cactus falling and bending

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by teanuts, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. teanuts

    teanuts Member

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    i have two cacti about a year and a half old. a month ago they started to bend and fall over.
    i've tried to keep them upright with sticks but they just fall over again.
    they seem to have shrinked aswell, they've gone flatter and thinner.
    i poked the bottom hole of the pot and its all dry. i don't know what the problem is.
    one cactus seems to be losing its poky spikes and they look a little rotten.
    i haven't removed it or taken it out.
    there's only one hole at the centre of the bottom of the pot.
    i've never repotted them.
    they don't get much sunshine because it's stupid climate and winter, but they were fine last winter...(they're in the house)
    please, any suggestions or help would be great. there are 2 pics.
    thanks
     

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  2. mandarin

    mandarin Active Member 10 Years

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    It is normal for many cacti, especially Opuntia, to shrink in winter, but these looks as if it is more than normal shrivelling. If they are rotting (soft and mushy) then there is no hope, throw them out.

    The wrinkly one (probably a variegated, monstrose Opuntia monacantha) looks very bad, I don't think trying to save it is worth the effort.

    The other one (an Opuntia microdasys or possibly a Tunilla) is badly etioliated due to lack of light, but I cannot see anything else that looks wrong. Etioliated (long, thin) stems easily bend under their own weight, is that the problem? Or has the base of the plant rottened?

    Have they been watered in winter?
     
  3. teanuts

    teanuts Member

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    yes i watered it a little bit in the winter.
    so, if the soil or roots are mushy, i should throw them out?
    if the soil or roots are NOT mushy, then what should i do? water it more or try to get more light?
    thank you for your help.
     
  4. mandarin

    mandarin Active Member 10 Years

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    Mushy soil itself does not indicate sick plants, but the plants should not be watered yet, the risk for rotting increases and they are encouraged to grow. Some growers water their cacti once every 1-2 months in winter to keep the plants going but not growing, but that technique might require some practice before it works, to find the right balance between water and temperature is difficult. I keep mine cold and completely dry.
    Some roots can die naturally in winter, it does not need to be a problem. If the plant body itself is mushy, then it is rotting and should be thrown away.

    There is one more thing (apart from disease and very long periods of drought) that can dry out a cactus: a heavy infestation of root mealy bugs.

    If they are not sick:
    Cacti that are kept warm in winter, especially at night, need a lot of light to grow normally. Could be easy if you happen to live close enough to the equator. If not, the common practice is to let them dry out, find a cold spot (5-15 °C) and place them there. It does not need to be bright, once they have become dormant they stop growing and don't use light anyway. An unheated room, a cool spot in a basement, or even a refrigerator will do. The soil must have dried out first, and the plants should have had time to acclimatise first.
     

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