Easter cactus wilt

lou_violette(8a)July 16, 2014

Early last spring I purchased an Easter cactus in a 4" plastic pot. It has grown well and I transplanted it into a larger hanging plastic pot where it has continued to grow under a large oak tree until the last week, when I noticed that 3 of the 4 plants were wrinkled and drooping instead of stiff and waxy. The temperature has climbed into mid or high 90s and we had a light rain three days ago. I only water when my moisture meter reads half way between wet and dry or drier. The stems are not soft. The same thing happened to my Christmas cactii last year. They dropped a lot of their branches but regrew and bloomed when I returned them to the greenhouse in the fall. Do you think I am keeping them too moist or is it the heat? Do I need to add more sand or pearlite to the medium?
Thank you.

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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

They may not have needed a repot.

I don't know, but whatever you do, pls. don't add sand, it will make problems.

Pls. provide a pic as this sounds more like a drainage problem. Wrinkly sounds thirsty, also a drainage problem if you're watering.

I bet the rootballl is hard to the touch. Is that the case? If so, it's all the peat content hardening off & becoming impossible to rewet.

What kind of mix are you using pls?

I don't use or trust moisture meters. Have heard of them being problematic here. Pls. answer the above, & if needed, I'll teach you another way to check for moisture, a more certain way.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 5:59PM
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mushibu10(zone 8 (UK))

indeed picture would help,

but for me, mine wilted, it turns out it was too much sun, so I put it with me orchids and it's now back firm and plump, but not a healthy green, same with me Xmas cactus. it's watered once a week with 50-100ml water and a monthly feed of cactus feed.

I'd say try moving it out of direct sun


    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 5:50AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

I thought he said it was hanging under a tree, so that doesn't sound like it's in direct sun. I maintain it's a drainage problem.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 6:55AM
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mushibu10(zone 8 (UK))

I must hac. over looked that. you yes drainage.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:15AM
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Eatser cactus tend to be more droopy than the other TC or CC in it's growing.
Outside in the 90's would be to warm for them with a lack of sufficent moving air also higher temps would cause any soil to dry rather quickly and could harden areas of the soil With out a pic ( my guess) is probably heat stressed

My thoughts ,yes move it inside to your greenhouse to a more brezzy cooler area with later in the day time sun

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:52AM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

Easter/Xmas/Holiday Cacti are not desert cacti so won't benefit from sand or perlite in their mix as they are forest epiphytes that grow in humus/leaf litter collected in the forks of branches. I grow mine in a home made a mix that is high in fibrous matter made up of leafmould and home made compost along with a small amount of regular potting compost with some added pelleted chicken manure. They hang under a shade cloth in the g/h and are always kept moist during the summer months and not allowed to dry out. Temps can get to high 80's or even higher but they come to no harm. They also get a misting with rainwater from a hand sprayer when I can.
I too think your problem was a combination of too much heat and not enough water....and the wrong type of compost also. Hopefully it will recover if you give it better conditions...good luck ;)

Gill UK

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 7:14PM
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Gentlemen, Thank you for answering my post. I have attached a photo - hope I have done it right. I removed the plant from the pot and found that all my potting soil fell away easily and the original soil remained around the root ball. Solid and dense but not hard and dried out like a peat ball. But I habe been inserting my moisture meter in the new soil, not the old near the root ball. Could that have been the problem? I dusted with maneb but did not find and squishy rot. My greenhouse is an attached shed type - hot and bright. Under the oak is the coolest, breeziest and shadiest I have - considering this is Texas. I use either Miracle Gro or StaGreen potting soil and add a handful of rotted horse manure, leaf mold and perlite. Since the plant has essentially the same size root ball but three or four times the top size, should I replace it in its original grower's pot or use a larger pot? Clay or plastic? What about the replacement medium?
And please do tell me an alternate means of judging moisture. I usually water lightly every day or every other day since it is so hot here, especially when it is hot and dry with dry wind. Would once a week soaking be enough?

Thank you, Lou

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 11:33AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I would pot it into a mostly bark-based mix with just a pinch of potting mix and perlite. Then, use a wooden kabob skewer, stuck all the way into the pot, to determine when the mix is becoming dry.

As Gill said, these are not desert cacti, so you can water more freely / regularly *as long as the mix offers excellent drainage* - and a bark mix really allows these plants to thrive.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 11:59AM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

Gentlemen??!! I am definitely a (.V.) and so are some of the others lol!!
Good luck with the cactus BTW.

Gill UK

This post was edited by greenclaws on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 12:42

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 12:41PM
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Thank you and sorry for the gender gaffe'. I believe someone said 'he' and I was responding to that. I should have read again. (I am also of the female variety).
I had never considered a bark based mix, but it might be just the thing allowing me to water more without drowing. This is a difficult climate - four days ago it was hovering at 100 degrees and very dry and today 64 and I think we have had 4 and a half inches of rain already!
Thanks for the help. Lou

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:09PM
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greenclaws UKzone8a

You're welcome.....and no prob with the confusion!! I often get it as my name is apparently male in the US. Here in the UK, Gill is the short form of Gillian and is pronounced the same a Jill/Jillian.

Gill UK

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:21PM
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Long ways to looking as good as it use to look. Would salvage and focus mainly on as much of the healthier looking foliage as you can from the not as good looking foliage.

A second vote for a bark based mix but also concider lesser heat stresses on these types of cacti. Be it sticks or dowels add an endles supply of water I assure you even in a bark based mix a jungle cacti will still stress in high heat conditions

The wrinkled areas are what an overly dry hard sun burn jungle cati look like. As reliable as it is I'm not sure a bark mix will save the lesser healthier areas but might be worth a seperate pot if you wanted to try.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 10:12PM
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I'm beginning to feel like a monster plant abuser - and I have tried so hard. (Sniff.) I strung patio misters under the oak two years ago in a very hot, dry, windy summer to keep the plant area cool. The birds loved it and pooped over everything, which I didn't mind but, unfortunately, a lot of mold developed on leaves and stems and I almost lost a large staghorn. Had tadpoles and a small snake in the bromeliads.
I'll try bringing the Easter cactus inside and hang it in the kitchen window. The others will have to tough it outside.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 12:09PM
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Such a heart warming plant story. No shame we all have our fair share of erroring the plant Heck even I've diveted the caude of my last full sun loving Adenium this year

While yours is in restore mode remember for hopeful better, faster return to health : Easy on the oven and no fired foods while it's in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 2:48PM
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