Christmas Cactus with red leaves?

hawaiitropicsSeptember 7, 2007

For some strange reason, my christmas cactus has purplish-reddish leaves on about one half of the plant. The other ones are lush and green. It gets morning sun to about 12 or 1 and that is direct sun. I water when I see the soil is dry, now that it is fall I will start watering it less. But why the color? It's been like this for awhile.

Thank You very much!

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GrowHappy(z7 MD)

The side that's reddish is getting more light than the other side. The red leaves are in response to good light levels and completely normal.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 6:55PM
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hawaiitropics

So it has nothing to do with not enough fertilizer? I think I read somewhere that it does. Thank you very much!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 7:02PM
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elfinn

Actually, Hawaii,
How red is it exactly? Succulents tend to turn red when they are sunburnt. I have a very happy CC (actually I think it's a Thanksgving Cactus) that sits indoors in a filtered sunny SW window. When the new leaves come in, they have a reddish cast, but that fades away as they mature and thicken--they turn a nice dark green. One thing you didn't mention was whether yours is outside or inside. The rays of the sun are the strongest from 12-1, and if it's outside, it might just be roasting.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 7:17PM
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hawaiitropics

You know, it's more of a purple-ish, slightly red, it is outdoors, but I really don't think its burning, cause it was like this when I brought it in for winter, too. Should I move it maybe?

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 7:21PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Purple/red leaves are caused by a build-up of the pigment anthocyanin. It's often seen in nature when nights are cool and days are sunny/bright. It is also often seen in the drought response caused by dry or overly wet soils (yes, over-wet soils cause drought response) and is magnified by deficient Phosphorous levels. Root restriction and soil compaction are also prime causes of the pigment's accumulation in leaves & stems.

In short, nearly any environmental condition that limits growth (the use of photosynthate), but does not limit photosynthesis (photosynthate production) can cause anthocyanin build up and accompanying "purpling" of foliage.

My guess is that your plant badly needs repotting and if it doesn't, it's likely exhibiting a P deficiency in the soil.

Al

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 8:12PM
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hawaiitropics

Yes, I now really believe that phosphorus is the problem. I have repotted it this spring, that is why I think so. Thank you very much, I will try to correct it ASAP.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 8:27PM
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Patty zone 5

Al,
Thanks for such a helpful explanation of the reddening of leaves on the schlums! Makes sense, of course, but very well said.

I LOVE shlums!!!
Patty

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 8:19PM
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zenzero

I re potted my old Christmas cactus this summer, its very old and was very root bound. It goes out on the porch for summer every year. The pot was a self watering type and I drowned the plant. Leaves turned red and are limp. I have since took out the drain plug, Now the plant is inside. How do I correct the soil? Can I bring this plant back? Should I keep a plant light on it? Any help will be appreciated, thanks

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 4:34PM
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zenzero

This was last year

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 4:36PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

I agree that the reddish/purplish leaves are from very bright light and not a lack of fertilizer.

I had a Thanksgiving Cactus that received a few hours of direct morning sun and some of the leaves usually the tips or the newest segments turned reddish/purplish as well...

Zen, actually what you have is a Thanksgiving Cactus...and its very nice! Christmas Cactus has smooth edges) No spikes or points on the edges like yours...I hope the repotting will correct your issues, good luck!

Below is a link that tells the difference between Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter cactus...

Here is a link that might be useful: Holiday Cactus...differences

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 8:41AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Yes, as mentioned in the other Thread, strong light is likely the culprit.
But, as I also said there (and which Al mentions here previously), the saturated root-zone can also contribute to this coloration - essentially, a drought response. I recommend that you re-pot your Thanksgiving Cactus into appropriate mix.
Thanks for posting the link, Nancy.

Josh

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 7:10PM
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zenzero

Thanks so much for the responses.
I am going to re-pot it with Orchid bark this time. The roots are pretty bound so the potting mix will just be on bottom and sides unless I break it up some. I also read about adding a little hydrogen peroxide to the water. I hope I can bring it back.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 3:20PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I wouldn't change a thing from what you did this year. It's beautiful and blooming - just what people want from a TC. Some turn colors in the sun, some don't. This pot has 2 kinds, for example.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 6:07PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Purple,
the plant in question was rootbound and drowned...definitely in need of a re-potting into an appropriate new mix (when the time is right).

