I fear the worst :-( I hope I can save this! Rotting?

jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)November 14, 2012

I think my poor baby is rotting at the base :-( It didn't get the best of care this summer, due to a family emergency and me job hunting. This is winter dormant, so i'm not sure what to do with it at this point. I was thinking I should at least remove all the arms and try and root them. What do you all think?

It's an Epithelantha polycephala

Its been leaning, that was my first clue something wasnt right.

And has a lot of give to it. :-(

Bends with very little effort

Base appears to be sunken in a little..

And Im noticing some yellow color.

Is there anything I can do? Cut off the rot and try and root top half? try and root arms?



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While waiting for someone to help you, tell us what the soil is like, what the watering schedule has been like, what the pot is made of, what the drain hole is like, why you think it is winter dormant. Once my succulents go mushy I have always lost them so I can't help you with recovery :)

I nowadays plant my succulents in a 75% pumice 25% commercial cactus soil and make sure that the pot is porous (and not glazed or fired to vitrification - it traps moisture). I also use a moisture meter to make sure the soil is dry before watering again. And if your cactus is dormant there should be no watering at all.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 11:57PM
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M. elongata I assume ? The common drill is to keep it Dry Dry dry and warm some direct is okay but nothing to direct for to long in the sun dept for a while. Increase the sun light time and base of soil line watering VIA LIGHTLY misting as(or if) it's recovery becomes more positive.

If you where to try to root a piece or two the time it would take to root and gain the same size again I'd say better to just grab another.

Yellowing and softening is of some concern but to water it just to supplement it's minerals now to would be ludicrous to suggest.
Also don't be to panicked M. Elongata stems are sometimes seen in in some shades of rusty brown The thing is Elongata often mutates as easily as they grow. But when there dead they are indeed very DEAD

The Hyper tuffa pot is easy to see made by you ? looking good....
The commercial cactus soil is not so easy to see... used by Jo-Jo ? Didn't think so either...;-)

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 1:51AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Robin..Thank you. I may have left out a few details last night, It was a crazy day!

Well.. I've had the plant almost 2 years, and the care it gets were instructions given from Aird Lands. Trust me when I say I knew how to care for it, I picked Toni's brain for an hour before buying the plant. lol...
Maybe rotting was the wrong choice of words. It was under watered this spring/summer.
My family has been stuck in a nightmare since March, so my plants just did not get the care they should have.

Actually I don't think This plant is a M. elongated. Although at one time it was considered to be, but an article i've read says DNA put it in it's own class. It's a hard plant to find info on. (It's kind of a confusing article, but at least that's what I think it says.) It's Italian translated to English.

Like I said, rot may have been a bad choice of words. It was under watered, and still the yellow is a bad sign.

I know it would take a long time to gain the size it is now, but I feel bad about neglecting it. ;-( although I had good reasons, still feel bad. It came from Aird Lands, so I'm sure I could get another, but don't want to just bail on this one.

Toni, said keep DRY in winter, so that's why I was wondering If I could even root it now. I know rooting is done in a dry medium, but once it established them it would need some moisture. But if it's dormant would it even root?
It's a combination of curiosity and always wanting to learn I guess. :-)

Yes, I made the Hyper tuffa. Thank you. :-) My son and I had a lot of laughs working on those!

And yes, you know me , no commercial mix here. All 'Al's' gritty mix or slight variation. ;-)

I will probably try and root the arms, but the main plant I'm not sure of. I just hate to toss it, considering it's my fault it's in bad shape.

Thank you for your help. :-)


Here is a link that might be useful: Epithelantha polycephala

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 10:03AM
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But if it's dormant would it even root?

Ohh it's easy to see that someone does have spunk.

You already said what you want to try to do. If it can or if it does depends on how you do it. So far you sound anxious to start all there is left to say after keep it dry as a fact is KEEP IT WARM.

Not to egg you on for rooting it now your going to do what your going to do. I think you'll do it regardless of cautions and even have success..

Funny even the link states how mutating cacti muts (M.elongata is only one ) are one reason why some cacti get new classifications and new names every fifth year.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 12:11PM
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rosemariero6(z10 /ss24 So. Calif.)

JoJo, The yellowing would seem to mean it is an over-watering issue (but maybe not?), from your explanations.

I believe this cactus may go by the name Epithelantha micromeris ssp polycephala now. It seems this one grows with a skinny base stem over time. The offsets make it top heavy & would explain the tilting. See the following post at Cactiguide, looking at 2nd to last photo in the post (you can see what I mean). You may glean some tips/info from the post as well. =)

Sorry-you'll have to copy/paste link (it rejected it)

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 12:19PM
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grabmebymyhandle(6 Kentucky)

If you do pop the arms off, it will likely expose some of the yellow potentially rotting trunks interior tissue, this should give you a better idea if it is rotted or just discolored.

Its hard to tell from the pic, but it doesnt look rotted yet, but it could just be the early stages of rot.

If you are confident you can root the cutting, it shouldnt hurt to chop the top off and examine it inside, remove all doubt, of course if its not rotting then you will have to live with beheading your plant.
Im not very familiar with Epithelantha but most mammilaria would root and the remaining base would send out fresh growth.

