Ask a Question forum: San Pedro Cactus Help!

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(Zone 5b)
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primrosebud
Apr 7, 2017 10:21 AM CST
Hi there! So I have two San Pedro Cacti and they aren't looking too good right now. I fertilized them last week and watered them after not watering them for probably a good month. Then I watered it again a week later. Now the shorter cactus is turning yellow and feeling kind of soft. Also, they both are producing black spots. Do you think that the yellow cactus is succumbing to root rot? Do you have any suggestions on how to fix this problem? If you have any thoughts, that would be greatly appreciated!!
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Apr 7, 2017 10:35 AM CST
They need more light. See how the left stem is sort of long and skinny at the end? There's a part there which is different from the rest. That indicates the plant is stretching. What kind of light have you been giving your plant?

Turning soft is generally a bad sign (watch that), as are changes in color. I suspect that more light will help improve the health of your plant in a general way, but it will probably not reverse the softness if it's already far gone, or the stretching which has already taken place. There's one kind of softness which is more like the plant's not completely pumped up, and that usually has to do with the plant not getting enough water, so it's reversible that way. Then there's another kind of softness which is more extreme and localized and associated with changes in color, and that's rot. The best way to proceed given the second possibility is to cut away the rotted portion, leaving a clear healthy margin all around it. If you have to behead your plant to accomplish that, it's not terribly hard to start one of these from a cutting.

You should try to be very sparing with the fertilizer if these are indoor plants. Never use the full recommended dose (try 1/4 strength maybe, or less), avoid fertilizer in general when your plant is stretching (as it will only exacerbate the situation), and try to time the nutrients for when the plant seems most content and in full growth, which is when it will be able to best make use of them.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Apr 7, 2017 10:44 AM (+)]
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(Zone 5b)
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primrosebud
Apr 7, 2017 10:54 AM CST
I am using is a $20 grow light from amazon. In the online description for the lamp it states that one of the features is the "16 piece LED plant grow beads(11 red and 5 blue)," but it's positioned a couple feet above the San Pedro. Do you think that's too weak of a lamp? Also thank you for the advice on the yellow cactus. From what I have been reading I do fear it's rot, but I guess time will tell. Unfortunately I have some experience in root rot. I tried not to have my San Pedro suffer the same fate as my previous succulents/cacti, but I may have to perform cactus surgery to fix this problem. Also they have been stretching and growing like that for months, now they look like cone heads, oh my poor cacti...
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Apr 7, 2017 11:11 AM CST
I water mine every 6 weeks. I soak them in a pail for 20 minutes.
Soil equal parts potting soil and washed sand.

Lite needs to be 1 to 1 1/2 inches above plants.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Apr 7, 2017 11:18 AM CST
Looks like it got overwatered, and that media is too rich, got to make that much grittier, add more pumice and perlite. Needs more light. Keep it dry and warm for now, hopefully it will still recover.

I am also inclined to pull that yellowing one out of the media and have it air dry, so the base will get dry faster. Hopefully it does not creep in any more higher, or else you will have to chop it down to save the upper part.
(Zone 5b)
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primrosebud
Apr 7, 2017 11:28 AM CST
Thank you all for your responses!! Yes I think I am going to pull the cacti out and wash the pot and put new soil in. So I should mix the cactus soil with sand? I have a bag of potting sand that I could utilize. Then I guess I'll let the yellow one hang out for a bit and encourage it with kind words, lol. If that doesn't work, I'll chop it I guess. I'll post pics if I do that, hopefully I won't have to. Crossing Fingers!
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
Apr 7, 2017 11:39 AM CST
I don't add sand to the cacti mix since it tends to compact overtime, what I do add is more pumice or perlite, but I do prefer pumice more.

