cactusuk, site logo.
Accepted Payment

New side column

paypal is our preferred form of payment

 

  • PayPal
  • Mastercard
  • Maestro
  • Visa
  • Visa Electron
  • American Express
Powered By Paypal
  • Mastercard
  • Maestro
  • Visa
  • Visa Debit
  • Visa Electron
  • JCB
Powered By Worldpay
Shop Search

Common Cacti Problems 2

Frost Damage



frost_melocactus_a_200     frost_pilosocereus_a_200     frost_hylocereus_a_200

Description:
It might seem to be a statement of the obvious that to have frost damage, one must have frost from freezing temperatures. However, some cacti are sensitive to cold temps that are not freezing temps while most cacti will not tolerate even cool temps if they are wet. Even so, there is a difference in the type of damage from frost as opposed to cool conditions. Cold-sensitive cacti or wet and cold cacti will not be damaged by the cold itself, but will succumb to other problems as a result of the cool temps. Typically, wet and cold cacti results in rot. On the other hand, frost damage will actually destroy plant cells that are exposed to the freezing temps. This is brought about when the ice crystals within the cell cause the cell wall to rupture. Often, the damage is not immediately apparent, but shows up a day or two later, when the destroyed cells turn black and either start to rot or dry up.

To the surprise of many, there are many species of cacti that can survive freezing temperatures. These cold-hardy cacti grow low to the ground and in the fall they shrivel up as they lose any excess moisture in their cells. However, even the toughest of these cacti need a good draining soil that does not allow them to be excessively wet.

Treatment:
Once a cactus is damaged by frost, there is nothing that can be done to reverse it. Often, the best thing to do is to cut the damaged area off the cacti to prevent rot in that area. Typically, frost occurs from the top down and the growing point will be destroyed. When this occurs, the cacti will produce offsets out of one of the surviving lower areoles. These offsets can be removed and rooted to produce a new "normal" looking plant.

To prevent frost damage, cactus plants must be protected from the frost in the first place. If they are potted they can be brought indoors. Depending on the severity of the frost, a simple cover can be used. On a small cacti, a styrofoam cup can be used to cover them for the night. Patio heaters can sometimes be setup over an entire collection. Some use an ordinary light bulb in combination with some sort of covering.

 

Pot Bound

potbound_epi_a_200     potbound_echinopsis_a_200     potbound_cereus_a_200

Description:
Plants that are "pot bound" or "root bound" are plants that have grown in a pot for so long and to such a size that their roots completely fill the entire pot in a tight mass. In time, the mass of roots becomes so tight that even water has a hard time penetrating it. This of course is one of the main problems with a pot bound cactus. If you water such a plant the way you would normally water a cactus, it is unlikely that the plant will have enough water to sustain it. As a result, the plant will start to dessicate or wither from lack of water. You could, soak the plant in water, but then you would have the opposite problem. Once the root mass is fully saturated, it will take a long time to dry out and you will likely end up with an overwatered plant! A second problem with pot bound cacti is that nearly all the nutrients in the soil will be gone by this time. If you put fertilizer in your water, that would solve the problem except that you are back to the first problem; how to get the water in the root mass without soaking it.

Treatment:
The solution to this problem is simple - repot it! Repotting is something you should be doing anyway to check on the roots, making sure they are fine and that they are pest free as well as supplying nutrient rich soil for the roots to move into in the new pot. When you have a severely pot bound root ball, you will need to break it apart before repotting. This can be a very difficult task! The best method is to dig in with your bare hands and work at it. You can use a water hose too to help loosen things up, but mostly you will wear your hands out pulling the roots apart. You could use a trowel, screwdriver, knife, or similar tool, but then you will damage many of the roots. You will damage roots with your hands too, but not nearly as much.