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Darrington, Wa
Babypeas17
Jul 2, 2017 11:00 PM CST
Hello I have a dying cactus that is really special to me. Can anyone tell me how to start the babies that are on it before its too late?

Thumb of 2017-07-03/Babypeas17/de8ea0

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Jul 3, 2017 1:36 AM CST
Welcome!

It looks like a Gymnocalcium. How long have you had this plant? Do you know what happened to it? Sudden move to the sun? Overwatering?

Try pushing on several spots with someing round (so you don't poke holes) like a wooden spoon handle, including underneath. Is it squishy or solid?

Is it living outside or inside? Lets find out what's wrong before deciding to cut it apart.

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
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!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
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tarev
Jul 3, 2017 11:33 AM CST
Hello Babypeas17, I usually wait just a bit more till the offsets are about half the size of mommy plant, before I attempt removing them by a precision cut. Or, I just leave them alone, since I prefer to see them clumping nicely. But it is a personal choice.

The base of mommy plant does look rather soft. Normally I would check below soil line and lift it to make sure the base is not going squishy. Otherwise, may have to cut that rotting part, let it callus and replant in a new gritty media. I don't like to reuse old media where a previous plant had some rotting issues since there may be pathogens in it already.
Darrington, Wa
Babypeas17
Jul 3, 2017 1:47 PM CST
This cactus is over 35 years old because I'm 35 and it was my moms and she passed away when I was 7 months old, so that's why this is so important that I save. It is kept inside but when the weather got nice I moved all my plants to the porch and I think the sunlight did this. It didn't get more than an hour or 2 of sun but that was prob too much. The brown parts on the bottom really don't feel much different than the top. It looks mushy but it doesn't feel mushy. I really hope and pray that you and I together can save this plant.
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!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
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tarev
Jul 3, 2017 2:02 PM CST
Thanks for the added info. Plants grown indoors, should be introduced slowly outdoors, like in part shade first and allowed to acclimate with the intensity of the sun, heat and with the daily temperature variation. They can get sunburn damage if put out immediately in too much direct sun. But it may heal eventually, leaving discoloration that may stay for quite a long time.

If that bottom part is not feeling squishy or oozing black stuff, then it may just be natural cacti aging then and again depending on your personal preference, leave alone the babies attached to mommy plant, or allow them to grow just a bit more before cutting them out. But do protect it for now from being rained on too much, if it rains on your side, till you can ascertain the bottom part is not due to rotting.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Jul 3, 2017 2:17 PM CST
We will assume that its sunburn as, after all these years, you probably are not overwatering. Most Gymnocalycium don't care for the direct sun - and it only takes a an hour or so to sunburn one. If the tissue continues to feel solid, it will recover from the sunburn. As the tissue is yellow, not bleached out and white, the chances are good that the plant will green up again in a couple weeks. Worst case scenario, it will have some scars.

I would never suggest a novice cactus parent do major surgery (and this would be major) on their cactus. Its too tricky and not always successful. If I felt your plant was in imminent danger of rotting, I would suggest surgery but I don't think it is. Keep it out of the sun (bright but no direct sun) and care for it as usual (water when the top inch of soil is dry). Keep checking for solidness.

Keep us posted.
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
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Jul 3, 2017 3:26 PM CST
One more thought: As that yellow tissue is not photosynthesizing right now, your cactus will need a little less water than usual. But if you check the moisture an inch down before you water, you should be fine.

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
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!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
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tarev
Jul 3, 2017 4:09 PM CST
At times, as much as any newbie would like to avoid doing anything major, if the plant further deteriorates, then the surgery has to happen if one needs to save the healthier remaining parts of the plant.

But for now, better to observe how it goes. Succulents often heals themselves quite well, leaving battle scars of whatever damage they sustained. Thankfully it is in the warm season, it would have been a different case if temps are still going too cold.

Darrington, Wa
Babypeas17
Jul 3, 2017 4:57 PM CST
Thank you both so very much I have posted it on facebook and asked everyone I knew and nobody could give me and tips or info. I am so grateful i found this site. I am a plant lover and green thumb. I will keep everyone posted. Oh and the discoloration came on very quick and not gradually and happened after I put it outside so I am now pretty sure it got sun burnt. So if it is rotting instead, this discoloration will continue to spread right? And if its sunburnt then the discoloration won't grow larger?
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!
Composter Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener
Image
tarev
Jul 3, 2017 5:31 PM CST
Yes on a worst case scenario, the rotting will spread. This is just an example okay, when one of my cacti got rotten, due to cold and wet combo, I have no choice but to cut off the babies, to save them.

