Ask a Question forum: Cacti dying !!

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Maryland
gardener816
Jul 5, 2017 11:56 PM CST
I've had these two cacti for a couple of weeks and they're the same kind. One is not doing so well and I've looked online but I'm just still confused. What is wrong with my cactus? Am I watering it too much? I've been watering it every couple of days. Not enough sunlight or too much? I've been keeping it at a western faced window. It's been yellowing, drooping and dropping pads. I'm not sure what's wrong, but I really need help.

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Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Jul 6, 2017 12:10 AM CST
gardener816 said:I've had these two cacti for a couple of weeks and they're the same kind. One is not doing so well and I've looked online but I'm just still confused. What is wrong with my cactus? Am I watering it too much? I've been watering it every couple of days. Not enough sunlight or too much? I've been keeping it at a western faced window. It's been yellowing, drooping and dropping pads. I'm not sure what's wrong, but I really need help.

Thumb of 2017-07-06/gardener816/4c9fff



Every couple of days is too often. I had a friend who grew very good small cacti and he said he only watered them when the newspaper reported rain in Texas. The soil matters too. He said 2/3rds sand and 1/3 third perlite. But I've read equals parts sand, topsoil, and pebbles also work well.

I used to grow some with the first mix, but I got bored with them.

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jul 6, 2017 12:24 AM CST
Welcome!

It looks like you have two problems:

The largest pads have rotted from overwatering. Cactus need some drying out time. They should not be watered until at least the top inch of soil is dry. In a pot as deep as yours, it will take a while to dry out. If you water every couple weeks, that would be enough.

The smaller pads are sunburned. I know its hard to believe, but cactus need to be acclimated to full sun. Most are grown in greenhouses or under shadecloth.

Pull the still green pads off the brown larger pads and pot them by themselves. Find some unglazed terracotta or plastic pots that are not as deep as they are wide. Use soil especially formulated for cactus with some extra perlite mixed in (1 part perlite to 3 parts cactus soil). Moisten the soil (damp, not wet) and lay the pads down, burned side up, on the soil and push the butt end down a little bit.

Find a shady spot to put them in and be patient. You can slowly move them to a sunnier location - it may take a week or so. Cactus without roots don't have any use for water so wait until you see some new growth before you water again. Hopefully, this time of year, that will be in a week or so.

Keep us posted.


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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jul 6, 2017 2:06 PM CST
Yardenman said:I had a friend who grew very good small cacti and he said he only watered them when the newspaper reported rain in Texas.


Why not focus on the local climate and more specifically the moisture in the soil where the cactus is actually growing. Water well, until the soil is saturated, and then wait until the soil is going dry at depth to water again. Maybe once every week or two, very much depending on the local conditions. I don't think the plant can be salvaged at this point (prove me wrong! Smiling ) but these are watering instructions that work for all the cacti that I have grown.

Yardenman said:He said 2/3rds sand and 1/3 third perlite. But I've read equals parts sand, topsoil, and pebbles also work well.


Those recipes are not going to be helpful for a beginner grower. Use a potting mix from your nursery (mostly organic material) with 50-100% added pumice/perlite/grit (but not fine sand). If you're lucky you can find a bagged cactus mix formulated for these plants. The organic matter is crucial because it holds the moisture that the roots are looking for. Too much aggregate is as bad as too little. I am speaking from experience here. My preference for cacti is 50% pumice, the rest all organic.

Daisy has given you excellent advice.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jul 6, 2017 2:16 PM (+)]
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jul 6, 2017 2:22 PM CST
Hello gardener816, yes it does look so overwatered. I would repot as already suggested to you. There is still hope, there is still a green pad remaining. But you got to be very patient, and adjust/delay watering. Sometimes the hardest part is to find the discipline to resist watering.

Our growing areas are quite different, a lot of other factors will also contribute like your area's humidity, light conditions, air flow. For myself, I grow my succulents and cacti outdoors during this time. So I can make a bit more frequent watering, just because our growing area is too dry, with no rainfall, lots of air around so my plant's media dries out faster. Also new plants needs to acclimate to your growing area too, so there will be a period of adjustment, and watering too often will not hasten it.

In your area, indoors, the conditions are much different, water use of your plant is less, so the container will hold the water a bit longer, that is why you have to make your media grittier and give longer intervals in watering.

Good luck, hope your plant recovers. Do update us as it goes!

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