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Help? My Christmas cactus is dying...

Posted by heidinoel 6 MA (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 6, 07 at 9:14

I am wondering if you would be able to help me. Please!

I could really use some advice on my sick plant.

I have a Christmas cactus which has been passed down for generations. Two years ago, I received mine from my wonderful aunt who passed away. In addition to raising my child, my live's work is to keep this cactus alive!

The problem is this;

My cactus has grown and thrived for two years in my kitchen window. From the minute I brought it home it has been happy. The leaves have been full, and year round I see bright green new baby leaves, growning at the bottom of the older leaves.

I know this seems weird, but I water it only once a week, and at the end of that week, if the soil isn't totally dry at the top, I let it go another week w/ out water.

Up to this point, no problems!

The plant is in a hanging planter about 15" in diameter. It is in a window which gets indirect sunlight all day. (Our neighbors' house blocks any direct sun.)

The plant is large, I"m guessing it weigh abut 50lbs.

In the past three weeks however, I have noticed that the leaves at the end of the plant, and now, whole branches, are starting to get thin (no water in them?) and drop off. They are no longer plump and filled w/ water.

Some of the dying leaves are those which face the window, some are those which do not face the window.

In the past week, I gave it more water, but it hasn't seemed to do any good (the leaves are still thin and shrively).

Please, please can you offer some suggestions? i really can't let this plant die!

Perhaps you might also have some suggestions of anyone else I could also try.

I would love a house call from someone -- but I am in Masachusetts.

Thank you for any help you can offer!

Heidinoel


Follow-Up Postings:

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Help? My Christmas cactus is dying...

Actually, a big branch just came off my cactus (sob, sob).

I looked closely at the end that broke off (the opposite end from the tip of the cactus). Under a thin layer of dried leaf/stalk (?) right at the place it broke off -- there is something that looks like white mold climbing up the broken branch (only about 1/2") I'm not positive it's mold, but it set my allergies off big-time so I'm guessing that's what it is. It looks a little like the cocoon a moth makes (very thin and silky). It isn't a cocoon, but that's what it looks like.

The bottom of the branch (which broke off) is a little damp. Not soaked, but a little wet.

-Heidi


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RE: Help? My Christmas cactus is dying...

Mealies?? You might have a problem...aak! Go get some insecticidal soap and see if you can at least slow these things down. (if that is what the problem is).

The very first thing I would do is to try to harvest any good looking stems, spray them with alcohol and attempt rooting them in some good clean sterile potting soil...keep it moist and it fairly good light until rooted and growing.

If you can't save momma, propagate the bajeebas out of her...


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Help? My Christmas cactus is dying...

Mealies? Any idea how I might have gotten them so out-of-the-blue?

If I don't have them -- will the insecticidal soap hurt?

Could you please tell me how I harvest a stem?

Thank you!

-H


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RE: Help? My Christmas cactus is dying...

Well, as I said, we can't be certain that is what it is, but the way you describe it....sounds likely.

The other thing I thought of....is your plant in a plastic or clay pot? Have you checked the soil? How is the drainage? Could your pot have gotten compacted and clogged (to cause poor draining)?

It is the growing season, you might attempt a repotting...inspecting the plant thoroughly during the process. If the soil seems sour, remove as much as possible and wash the affected portions of the plant.

Each segment of your plant will form a new plant. You can take multiple segments if you want to...I wouldn't take more than three linked together for rooting purposes...

You can root all of your segments and have a large new plant in a fairly short time (couple of years, maybe).

There is a product called Safer Soap which I believe can be used on Schlumbergeras...check the label. I haven't had to use it on mine.

Most nurseries will have it, and the big box stores, too.


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Help? My Christmas cactus is dying...

Hi webkat5,

Thank you for your reply!

The pot is plastic. I haven't checked the soil, other then on the top. The drainage seems to be good. In other words, after I water, I wait a few minutes (5-10) and then I tip the pot/plant slightly and let the excess water pour out of the bottom of the pot.

When would you suggest I repot? Another month? Any suggestions on soil to use? Do you have any tips on how I know if the roots are TOO potbound? If the roots aren't potbound, is there any harm in leaving the plant in the existing soil -- or, do I need to repot in fresh soil every so often?

As for re-rooting, what do you mean by "segment"? Are you referring to the small 2" or so, leaves?

Once I take these segments, any tips on rooting? repotting? Do I reroot in soil? water? sand?

Thank you!!


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RE: Help? My Christmas cactus is dying...

I just noticed you have this thread going on the houseplants forum, too....looks like you are getting the same responses over there.

It is usually not necessary to repot plants, but if you are experiencing problems, one of the suspects is bad soil...it could be spoiled.

If you can get your hands on some Pro-Mix, that is one of the best soils on the market.

Plastic pots can sometimes pose problems...they trap the moisture for a longer period of time than the clay/terra cotta pots do. Depending on how often you are watering (shouldn't be on an exact schedule), it might not be dry enough before you are watering again. I would switch to a terra cotta pot, but that is up to you.

Yes, each segment (this should be fairly obvious) will form a new plant. I place mine (the bottom end) in little plastic pots with good soil and keep them damp-moist, but not wet. Prop the segments up with little rocks or something to keep them stable during this process. I keep mine in an east window so they don't get any hot afternoon sun.

Good luck!


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One other thing....

Something else worth mentioning...

While they are in flower...watch your watering...not too much and don't let them completely dry out for an extended period of time.

After they flower, this is their normal "resting period'...you will want to cut back on the watering for a few weeks and pull them back from any direct sun during this time. Keep a close eye on them and then after you think they are "rested" move them back to the east window and resume normal watering when they begin to "wilt" just a bit.


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RE: Help? My Christmas cactus is dying...

webkat5,

Thanks for the info on repotting. I"ll try the Pro-Mix. I'm still a little liffy on exactly how I know if I need a bigger pot or not.

As for cuttings -- by "segment," do you mean each little section (leave?)? Or, you mean groupings of leaves?

Also, excuse my stupidity, by "bottom" do you mean the end closest to the roots? How long, give ro take, can I expect, until they grow roots and/or I need to repot?

Sadly, mine hasn't flowered in the two years I've had it. I haven't done anything about this, as I was just happy it was adjusting to MY house. But, I have wondered if I should be doing something differently. But I think I'll wait until i get over this hump. When the catus is in it's resting period, would I put it in the dark? Or just very little light?

Thank you again,
Heidinoel.


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RE: Help? My Christmas cactus is dying...

hello i got my mothers christmas plant just after she pasted away in march of 2010...and the plant was doing great until i started giving it plant food once a month...i water it about once a week and give it plant food about once a month(miracle gro 24-8-16)now can someone help me with my dying cactus....and if i am using the wrong plant food can i run it under water continously to get the remaining plant food out.....and can you tell me exactly what i should do to maintain a heathy and happy christmas plant.....tyvm... dj from edmonton alberta canada


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RE: Help? My Christmas cactus is dying...

hello i got my mothers christmas plant just after she pasted away in march of 2010...and the plant was doing great until i started giving itme exactly what i should do to maintain a heathy and happy christmas plant.....tyvm... dj from edmonton alberta canada plant food once a month...i water it about once a week and give it plant food about once a month(miracle gro 24-8-16)now can someone help me with my dying cactus....and if i am using the wrong plant food can i run it under water continously to get the remaining plant food out.....and can you tell


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