Thumb of 2017-07-03/tarev/e89443

Have callused the babies, and it is quite a slow recovery, cacti grow ever so slow. I also dabbed some light cinnamon to the cut end as fungicide. It is at this stage some make the mistake of quickly watering, so the rot returns. Got to have roots to be able to take in moisture, sitting too moist below, then it will be prone to more rotting. It needs warm conditions at root area, but not direct sun yet, it is in a stressful stage of recovery.

But in your case, it may just be sunburn, so the exterior part has gone pale and burnt, but it may heal. Don't be tempted to overwater, got to be patient. At least it is warm weather season, so cacti is awake to do some growing, so there is a lot of hope for your cacti to recover.
Darrington, Wa
Babypeas17
Jul 11, 2017 9:18 PM CST
It sort of looks as if the discoloration is growing! I'm going to mark the area with a sharpie and keep a close eye on it for the next week or so. I hope this isn't the case.
Darrington, Wa
Babypeas17
Aug 4, 2017 7:32 AM CST
Hello, my cactus is looking worse. It is dying for sure. The discoloration is spreading and the bottom is rotten and squishy now. One of the babies is slightly starting to turn as well. I will post a pic if you would like to see
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Aug 4, 2017 11:54 AM CST
Yes, a photo please
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
Darrington, Wa
Babypeas17
Aug 5, 2017 10:14 PM CST
I just took these pics a few mins ago. You can compare them with the first pic that i posted. I don't have much time to save the babies I'm afraid. Oh and the black looking places are where I marked it with sharpie.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Aug 5, 2017 10:20 PM CST
Oops! No photo...
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
Darrington, Wa
Babypeas17
Aug 6, 2017 3:13 PM CST
Ok will try again! These pics are all of different sides of the cactus.

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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Aug 6, 2017 3:46 PM CST
No, its not looking good. How good are your surgical skills? It would be good if you could cut the rotten mother out of the middle and then keep cutting until you find solid green tissue. You will have to take the whole plant out of the pot. My thought is that you approach the saveable babies from the side the mother plant is currently. The perfect scenario would be that you would discover those babies on the sides are not rotten and have their own roots. Try not to cut into the babies but make a clean cut between them and the mother plant. If you discover that the mother plant has not rotted all the way to the attachment between the two, leave a tiny slice of tissue from the mother plant attached to the baby. It won't grow but it will keep you from causing too much damage to the baby cactus. If the babies are also starting to rot, cut until you have green tissue and hope for the best.

You need to use something really sharp, like a small exacto knife. Clean the blade with alcohol and then clean the knife (with alcohol) after each cut. You don't want to spread the rot into new places. The tissue must be completely green (no brown running up the stem). Green tissue is healthy, brown means the rot has advanced that far.

My very first cut (you may need a bigger knife) would be to cut the green top off the mother plant. Make your first cut generously into where you know its rotten and work your way towards healthy tissue. Remember the alcohol between cuts.

After you have saved as many babies as possible (and hopefully the top of mommy), leave them someplace shady and dry, head down - cut side up, for a couple days. After the cuts have scabbed over (it may take a week), you can place the cut ends down on barely damp cactus soil in a shady spot. Don't water them as there are no roots to absorb moisture. Be patient and hope for the best. I have done this a number of times with cactus that have lost their roots and part of their bodies to rot.

I will try to check back often to see if you have questions or concerns.
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
Darrington, Wa
Babypeas17
Aug 10, 2017 11:32 AM CST
Ok so after I cut the top off, I just start working my way down, cutting the rotten stuff off? If the babies do have their own root system, do I remove them from the mother plant, pulling the roots thru to the outside? If I'm lucky I may find green before o get too far down the root system? I'm just trying to make sure that I understand his 100% before I start.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Aug 10, 2017 1:54 PM CST
Yes, work your way down through the mother plant. If the babies have their own roots, separate them from the mother carefully. Hopefully, some on them will be green all the way around and have roots. Remember to use the alcohol spray on your cutting tools. If you cut into good tissue with dirty tools, you will transfer the rot to new parts of the plant.

Edited to add: clean you hands with alcohol also. I put the alcohol in a spray bottle for ease of use.
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
[Last edited by DaisyI - Aug 10, 2017 1:58 PM (+)]
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Darrington, Wa
Babypeas17
Aug 13, 2017 4:25 AM CST
Ok thank you so very much! I am going to start on it first thing in the morning. I wish we could do a live chat some how so you could watch me do it and walk me thru it. I would feel so much better and more confident about doing this lol. Do you if there is a way that we can do that? And if so, would you be willing to do so? We could add the whole group so anyone could chime in with some tips or suggestions Smiling Just a thought!

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