Ask a Question forum: What's happening to my cactus?

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Rarala
May 30, 2017 10:29 AM CST
Hi, I bought this cactus from Home Depot in February. It was doing well until March when I decided to repot it. Unfortunately I used citrus soil that was much older (found it in the garage) than I thought and I noticed mold growing on the soil after a month. I immediately repotted it and bought new soil and a new pot, this was in April. There was discoloration around the base of the cactus when I repotted it. It doesn't seem to be getting worse but there are now spots on the cactus itself. The discoloration was not soft to the touch when I repotted it and a month later it is still fine. Is there anything I can do to make sure the discoloration and the spots aren't going to spread? Is it from the mold or more likely an accidental over watering? Sorry for the long-winded post over just a cactus.
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
May 30, 2017 10:32 AM CST

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For starters it looks to me like this plant isn't getting enough sunlight. Where are you keeping it? How much light does it get?
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 30, 2017 11:01 AM CST
Too much water and not enough sun. Those brown spots around the areoles are signs of rot. The soil growing mold (no matter how old it is) is a sure sign you watered too much.

Cactus need full sun and fast draining soil. The sunniest window in your house may not be enough, depending upon exposure.

There's really no problem using old soil if you rehydrate it well. And citrus soil is a good start for a cactus plant but add some perlite for faster drainage.
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
May 30, 2017 1:28 PM CST
I would try to wash off the roots, seems a lot of peaty stuff attached, might be left over of its first soil. Add pumice or perlite to your citrus soil to keep it well draining. If you were growing this indoors, position slowly to part sun outdoors to acclimate and get more light.

If you can, once you repot, try to top dress with poultry grit (insoluble crushed granite), or maybe some aquarium gravel to help keep wet soil away from the base of the plant and to, keep the soil from splashing around while watering.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
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WillC
May 31, 2017 5:20 PM CST
The browning at the base of the Cactus and some other succulents is called corking and is a normal and natural part of its aging process. Don't try to treat it or remove it. Think of it as being like bark.

The less the roots are disturbed the better. Keep it in a pot just barely large enough to accommodate the rootball and use a very porous potting mix with lots of grit dispersed throughout. Lots of sun and minimal watering for best results.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 31, 2017 7:53 PM CST
And don't top dress with poultry grit or aquarium gravel. That will hold in moisture and make it difficult for you to know when the cactus is dry.

BTW, some poultry grit is ground up oyster shells. Plants do not like ground up shells.
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

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
May 31, 2017 9:13 PM CST
Rarala, the poultry grit I get is insoluble crushed granite, I never get the oyster shells, so check the bag description of the poultry grit if you want to try it. I top dress my cacti and succulents with them, works well. If you want to check if soil is still wet, just stick a bamboo skewer into the soil, if it comes out wet delay watering, or compare weight of container before and after watering, if it has gone dry, container will be lighter. Just make sure you are using container with drainage holes, not too deep, better to use shallow and wide.

Corking is indeed aging of cacti, but as shown on your photo, where you have pulled out the plant already and the soil attached to the roots, it really makes me think it is more than corking, more of it in too wet soil then eventually dried out. That brown color will remain, like its battle scar. As long as it is not going soft and mushy then the plant may just have callused it off. So try to correct the media you are using to help your plant further.

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