My cactus has brown spots on leaves. What do I do?

garden_novice_2007April 22, 2007

Hello everyone.

I need some help here.

I moved into a new rented apartment a few months ago and there was a small cactus plant left by the previous tenant.

I'm no gardener and hadn't much interest in gardening, but I felt sorry for the plant and decided to water it and prune it.

It did extremely well and grew for a number of months until the last 4-6 weeks. some of it's leaves are turning brown and are dropping off. The plant is still growing fast though.

I'm in distress for the plant now! I don't know what to do!

The plant is usually placed by the window-sill where it can get the most sunlight. Is that wrong? should it have more shade? I have no clue!

I know I'm doing a whole lot of things wrong here but I have no clue where to start!... I don't even know what type of cactus I have!

Could someone please help. This plant has become a friend to me!

Here are a few pics of it.

I'd be truly grateful for any advice!


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You have a jade, aka, crassula ovata. It is in desparate need of light. Was this where it was when you moved in? If so, do you have a balcony on which you could slowly acclamate it when the outside temps are above 55 or so consistently. If you just moved it to this spot and it is better-lit than where it was, these could be sunburn marks. Typically sunburn marks are more uniform in shape, though. It should have about 1/5 the amount of space it has between the leaves. It almost looks like it is supposed to be a Crosby's Compact which should have all the leaves very close together with proper lighting. Jade grows spindly when it isn't getting enough light. I would take it out of the plastic pot and repot it in a clay pot. Buy one that is shorter. THey are sold as azalea pots. Your soil should be very free draining. When I mix mine, I use one part pine bark fines or soil conditioner, one part grit (decomposing granite), one part high fired clay granules (turface, aquatic soil), and one part small pea gravel. When you water it, water should run almost right through it. If you use peat based soils, they will compact and stay too wet, thus strangling the plant due to lack of oxygen. Even the soils that say they are for Cacti and Succulents are too peaty. You could also try coir inplace of the pine bark fines or in addition to them in place of peat. Almost anything you would use for a bonsai would be okay for a jade since they are very free draining. They don't need a lot of fertilizer. Use something low in nitrogen. I use Schultz Cactus Fertilizer mixed for every watering, but I only give it to them every other watering during their growing season. It is warm where I live until Oct or Nov, which is usually when I stop feeding and slow down watering to once a month until it warms up again in spring. We were warming up in March and then had a frigid spell over Easter holiday. I've gone back and forth with my plants, but having a mild spring has been nice for a change. I hope this helps, and don't hesitate to ask more questions. Do searches on this forum about Jades, and you'll get more than you ever wanted to know about jades. They are, without a doubt, my favorite. I have about 10 different plants, 10 starts from cuttings and two that are bonsaied.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 12:13PM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

I'm wondering if the rippled glass in your window is focussing the sun and burning patches on the leaves?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 5:49PM
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I forgot to say, I would also prune it back quite a bit. You could take it all the way to the soil, but I don't know if I would go that far. Maybe to three or four inches above the soil, but defoliate all of those huge leaves. It will branch out and put new leaves on within two weeks. I think shrubs n bulbs is right about that window, though I would think that wouldn't happen unless you moved it from a very low light place to that one and it just wasn't used to that much sun. You could probably leave it there once you prune.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 7:25AM
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I appreciate the advice!
I do have a balcony. I'll put it there straight away.

I had a feeling that the rippled wondow may be creating a "laser effect" on the leaves..... but what do I know?

thank you guys once again!

all the best!


    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 9:23AM
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