Josh

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 10:47PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

I thought it was said it (Zen's plant) was just repotted this summer. It doesn't look like a problem plant to me, at this point. Zen's plant isn't the original one of this discussion.

But I'm not sure how it was repotted this summer, from this comment, "The roots are pretty bound so the potting mix will just be on bottom and sides unless I break it up some." I don't think I'd use a totally different type of soil to do this (orchid mix around a likely ball of peat?)

Zen, separating roots from a rock-hard, hydrophobic ball of peat is not easy, even if soaked first. Sometimes I do more harm than good, finding it impossible to remove the peat without ripping the roots off too. I'm hesitant to buy any more of these, tiny plants in balls of peat, especially succulents. I killed some little ones I got this spring trying to do this and ended up ripping them up. Killed 'em trying to fix 'em.

Bigger plants usually have enough of a root ball that one can chop off the bottom half, which then usually enables the remaining peat to be able to be removed from the empty center. I would have confidence you could do that with yours, but if it were my plant, I'd do it early next summer.

Josh, is that what you meant by when the time is right (next spring/summer?)

On the C/S forum, colorful TC leaves are considered desirable, healthy. Not all TC's are prone to turning colors, as I think my pic shows. I have these plants in various exposures this summer, and even some of those hanging in the shade of trees, not getting nearly as much light as others, turned purple. All are making flower buds and I'm glad to have some of both kinds of leaves. But if forced to choose, I would rather have a TC with pretty purple leaves that never blooms than a plain green one with flowers. There's a million and 12 plain green leaved plants that make flowers. Just MVHO.

This post was edited by purpleinopp on Thu, Nov 7, 13 at 9:32

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 9:31AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Purple,
the plant in question is Zenzero's...posting from October 19th. Described as having been drowned in a self-watering container with the *plug in.* Also described as root-bound, but not properly re-potted. The description of the leaves having gone limp (despite available moisture) indicates that the roots were/are impaired. With a bit of care, I have no doubt that most, if not all, of the plant will survive just fine.

The color of the leaves is due to strong light (and increased, no doubt, by dehydration) and was addressed both here and in his original Thread at the C/S Forum. Strong coloration is no problem...until the leaves burn and become less functional.

Yes, I meant re-potting during the optimum season. Although, if the plant were failing, I wouldn't hesitate to re-pot now.

Josh

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 11:37AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Yes, I was talking about the 10/19 plant. Thanks for the explanation!

I've been trying to see what happens with too much light on 2 of my plants this summer, but they look normal to me, with buds like the others. Since spring, one is in the sun all day with no break, one after mid-day until sunset.

This is the most exposed one, a couple days ago.

Just took this pic of the one with the most shade of all of them.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 11:49AM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

I DO love the reddish tips on your TC purple!! Its def. weird that
the TC that gets sun all day doesn't have any red/purple on the tips? I'm wondering if this may have to do with a different clone or variety...hmmm?

A couple of mine get those purplish/reddish tips when they get a lot of light or some direct sun so the 2 plants your posted above does make one scratch their heads,lol...

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 4:15PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Yeah, I've not had these long, just grabbed a bunch last fall to experiment. Repotted all & put them in various exposures this spring, took some cuttings. As far as propagating fun goes, TC rocks. Sure doesn't seem like all are equipped to change foliage color though. Being in the same pot is a pretty good indicator I think.