A similar thing happened to mine, but it was also left outdoors during winter and it rained..that bad combo of wet and cold. I tried to wait it out if it will recover, but it was just bad, so I ended up pulling it out, chopping it down to save the last remaining part and putting it in a much smaller container. Such shallow and few roots they make, no wonder they are so prone to quick rotting at the slightest chance of overwatering.
(Zone 5b)
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primrosebud
Apr 7, 2017 2:59 PM CST
OK, so now I'm digging to the bottom of the yellow cactus to see how far and bad this issue goes down to. Well I am digging and have yet to reach any signs of established roots. The green cactus roots are way closer to the top of the soil. It looks like the yellow cactus was planted further into the soil. Is this also bad? I know it does not look good, and there's definitely too much moisture, but is it bad to plant the cactus deep into the soil? I just don't want to repeat any mistakes.
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[Last edited by primrosebud - Apr 7, 2017 3:00 PM (+)]
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Apr 7, 2017 3:13 PM CST
Deep is not good !
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
Apr 7, 2017 4:31 PM CST
Yes, too deep is not good. How does the yellow part and the part below soil level feel? Still a tad firm or too soft already??
(Zone 5b)
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primrosebud
Apr 7, 2017 4:42 PM CST
The part below soil level feels kinda mooshy....not a good sign...
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
Apr 7, 2017 4:50 PM CST
Yes, not a good sign, maybe better to pull it up gently and see if air drying will help it callus and recover.

The other greener cacti, still looks good, I just do not know if the soil is still safe, if the other cacti is going mushy, pathogens are now there to exploit everything.
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
Apr 7, 2017 6:39 PM CST
You said you fertilized and then watered? Never a good idea to fertilize a dry plant. Always water a day before fertilizing, and in the case of potted plants using at a low dose the next day, or you risk burning the roots.
(Zone 5b)
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primrosebud
Apr 7, 2017 11:17 PM CST
I'm actually using the Miracle-grow foam fertilizer. It's interesting. It has a pump that dispenses fertilizer as a foam and then you're suppose to water it in...It's meant for cacti and succulents, but the foam might not be the best for the San Pedro.
(Zone 5b)
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primrosebud
Apr 8, 2017 1:47 PM CST
Alright, so I took them out of the dirt. The diagnosis is not good. The yellow cactus has gotten so soft that now it is starting to rot. It has become mushy. So I am going to cut both. The green one definitely has been exposed to pathogens now that I can see the state of the yellow cactus. Also does anyone have a recommendation on how deep San Pedros should be planted? The green one was planted like 5 inches deep.
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(Zone 5b)
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primrosebud
Apr 8, 2017 2:45 PM CST
So the cacti have made it out of surgery and now we'll wait and see if that stopped the rot. The yellow one had to be trimmed down quite a bit till I could see a healthy margin. Once I plant these I will probably cut off the tops and try to propagate San Pedro cacti from them.



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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
Apr 8, 2017 2:50 PM CST
I have grown one of these but not actually started one from a cutting myself. You're going to face gravity issues unless you stake the plant or tie it to something solid nearby, and try to keep the cuttings out of traffic until they're properly rooted. I wouldn't bury more than about an inch. There should be no great advantage to more than that, except for stability (which you can manage using other means).
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Apr 8, 2017 2:51 PM (+)]
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(Zone 5b)
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primrosebud
Apr 8, 2017 2:58 PM CST
Thank you! Yeah I'll have to get a little creative once they are properly rooted. I was also considering grafting another cactus onto one these, but we'll see. I guess it depends on how well they do and how complex it is to accomplish what I want from them.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Cat Lover Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Region: California Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all!
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tarev
Apr 9, 2017 9:47 PM CST
When I had to chop down and repot my cacti before, had to reduce container size significantly and really make media very gritty. I had to stake them a bit, since they grow the new roots ever so slowly, and I made it like they are almost just standing on top of the media.

Good luck! Do update us later on how it goes!
(Zone 5b)
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primrosebud
Apr 12, 2017 11:47 AM CST
So the greener healthier cactus is looking better, seems to be callusing nicely.
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The shorter yellow cactus which had the rot is not looking good unfortunately. The cactus flesh feels like its starting to get softer and the cactus did ooze out some brown liquid...which i take as not a good sign, but I guess we'll see how it goes. Who knows, maybe by some miracle it will survive.
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I also will note that the cacti are drying out on two separate plates. I don't want there to be cross contamination (unless that's already happened, then oh well).

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