Cacti have been living in city apartments for a long time. They have also become a part of the winter gardens of commercial and office spaces. It’s nice to look at healthy plants with many different varieties and shapes.
However, what to do when the cactus suddenly softens to the touch and appears to be dying? To begin with, you must identify the underlying cause of the problem.
Often, this is because the cactus has been mishandled. Now is the time to get to the bottom of it all.
What is the cause of this?
Rot is the most common cause of cactus softening. Too much watering and overwatering of the soil, combined with low light and low temperatures, can lead to root rot and other problems.
Important! Cacti don’t like when there is too much moisture in the soil. It is better to underwater than overwater your cactus. I recommend a moderate watering of your cacti with room-temperature water. Watering should be limited to once every two weeks in the winter and once every week during the summer.
Other causes of cactus rot include:
Late Blight: Infected plants rot from the neck down, roll on their sides, and their tissues become soft and watery. Phytophthora is a fungus.
Pests: Root mealybugs are among the most common culprits. Cactus roots are a favorite of theirs. This pest hides in the soil mix and later causes damage. The weakened plant begins to rot, soften, and wilt.
Wrong Soil Type: Cactus soil should be sterile, preferably specialized for cactus growing, as other types cause stagnant water. If the soil is too heavy, it is better to loosen it by 30 to 40 percent with sand. You should also avoid overfeeding your cactus, as too much fertilizer can cause it to rot.
The microclimate is Not Suitable: Cacti are classified into desert cacti and wild cacti. Caring for them is similar, but there are differences. First, ensure you have enough light for your indoor cactus, particularly in winter.
Lighting must be both bright and dispersed, much like a tropical rainforest. However, you may need to protect the cacti from the intense summer heat by providing them with shade. Desert cacti prefer humid conditions that range from 40-50%.
In the winter, the air temperature ranges between 59-65 °F (15-18 °C). However, temperatures during the dormant period should not exceed 63 °F/17 °C.
In most cases, the diseased plant can be saved. I’ll walk you through the process step by step.
How to Rescue Infected Cactus?
- Begin by ceasing your watering and sprinkling habits. A sharp, sterilized knife and a disinfectant, such as charcoal dust or sulfur, are required to rescue.
- After removing the plant from the pot, inspect the roots.
- Remove any rotten roots with a clean, sharp knife. Examine the cuts more closely. If the cactus has red dots or specks, it has been infected with phytophthora. It is critical not to dwell on the negative but rather to keep trying. Leaving even a few marks behind will kill the plant and bring the problem back.
- Gradually cut in circles until the area is evenly colored. Now, using a clean, disinfected knife, make a control cut.
- Remove both the lateral areolae and the thorns at the same time. The procedure is comparable to sharpening a pencil.
- The cuttings should be powdered with charcoal powder and dry for a few hours.
- Now that the soil has been disinfected, you can plant in it, but don’t bury it. Make support if necessary by tying a stick to it and surrounding it with rocks. Hold on watering for two weeks, except for spraying in extreme heat.
How to Root a Cactus Cutting
Cutting is the best method for rooting, but it requires more attention to detail, such as a greenhouse with temperature control between 72-77 °F (22-25 °C) degrees and adequate lighting.
In addition, it is more difficult to root cacti in the winter. At this point, they are vulnerable to fungal diseases because the plant’s internal processes have slowed down to a standstill.
It’s even more difficult because there aren’t many daylight hours, and the microclimate isn’t very pleasant. To make it feel like spring, add more lighting and set the temperature to 68-72 °F (20-22°C). This will help the new cuttings grow.
- Check the rooting cuttings once a week, as the disease may resurface.
- To see if it has taken roots, gently shake the cactus and check whether it is clinging to the ground or not.
- Lift it up and inspect the cut:
- Put it back if it’s dry;
- If the cuttings are rotten, you need to cut them again and dry them without watering or spraying until the roots show up.
- In the case of mold, make a new cut, sprinkle it with charcoal, let it dry for a few hours, and put it back in the ground. The frequency of watering should also be cut back.
These steps give a 70% to 80% chance of good rooting. The only way to get a 100% success rate is to graft on another cactus, such as Echinopsis.
If there are other plants in the area, check on them and give them the needed attention. Changing the watering schedule and creating a proper microclimate is likely all that is necessary.
Keeping the Cactus Healthy in General
Preventing disease is more manageable than treating it. You can protect your cacti from a wide range of conditions by following these simple guidelines.
- Water cacti at room temperature rather than using cold water.
- Reduce watering if the surrounding temperature is less than 63°F/ 17 °C.
- Plant cacti in a particular sterile soil for them.
- Using too much fertilizer on cacti can harm them. Instead, apply a special liquid fertilizer.
- Ensure that newly purchased plants cactus are quarantined before re-located with other plants.
- Take cacti outside in the summer and put them in a cool place in the winter to harden them up.
- Take care of preventative maintenance twice a year.
The thorns on cacti appear rough, but they are actually delicate plants that need constant care and attention.
As long as you follow a few simple guidelines, you can enjoy this wild beauty right in your own home.