AFAIK, my plants have not had any thirsty moments, I water plants often, every 2-4 days, depending on the heat/sun. All have increased in size, some as much as double, so I'm inclined to attribute the color to exposure and don't consider these plants stressed in any way but that. I would prefer for more time to pass before inscribing anything on a rock though. And they still need to make the transition inside soon. I'll report on what happens, good, bad, ugly. Like everybody else, not everything I do works out.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2013 at 6:09PM
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zenzero

Well I'm sad to say I think my TC is a goner. When trying to get it out of the pot the plant broke off the root ball completely.
Any chance I can get the plant to make new roots? I just put it in a new pot with Orchid Bark.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 3:18PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

So sorry that happened! A couple people advised you to do that in the spring, but I don't always do what the advice says either, and you would still be in this situation if it had broken then. It's definitely not a goner. At this point, I'd do cuttings, lots of them, per pot, and as many pots as you can house. I don't think the whole plant can make new roots fast enough to support that much mass. Was it just one stem? If so, you can probably stick many cuttings around the base of it, to get started.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 3:31PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Shoot!
Well, you've got to re-root it, then. I'd try to root the whole plant, but I'd also take cuttings (like Purple said) and get those going to hedge your bets. Good luck!

Josh

    Bookmark   November 10, 2013 at 7:48PM
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zenzero

Thanks again Purple and Greenman I did some cuttings and have one more question. Should I clean up the stem of the plant? Cut some of the stalk at the base?
If it survives I will post a pic.

This post was edited by zenzero on Sun, Nov 24, 13 at 19:05

    Bookmark   November 17, 2013 at 10:36PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

What do you mean, cut some of the stalk at the base?
Post a pic before doing anything like that.

Josh

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 11:50AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Yeah, and posting pics often is fine, good. As you get feedback over its' progression, you'll be much more able to understand what it's doing (and if it looks improved or declining.) Someone might spot something you don't realize is a 'problem' or happen to realize something important that's not been said yet. At any time, you can use the 'browse' button to add 1 pic per reply to this existing discussion. That's my fav way to 'track' a new plant I have periodic questions about. No repeating its' history or appearance necessary.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 12:15PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Here's an update on the last pic I showed, the 2nd pic of Nov 7, 13 at 11:49. And the pot that previously had 2 TC's in it shown at Nov 6, 13 at 18:07. All 3 are together now. The one that was in the metal thing is upper right in this pic. I pulled it out 'in a chunk' and stuck it in the pot pretty much undisturbed. That was a couple weeks ago, pic just now. I don't think it's noticed, or cares if it does (knock wood!)

Anyway, it shows 3 quite different tones of foliage color, though all plants had at least 5 hours of direct sun for over a month before coming inside. The tree that shaded the metal planter all summer lost its' leaves in Sept. From the bud colors, looks like the foliage color has something to do with the color of the flowers, or the other way around, IDK. Will see what color the flowers are inside soon.

Any news, Zen?

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 12:20PM
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zenzero

The plant looks pretty bad but I took it out to re-plant in an orchid bark and orchid potting mix combined. It looks like it was making roots.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 3:50PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Purple, Great picture! I love how there are 3 different (leaves) tones in your pot, very nice!

Zen, I hope your TC comes back...good luck!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 8:40PM
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ssuarkc(3a)

Hi there,

I went hunting for the cause for my cactus turning purple and I found this thread. I read somewhere that a magnesium deficiency can turn cactus foliage purple or red.

My particular cactus is sitting in an East window; however, there is a tree near that window so while the light is very bright, it never receives direct sun. This cactus is quite purple all over. The really interesting thing that took place just a few months back was some branches of leaves turned gold - but they do not seem to be dying. They continue to grow and put out new, yellow leaves. So, in my one plant alone, I have pink-purple, green, and yellow leaves. The yellow showed up after our community's water source went a bit funky and the magnesium levels in the water were really high. We had yellow water for a while. Since the town has corrected the water and everything has gone back to normal, I expected to see the leaves return back to green, but instead they have stayed yellow. They also grew really, really wide, twice as wide as the normal leaves. This plant merrily goes about its thing flowering profusely in November/December and then usually again in the early spring around March-April. It's not wilty. All the leaves feel firm. The flowers are pink/white.

So, my question is - Did the excess magnesium in the water make my plant sick? It did flower not long after the water issue was resolved.

Should I spritz the plant with Epsom salt water?

This plant is about 10 years old and so some stems are woody.

Appreciate the advice.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 7:42PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Post a pic :-)

Josh

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 8:11PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Yes, please post pictures...I would love to see your plant!

Hey Josh!!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 7:43AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hey! :-)

Josh

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 10:51AM
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