix in a handful of marble chips.


I could not find perlite and marble chips at the plant store, so I bought instead a mix of clay granules, lava and leca, special for cactus and which appear to have the same function. I hope this was not a mistake. I mixed 1:1 as you said.

DaisyI said:Don't water until the soil is incredibly dry. If your house is cool, water even less.


My flat is now about 20°C (68°F) but it gets colder in winter. I had actually the impression that the cacti were super-dry (specially the small one, which even has fissures and looks "dry" compared to the green, healthy look). I was hardly watering them with no more than two drops every four to five days in June-July and then the whole August they had no water at all. I was actually afraid that they would not be getting enough water. But probably the problem is as you say the lack of taproot for the small one and I have despite my worries in the opposite direction watered them too much. I will leave the small one to dry before planting it in the pot as you say. I hope it gets healthy again. (And I hope also that I will learn how to take care of them. It is really difficult! With Aloe Veras, my only prior experience with plants, I would just water them from time to time and they kept growing and growing like crazy).

Baja_Costero said:You cannot provide too much natural light indoors.


The plants are indoors in a west-facing window. In summer there is plenty of light. Now it is getting less and less and in winter, the direct sunlight is no longer available because it is too low in the sky and a south building blocks the sun. There is only ambient light (except in some days when it snows and then not even that: light is then just barely noticeable Sad ). Do you think that I need artificial plant lighting?

Baja_Costero said:I would recommend at least 50% perlite or pumice for Lopohophora.


I hope that the alternative mix that I found and told Daisyl about is also appropriate. Otherwise I will buy what you two propose in Internet and change the mixture again. Do you think I should also transplant the big one? It took longer for it to looked damaged (the first three months it actually looked great!), but then it started this change in the skin that can be seen in the pictures, first only in the bottom just above the soil but it then started affecting more regions of the plant.

I actually got seeds from the big one and about 20 seeds that did germinate are up to now doing fine (only a little bit elongated because the lid was so full of moisture that they were not getting enough light).
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Sep 28, 2019 1:34 PM CST
Once you get your plants potted up in the right mix, you need to change how you are watering them. Water well, until the soil is fully saturated (and water comes out the bottom), then wait as long as necessary for the soil to go completely dry at depth before watering again. The amount of time to wait will vary depending on the size of the container, soil, light, temperature, humidity, and other factors. When in doubt, water less often when there is low light (in late fall and early winter) and more often when there is a lot of light. It might be once a month in winter (given the exposure you have described) and once a week during the warmer months. There is real danger of overwatering during winter if you are not conscious about the watering. Keeping the pot relatively close to the size of the roots helps a lot with watering, as does using a mix with at least 50% rock.

Your clay/lava/leca mix sounds okay to me. I don't think the specific product you use is as important as the way it breaks up the organic material in the soil and helps provide aeration down there. That usually works best when the material is gritty in texture, not fine like beach sand. You can pass it over a screen (like a window screen) when necessary to remove the fines. You might consider perlite for the future. I use one product for this purpose myself (pumice) so I can't really speak for the other ones which serve roughly the same role.

Get both of your plants in the same mix, so that care is consistent. The most important thing with respect to repotting is not to water immediately afterward. Allow the roots to heal first so they don't rot in the process. This may take a few days to a week.

I cannot speak about artificial light due to lack of personal experience. My plants did fine indoors behind a southerly-facing window (here at 32° latitude) with hours of daily sun (or some fairly regular fog instead). I know people have successfully used lights for this plant. I would think they would make a difference for you that far north without a sunny southerly exposure.

Growing these plants from seed is fun and not all that difficult. Strong light is important, as you have noticed. The very young seedlings don't really like the soil drying out that much, so I keep a tight dome on there until they are big enough to handle it (maybe the size of a small pea). You need to back off on the watering as the seedlings mature, and I would assume that anything about 1cm or larger is able to deal with fully dry soil as well as a mature one.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Sep 28, 2019 1:45 PM (+)]
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Deutschland
edu2372
Sep 28, 2019 1:48 PM CST
Baja_Costero said:Once you get your plants potted up in the right mix, you need to change how you are watering them. Water well, until the soil is fully saturated (and water comes out the bottom), then wait as long as necessary for the soil to go completely dry at depth before watering again.


Wow! what I was doing was totally wrong! I though it was better, since cacti do not need much water, not to saturate them with a lot of water at once. But what I was doing does not make sense, actually. In their environment they are probably more likely to get some occasional rain and then stay dry for a prolonged period. And I should try to imitate nature.

Baja_Costero said: Get both of your plants in the same mix, so that care is consistent. The most important thing with respect to repotting is not to water immediately afterward. Allow the roots to heal first so they don't rot in the process. This may take a few days to a week.

I will do as you say. Thanks so much for the help!

