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Is this cactus dying? Not sure what's wrong...

Posted by aries0475 (My Page) on
Fri, Jun 22, 07 at 15:55

Hi, I have a cactus (several varieties in one pot) and one of them is in trouble - a few pieces broke off (see pic below) and they appear dry and "hollowed-out" - any idea why? I haven't seen any bugs or signs of disease, though maybe it's a watering issue? I water about once a month (the cactus is in an office environment, no direct sunlight so I use a hallogen desk lamp for it)

So is this a sign of too much water, or too little? What else could be wrong? Please let me know, thanks.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Is this cactus dying? Not sure what's wrong...

I believe there is something very wrong with your cactus. I am not sure what, but to be falling apart like that, gosh lol. Maybe it is overwatering? During the summer, they are growing so they need water more often. But, I know this sounds contradictory, you have yours sitting under a desk lamp, so maybe it isn't drying out as fast as it needs to.

I do not believe that is enough light for any cactus. They like to have sun shining on them, this is why alot of people put theirs outside during the summer, lots of sun and they are growing so they need it. Without enough light, they can suffer effects of overwatering more quickly than if they were sitting in the sun. When I say sun, someone may disagree with me, I don't necessarily mean sun all day long. It depends on the cactus, the moe spiny types like this one, would like more sun than the more fleshy less spiny types. Mine outside gets about an hour to two hours a day of direct outside sun. I water mine outside about once every two weeks. I hope this was of some help, I'm not exactly sure if it's overwatering, but I know they need to have more sun. If you cannot place them outside, can you place them in a sunny windowsill?


RE: Is this cactus dying? Not sure what's wrong...

I agree with Elizabeth..cactus, especially thorny types, need more sun..
Perhaps you should take that guy home and bring back to health, then place a plant in your office that can live under lights..but to be honest, even low light plants require some sun..Good luck, Toni

RE: Is this cactus dying? Not sure what's wrong...

Cactuses need outdoor sun, they are not houseplants, they are extremely tolerant and adaptable to poor conditions so they make nice displays with those silly fake flowers tacked on, or gravel topdressing that is glued together...they survive for a while in stores because they can be neglected for many months until an innocent shopper decides to take one home and neglect it as well, only to find it dead soon after and wonder what they did wrong.

I've been visiting this forum for a few years now and what I described seems to be common. The good thing is that often I think that 1st purchase of a succulent and subsequent quick death can spark interest into the hobby.

The same goes for those ridiculous "bonsai" that you find in malls. 99% of buyers have no clue what they have and what real bonsai is. The end result is dead, wired juniper.

There's a market out there for everything and everyone I suppose.

RE: Is this cactus dying? Not sure what's wrong...

Thanks for the replies everyone - Elizabeth, you're right about it not getting enough light. As for water, you said you water yours outside once every two weeks, but I've only watered mine once a month. So maybe it's a combination of both too little light and too little water (since this is summer). I've now taken it home and placed it outside. Hopefully that heals it...and no, I'm not going to take it back to the office, since there's no spot I can put it where it would get direct sunlight :(

RE: Is this cactus dying? Not sure what's wrong...

Hmm... well, I'm not sure about what made it go so mushy. Unless it is real dark in your office, you could say that you were overwatering it in the sense that too little light, too much water, can give you the affects that you have with your cactus. Or you could be right, too little water, too little light. I'm really not sure, but seeing that it sort of fell off like it did, it sounds like it rotted... looks like it rotted.

It may die, I will tell you that, it might not. But, whatever you do, please adjust the cacti to the sun gradually, lest they become sunburned. Put them in a shady area for a couple days, 3-4 days, and then move it to a little brighter spot, 3-4 days later, an even brighter spot. Keep doing this until it is adjusted to bright light. I am not sure if you want to put it in full sun or not, that depends on how hot and bright it gets there.

Here where I live, it gets hot, humid really, and really sunny. Since a good bit of my cacti have less spines, I like to let them sit in full sun for about an hour to two at the most. But, that'll depend on where you live.

I would gradually water your cacti more over time, in the sense that you just can't slop water on them once every two weeks if they aren't adjusted to their enviornment or aren't used to being watered so frequently. Do it over a gradual phase until you get it around once every couple weeks. This will also depend on where you live and how much sun they receive as to how often you will want to water them.

Just remember, they bounce back faster with lack of water than they do with overwatering. Lack of water can be reversed easily, but too much water is irreversible. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean don't ever water them, but they don't need as much water as other plants as I see you've noticed. I hope this was somewhat helpful.


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