Rhipsalis Pilocarpa

JonathanUT(5b)October 22, 2012

I bought a R. Capilliformis and a R. Pilocarpa a few months ago from the home improvement store. They were bought because of their light requirements (basement), and have been doing well, even though its hard to tell because of their painfully slow growth speed. When I bought them, their dirt was soaked, and I figured I would let them dry a little, so they could be on the same, and correct, schedule. I have given them minimal water just because I can't see how they could live without it, however, their soil remains soaked. Their pots are still the original grow pots. I have misted them from time to time while it was warm out to make up for the air conditioning.

Lately I have noticed that the Pilocarpa would occasionally have one of its small stems lying on the counter. Tonight I noticed that it seemed to be getting discolored, and pulled the grow pot out of the decorative metal pot. There was no water in the dish, or the bottom of the metal pot, the roots are not extending out of the grow pot. There was condensation in the bottom of the metal pot, and between the grow pot and the dish. The dirt on this end of the pot is still soaked as well. It is now out of its decorative pot, and I am hoping the roots aren't too damaged. Just handling it the little bit that I have tonight made it lose about 10% of its stems, though they were all from around the perimeter of the pot.

I understand that this is a picky plant to grow, and I know that it is waterlogged. Any suggestions from those familiar with this plant on what my next step should be? I do have some cactus potting soil, but I fear I may send it into shock if I try to change anything. FWIW, the R. Capilliformis is just as soaked, but isn't showing signs of stress yet.


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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Hmm, these are succulents so they really don't need lots of water, they can go for weeks between waterings. The soil sounds waterlogged, Id get em out of the pots, and repot in fresh soil, and abstain from watering until they pick up.

Also the second names of plants should start with a small letter, not a capital. So its Rhipsalis pilocarpa.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 4:36AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Sorry GL, I believe I'll have to disagree, while they are succulents, they are in fact, cacti as well.

These are tropical, jungle cacti, so they actually do take a fair amount of water pretty frequently & absolutely must have fast drainage.

GL, pls be careful abt the advice you're giving in this case it happens to be quite incorrect.

These plants need frequent water w/ fastest possible drainage as they're native to the jungle forests of Central & South America (apparently also Madagascar, from a quick search).

Consider these to be comparable to Holiday cactus, Christmas cactus, etc.

Sorry, Jonathan, I suspect it's a drainage problem where the mix never dries out which actually suffocates the leaves (lack of air in all that soaking mix).

I'm having the same issue w/ a Hoya which I bought that never dried out in the month I've had it & I don't think I caught it in time.

I believe the only remedies are to take cuttings first as insurance & then change their mix to something like AV mix w/ extra perlite or pumice (1/3 or half as much) or as a last resort, C&S mix w/ extra perlite or pumice.

I believe the soggy soil is to blame, sorry. Tho' you may lose some stems in the process of unpotting & repotting, I believe you'll lose both plants if you don't remedy the soil situation.

The old mix should crumble off the roots easily in your fingers. After planting anew, water these in & then a week later, place them on humidity trays.

The 2 Rhipsalis I have take frequent watering & get a lot of bright indirect light, & 1 is fast growing.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 2:04PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Pg, but cacti, with the exception of pereskia, ARE succulent, and dont require as much water when grown in a pot, as a thin leaved houseplant. In the jungle or when hung it may be different, but in a pot no. Certainly more water than the average cactus or other succulent, but not soaking.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 5:02PM
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Like Karen said. Also, I'd like to add that if the segments are falling, the roots are dead, all of them. Been there, done that. Make cuttings NOW, and put the cuttings in a warm moist, well lit area (not direct sun yet). (The baggie method was made for Rhipsalis.) It might not root until day length increases, but by that time your old pot will only have hard brown dead things in it.
I'd also recommend that you take the other one out of its pot. Although these plants can take moist, constant wet will kill them. Moist does not equal wet. Good luck.

BTW, hey PG. They are cacti, but from my experience they can only be called succulent in the broadest terms. Pilocarpa is especially un-resistant to drought, about on the level of campos-portoana.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 8:11PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Yes, GL, I know all cacti are succulent. Pls. look again, I did say while they're succulents, they are also Cacti. (But I don't see any fleshy leaves on these to hold water in reserve, do you?)

Sorry, I still disagree w/what you're saying, yes, maybe somewhat less water than than in the jungle, but certainly not infrequent watering & not for weeks w/out water as you suggested.

Do you grow these plants? 'Cause I do & was also raised where Xmas cacti originate (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) & understand the rather humid nature of their tropical climate. I stand by my response.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 8:19PM
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I pulled both from their pots and the roots actually looked fairly nice. The pilocarpa actually had more roots then the capilliformis. The dirt didn't want to come off in clumps, so I just rubbed it with my hands as not to tear off any viable roots that were still intact. I put replaced the damp dirt that came off with cactus soil with a little extra Perlite mixed in. After this, I placed them in a room with north facing windows to try to allow them to get some natural sunlight for a little while. If all else fails, I already have a start from the pilocarpa that is doing well.

So far they seem to be doing ok, if anything I would say they look like they have perked up slightly, but with how slow they move, I think it is more wishful thinking than anything.

FWIW, the dirt I removed from the pilocarpa's pot was damp enough that even after sitting in a tray for two hours, the moisture could still be felt by placing my hand onto it.

Thanks for your help, and the extra info about them.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 12:51AM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

Well pg I grow xmas/thanksgiving cacti which are similar. They do require more water than other cacti true.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 4:43AM
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