Return to the Cacti & Succulents Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Christmas/Easter cactus rejuvenation?

Posted by fireweed22 none (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 11, 13 at 3:41

While not a plant novice, I have had a Christmas or Easter cactus or about ten years now that is definitely smaller than when initially inherited.

I believe it's been mainly underwatered but possibly overwatered a few times as well.

It is about 4" tall, but the old leaf segments (really stems coming from soil) are silver and papery. They seem dead, BUT frequently send out little leaf shoots. The new shoots are 'strongly weeping', unsure why but this is not likely the natural habit for the plant and hopefully a symptom of something I can correct?

The problem is that these new leaves are barely attached and frequently fall off by themselves or with a little help from me while watering etc.

I'd like to bring this one back!

It gets partial to full sun (i live up north)and feed 20-20-20 several times per growing season.

I'd like to repot with the ideal soil and fertilize with whatever it should have. Any tips on how to get it back on track is much appreciated. Thanks!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Christmas/Easter cactus rejuvenation?

I know I have an Easter cactus that has a major trailing habit, so that isn't necessarily an indication of something bad happening. A picture would be great and would ensure we give you accurate advice. And the inner portions/oldest portions of the holiday cacti become hard or woody with age, and that's only natural and it's harmless, but silvery and papery? I'm not sure on that one; that description doesn't sound good.

If the leaves fall off that easily, that does indicate something is wrong, whether it's related to the soil, light intake, or water. I'm going to guess it could be poor soil? The soil should not be peat-y, but should contain a lot of bark. In the wrong soil, the plant could have dropped it roots and could be rotting, so I'd remove the plant from the soil and see what's happening with the root system. And amend the soil if it's not correct, cut off the dead/rotting growth, and let the plant re-root before watering again.

RE: Christmas/Easter cactus rejuvenation?

Thanks for the response!
It is in a peat moss mixture. I will go out and find a better potting medium. I've never seen Christmas cactus mix- is there something else such as orchid or African violet that may work- or something else?

If I cut it off right flush with the ground, do they generally have buds that low to re-sprout? The 'old wood' down there looks pretty rough even though green does sprout a few inches up.

RE: Christmas/Easter cactus rejuvenation?

EC shedding has me thinking you are perhaps over watering or watering to frequently Plus 20-20-20 seems kind of strong and isn't my fertilizer preference

Papery and silvery center do you mean yours looks like this ?

 photo 005-4_zps105c4b37.jpg

After mentioned where thin leaves you mean they look like this ?

 photo 008-3_zpse2b37e3f.jpg

EC's tend to have thinner leaves than the other holiday jungle cacti

I often suggest bark based soils for certain plants and EC is one of them and as soon as suggested it seems someone else comes along and suggest something different.
Assuming you soil is peat based at ten years old in a pot isn't unusual for a cacti, the timing is all wrong to re-pot an EC. none of it gets you off the hook of a STRONG re-potting suggestion. Fact is for most jungle cacti the ideal timing to repot is always wrong. Sooner is better than later is all I can add to encourage a re-pot is because in ten years and you suggested your EC is shrinking.

A ten year old shrinking EC does it look like this ?

 photo 006-5_zpsdb3575f0.jpg

A top view of 4 yr old EC in it's normal trailing growing habit

Just as a reminder EC's tend to be or are kind of finicky to grow or more sensitive or more difficult than the more common jungle cacti plants. I like these comments and for the most it's true but ECs are not that difficult and are just as easy.

This post was edited by mrlike2u on Mon, Feb 11, 13 at 12:14

RE: Christmas/Easter cactus rejuvenation?

Yes, pic #1 with the silvery shedding type older foliage is exactly it. Only difference is, however, it doesn't get green and lush thereafter. Tiny leaves sprout, generally 'danging', then fall off. They never amount to normal sized leaves.

The plant is tiny- 4 inches tops, and it's all that silvery look.
I know how the arch then hang with gravity, this seems different. Sorry that I can't post a pic.

And if my cactus looked anywhere near like the final pic- I'd be thrilled. This one looks like it should be thrown away however it is sentimental...
Thanks for the tips.

RE: Christmas/Easter cactus rejuvenation?

Has the mix turned rock hard? Often this happens to peat based mixes, which does not allow the plant to drink, so they often die back of thirst, becoming thin &papery & shedding whole sections.

If you can't find the mix suggested above, AV mix w/ about 40% extra perlite would be good place to start.

RE: Christmas/Easter cactus rejuvenation?

Go with bark - "Orchid Bark" is a great start.
Add in some Perlite, maybe a pinch of African Violet soil, too. "Orchid Mix" is a decent off-the-shelf mix, if sourcing ingredients is difficult.

The key, as you can see, is excellent drainage. In the right mix, you can water and lightly fertilize at least weekly. And when you start watering and fertilizing in an aerated, open mix, you will see that plant put on an incredible amount of biomass.


RE: Christmas/Easter cactus rejuvenation?

if my cactus looked anywhere near like the final pic- I'd be thrilled

Josh mentioned good and easy to find materials that will also work for your EC in re-hab phases..

Work slowly and careful while trying to FREE (find and keep as much root as you can from the soil they're in now. Roots are very thread like thin and just as flexible if found in good length.

I don't think removing ALL the compacted soil wold be an ideal goal this re-pot don't worry if you cant remove it all aim to free as much root as you can with minimal damage to the plant and roots.

Soaking the big box store orchid bark will also help you to break it into smaller sized pieces aim for 1/4 - 1/2 inch they also have some orchid bark with a fair amount of better sized perlite in it too. ( I close my eyes and cringe but LOL)
A pinch of AV Soil suggested is a fair compromise.

Keep the pot size as small as you can ( less is more in this case ) When you see exposed roots they would need and like a little wiggle room not to tight inside the pot nor to deep An AV pot is 4x4 use one if roots would fit but not become overly pot bound because roots do need to breath

You'll see when and should know when its time to re size the pot and repot again to 2 inches bigger round ( and maybe more depth for rehab pot 2) Either way at second re potting removing left behind older compacted which should be a bit easier.

ETA of a second re-pot depends on your cultivating practices if a few roots are growing out from bottom then it's time I think third repot should be last pot YOU may need

Just in case: If it don't flower don't worry it may need to grow for a year or more flowers will eventually happen

RE: Christmas/Easter cactus rejuvenation?

I've found the ingredients, amd currently soaking the bark in warm water as it was bone dry.
Huge thanks for all the help here!

RE: Christmas/Easter cactus rejuvenation?

Your welcome.....Happy growing to you too

RE: Christmas/Easter cactus rejuvenation?

Your Welcome... Happy growing to you too. :-)

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Cacti & Succulents Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here