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Sep 28, 2019 1:49 PM CST
I think what you purchased will work fine. The marble chips are to add a little limestone to the mix as Peyote live in limestone country so would rather have soil a little alkaline instead of acidic. It is usually sold as pot decorations but, not all white stone chips are marble so it will be a little harder if you can't recognize marble. Another option is Repi-Calcium, an additive to help reptiles grow strong bones (and teeth Rolling on the floor laughing ). The ingredient you are looking for is Calcium Carbonate. Try to find one without additives (some have sucrose to make it more palatable to the lizards Smiling ). Or, eggshells. But (there's always a but), the eggshells have to be ground into a fine powder. Wear an air mask - you never want to breath anything organic.

When you water, water. A few drops is not watering (but it may be why your plants are still alive). When the soil gets extremely dry, water until water runs out the bottom of the pot. Then, don't water again until the plants are extremely dry.

I think the problem is water related only because of a lack of roots - the plant is incapable of absorbing moisture. I hope you follow the rest of my potting directions.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Deutschland
edu2372
Sep 28, 2019 1:59 PM CST
DaisyI said:It is usually sold as pot decorations but, not all white stone chips are marble so it will be a little harder if you can't recognize marble.

Yes. I am not good at recognizing these kind of things. I was born in a big city where concrete is the only material I can recognize. And the marble tops in the kitchen Hilarious!

DaisyI said: The ingredient you are looking for is Calcium Carbonate. Try to find one without additives.

I will search for it.

DaisyI said: When you water, water. A few drops is not watering (but it may be why your plants are still alive). When the soil gets extremely dry, water until water runs out the bottom of the pot. Then, don't water again until the plants are extremely dry.

Yes. That was a big mistake!

DaisyI said: I think the problem is water related only because of a lack of roots - the plant is incapable of absorbing moisture. I hope you follow the rest of my potting directions.

I hope I manage with your tips to help it regrow the roots. And also that the big one recovers from whatever afflicts it.

Thanks for the help!

Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Sep 28, 2019 2:02 PM CST
DaisyI said:The marble chips are to add a little limestone to the mix as Peyote live in limestone country so would rather have soil a little alkaline instead of acidic.


I think that's a great idea, but for the record my plants have always received water buffered to pH 6 (like my other succulents), which is very slightly acidic, and they have not complained about it that I can tell. Alkalinity may be better, but it's definitely not required for good results.

Depending on the source of your water, it may come pre-loaded with alkalinity, especially if it is groundwater. Our tap water comes out above pH 9, which is why I acidify it for my plants. I think tap water like ours, buffered by carbonate, would itself be sufficient to lock in a high pH no matter how acidic the substrate, and whether or not it contain marble chips.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Sep 28, 2019 2:06 PM (+)]
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Deutschland
edu2372
Sep 28, 2019 2:37 PM CST
Baja_Costero said: I think tap water like ours, buffered by carbonate, would itself be sufficient to lock in a high pH no matter how acidic the substrate, and whether or not it contain marble chips.


Thanks for the clarification! And yes, the water in my region is alkaline.

I have by the way just repotted the big cactus. I hope I have not damaged the roots too much: the soil was so compact that I had to apply some pressure to separate the plant from the soil. They had just become an inseparable unit!

P.S. I am amazed at how much you control what you give to the plants ("water buffered to pH 6"). This is much too complicated for me!
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Sep 28, 2019 3:30 PM CST
I do it because I like the results. Actually it's not that complicated. I use products made for aquaria: one called Acid Buffer (bisulfate) to acidify, and a generic dropper test to check the final pH. Once made, acidified water is good indefinitely if stored in the dark. After I add nutrients, I try to use up the water within a week or so.
Deutschland
edu2372
Sep 28, 2019 3:33 PM CST
Thanks, Baja! I may perhaps try it. I have a lot to learn!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Sep 28, 2019 4:45 PM CST
If your water is naturally alkaline, you don't need to worry adding marble chips or repti-calcium.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Deutschland
edu2372
Sep 29, 2019 12:51 AM CST
DaisyI said:If your water is naturally alkaline, you don't need to worry adding marble chips or repti-calcium.


Thanks! It was anyway interesting to learn about the repti-calcium and I might have to use it some other time.

This is the way the cacti look now. I think drainage should no longer be a problem! But they still look awful Sad

Thumb of 2019-09-29/edu2372/070073
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Sep 29, 2019 9:25 AM CST
You ignored the part about leaving them sitting on the counter for a week before potting and about not watering immediately after. Sighing!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Deutschland
edu2372
Sep 29, 2019 10:52 AM CST
DaisyI said:You ignored the part about leaving them sitting on the counter for a week before potting and about not watering immediately after. Sighing!


D'Oh! True! Not about the watering. I didn´t water the cactus. But I forgot about sitting them in the counter for a week when Baja told me to replant also the big one. I was busy mixing the soil and then I just put the cacti in the pot with the new soil automatically. D'Oh! Should I take them out and leave them in the counter?
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Sep 29, 2019 11:32 AM CST
If the potting soil is dry, it will probably be ok. Un and re potting will only cause more damage.

But your soil looks wet.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org

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