Christmas cactus drooping

alby(10b)June 10, 2009

My Christmas cactus has begun drooping all of a sudden. I haven't been treating it any differently but the leaves are hanging down and falling off. I put some miracle grow spikes in the other day, but no change yet.

Any ideas to help revive it?

Thanks.

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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

If that's the only change you've made, I suggest you take the spikes out.

Is the plant in active growth now (putting on new 'leaves' or segments)? Had it bloomed recently & is maybe still resting?

Sometimes CCs just do that, shed whole sections which drop off. I'd try to root those sections separately, can't hurt to try.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 9:35AM
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alby(10b)

Thanks.

Actually, I put the spikes in hoping to resolve the drooping and dropping issue. There is no new growth and it hasn't bloomed since right after Christmas.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 9:41AM
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ks_girl

If it were mine I'd remove the spikes and cut way back on watering and let it rest for a while.

I think when they get to this point food isn't the problem but over watering may be especially after blooming, when they like to rest. I usually wait for new growth to begin feeding.
You can try and root the fallen segments if they arn't to far gone but go lightly with the water on them.

We're having such cool night temps that some of my CC are setting buds again as is one of my large EC.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 9:56AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

I think PG is right. My guess is the spikes also...I've heard that fertilizer spikes may not be such a good idea, especially in containers. I knew someone that used it on a lychee tree and within a couple of days, the leaves started falling off, within a couple of weeks, there wasn't a single leaf left on the tree. Some plants/trees are more suseptible to fert. burn than others. I would switch to liquid fertilizer for your container or "slow release" pellets, once the tree starts to recover... Just my opinion.

You might want to check the roots and see if there's a problem with root rot also...Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 10:34AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Pls. don't do anything abt fertilizing now, it won't help. Fertilizers don't behave like medicine & fix ailments; more like they bolster plants that are reasonably well to do better &/or flower.

Odd that you have no new growth since Xmas, that's a long time ago now.

I suspect a drainage problem. Could it be that the rootball is hardened off & the water you've given it just runs down the inside of the pot btwn the pot & the rootball? In which case the plant gets so thirsty that it sheds whole sections (I learned this the hard way w/ one I was given as a gift & didn't know to check for this).

If this happened it has to do w/ too much peat in the mix which hardens & becomes impossible to re-wet.

I wondered abt this, but concluded if the rootball was that hard, you wouldn't have been able to insert the spikes.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 11:06AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

How much light is it receiving?

My CC is outside growing like mad right now.

I agree with the others - get rid of those fertilizer spikes.

Josh

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 11:28AM
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alby(10b)

"If this happened it has to do w/ too much peat in the mix which hardens & becomes impossible to re-wet."

Maybe that's it. It did take a slight amount of force to push the little dagger into the soil to place the spikes in.

I think I'll try to re-pot it using the African violet/peat moss mixture you recommended in another posting. If I understand correctly, these guys don't mind being somewhat root bound?

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 1:09PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

If you're meaning a comment I made (Pirate_Girl), likely I recommended AV mix for these plants, but not peat, pls. NO PEAT AT ALL, that's what causes this problem.

Also, peat mixes are not fast draining which is a key need for this plant, which in nature grows in the crotch of trees & not in soil, just in bits of leaf debris, animal droppings & whatever else happens to catch in the crook of a tree.

I would recommend AV Mix w/ extra perlite, that's what woud be good for them. I recently started 2 new ones in this mix from small cuttings & they're growing like gangbusters.

You'll likely need to soak the whole thing in a basin of tepid water to soften it enough to take off ALL the old mix; try crumbling it off w/ your fingers. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 11:08PM
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Mentha(9 CA)

PG,
I'm so glad you said that.

I do not grow any of my epiphytic cacti in any peat at all (I have over 200 epiphytes). It's the peat which is more than likely causing your problem. Underwatering is a big problem for CC, people think they need the same care as most other cacti, but they don't they need to be treated like orchids or hoyas. With the peat soil CC come in, even when you do water the water usually runs down the side of the pot and not into the mix. Give it a good soak in warm water then remove as much of the peat as you can, then pot in a well drianing mix. I use 1 part commercial potting mix (peat free) 1 part turface MVP, hydroton, Schultz aquatic soil, or whatever I can find at the moment and 2 parts perlite. My plants have to be watered more often, but they are more healthy and less likely to get fungus and viral infections.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 1:59AM
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alby(10b)

"If you're meaning a comment I made (Pirate_Girl), likely I recommended AV mix for these plants, but not peat, pls. NO PEAT AT ALL, that's what causes this problem."

Whoops! Sorry, I must have been confusing a comment about propagating cuttings with re-potting. Thanks for correcting my sloppy reporting!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 7:05AM
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Mentha(9 CA)

I can't think why anyone would recommend peat for cacti of any sort. I propagate cuttings in straight perlite, they root quickly and perlite's as sterile as any backyard gardener is going to get. Packing plants in peat is just not done by anyone but commercial growers. This for convenience more than the health of the plant. (IMO it falls into the category of glued on top dressting and googlie eyes. People like cute, clean plants, and the correct soil would come out of the pots in shipping. )

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 10:09AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Alby,

Pls. be careful:

"Sorry, I must have been confusing a comment about propagating cuttings with re-potting. Thanks for correcting my sloppy reporting!"

For these plants we want NO peat whatsoever in either circumstance (propping cuttings OR repotting)!

Pls. follow Mentha's advice above as she's got far more expertise than I, however, pls. notice that she & I are on the same page on this.

While my mix may be simpler than hers, we still have the (1) NO PEAT & (2) fast draining in common.

If you use peat again w/ this plant, you'll likely have the same problem AGAIN.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 5:32PM
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alby(10b)

Hi Pirate Girl,

Thank you VERY much for your continued vigilance. One of the pitfalls of getting information from the internet is the possibility that it could be *mis*information, which I unfortunately contributed to with my shoddy reporting. I'm glad you cleared it up, not only for me, but for others who may be looking for the same information.

The information I was relying on was from a post titled "How do I grow & propagate Christmas cactus" on the Arizona gardening forum.

Thanks again and take it easy...

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 9:50PM
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