Cactus and Succulents forum: Help why is cactus dying

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KelN
Aug 14, 2020 2:52 PM CST
What's going on with my cacti? This guy is going yellow and shrinking, and my other circular guy has some fuzz on him. I'm new to plants and can't even keep a cactus. Is there any way of saving them? What am I doing wrong? They're kept on my kitchen window sill. Help! Thanks so much!
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D'Oh!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Aug 14, 2020 7:10 PM CST
Welcome!

Cactus are some of the more difficult plants to grow as they have very exacting needs: full sun, not a lot of water, good drainage. Controlling water is easy but, if you can't provide full sun or your soil doesn't dry quickly, forget growng cactus.

The cactus in photo #1 is dead. The cactus in photo #2 (Ferocactus) from what I can see, looks good.

If you want more information, you will have to give us more information: Where do you live? What kind of light do your cactus get? What soil are they planted in? How and how often do you water? What size pots are you using? What's in the bottom of the pot? How long ago did you re-pot?

We are like the blind man meeting the elephant - our only knowledge will be provided by you through photographs and answers to our questions. The more information you can give us, the more we can help you.


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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skopjecollection
Aug 14, 2020 8:58 PM CST
DaisyI said: Welcome!

Cactus are some of the more difficult plants to grow as they have very exacting needs: full sun, not a lot of water, good drainage. Controlling water is easy but, if you can't provide full sun or your soil doesn't dry quickly, forget growng cactus.

The cactus in photo #1 is dead. The cactus in photo #2 (Ferocactus) from what I can see, looks good.

If you want more information, you will have to give us more information: Where do you live? What kind of light do your cactus get? What soil are they planted in? How and how often do you water? What size pots are you using? What's in the bottom of the pot? How long ago did you re-pot?

We are like the blind man meeting the elephant - our only knowledge will be provided by you through photographs and answers to our questions. The more information you can give us, the more we can help you.




Melocactus, not ferocactus.
As for soil, this seems like the default store soil...which is pretty bad on its own.
Name: cheapskate gardener
South Florida (Zone 10a)
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hlutzow
Aug 14, 2020 10:46 PM CST
First plant I ever had was a cactus. It died from underwatering. It took 7 years before I tried houseplants again, 9 before I got another cactus. Cacti can be difficult for beginners despite their easygoing reputation.

Your melocactus looks good. The default soil can be ok for now. Just don't water too often. Make sure the soil is bone dry from top to bottom for several days to a week before watering again, maybe longer if you live in a humid region. I know some people wait until the cactus begins to go a little floppy with dehydration, but the barrel shaped cacti aren't always so obvious about needing water.

Does your planter have a drainage hole?
Keep calm... and plant something.
Name: Eric
Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Cactus and Succulents Plant and/or Seed Trader
Hallow
Aug 15, 2020 12:18 AM CST
I agree A pot that drains is a must!!! Nobody likes wet feet. Hilarious!

KelN
Aug 15, 2020 2:24 PM CST
DaisyI said: Welcome!

Cactus are some of the more difficult plants to grow as they have very exacting needs: full sun, not a lot of water, good drainage. Controlling water is easy but, if you can't provide full sun or your soil doesn't dry quickly, forget growng cactus.

The cactus in photo #1 is dead. The cactus in photo #2 (Ferocactus) from what I can see, looks good.

If you want more information, you will have to give us more information: Where do you live? What kind of light do your cactus get? What soil are they planted in? How and how often do you water? What size pots are you using? What's in the bottom of the pot? How long ago did you re-pot?

We are like the blind man meeting the elephant - our only knowledge will be provided by you through photographs and answers to our questions. The more information you can give us, the more we can help you.




Hiya, I know nothing upon nothing about plants so didn't know what info to give. Sorry. I live near London, they sit on my kitchen window which gets sunlight from 7am to 4pm, can a cactus get too much direct sun? I've just left the cactus in the brown pot/decorative pot it came in, as the nursery said I could and said I didn't need to change the pot or put anything in it. Is that bad? I don't know what type of soil it is. I just use a mug to water it every week or so, I dunno how to feel when the soil is dry with a prickly guy in the way. Any tips? Thanks for your help.

KelN
Aug 15, 2020 2:31 PM CST
hlutzow said:First plant I ever had was a cactus. It died from underwatering. It took 7 years before I tried houseplants again, 9 before I got another cactus. Cacti can be difficult for beginners despite their easygoing reputation.

Your melocactus looks good. The default soil can be ok for now. Just don't water too often. Make sure the soil is bone dry from top to bottom for several days to a week before watering again, maybe longer if you live in a humid region. I know some people wait until the cactus begins to go a little floppy with dehydration, but the barrel shaped cacti aren't always so obvious about needing water.

Does your planter have a drainage hole?


Thanks for your reply. How often is too often? Haha, I have been watering it once a week on advice from the nursery and was told to water it once a month in the winter. How do you check that it needs water? I dunno how to see it going floppy, haha. Erm, it's in the brown pot with a hole and in a decorative pot without one, how would you suggest draining the excess water? Thank you!
Name: cheapskate gardener
South Florida (Zone 10a)
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hlutzow
Aug 15, 2020 7:26 PM CST
I would suggest removing it from the decorative pot to water it and let it drain thoroughly before putting it back.

