Cactus and Succulents forum: Blue chalk sticks wilted/rot?

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MrMister
May 30, 2018 8:34 AM CST
Hi everyone, first post here. I have a blue chalk stalks (senecio serpens) that is growing in a big pot indoors. I put it in a pretty large pot since I've heard it can grow quite large given the size. It came in an 8" pot but it's now in a 14-16" pot. I have watered it once ever 10-14 days and it was doing fine in a north facing window.

Then a day ago I moved it into the bedroom which is also north facing but has some pretty intense light coming in from the east in the mornings. Last night I came home and 3 stalks of the plant had fallen over (the side opposite the window). The fingers of the fallen stalks looked healthy but the base of each stalk was black/brown and withered.

I read that these plants can handle bright direct light so could it be the light that caused it?

My other theory is that I had also put some of the fingers that had fallen off on the side and I was misting them in hopes of propagating them and that somehow that excess moisture cause those stems to rot.

Any ideas?
[Last edited by MrMister - May 30, 2018 8:35 AM (+)]
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
May 30, 2018 9:03 AM CST
Hello MrMister, if you can kindly upload a photo of the whole plant. Also describe the material of the container, is it glazed, plastic or clay. Does it have drain holes? What type of soil did you use during repot?

For now, basing on what you said, I would guess the root zone is staying way too wet. With succulents, you have to consider first the size of the root mass, too big containers may not be needed yet since they are rather slow growing especially if they are not being grown in their ideal set-up. Your plant does indeed like bright light, but light from a north facing window is rather weak and being indoors it is not able to get enough light, and it is not able to do that outdoor nightly gas exchange that the succulents do.

This plant likes ambient temps of 70F to 90F outdoors, can take part sun to full sun and needs a well draining, gritty media. By gritty media, I add more pumice or perlite with the cacti mix, and using containers with drain holes. We have varying outdoor microclimates, in my area since we get way too hot and dry, I have to position it in part sun, so it does not get fried during summer when we hit 90F and higher. In other areas where it may be cooler and temps just comfortably warm during the rest of the day, it can ably take full sun, just protect from excessive rain.




MrMister
May 30, 2018 9:08 AM CST
Thanks tarev. Unfortunately I can't take a picture of it now, but can try later. It is a plastic pot which didn't have drain holes. I did try and make my own using a hammer and nail but they aren't the best. I also put a layer of pebbles at the bottom of the pot. I repotted it in a succulent mix from Home Depot.

Do you think I should transfer it back to a smaller pot?
Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
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skopjecollection
May 30, 2018 9:28 AM CST
Plastic pots are the best. But if you got a pot that cant be worked with.....
For cacti and succulents, ones with large holes made from thin plastic work just fine. Mostly for nursery wholesale plants. Unsightly, yes, but outperforming every other type.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
May 30, 2018 9:37 AM CST
Hello MrMister, if you can move it back to a smaller container for now, but do remove the layer of pebbles below and use a container with drain holes. Drainage is of utmost importance with this plant. You can just put a small screen on the holes to prevent soil washing away, but pretty much with succulents, better to water thoroughly and see the water drain out. Then wait a week or so, for the soil to dry out a bit. They are succulents that ably hold water, so you got to be careful with watering and drainage to avoid root zone rotting.

If you are not sure if soil is still wet, you can use bamboo skewers, stick it into the soil, if it comes out wet, delay watering.
Name: Tattoodwaitress McNulty
Sacramento, CA (Zone 9b)
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tattoodwaitress
Oct 14, 2018 5:45 PM CST
@MrMister I am wondering if you figured out the problem with yours. I was lucky enough to buy one of these same plants from a local gardener. At least I think so as you did not post a picture. It appeared to beautiful and quite huge when I got it and just some of the leaves were looking shriveled and dark. I decided I wanted to take it out of the big ugly plastic pot they had it in and that is when I was able to inspect further. Most of the roots in the pot were so rotted they were hollow and some of the stems had done EXACTLY what you have described here. Here we are about two months later and the healthly parts I re-potted from the original apparently continued to rot. So today I cut all those tops off and saw the rot is going up into the stem and it is hollow just as the roots had been. So I cut and cut until I no longer see rot. I am hoping I can plant these. On the other hand... from the original rotting plant the fresh cuttings that I took (with no rot and no roots attached any more), I had stuck in a new pot of VERY DRY soil, let sit for about two weeks without watering, then watered sparingly and left alone those SEEM to be doing ok right now. Not sure if they have actual roots yet but I can see new growth. Anyway I hope you figured out what was wrong with yours and was able to save it or part of it. I anyone has any suggestions to add I would appreciate it as well.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
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tarev
Oct 18, 2018 10:37 AM CST
Hello tattoodwaitress, try to move your plant outdoors this Fall, part sun side. They do like feeling the temperature variances, cool overnights to early mornings and the warm afternoons. There is better humidity now in the early mornings, though it will dissipate quite fast later in the day.

Fall is active growing and wake up time now for most succulents especially the Senecios, just be mindful of watering, observe longer watering intervals and if you do need to water, make sure you do it early in the day, so it has time to drain out excess water by night fall.

That is the crucial part during Fall and winter, the longer dry out time of the media due to cooler temps, so the need for longer watering intervals is essential. I do hope rains come around again, before the much cooler temps come in, to allow some time for the plants to adjust slowly to the seasonal changes.
Name: Tattoodwaitress McNulty
Sacramento, CA (Zone 9b)
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tattoodwaitress
Aug 13, 2019 9:05 PM CST
@tarev Thank you, I was able to save the one I have. I now have two since the re-potting mentioned above in my last post (put all in two separate pots). This was a successful endeavor. I did place outside as you suggested and only lost one more piece this summer (possibly did not get all the rot from that one). I RARELY water it now and it is doing so much better. I thank you for your advice. I will remember its active time is coming soon. I tip my hat to you. Thank You! OH and I did place outside where it is LOVING the weather.
[Last edited by tattoodwaitress - Aug 13, 2019 9:06 PM (+)]
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Name: Tattoodwaitress McNulty
Sacramento, CA (Zone 9b)
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tattoodwaitress
Aug 13, 2019 9:12 PM CST
@MrMister Just want to give a helpful tip for making holes in a plastic pot that does not have any. I use a drill to make holes in mine most of the time. HOWEVER if I need holes at a time when the drill battery is dead (or cannot be found) I have successfully made holes by heating something metal like a sharp steak knife, long spike (like a large nail) or a metal skewer until glowing red. Then the hot poker item will melt a hole through the pot. Rather primitive sounding, but it works way better for me than a hammer and nail alone, as sometimes I have had the plastic pot crack when trying that OR the hammer will bounce back and almost give me a concussion if I am not careful. Hahaha. Hope this helps. Rolling on the floor laughing Sticking tongue out Green Grin!
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!
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tarev
Aug 14, 2019 9:03 AM CST
tattoodwaitress said:@tarev Thank you, I was able to save the one I have. I now have two since the re-potting mentioned above in my last post (put all in two separate pots). This was a successful endeavor. I did place outside as you suggested and only lost one more piece this summer (possibly did not get all the rot from that one). I RARELY water it now and it is doing so much better. I thank you for your advice. I will remember its active time is coming soon. I tip my hat to you. Thank You! OH and I did place outside where it is LOVING the weather.


Glad to hear you were able to improve the growth of your plants, good growing! Thumbs up
Your area and mine is facing this excessive dry heat wave, hope you can move your plant for the time being in a bit more shade this next 3 days, to protect it from excessive heat. I have been stepping up watering this summer doing it early in the day, to help cool them down, before the hot sun hits them.

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