Ask a Question forum: Cactus with bright pink veins!?

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Feb 20, 2018 9:33 PM CST
A friend gave me a clipping of this cactus and it has been growing very well for almost a year now. In the past month I noticed that the plant looked slightly pink on the inside and a little wobbly - I put a stick in the container for support since I thought it was just getting a little top heavy.

I thought the cactus might have an infection or rotting at the top so I cut the plant and was surprised to find bright pink on the inside! I have never seen pinkish veins on a cactus before and am not sure if the plant is rotting or infected and if this will affect my other plants. Has anyone seen this before? Any help would be appreciated!

Thumb of 2018-02-21/visitor/6aa386
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Feb 20, 2018 10:02 PM CST

No, your cactus should not be pink inside and it should not be that wet inside either. Those "veins" you see on the outside is the rot coming to the surface from the inside.

Your cactus is a Mammillaria. They need full sun and very little water. Anytime you see a plant with white "fur", whether its a cactus or something else, that is a hint that it is from a very arid and sunny area.
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: 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
Feb 20, 2018 10:13 PM CST
Sometimes plants turn bright colors when they rot (on their way to inevitable brown), and I suspect that is what's happening with your plant. I have never seen that kind of technicolor on the inside of a succulent, though. It is kind of impressive. The discolored streak down the middle in the second picture, and the way the plant began to fall over, sort of suggest rot is what happened. It's hard to say for sure but if the plant was going soft then it's probably rot.

Photo here of an unrelated plant in the process of rotting, just to illustrate some unusually strong colors.

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Your cactus was not getting enough light. You can tell it went through a brighter period early on (the bottom 2/3 is relatively compact) and then it was light starved more recently (the top 1/3 is distorted and there is more space between the areoles). This may have contributed to its downfall. Late fall and early winter are when low light is most likely to be an issue, given the shorter days and the sun being lower in the sky, thus more likely to be blocked by obstacles outside near the horizon. Winter is also when rot is more of a risk, unless you compensate for the lower temps and the lower light by watering less often.

As to whether this is contagious (if it is rot), I always assume that the soil and pot are contaminated if a plant rots out. So I would throw away the plant and the soil and wash the pot really carefully (with soap and/or bleach) afterwards. Beyond that, you should be okay.

Your other plants might benefit from stronger light and less water, as a preventative measure. Ideally all your indoor succulents should "see" the sun for hours each day, year round. But unless you have swarms of fungus gnats buzzing around, you probably won't see the rot spread to another plant.

[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Feb 20, 2018 10:24 PM (+)]
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