Ask a Question forum: Cactus Rescue - Help Needed!

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London UK
Oliver2181
Apr 8, 2018 5:54 AM CST
Last week I got hold of 10 cacti that someone had owned for well over 15 years. They are about a meter tall and the old owner had kept them in their original pots which were about 5 inches in diameter. We have since repotted them in considerably larger pots which are about 12 inches in diameter (I know this isn't ideal but they were just to tall to be put in a pot any smaller) using good gritty soil with some added pearlite. We have not watered them since repotting.

When we removed them from their original pots the root system was so dense it was almost as hard as clay. The roots on many of the plants were unfortunately moist and light brown colour (see photo)

The plants themselves have what I believe is corking around the base where they are thinner and on one of them (the cereus) the top seems shrivelled.

I would really appreciate any advice on how to proceed with these. Is there anything else I should do or anything that I shouldn't or should've done?! As I have mentioned, they have been repotted but not watered and they are now sitting inside my house in a brightish space (they are too big to go in my window!)

Thanks everyone!

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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Apr 8, 2018 10:25 AM CST
Welcome!

Your new cactus just prove how incredibly hardy cactus are (unless you overwater them Smiling )

The first (some sort of montrose Cereus?), hopefully you broke up the root ball a little bit as I doubt it will ever manage on its own. It has a lot of dried areas on it so I suspect it hasn't been getting sufficient water.

The second (maybe Pilosocereus pachycladus), is in the worst shape. That is not corking but rather, stem failure and without surgery, I'm not sure its saveable. The top is also failing so the only maybe saveable part is the center section.

The third, maybe Parodia, looks the best.

Not watering after transplanting is a good thing as it allows the roots to heal from whatever damage they suffered during transplant. I would have chosen pots that are wider than tall as cactus roots don't go down, they go sideways. That is a lot of soil under the plants that can potentially hold moisture too long. I would also make the perlite/soil ratio 1:1.

Good luck! And 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

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Apr 8, 2018 11:15 AM CST
Daisy has given you some good advice. I would only add that these plants require a lot of light to thrive, so if there's any way you can provide them hours of daily sun (through a window), they will do much better that way. The further from the window, the less sun they will "see", and the more likely they will be to grow weaker as a result. This time of year that's not so much an issue but it can really matter during the shorter and darker days of late fall and early winter.
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Apr 8, 2018 11:24 AM CST
Good score 👍👍.
After repoting, with barely moistened soil. You want to wait a week before watering.
Your going to need to get them to smaller pots. You only want to move one size larger pot up at a time. Like, 2,4,6,8,10.
If larger ones will survive your winters ? It would be best to plant in ground.
When repoting, I allways ruff up outside of rootball a little, so roots will grow out of rootball.

Tallest one, cut that elongated tip off to thick part. It'll branch off. That shrunken tip won't get fat as rest of catus is.
You could top any of ones you've shown, for more stability, if wanted.
Prune to desisired shape.
At least get, what appears to be dead parts trimmed out.
Corking is normal.
There going to need all the direct sunshine you an give, there not indoor plants.
Well, fast draining soil, a must.
Soil on the ones you've shown, will need to go dry before watering.
Under watered catus will start to shrivel, when they need water, then will puff back up, when watered.
Over watered catus will get soft and spongy and rot.
So let them get stressed for water. Then you have a time guage.
Also, stick a wooden BBQ skewer to bottom of pot, if it gets wet, don't water.

Ttfn 👍
😎😎😎






Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
London UK
Oliver2181
Apr 9, 2018 2:25 PM CST
Thank you Daisy and Baja - and hello again to Phil who gave me some help earlier this year with my Cresula Ovata which is now loving life! Thanks again Philip. Thank You!

So can I ask you all a bit more about the surgery that might be involved with The Pilosocereus Pachycladus.

Am I understanding correctly that I should cut off the bottom part (first picture) and also the shrivelled top part (second picture) and then replant the remaining middle part? Should I be using some sort of hormone powder to help stimulate new roots at the bottom once this procedure has been carried out? Also, how should I leave the "open wound" at the top and of the plant. I've never done this sort of work on a cactus so would welcome a step by step process if you have the time. Shrug!

Thanks again

Olly
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Apr 9, 2018 3:09 PM CST
The top of the Pilosocereus is not stretching from insufficient light, its shriveling from lack of moisture. All your cactus have the same problem: Lack of moisture. But please don't react by overwatering now. As I pointed out, your pots are very deep so moisture will be held in the soil below the roots. Cactus need a period between waterings when the root system is dry. Pots that are too deep or have no drain holes cause the same problem - no dry time. As there are no "shut off' valves (other plants don't take up more water than they can use), it is easy to cause a root rot problem.

