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Name: Daniel
Los Angeles (Zone 10b)
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Dciau1
Jun 17, 2021 8:49 AM CST
Hello!

I'm not 100% on the identification but I think this is a type of Pilocereus?

Anyway, I was checking my cactus and noticed that the bottom of the pilo had a yellow and spongey/malleable bottom that looks shrunken and I am worried that it's a bad sign?

Not sure if it's normal at all?

It's getting full sun and while it typically gets watered every 2 weeks at this moment, I forgot to water it for like 3 weeks.

I'm pretty sure it should not be rot because it was dry for a while

Thumb of 2021-06-17/Dciau1/fdd4be
Thumb of 2021-06-17/Dciau1/580869
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
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Baja_Costero
Jun 17, 2021 1:53 PM CST

Moderator

I agree, softness at the base is usually a bad sign. I'm not sure there's anything particular to do at this point, other than give the plant a bit more shade protection (when a plant may be stressed, full sun is usually not helpful, especially in containers, and especially now at the peak of solar intensity) and exercise discipline with the water. Maybe try part shade (something like 4 hours of direct sun a day, not during midday) or filtered light (I like 50% shade, but the dappled shade of a tree can work equally well).

I would be surprised that a pot that size takes more than about a week to dry out this time of year in full sun (defined as 6 or more hours of direct sun a day), unless the soil is particularly rich or conditions are particularly humid where you are. If it's really hot and dry, that might happen in days. Strong light has a pretty dramatic effect on unglazed clay pots, promoting evaporation through the pot (not just from the surface of the soil). Given full sun combined with mild temps and good air flow, I water all my 6-12" clay pots weekly, and our relative humidity is pretty stable at 70-80%.

Not to speculate overly much on what may have happened to your plant, I would point out that underwatering (which I would define as allowing the soil to remain bone dry for extended periods of time, or not allowing it to reach anywhere near saturation after watering) can lead to root loss, and actually some plants will go into a sort of crisis when they get deep watering after they have been dry enough long enough. Presumably there is root loss and then some kind of incipient rot gains entry through the damaged tissue.

So in the end the symptoms of underwatering can sometimes look like the symptoms of overwatering, and confuse the issue.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 17, 2021 4:08 PM (+)]
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Name: Daniel
Los Angeles (Zone 10b)
Image
Dciau1
Jun 17, 2021 2:40 PM CST
Baja_Costero said:I agree, softness at the base is usually a bad sign. I'm not sure there's anything particular to do at this point, other than give the plant a bit more shade protection (when a plant may be stressed, full sun is usually not helpful, especially in containers, and especially now at the solar maximum) and exercise discipline with the water. Maybe try part shade (something like 4 hours of direct sun a day, not during midday) or filtered light (I like 50% shade, but the dappled shade of a tree can work equally well).

I would be surprised that a pot that size takes more than about a week to dry out this time of year in full sun (defined as 6 or more hours of direct sun a day), unless the soil is particularly rich or conditions are particularly humid where you are. If it's really hot and dry, that might happen in days. Strong light has a pretty dramatic effect on unglazed clay pots, promoting evaporation through the pot (not just from the surface of the soil). Given full sun combined with mild temps and good air flow, I water all my 6-12" clay pots weekly, and our relative humidity is pretty stable at 70-80%.

Not to speculate overly much on what may have happened to your plant, I would point out that underwatering (which I would define as allowing the soil to remain bone dry for extended periods of time, or not allowing it to reach anywhere near saturation after watering) can lead to root loss, and actually some plants will go into a sort of crisis when they get deep watering after they have been dry enough long enough. Presumably there is root loss and then some kind of incipient rot gains entry through the damaged tissue.

So in the end the symptoms of underwatering can sometimes look like the symptoms of overwatering, and confuse the issue.



Thank you! This is helpful!!
Usually the pots take about 3/4 days to dry out completely however they're drying out pretty quickly now because the heats coming in and i'm going to have to start watering more frequently
I've been trying to be super cautious about watering my cactuses compared to the other succulents cause i'm usually an overwaterer but I over did it this time...

Alright! So I move it to the shade and let it be for now then?

Should I be looking out for any rot?
Should I be prepared to deal with rot?


Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
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Baja_Costero
Jun 17, 2021 3:12 PM CST

Moderator

Dciau1 said:Alright! So I move it to the shade and let it be for now then?


Sure, that sounds good. Or just a bit of morning sun, something like that, whatever space you have available.

Dciau1 said:Should I be looking out for any rot?
Should I be prepared to deal with rot?


I tend to be pretty fatalistic once rot sets in. For me it's mostly about prevention. Some people try to do battle. I'm not sure what would be involved there beyond perhaps surgically excising rotten parts (if that is possible) with careful attention to hygiene, or cutting off the top and trying to restart the plant from a healthy piece (which I'm not sure would be easy or straightforward for your cactus).

The early signs tend to include softness and/or a color change in the stem (darkening/yellowing/browning). What tends to be the convincer for me is when these changes are progressive, spreading through or up the plant, or especially severe; or the plant loses structural stability. So monitor the situation, be observant of change, and maybe you'll pick up some informative details.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 17, 2021 3:12 PM (+)]
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Name: Daniel
Los Angeles (Zone 10b)
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Dciau1
Jun 17, 2021 3:26 PM CST
@Baja_Costero

I think I have a good spot for it!

Hopefully it'll just recover lol but i'll be vigilant

Thank you! I appreciate the help!
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
Image
Baja_Costero
Jun 17, 2021 4:14 PM CST

Moderator

My pleasure. Smiling I'm rooting for a happy ending here.

Do be aware that taking your plant out of the sun will typically lengthen the watering interval, so you know, don't go nuts with the water. Smiling

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