With my cactus, I go by weight because of the spines. My potting mix is very light when dry, so there is a stark difference in weight between wet and dry soil. Also, I have terra cotta pots, so I check for a water line on the pot itself. With plastic pots, your plant should feel very light when the soil is thoroughly dry.

It's not an exact science and your soil will dry out much slower in the decorative pot than without it. If your plant is getting direct sun from 7am to 4pm, it might need to be watered weekly. I would err on the side of too little water with cacti than too much. If in doubt, withhold water and check it again in a few days. They recover quickly from drying out a little too much but don't tend to recover well from a little overwatering.
Keep calm... and plant something.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Aug 15, 2020 7:29 PM CST

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KelN said:I live near London, they sit on my kitchen window which gets sunlight from 7am to 4pm, can a cactus get too much direct sun?


Indoors, the answer is no (providing it isn't coming out of deep shade, which is not the case, judging by the photo). The more sun indoors, the better. Your sunniest southerly facing windowsill is ideal.

KelN
Aug 16, 2020 6:30 AM CST
hlutzow said:I would suggest removing it from the decorative pot to water it and let it drain thoroughly before putting it back.

With my cactus, I go by weight because of the spines. My potting mix is very light when dry, so there is a stark difference in weight between wet and dry soil. Also, I have terra cotta pots, so I check for a water line on the pot itself. With plastic pots, your plant should feel very light when the soil is thoroughly dry.

It's not an exact science and your soil will dry out much slower in the decorative pot than without it. If your plant is getting direct sun from 7am to 4pm, it might need to be watered weekly. I would err on the side of too little water with cacti than too much. If in doubt, withhold water and check it again in a few days. They recover quickly from drying out a little too much but don't tend to recover well from a little overwatering.


Ohh okay that makes sense thank you, how would you suggest getting the cactus out of the decorative pot? I've removed it to water it so it drains in the brown pot a couple of times but just had to tip it upside down onto a surface to do so then struggle to get it back in the pot without stabbing myself a load of times, haha.
Montreal, QC (Zone 5a)
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Rockcozy
Aug 16, 2020 8:01 AM CST
KelN said:

Ohh okay that makes sense thank you, how would you suggest getting the cactus out of the decorative pot? I've removed it to water it so it drains in the brown pot a couple of times but just had to tip it upside down onto a surface to do so then struggle to get it back in the pot without stabbing myself a load of times, haha.


I use a folded hand towel to gently stablize the cactus while tipping it out, you can use as much thickness as you need depending on the length of the spines
Name: cheapskate gardener
South Florida (Zone 10a)
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hlutzow
Aug 16, 2020 8:05 AM CST
Rockcozy said:

I use a folded hand towel to gently stablize the cactus while tipping it out, you can use as much thickness as you need depending on the length of the spines


I often use newspaper folded over two or three times.

Keep calm... and plant something.
Name: Eric
Wisconsin (Zone 4b)
Cactus and Succulents Plant and/or Seed Trader
Hallow
Aug 16, 2020 8:17 AM CST
KelN said:

Thanks for your reply. How often is too often? Haha, I have been watering it once a week on advice from the nursery and was told to water it once a month in the winter. How do you check that it needs water? I dunno how to see it going floppy, haha. Erm, it's in the brown pot with a hole and in a decorative pot without one, how would you suggest draining the excess water? Thank you!
your best bet is to have a drain hole in your pot, then you wouldn't have to mess around draining it. Even if you physically drain the water you'll never get it all. If you really like the pot and it doesn't have a hole you can drill a hole in it useing a drill bit for glass. I do this often.


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A regular drill bit will probably break your pot.
You can never give a catus to much sun. If you give a catus the right amount of sun they often thank you a show of color.
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[Last edited by Hallow - Aug 16, 2020 8:41 AM (+)]
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KelN
Aug 16, 2020 8:22 PM CST
hlutzow said:First plant I ever had was a cactus. It died from underwatering. It took 7 years before I tried houseplants again, 9 before I got another cactus. Cacti can be difficult for beginners despite their easygoing reputation.

Your melocactus looks good. The default soil can be ok for now. Just don't water too often. Make sure the soil is bone dry from top to bottom for several days to a week before watering again, maybe longer if you live in a humid region. I know some people wait until the cactus begins to go a little floppy with dehydration, but the barrel shaped cacti aren't always so obvious about needing water.

Does your planter have a drainage hole?


Thanks for your reply. How often is too often? Haha, I have been watering it once a week on advice from the nursery and was told to water it once a month in the winter. How do you check that it needs water? I dunno how to see it going floppy, haha. Erm, it's in the brown pot with a hole and in a decorative pot without one, how would you suggest draining the excess water? Thank you!

KelN
Aug 16, 2020 8:24 PM CST
Thank you all so much for your help.

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