Help me save my Christmas cactus!

clivia7May 25, 2014

Hi.
I have a big christmas cactus from my grandma which is more than 40 years old and i've overwatered it :(
So I repotted it and saw rotten roots so i've cut them off and put the plant in water to root.
Did a do a right thing?
If you have any tips or suggestions please post it.
Thanks in advance.

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

No, it should have been repotted in a very porous potting medium. Did you plunk the whole plant into a bucket of water?

Why don't you post some pictures so that we can see how bad (or not so bad) the situation is.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 8:49AM
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clivia7

No, I've put only bottom of the plant in water. The leaves are wrinkeled and dry.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 11:17AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Remove it from the water, and set it on some newspaper to dry a bit. After about 2 - 4 hours of drying, re-pot into bark. If it isn't lost completely, it should recover well in the bark.

Josh

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:01PM
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Photo Synthesis

I agree, remove your plant from that water. These plants are native to the rainforests of Central & South America. They are epiphytes, which means that they naturally grow up in the canopies of trees, just like orchids and bromeliads. They're not used to sitting in water and would quickly rot if they do.

Follow Josh's advice and let it dry out for a few hours and repot it in a bark mix. I use an orchid bark mix for mine and they love it. If you can, I'd recommend using the Better Groî brand orchid bark mix. It is very high quality mix and doesn't cost very much. They sell it at Lowe's. When I first bought a bag of this stuff, I loved it so much, I went back and bought several more bags to repot all of my epiphytes. It's the only kind I use now.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 9:34PM
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clivia7

Ok, I will repot it. Should I use a rooting hormone?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 1:18AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

No, for these plants, rooting hormone is unnecessary & a waste of money.

The suggestions above are all one needs, along w/ some time & some patience.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 8:14AM
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clivia7

I removed it from water and there are kind of mucus as you can see in picture. Do i need to cut that off?bark

This post was edited by clivia7 on Tue, May 27, 14 at 14:26

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 12:52PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Ah, when you said you cut off the rotten roots, I assumed there were other roots that were *not* rotten. That changes things considerably and greatly reduces the chance of success with this plant. Are there any leaves that are still viable to be used for cuttings? I'd start those immediately as a back-up.

Make a clean cut, dab it dry with paper towels, then dust the cut with cinnamon. Good luck re-rooting that trunk - it's not easy, but it is possible.

Josh

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 1:49PM
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lauraeli_

Does this apply to a spring cactus? Not sure what it is potted in (i'd guess cactus mix), but I havent repotted it since I bought it. Except for taking it out of the plastic pot and putting it in a same-size clay one. It was in flower when I bought it. It dropped all its flowers within 4 days of buying it. Yay.

But then it sprouted a bunch of new growth very quickly, as you can see (all of the light green/translucent leaves). Should i repot it in a different mix? Or is the new growth an indicator that it is perfectly happy?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 1:35PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Why would you repot while in bloom? That would cause bud drop or sure. What was the point of that if not to change the mix, sorry but confusing.

Perhaps you should read up a bit on these before you do anything else. Just search this forum for lots to read on Holiday cactus, of which is the Easter Cactus.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 1:42PM
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lauraeli_

The repot was AFTER the blooms fell off. The point was to allow the soil to dry out more efficiently, obviously. Im not comfortable growing anything even remotely cactusy in a plastic pot. Seems like a wonderful recipe for disaster. I only grow peace lilies in plastic pots. And my outside herbs, for three reasons- they are outside, they grow like weeds, and I prefer to neglect them.

(On a side note, I have repotted other things while in bloom with no repercussions. My kalanchoe didnt bat an eye about it, for instance.)

I hate plastic pots :-) really, that's all the reason I need.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 1:54PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Sorry, guess that wasn't obvious to me (to dry more efficiently).

Well Holiday cacti are JUNGLE cacti, that is to say they want higher humidity (unlike desert or arid land cacti, which want dry, parched).

Generally these do better in plastic pot, so they don't dry out too fast (or their roots get too hot in the clay).

Looks happy & healthy otherwise, I'd take the new growth as a good sign, tho' I would get them out of that peaty mix which will eventually become a problem.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 3:04PM
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lauraeli_

Hm, how does one go about repotting into an entirely different mix without bare-rooting the plant? That does make me a little nervous, and I would be more inclined to do something that (seemingly?) drastic when the plant is more dormant.

I have bare-rooted spider plants and orchids but Im hesitant to do it with a new plant.

What would you suggest for a potting mix? And how should I switch out the old mix?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 3:22PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Don't know what bare root means, if taking ALL the mix off the roots, yes that's it.

These plants don't really go dormant, just slow down somewhat. Pls. read the entire thread as it mentions mixes, you can also search similar posts here which do the same.

"And how should I switch out the old mix?"

By removing all the mix from the roots, crumble it off w/ your fingers, how else, I can't say.

Personally, I use AV (African violet) mix w/ 50% extra perlite & plastic pots only.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 3:47PM
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lauraeli_

Just crumble it all off? That makes me nervous, but if you say so. Ive done it before with other plants, after all. I will do it just as soon as my cactus asks for a bigger pot.

I grow my AVs in all-purpose potting mix and unglazed clay pots. Ive no idea the difference between regular potting mix and AV mix.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 3:59PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Again, I ask you to read up on these plants a bit.

