Cactus and Tender Succulents forum: Basal rot on golden barrel cactus

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Viktor
Sep 17, 2016 6:45 AM CST
Hello,

I recently bought a young golden barrel cactus in a local garden centre, and because they planted it in a full peat soil (*facepalm*), I bought some well draining cactus soil with it.

When I pulled it out of the pot, I was shocked. I swear there was more water than soil in it, and the base of the cactus had already began rotting. I left it out to dry for a day now.

Is there a way to save it without having to cut the base off and reroot it? It's such a beautiful cactus and I don't want to mutilate the poor thing. But if it's absolutely necessary I will.

Thanks in advance!
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
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mcvansoest
Sep 17, 2016 8:54 AM CST
Welcome Viktor,

How squishy is the plant? I see maybe a couple of spots that look like some kind of rot might be developing, but if the base of that plant is solid then most of what you are seeing would appear to be just normal subsurface coloration of the plant. So if the plant is solid, I would just leave it out to dry for at least another 3-4 days (depending on where you are make sure it is warm, but not in any kind of full sun), then plant in whatever medium you were planning and then just give it another week before watering a little.

If the plant is squishy, it probably means there is a lot of rot going on, then I would be inclined to take it back to the garden center and either get another one or get your money back. You might save it by drying it out, just keeping it warm and dry and out of the sun till it is not squishy anymore - but there is a good likelihood that is will just keep rotting.

As with most barrel cacti, re-rooting from a cutting is not a high success rate approach, not impossible, but highly likely to fail. I have heard of a success story here or there, but mostly have heard and experienced spectacular failures.

Good luck!

Viktor
Sep 17, 2016 10:09 AM CST
Hi, thank you for replying!

It was somewhat squishy around the edges of the brown area when I removed it from the pot, but it's completely solid now. Here are some more closeup photos so you have a clearer view. The roots appear to be completely healthy to me, just some patches around the stem seem to be rotting.

From what you said, I'm currently at the opinion that the drying and replanting approach is the best course of action.

Thanks again!
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Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Sep 17, 2016 10:29 AM CST
If it were mine, I'd repot in fast draining cactus type soil. I often mix perlite into that. Then let it dry well and only water sparsely once in a while during the winter. I bring my golden barrels inside in winter in NM and water them maybe twice all winter. Once they go outside, they get more regular water, but nothing that will make them stay wet. Good luck! I'm betting it will make it just fine.
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Viktor
Sep 17, 2016 10:48 AM CST
Thanks!
I just did an even more thorough inspection and poking to be sure and I'm glad to say the base and the roots are definitely not rotting, thank god. But as you can see in the photos there are a very few small patches scattered around the stem that are undoubtedly rots. I think I'm going to leave it for a couple more days. I just need to ask, will the rot spread from those patches if I leave them? Is cutting them out necessary?
Name: Daisy
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Sep 17, 2016 11:52 AM CST
If it were mine, I would take it back to the garden center immediately.
Name: Karen
NM , AZ (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Region: Arizona Greenhouse Cactus and Succulents Adeniums Garden Art
Plumerias Hibiscus Houseplants Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Dog Lover Cat Lover
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plantmanager
Sep 17, 2016 11:54 AM CST
Daisy has the best idea. Hopefully you can get one that doesn't have the same issues. If that's not the case, give it a try. You might be surprised by how well it does.
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Mesa, AZ (Zone 9b)
Adeniums Enjoys or suffers hot summers Cactus and Succulents Container Gardener Hummingbirder Xeriscape
Region: Arizona Region: Southwest Gardening Seed Starter Plant and/or Seed Trader Cat Lover Dog Lover
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mcvansoest
Sep 17, 2016 12:41 PM CST
If you decide to keep it, I would for now not cut - but keep a close eye on it - if those spots get bigger, rather than drier, I'd take it back. Cutting on such a small plant can easily lead to a worse problem than a solution. Once good and dry try and clean all that remaining soil off as best as you can, before repotting in fast draining cactus soil amended with some perlite or pumice as suggested above.

Viktor
Sep 22, 2016 12:42 PM CST
Hi,

Just an update; the cactus is fine! Four days ago I cleaned the bottom best I could with a clean, unused paintbrush. I found some fairly concentrated solution of colloidal silver in the house, so I thought what the hell (don't worry I did my research). I sprayed and rubbed it onto the rots to stop bacterial growth and they dried out completely by the next morning. I repotted it today and I will not water till a week later.

I should mention though the effects of silver uptake through roots from the soil are unknown, so you know, just a warning before anybody gets any ideas.

I think I will give an update in the future when and if there is an irrefutable sign of improvement, in case others with the same problem see this thread.

Thanks again for the helpful advice!
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