sick cactus

Van Nuys, CA(Zone 9b)

hey everyone, been lurking around here for a while and finally decide to join. I've already gotten a lot of good info here, and I thank you all for that.

what I have today is a sick cactus. I got this a couple weeks ago, potted as it sits, and other than a little sunburn? on the top, it looked healthy. yesterday I saw this browning area. I have it out of direct sun. if this is rot is it too late to cut the top off and replant? suggestions?


Thumbnail by kursplat Thumbnail by kursplat Thumbnail by kursplat Thumbnail by kursplat Thumbnail by kursplat
Decatur, GA

I have to say it looks a lot like rot. From my experience sun burn lesions have more defined margins. The tpp of your plant show a diffuse pattern of discoloration. The area near the soil level is wrinkled which may indicate some tissue destruction under the surface. If you put some pressure with your finger on the lower lesion and it caves in you will be able to tell if its rot. If its firm it may just be sun burn. Same with the tip.
Its hard to assess the lesions from pictures. Touching and gently manipulating the plant gives a lot more information to base an assessment on.
Good luck and post some more pictures as things progress or not.

Van Nuys, CA(Zone 9b)

thanks, i'll check it some more when I get home later

Sun Lakes, AZ(Zone 9b)

I agree with Helen. You have to see whether those areas are soft or not. If just the bottom is soft, you could cut and let the top piecedry for maybe a week and then replant. If the top is soft, I don't think you can save it. It maybe just be sun burn on top. I would, no matter what, move it out of full sun for now and put where it get filtered sun or morning sun only for it to recover.

Reno, NV(Zone 6b)

If the bottom is soft, cut it off at the dirt level and start slicing upwards. Clean your knife with alcohol between cuts so you don't take the rot with you. Its the center of cactus that rots so as long as you are cutting and its brown, its still rotten.

Good luck. My guess would be that its rotten to the top. Sorry - might have been a bad investment.


Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

While I tend to agree with the other respondents, that it looks like the tell tale signs of rot, I want to offer a little bit of hope. The plant looks like a Senita of some sort and I have several that go a weird kind of brownish yellow when they have received too much sun, before they go all yellow-white when you know you will have some permanent scarring - so the top could be fine.

Bottom looks like rot though, but what is intriguing is that it starts above the soil level, which to me is weird, usually when I have observed rot get in a plant like that it would travel up from the soil line, not start just above it.
Before you cut, get the plant out of the soil - it looks way too rich/dense for a Senita. If there is rot in the plant the roots will likely just break off and it will be all gooey and smelly.

Even if it is not that far along and you can save it you should change the soil for that plant. Get some soil that drains almost as fast as you can pour water on it. Cacti do not like wet feet.

Good Luck.

Van Nuys, CA(Zone 9b)

sooo...the brown spot doesn't feel soft and mushy. then I decided if I cut it, and everything is ok, i'll just end up with 2 plants. here's both ends. I will check the roots and replant the bottom though. also i'll toss the pot and soil (it's what it came in), and use something else

thanks for all the help


This message was edited Jun 13, 2015 7:31 PM

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Reno, NV(Zone 6b)

Looks incredibly healthy to me. You now have two plants.

Van Nuys, CA(Zone 9b)

Quote from DaisyPlantLady :
Looks incredibly healthy to me. You now have two plants.
:) glad you think so. I was surprised there wasn't any discoloration in the bottom.

also, this was labeled stenocereus marginatus, Mexican fence post. does that look right?


Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

To me it does not look like S. marginatus.
As I mentioned above it looks more like some form of Senita (Pachycereus/Lophocereus schottii)
Here are two pictures, one is of S (or Pachycereus) marginatus, and the other is of a Senita.
Your plant looks a lot more like the latter than the former, which has a very distinct, easy to recognize, appearance.

Make sure to dry out the cut on the top part of the cactus before you try to root it - leave it at least several days. If it is still wet/soft when you put it in the soil it will probably develop rot after all. Also do not water that unrooted piece for a good while - it needs some time to develop some roots, before watering it has any use.
The part with the roots will also dry out and then eventually will start to develop some new arms, rather than grow on directly from the cut part (although arms can develop along its edges).

I have another Senita (3rd pic) that I got unrooted from the Desert Botanical Garden that I dropped while planting (the arm was about 4 feet long) and its tip broke off. I have had it for 3 or 4 years now and while it has bloomed profusely every year and it has developed some arms near the base I have had no growth from the broken off top. I put the broken off part in a pot and that is now a nice little Senita starter plant

Thumbnail by mcvansoest Thumbnail by mcvansoest Thumbnail by mcvansoest
Van Nuys, CA(Zone 9b)

Quote from mcvansoest :
To me it does not look like S. marginatus...
thanks mcvansoest, I was thinking it was mislabeled based on the pics I had looked at, but as I'm just starting to care what the names are, I usually figure I'm the one who's wrong ;). I'm going to let everything dry out plenty before repotting.
hopefully i'll get a couple nice one from this

edit; just noticed the 2nd pic has a bit of the same color at the top as mine. guess it's just normal and mine got sunburned

This message was edited Jun 14, 2015 11:56 AM

This message was edited Jun 14, 2015 11:57 AM

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