Help with deflated cactus

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by DiiDiiMi, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. DiiDiiMi

    DiiDiiMi Member

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    Location:
    Blue Mountains, Australia
    Hi Everyone,

    I was wondering if anyone could help with a weird cactus problem? I Have a bit of a cactus collection, and they all seem really happy, but a couple of months ago I put together a cactus garden for my husband's desk at work, and today he got in to the office to discover that the centre cactus had completely deflated! All the other cacti are fine, and I'm hoping it's not contagious. The cactus in question is a mammillaria, although exactly which sub-species I'm not entirely sure. The cactus seems gushy, smells funny and its spines pull off really easily, sometimes with some of the flesh still attached. Strangely enough, it is still a really healthy colour - just flat (and stinky)! It puts me in mind of a flat, spiky sponge.

    My husband has watered them only twice since he took them to work (not at all for several weeks after potting - as per my instructions), so I don't see how over watering could be a problem. Yes, there is drainage in the pot.

    They probably don't get a great deal of sun on his desk, as his window faces South (North is best here in the Southern Hemisphere - all my own cacti are on the North facing patio, and love it).

    At this stage I'm thinking that the best move will be to remove the flat cactus, repot the others with fresh potting mix, and give them a good week in the sun. I'm assuming that resuscitation is not an option? I'd still like to know what has happened to it so that I can hopefully prevent its occurring again!

    Help!


    DiiDii.
     

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  2. bailey570

    bailey570 Active Member

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    wow, i've never seen something like that! very not cool. i'm a newbie to this world, so i will be unable to give any advice, but i wounder if there was already some sort of parasite inside the cactus when it was purchased. then this insect (whatever it is) slowly devoured your cactus with no signs of its presence, until it was too late? we all know how robust cacti are, so there has to be a reason, but what?. i don't see how it could be over watered since all of the others seem to be so healthy. can it be saved? i can not tell you for sure, but i doubt it. hopefully someone can tell you if it can be saved, because i'm just a newbie. if it can't be saved or salvaged in ANY way, i would cut it open out of curiosity, just to see if there was a caterpillar or parasite insect in there that gorged itself on the innards of your cactus. i guess it could be fungal related as well. if it is fungal related i would not want it spreading to the other cacti. good luck!
     
  3. mandarin

    mandarin Active Member 10 Years

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    Bacterial rot, that plant is gone. Remove it and the soil around it.
     
  4. DiiDiiMi

    DiiDiiMi Member

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    Thanks Mandarin! Do you know how to prevent it occurring again, or from spreading to the other cacti? Does the pot need sterilizing or anything? I'm really paranoid now!

    DiiDii. :)

    PS: Bailey570, yeah, I will dissect it, 'cause I'm curious. Will keep you informed. :)
     
  5. mandarin

    mandarin Active Member 10 Years

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    Dissect that? Gross ...

    There are two situations when this is especially likely to happen:

    1. Repotting. The roots often get small (often invisible) damages when the plant is unpotted. If the injury has not healed when the plant is potted again it might get infected. Many growers leave their more tender/expensive plants bare-rooted after unpotting for a few days to allow the roots to heal.

    2. If the roots cannot take up water and evaporation is low, the water will remain for too long in the pot, promoting attacks from various bacteria/fungi. This can happen if e.g. the soil is not porous enough, if the plant is in a relatively dark and or cold spot, or if it has not been watered for a long time and the roots have died back.

    Usually it does not spread, but it happens if the plants are placed very close to each other. It is best to remove the soil in direct contact with the infected plant. These germs are almost always present in the soil, you just have to try to avoid the plants getting infected by them.
     
  6. DiiDiiMi

    DiiDiiMi Member

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    Thankyou Thankyou!!

    Overwatering wasn't the problem at our end, but the place I got the cacti from isn't so great at caring for them. I'm pretty sure that that one came in a pot with a clay-like soil (seriously!!), most of which I was able to squish off before repotting in proper cactus mix, but the damage might already have been done. It could also have been that the cacti haven't been getting enough direct sunlight.

    Thanks again for your great advice Mandarin!

    DiiDii. :)
     

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