Cactus and Succulents forum→What should I do with this Prickly Pear?

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Name: Ren
Pittsburgh, PA (Zone 6a)
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Renly64
May 17, 2020 3:25 PM CST
I purchased this Prickly Pear last year and it always had some brown on the bottom, but I figured it was within the normal range of what happens to cacti as they grow up. Recently, it's been slanting in its pot so I unpotted it to take a look and repot it with top dressing to hold it upright. However, the bottoms are looking more brown and shriveled. Can anyone tell me if this looks like it's going to die, should I try removing any of the top pieces to propagate?
Honestly, I know I had previously not been watering it correctly. I was so afraid of overwatering it that I'd only give it a small drink every couple weeks, but I recently learned the importance and reasoning for deeply watering, and then of course let it dry out between. So as of recently I know I've been watering it properly, but I'm afraid it might be too late to save it.
It's in a clay pot, 50/50 mix of succulent soil and perlite, sits in a south facing window.
Thanks for any help.
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona Enjoys or suffers hot summers Cactus and Succulents Xeriscape Adeniums Hybridizer
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mcvansoest
May 17, 2020 3:39 PM CST
I do not really see anything obviously wrong with the plant.

However, the pot is rather large for the size of the plants. It is hard for me to say, but the root mass on the plant you show would seem to take up a rather small amount of the total soil in the pot. This can lead to wet too long situations. Or alternatively - you waiting too long to water - if you are checking if the whole pot is mostly dry it could mean that plant which appears to have rather shallow roots compared to the size of the pot would have been sitting dry much longer than you think, based on how wet the soil deeper in the pot is.

It is hard to ID the PP from the photos you show, but it looks like one that may have purplish spotting on the pads? If so, it is a plant that I have had issues with in terms of a) keeping up right, and b) finding the right growing conditions watering wise, but I'd need to know the ID of your plant for sure to be certain of that.

If you are really worried about the survival of the plant you can always hedge and take a pad and get that ready to propagate.
It is what it is!
Name: TK
Ontario, Canada (Zone 6b)
Cactus and Succulents Sempervivums Bromeliad Tropicals Aroids Hibiscus
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Macrocentra
May 17, 2020 4:19 PM CST
I agree with Thijs. It looks like normal corking on the bottom. If it were my cactus, I'd try putting it back in a pot, but one much smaller than the one it was in to help with the water regulation. It doesn't look like it's having any obvious issues, so I'd give it a chance. Smiling
Name: Ren
Pittsburgh, PA (Zone 6a)
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Renly64
May 17, 2020 4:28 PM CST
Ok, that makes sense about the pot size and watering. I feel like I'm always learning something new about taking care of all my plants, thanks for your input and reassurance. Thank You!

Maui4me
May 19, 2020 3:06 PM CST
If worse comes to worse and the base of it actually is starting to rot, simply take a sterilized scalpel or other sharp blade and slice off the lower rotting part well above that in healthy green tissue. Sit the plant aside for a few days out of the sun and let that cut dry and skin over. Then root the new plant as with any other cactus in either cactus mix or good potting soil with a generous addition of sand and fine gravel or other neutral aggregate. Keep it in indirect light and just barely moist for a few weeks and it should root if kept warm (not hot!). Good Luck with that. Smiling

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