the Cactus Expert 2
Question and Answer
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on cactus care-
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We have made this page as an answer key to questions commonly
E-mailed to us. Look at the page for care for
rotting cacti, sunburned cacti, learn the
best time to re-pot a cacti. Find
information on the featured Saguaro cactus.
Can you give me some
general info on this plant?
A cactus is a unique plant that is commonly found growing in a
desert habitat. It belongs to the family Cactaceae. Cacti are
equipped with many adaptations that suit them for the desert life.
Instead of leaves, from which water escapes easily, this magnificent
plant has spines, which greatly narrow down water evaporation. The
spines also protect the cactus from hungry predators such as birds.
A cactus has short roots, which also minimize evaporation. A cactus
is a vascular plant, meaning it can support itself while growing to
amazing heights. The saguaro cactus can grow unto an astonishing
45ft. Probably the most amazing fact about this plant is that even
in its harsh climate some cacti can survive over 200 years! These
adaptations allow certain cacti to survive 3 years without water; a
human can barely survive 4 days.
Cacti reproduce using a couple of methods. One way is
a vegetative reproduction: when for any reason a cactus branch falls
off, it will grow into a new cactus. Cacti can also reproduce by
using seeds. They form flowers that are eventually replaced by fruit
(for some species) and seed.
Cacti are used by both man and animal. Animals such as
birds eat cacti and use holes they made as shelter. Burrowing
animals make homes near roots since the soil has more moisture than
common desert sand. People use cactus for water and food, though not
frequent. Most humans such as I use cactus for décor and gardens.
Many cacti such as prickly pear and golden barrel cacti make great
houseplants. Some, like the Easter and
Christmas cactus are used as
A cactus is good plant for everyone. It does not require much care.
Some people even say that the less you care for them the better.
This makes sense because in the desert no one helps wild cacti grow
in the harsh conditions. You still must water them and give them sun
and occasional feed. This page will give you instructions on indoor
Rotting cactus survival guide
I believe my cactus is
rotting. What the prickly pear should I do?There are various
reasons why a cactus is rotting or even if it is rotting. Read the
I think my cactus is
rotting? How do I know for sure?If a cactus is really rotting, it is urgent to do something. However,
it is possible that the plant becomes woody; that is normal. To tell the
difference, touch the base and see if it is hard or flabby. Hard means, no
problem. In the second case, it is rot and the plant must be treated with care.
Look at the directions below for info on treating rotting cacti.
My cactus is becoming brown at its base. Why? Can I still save it?
The second way to save a rotting cactus (that's
rotting from its base) is to simply
cut of its top.
Using a sharp knife cut off the top of the plant. Note that if
white liquid pours out, the plant is not a cactus but an euphorbia.
In that case, be careful! If the liquid comes into contact with
sensitive places like eyes, mouth, etc. you may be harmed. It is
toxic ! After that
let is dry for a 2-5 days. Then place the top in another
pot and plant it. If using the same pot, clean out the soil, so the cactus top won't
catch its own disease. The cactus top will, after being planted,
develop its own roots and will then grow as a normal cactus. For the
first 2 weeks of the new cactus being planted water more frequently
than usual. On Cactus expert page 1
you can see typical watering instructions.
My cactus is rotting from the top. What shall I do?
If a cactus is rotting from the top you need to
act immediately before more of the cactus rots. Just like as if it
is rotting from the base, carefully cut off the top of the
cactus that is rotting. Dispose of the cactus top. As for the
bottom, clean it with a spray to make sure it does not catch the
top's disease. Change the soil unless it looks as if the cactus
can't take a repot. The remaining cactus should now be healthy.
After a few weeks of extra care, start caring for it as for a normal
cactus. It will not grow a new top or increase in height but it will
grow branches which will grow. I guess it is better than no cactus.
Please note that the email conversations have been modified to
pertain to the
questions of a broader group
I have a cactus
However after watching it grow healthily for many years,
with 2 house moves
and 2 re-pots it seems to be detraining. The base of the
cactus is becoming
darker and darker. I Read on various websites this could be
caused by the cactus
recently being re potted in a pot without holes in the
bottom. If this is the case how
do I go about repairing the damage I have caused to the
The cactus cactus may be just aging. Sometimes cacti
develop a darker skin or even brown skin when the are getting
old. Kind of like bark. If it is rotting the skin will be soft.
If it is simply skin hardening then the skin will be hard.
Check the cactus if the skin is soft or hard. If it is hard it
is healthy, soft; Huston we have a problem. If it is rotting
view at the rotting cactus care above this article.
I saw a TV program on channel 2 Gardener
world. A gardener said one special cactus put near the computer
to cure radiation. May be know the name of the cactus please?
I wonder is it Myrtillocactus or ecthnopsis scopulus.
I don't know the best cactus for the job. I believe all cacti
can do this not just one specific.
I believe in cactus power but this to some people (my father)
seems silly so it does not have to be 100% true.
I just bought one cactus plant an it has
three blooms but, I am not sure how to take care of it. Please
let me know what kind of light and temp I need to put in winter
and summer time.
This may be hard to believe but here is what your cactus
Spring & Summer:
a cactus should be placed in a warm, partly sunny
area (65º- 85ºF).
Fall & Winter:
place it in a cool (45º- 55ºF), shady area with just
a bit of sunlight (e.g. a garage).
