What to do?

onewomanarmyJuly 9, 2013

We're fairly new to the cactus and succulents world - well, we've had several over the years but we're new to the paying more attention and trying to develop lasting relationships with them. :) So we're trying to learn as much as we can. We're struggling right now because we are apparently in a newly scheduled monsoon season here in Ky and are starting to worry that our plants are going to start showing signs of stress because of it. That aside, I've got a couple of questions.

We've got a couple of cacti's that get too heavy to support themselves - like in the attached photo (ignore the weeds please - they've certainly made the most of all the wet weather!). What do you do at this point? This one was bent (curved) over a couple of inches from the base, fairly parallel to the ground. We stuck a couple of support stakes in but I'm sure that's only going to help for so long. Is it possible to remove the top sections and restart them?

My next question, because of all the rain we've had in the last week or two, is what are the signs of a cactus or succulent being too wet? I'm afraid in the past I've not noticed until it was too late and the plant was past saving.

Thanks for any help - I'm trying to learn to listen to what they are telling me, I'm just not fluent yet in succu-speak.

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This is another that is getting too tall and is starting to get a little bendy.

I have no idea what any of these (in the two photos) are, so if anyone wants to throw that in I'd appreciate it so I can call them by their proper names. Pretty sure "Bulges", "PokesALot" and "Flapjack" aren't their real name.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 10:48AM
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Sorry to be posting but not giving any advice. I just wanted to comment on your cacti's names. I love them, I think I'll have to name a couple of mine. I had to check on mine with all this rain as well (I've lost... five?), and one that's still kicking stabbed me underneath my nail. I'll name him pain in the... no, pokesalot would be nicer. :)


    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 11:05AM
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teengardener1888(NY Albany 5a)

i dont think there is another solution exept supporting them as they age

    Bookmark   July 9, 2013 at 11:23AM
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We are in the same boat, planto. Too bad... =( It's been a very wet spring/summer here in Florida. Best of luck protecting your plants!

Onewomanarmy- have you had any flowers on the opuntia in the second picture? If so, do you remember the color? The first opuntia looks similar to one that I have that was labeled 'beavertail cactus' as it's common name. I am not sure how confident I'd be with that name, but that is what it said... :)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 7:39PM
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Well, one positive is that they're growing gangbusters, so they're nice and healthy ... but the problem with getting big so quickly is that their smaller bases just can't support the growth!

Propping them is just not a long-term solution. I recommend removing the top part of the plant, relieving the bottom portion of the plant of all that weight. You can root them, and the original plant will keep growing more pads (or flapjacks, whatever!) :)

You should try to come up with some way to keep the pots from getting waterlogged. Have an extra umbrella handy? Another option is putting the plants in a very well-draining mix, so when they do get drenched, they'll dry out fast.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2013 at 9:26PM
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Thanks for the information from all of you! That's good news that I can remove part, root the removed part and let the bottom continue to grow - I was afraid taking off part would cause one or both "halves" to die. Propping them up is definitely not a long term solution and I can't imagine they'd be happy that way for long.

I've not rooted a piece like this, do I simply allow it to dry at the cut and then stick in very well draining/rocky soil? Or do I not worry about it drying and go straight from the top of Ol Flapjack (or Bulges) into a pot?

I don't specifically remember any flowers on the one in the second photo - but that may just be my bad memory. I'd love to see it flower though! We've been loving the blooms on our other cact-guys though I couldn't tell you what the names of any of them are. At least not their real names... :)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 9:19AM
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I haven't rooted many cacti, though I've been successful with rooting most of my succulent cuttings. I let them callous for 3-4 days, then put them in soil. I water *very lightly* a week later (spritz the base of the cutting with a spray bottle a few times). If the soil dries out quickly, you can do this every 5 days or so. I have read many posts saying they wait until roots appear before they place it in soil; I don't prefer that method.

Heads up: the cutting will tend to look worse before it looks better: it has to use up some of its reserves while it puts out new roots. They wrinkle a bit, maybe darken. Don't let that fool you into watering it too soon or too often, you'll rot it. As the roots establish, it will be able to take in more water and puff back up again and begin growing. Cut down on watering once that happens. Good luck!!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 2:00PM
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