You could also pluck off a single areole to see whats inside, just be aware any injury is a chance for things to get worse...Its also your only chance to save it IF the base is rotted.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 3:21PM
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Not an expert (that's how I start all my posts:), but based on what I see and the little experience I have, I almost think it is because you grow it indoors (you are, right?). Too little sun makes them feeble and pale. And now that the days are getting shorter and temperatures dropping it is starting to show signs of unhappiness. Based on what you have told us it doesn't seem like it is rotting. Do you have a moisture meter? It's 9 bucks at the garden center.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 5:59PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Mrlike2u..
Spunk.. lol.. yes a little. ;-)
It will be kept warm, it's inside now,in a sunny window/room.
I am pretty determined to go ahead and do it. I'm so mad at myself for my plants being such a mess right now. Makes me even more determined to save what's left.

I was just looking the plant over and it all feels soft.

So in a sense is that article saying this is still somewhat a form of M. elongata? Like I said I found it a little confusing, and need to read it again when it's quiet. lol. Hard to come by "quiet" these days. :-)

Arid Lands does mention in it's description that some consider it Epithelantha micromeris now, but they chose to leave it at the name of which I bought it.
Names can get confusing! lol..

Even if it were to be narrow at the base by nature, some lean would be expected over time, but that is not the case here. It has way too much flexibility/bend. It is soft. And knowing my plant, it is sunken in. :-(
I have read through what you have linked, thank you.
Oh, if you don't give the link a name it will reject it, is that what happened?

Grabmebymyhandle.. Thank you for your help. I think I can live with beheading my plant and having it not work more than if I didnt try. :-)

Thank you..
No, it is not growing indoors. It has been outside for the last year and 1/2. It was just brought in 2 days ago to take the photo. It was in morning sun and filtered the rest of the day.
I do not have the $$ for a moisture meter, and even if I did, I do not trust or believe in them.
Moisture is not the problem, I have mentioned it was under watered, and is in a gritty mix, well draining pot to boot.

My guess is it's roots were already too far gone this summer when I finally had time to care for my plants, and by then it was too late.

I am just trying to salvage what is left and hope for better days ahead.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 7:03PM
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I use a moisture meter every week when I water my plants and skip a week if there is any indication that it is damp. They are accurate enough to give you an indication of what is going on. And you'd be surprised how differently one pot and potting mix differs from another. Despite that I use a lot of pumice in my mix, some pots just seem to retain the moisture more than others. And seeing that you're using an unconventional pot it might be part of the problem. Well drained soil with a suffocating pot could still equal death.

$9 is nothing compared to having to buy a new plant.

Who else uses a moisture meter to gauge whether a plant needs water or not?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 7:23PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I never said they don't work, I have no idea one way or another. That is a matter of to each his own. If you like it then by all means use it.

I chose not to.

And, I am aware of how each mix is different, and how the different areas affect them. I have been growing plants for years. Not perfect at it, but do very well with them as a rule.

The pot it is in is not the problem either.

$9 is fairly cheap compared to buying a new plant, but when you can't afford the $9 it is a lot! If you knew my situation and what my family has been through since last March , it would make sense how $9 could be a lot right now.

And $ aside, I just don't trust them to care for my plants.

I'm not knocking anyone who does, but they just aren't for me.


    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 8:01PM
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Jojo....I have not had the time to read all of the above, but knowing you, I think what you are trying to say is that the roots desiccated from a lack of water, and now that they are no longer taking up water, the bottom is rotting out.

I would save the little guys, and try to see what happens to the mother plant as you leave it in good light and see if what happens to any root if it has survived being under watered in all this summers heat. I wish you all the luck kiddo!

Nite dear friend:-))

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 9:10PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Mike!
Yup.. You summed me up..lol.. and know me.. ;-)
What heat!?! LOL!!!
Hugs! And for Mom! :-)


    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 9:15PM
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So in a sense is that article saying this is still somewhat a form of M. elongata?
Kind of but.... In a nut shell the article tells us that your plant isn't a Mam. when under the plant ID microscope Meaning.

.... it only looked like Elongata to me and as you said it may of been called a Sp.type of Elongata back in the earlier days of cacti naming could be reason why Rose also left a proper ID.

The article explains more modern tools where used and who used them to properly ID and classify your named cacti and some others where found to have the same DNA as yours.
It also explained the DNA structure of certain plants AND of your plant Sp. In DNA comparison to yours are to different for either M. elongata and yours to both be the same Sp of cacti.

It is required to show/ explain the written proof amongst colleges but they dont need to show and tell ALL of us the DNA of any plant.

Article also tells us that DNA is different enough to give any plant under the ID microscope warrants a true and then realistically ID or name.

Then I go on at babbling about how many cacti get new names so fast it's hard to keep track of them all and they still continue to confuse us as fast as they can... Meaning I cant wait for ALL plants to have bar codding either. Until then....

Rose who still wears the GW cacti and succulent ID crown also shares some brief and IMO good information via another internet forum style webb site.

No doubt we love yah at Arid Lands Tony but it is hard to be here and there.

Mike M. drops in to say what may of happened to your now properly named cati more clearly.... And then.. just now is when the cat jumps off my lap...

Budget or not. Thinks it's fair enough to use/loose a plant or two to let us use our own common scene. Not only would some learn more, they'd also learn it faster .. I'm not at all sure what a commercially massed produced water meter suggestion is for either.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 11:40PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Mrlike2u~ Thank you for breaking that article down some. I really need to read it again. I find names confusing and interesting at the same time.
I just wish they were easier to say! lol.. and yes a bar code would help. ;-)

I see mention a lot where a plant has changed/or is considered under a new name.

The site Rose left does have some great info. I come across it all the time when researching plants.


    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 8:00AM
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