Cactus branch and cutting FQA
branch fell off my
Prickly Pear cactus. How should I
react to this misfortune?
Well first of all I would not call this misfortune. The cactus
branch probably fell of because the cactus's pot was shaken or
because of wind. This is simply a method of reproduction used by
cacti. You should let the branch dry for 2-3 days. After that
plant it in a separate pot and water it. And there you have it a
whole new cactus for no expense.
-A prickly pear cactus is shown on the
A branch fell off my
cactus (not prickly pear). What should I do?
Well this question is a bit harder to answer. It is rarer for a
normal cactus branch to fall off in a human environment than of
a prickly pear cactus. It
could be a strong wind or shaking the pot. It could be an animal or even
rotting. Check for rot if rotting use our rotting guide above to
save the rest of it. If it is not rotting then you can let the
branch dry for about a
week and plant it if you want a new cactus and if possible. If the branch is hard to plant,
heavy, or curved in a weird direction and you cant plant it
because it is way harder to plant than a prickly pear cactus
branch then I guess you should just toss it.
I want another cactus,
can I purposely cut off a branch and plant it.
Yes. If you want a free cactus you can cut off a branch using a sharp knife. After that
allow the cactus branch to dry and then plant it in a new pot.
Water more often during first few weeks. And here you go a new
I need to trim my cactus. How do
you do this?
If your cactus's braches are too tall then you can cut them off
with a sharp knife. Do this carefully. If white liquid pours out
handle careful and don't let it touch skin or eyes it is toxic.
Also note that if white liquid pours out of the cactus it is not
actually a cactus but an euphorbia.
The Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) is a large,
species in the monotypic genus Carnegiea. It is native
to the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States and northern
magnificent Saguaro Cactus, the
state flower of Arizona, is composed
of a tall, thick, fluted, columnar stem, 18 to 24 inches in
diameter, often with several large branches (arms) curving upward in
the most distinctive conformation of all Southwestern cacti.
The skin is smooth and waxy, the trunk and stems have stout, 2-inch
spines clustered on their ribs. When water is absorbed , the outer
pulp of the Saguaro can expand like an accordion, increasing the
diameter of the stem and, in this way, can increase its weight by up
to a ton.
are slow growing, taking up to 75 years to develop a side shoot.
Some specimens may live for more than 200 years; the champion
saguaro grows in Maricopa County, Arizona and is 13.8 m tall and has
a girth of 3.1 m - it was injured as a result of the
Cave Creek Complex fire which was started by lightning June 21,
2005. In addition to being slow growing, they are slow at
propagating. These two factors argue for the placement of the
saguaro on the endangered species list.
Harming one in any manner
cactus plugging) is illegal by state law in Arizona, and when
houses or highways are built, special permits must be obtained to
move or destroy any saguaro affected.
The Saguaro has a surprisingly shallow
root system , considering its great height and weight. It is
supported by a tap root that is only a pad about 3 feet long, as
well as numerous stout roots no deeper than a foot, emanating
radically from its base. More smaller roots run around to a distance
equal to the height of the Saguaro. These roots wrap about rocks
providing efficient anchorage from winds across the rocky bajadas.
The night-blooming flowers appear April-May and the juicy red
fruit matures by late June. Saguaro flowers are self incompatible
and require a pollenizer to supply viable pollen. A well-pollinated
fruit will contain several thousand tiny seeds, and large quantities
of pollen are required for pollination. The major pollinators are
nectar feeding bats on the night blooming flowers, but they often
remain open in the morning and some pollination may be accomplished
by birds and insects.
Other basic cactus care
How do I
know if a cactus is sunburned? The cactus's color becomes
lighter. You should put the cactus in partial shade to prevent it
because some cacti cant stand a lot of direct sun.
When is the
best time to repot cacti?The best time to repot a cactus is in
December unless they are Christmas cacti that are blooming or any
other cactus that is currently in bloom or was in the last 2 weeks.
Look on the Cactus expert page 1 for more details on
I have over watered my
cactus. What should I do? Should I repot the cactus in dryer
No No and No! You should not repot the cactus because
it would only do more damage to the cactus. A far better idea
would be placing the cactus in a very sunny area so it can dry
quicker. After this incident skip one of the scheduled cactus's
waterings. This will allow the cactus to heal. From this point
take care of it as usual. One some occasions though a cactus may
start rotting. Check our rotting cactus survival guide if your
cactus starts rotting so you'll know what to do with it.
My cactus is flowering at the
moment. How should I react?
First of all you should enjoy
this rare occasion because it it pretty hard to get a cactus to
flower (look at the "getting a
cactus to flower"
guide on page 1. When a cactus is
flowering make sure you handle is carefully and don't forget to
Don't shake the cactus at all cost or their goes the flower!
When flowering, a cactus would be better off outside unless
there are extreme temperatures and cactus eating animals
outside. If you are worried your yard has "cactus dangers",
Don't risk it! The most important thing to remember when
flowering is no strong sun, don't forget to water (normally
cacti wont be damaged if you forget to water them), and handle
Cactus ResourcesSome of the sites are listed below:
1.http://www.answers.com-got some info
to start on cactus
Care Directory-some cactus and cacti info
from this great site!!!
Cactus- Your basic cactus site
Great cactus overview
cacti-info on Christmas cacti, most Christmas cacti info is from
www.cacti.com-by succulents and
on the all popular Christmas cactus
cactus care info
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