Is there hope for my cactus?
August 7, 2012 7:18 AM   Subscribe

I have a little cactus on my desk. I don't know what kind it is. For the last several months, it's looked just fine. This morning, it's turned a brownish-green and started wilting. Is it just dead suddenly, or is there something I can do to save it? Here's a picture of it.
posted by faustessa to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Best answer: This may sound stupid, but are you watering it? I've seen that on potted cacti both over and under watered.

If it's under watered (stick your finger waaay down in the pot), water it.

If it's over watered, you may need to repot it in dryer soil.

Any other changes or smells? No fungus or other strange growth?
posted by tilde at 7:23 AM on August 7, 2012

It looks like a grafted cactus - the top part is a different cactus grafted onto the bottom. Has the bottom part changed color too, or just the top part? It's possible that the vasculature hasn't connected properly, so the graft isn't working, and the top part is dying. Sorry!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:30 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Watering regime has remained the same over several months. I don't see any signs of fungus or other strange smells/changes.

Both the top and bottom parts of the cactus are having the same troubles now. Both have turned brownish and are wilting. It's pretty dramatic how quickly this is happening!
posted by faustessa at 8:20 AM on August 7, 2012

How much sun does it get?
posted by purpleclover at 8:22 AM on August 7, 2012

Best answer: Yep grafted. Gymnocalycium mihanovichii on top, Hylocereus on bottom. When I bought one I googled around and found sites saying they usually only live for a couple of years, max. Possibly yours is at the end of its natural lifespan?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:27 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Possibly yours is at the end of its natural lifespan?


I've got a couple of grafted citrus trees, but ... wow. I never thought about doing that to succulents.

Well, then how about trying to split and reroot two plants?
posted by tilde at 8:38 AM on August 7, 2012

If it's grafted and only one part is dying, could she regraft the living part to another cactus and at least save part of it?
posted by watercarrier at 9:34 AM on August 7, 2012

Best answer: If it's doing that, it's rotten inside. You can't save it at that point.

Too dry cacti get wrinkled and start to shrivel. This looks like too wet. Sometimes all it takes is one extra watering at one point in the recent past.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:35 AM on August 7, 2012

Response by poster: I must have over watered it. Or it may be at the end of its natural life. But over the course of the morning, the cactus's fate seems clear: it looks much worse now than when I posted this question. I sent desk rat over to cheer it up, but I don't think it's working.

Thanks for the info about what type of cactus it is. Someone mysteriously put it on my desk one day so I've always been curious!
posted by faustessa at 10:16 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

The yellow is grafted to the green because it has no chlorophyll to support itself. So it feeds off the green cactus. You can't replant it. I had three of these, and they each eventually rotted out. (the top part) If the top part is dead, rip it off and let the cactus below growwwww! I did this and it send off horizontal shoots everywhere.

posted by Sayuri. at 12:51 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

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