I have had good luck re-rooting cactus but there are some potential problems and you may not be successful (cross your fingers and toes). I think the biggest factor in failure is being impatient and trying at the wrong time of year - this is a spring time project.

Find a permanent marking pen and put an arrow pointing towards the top someplace on the good part of the cactus body. Use a good, sharp knife that's big enough to do the job - you want a clean cut without ragged edges. Hopefully, you won't find any rot but to be on the safe side, wash your knife with alcohol between cuts. One cut above the ruined lower stem and one cut below the ruined tip. Inspect the inside of your cactus. Cactus are green inside, any brown indicates rot. Keep cutting until there is no brown.

Find a warm, shady, dry spot and lay the cactus down and forget about it for 2 or 3 weeks until a nice dry scab has formed on both cuts. Use barely damp potting soil with at least half perlite/lava rock. Balance the down end on the soil surface and snug it down - don't bury any stem. Stake it up so the cactus doesn't move in the pot and wait. You could be waiting for the rest of the summer until you see signs of life. Remember, the cactus has no roots so can't absorb any moisture. There is no photosynthesis going on - the cactus is living on energy stored in the cactus body until it can grow roots - there is nothing you can do to hurry this project along.

I'm not sure how tall this cactus is but another potting method I have used with smaller pieces is to lay them on their sides in the cactus medium. They will root all along the bottom side and sprout new plants from the rooted spots. Kind of an instant cactus forest look.
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: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Apr 9, 2018 5:49 PM CST
Howdy ! Oliver ! I tip my hat to you.
Cut top of big one off, it will heal, on its own.
If there is any discoloration in center of part you cut, that's sign of rot.
Cut back till no more discoloration.

Under-watering, does not cause rot !!!

Then ! Pop, her out of pot, and look at roots. If no discoloration !
I doubt any rot !

Unless any of the bottom corking area, is spongy, and soft.

Just get her, to a smaller pot, that is wider than as deep ! As ordinary pots are.

Dollar stores, have pots, for ???Guess what ???
He. He ! 😀😀😀

Ttfn my friend 👍😎
😎😎😎



Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Apr 10, 2018 1:58 PM CST
Corking is something that, given time, cactus will do. Its when the bottom of the stem gets wooody, sort of like growing bark. The corking doesn't make the stem smaller and it doesn't skip up the stem. A lot of things can cause what looks like corking.

Your Pilosocereus is not corking. Its not old enough and it shouldn't be shrunken and wrinkled. I believe your plant is dying from the top down and from the bottom up.

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
London UK
Oliver2181
Apr 11, 2018 6:19 AM CST
Daisy and Philip - Thank You! My girlfriend and I are going to attempt the procedure this weekend. I will post a photo of the outcome!

Can I ask both your opinions on this other plant. Again it is about a meter tall, seems in better health but the bottom is concerning. As you can see it is slimmer at the bottom, with some of the skin almost peeling off like a thin bark. Do you think it requires the same procedure from the bottom?

Thank you again both so much for your time. I doth my hat to your respective expertise! I tip my hat to you.
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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
Image
Philipwonel
Apr 11, 2018 12:23 PM CST
Now your showing us a different catus.
What's different with this one, is, the top is branching out with new growth. 🤔🤔🤔 Very Interesting !

Well Oliver, this one doesn't need no head chopping.👍
How does the bottom feel ?
Personally, I think the bottoms of both being shrunken was due to elonganating when they were young, due to poor care, or poor lighting.

For they wouldn't be standing today, if roots were rotted away.

Now ! If someone planted them below there original ground level, it would be a different story.
Of course, like you said ! They've been in original pots, there whole life's. Right. 👍

I've been away, several hours at dentist.
Now ?....
What was your question again ? Let me go back and look-see.🤔😀😀😀

I wouldn't cut bottoms off either one, right now. As big as they are, they can survive quite a while.

I don't recall you telling if bottoms, or other parts, felt soft or spongy ?

Take hold of bottoms and tops, and rock them back and forth, just a little, see how they feel.
If they break !😮! Opps.
Then, do surgery. 🕵️

Have a jolly good day, o'l chap 👍😎

Philip 😎😎😎




Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Apr 11, 2018 12:47 PM CST
One easy way to keep track of any progression of damage on any of your new cactus is to trace a line with a permanent marker around all the damage. Then you will be able to see if the problems are getting worse or staying the same.
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

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