It doesn't need a bigger pot, that will not help it (& likely could harm it); it DOES need other mix or this peat will ultimately kill it.

If you read up a bit on mixes, you can READ about the differences. Sorry, I don't have time to explain EVERYTHING from scratch for you.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 4:24PM
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lauraeli_

I have done research. Was asking your personal opinion. But if it bothers you so much, then stop replying. You arent the only person on this forum.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 5:00PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

It's not that it bothers me SO MUCH, it's several other things.

This was originally someone else's thread & question, but it's related, so OK you jumped in.

I've answered you several times each asking you to read up on mixes, but guess you don't want to here or (I forgot to mention) at Cactus & Succulent Forum where' there's TONS of info. on these, their care & their mixes.

You asked my opinion, I'd rather go from Facts, which can be had by reading up on each of these mixes &/or the package label of your own potting soil you mentioned.

Seems your AV research neglected to notice most AV growers grow them in plastic pots, not clay & use specifically formulated AV mix (at least those on GW's AV forum).

Difference btwn AV mix & potting soil would probably have come up in research too, but I hear you. Am happy to sign off & let you wait for others to answer or not.

Maybe Josh (Greenman) will come along & support some of the cultural info. I've tried to impart.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 5:38PM
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lauraeli_

I didnt do a single shred of research when I started out with AVs. Therefore the way I grow AVs does not have to do with research at all. It has to do with the way I have grown them from the beginning. Never had a single problem with them. Even the ones that have foliar nematodes do not get sick. Plants that are grown in porous pots often have healthier root systems, and that includes AVs. The fact that others grow AVs in plastic does not concern me much; In fact, the reason I brought it up is because I am AWARE that a lot of others grow in plastic, but clay works much better FOR ME. That is because everybody has different growing conditions, and a slightly different way of caring for plants. Likely the reason many prefer plastic is because it allows them more time between waterings. That is not something I value at all. Therefore, the traditional or 'researched' method does not suit me.

Furthermore, I read the info that was available through the 'search' option on gardenweb. This is readily available information. However, I can google all day long- that doesnt mean that a personal opinion from someone with experience has LESS value.

I have no qualms about joining a discussion with related questions, because the questions i ask and the answers received could very well be of benefit to the original poster. However. When a question asked is answered with 'there is info elsewhere' then that is more likely to kill a thread.

Thank you for pointing the way. I can see that there is no more info to be had here.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 6:34PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Well let's not jump the gun Laura, didn't you just say I'm not the only one on this forum? Clearly not, so let's pls. give it a minute for the others to chime in.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 10:56PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hello!

Yes, remove the old mix by soaking, crumbling, hosing, whatever it takes. Then, re-pot into a mix that is mostly bark (my preferred mix) with a bit of Perlite and just a pinch of quality potting mix/AV soil/et cetera. If you use a mix that drains so well, you can pot in plastic or clay, even in pots larger than would normally be recommended. A week or two after re-potting, resume fertilization.

Josh

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 12:55AM
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nomen_nudum

Kind of odd I've bare rooted my Av's only to grow them with zero drainage holes AKA ceramic SWC's. My opinion, pot types for some plants don't matter.
Coincidence ?: Often in the AV forum it is suggested to bare root and repot them from time to time as well (Six weeks, six months or six years? Who knows.)
Bare rotting an AV to and from the same pot or a different pot is a bit different than repotting an EC as the pot size and type is going to be the same for the life of any of my AV's.

Fact: Jungle cacti roots tend to grow more openly and loser and can be thread thin and needed where an Av can spare to loose some of it's finer roots. Jungle cacti roots like some extra space and don't enjoy being as root bound as an AV does.

Consider a pot size two inches bigger or two inches deeper than what the size is now. Plastic or T. cotta or clay inner lined glazed ceramic outter the pot can be of any type as long as it has sufficient drainage. As your already familiar with terra cotta or plastic pots for your EC may as well use the same type.

Assuming you have a very good draining soil/mix ready to repot your cacti the bare rotting of an AV is the same as bare rotting a EC

Remove the entire plant and it's soil from the pot it's in now.

JUST LIKE an AV you'll need to remove or pick away at older soil with fingers and a tool ( plastic coated wire, tooth pic or what ever the other guys use to remove old soil from roots as an example) remove as much ( ALL)all of the old soil as you can.

Occasional light misting to help completely remove or quick dips in a small drip pan sized tank of water will help loosen older dryer soil for easier older soil removing.

Your going to love a potting bench or table, but as you probably don't have one consider a flat surface area ample enough to repot.

Easy as pie, or the space it takes to make the pie.

A sink or table work area with and on a dry newspaper to absorb any excess water from misting, bowl screen and or tray to keep the area clean of old soil before it finds the trash barrel.

Opps seems " looking up" soil for some plants can be confusing can't it ?

Even though it might already be growing in a peat based soil. The normal jungle cacti can be better in a small sized orchid bark based soil.

Fact: (again) for a jungle cati A good ( well prepared) bark based mix should be able to last any EC (A jungle type cacti) for several years. Even though bark based mix preferences may vary from one person to another would be a choice you have to make.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 1:14AM
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lauraeli_

Thanks guys, I will look into a bark based mix. The one I have for my orchids is too coarse.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 4:47PM
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