Many people love keeping little cactus in their home because they look great, are not susceptible to many diseases, and they can easily be maintained. However, there can be times when they appear very unhealthy and lifeless.
At such moments you may be left wondering how to save a dying cactus and is saving it possible at all. Well, you will be glad to know that it indeed is possible. You just have to learn when and how to do it. And, this is exactly what we shall now help you discover.
How To Care Rotten Cactus Roots
Mushy roots, shakiness, and discoloration usually signify root rot in cactus. You may also notice symptoms like your plant turning black or brown.
If your cactus plant appears mushy then act without any wait and you may solve the problem. Even if a cactus has rotted all the way down, it can again get healthy with the right care.
What you need to do is get the plant out and check the roots. If some of them are yet white then you need to cut away the mushy, darkened roots, and every rotted area at the base of your plant using a sterile knife.
Let the plant dry and heal before you re-pot it in another pot using a fresh potting medium. Make sure to use protective hand gloves while handling your cacti, else you can get pierced.
Be Watchful Of How Much Water You Use
Since you are trying to understand how to save a dying cactus it is very important for you to know that optimum watering can prove to be of great help. Too much water can be bad for its health but you cannot also neglect to water it completely. It will be best to water it just a little.
Under Watering Your Cactus
If you hardly water your cactus, it shrivels or puckers, and can even discolor. If you are noticing such symptoms then your plant is trying to tell you it is dehydrated. In such a situation, you should offer it enough water right away.
Over-Watering Your Cactus
If you have over-watered your cactus you need to help it shed as much as is possible and really fast. Take a clay pot that is just a little bigger than your cactus and add commercial cactus mix into it. Pot your plant gently into the mix, and be sure not to upset its roots. The clay pot will help draw water from the roots and the loose mix will drain the water completely and quickly.
Changing Cactus Soil
Over-watering can result in root rot in cacti. However, water directly does not result in the rot but a water mold known as Phytophthora spp. Yet, the rot will take hold only when there is a lot of moisture that excessive watering leads to.
Why You Need To Change The Soil
There are two reasons behind this. Firstly, the pathogen that resulted in the rot might still be present in the soil. Secondly, certain potting mixes are heavy and hold a lot of water.
So, you need to opt for a porous, lighter potting that is resistant to pathogens, absorbs just enough water, and allows great drainage.
Re-pot Your Plant
Re-potting is yet another solution for your question ‘how to save a dying cactus’. Re-potting will offer more growing space to the cacti and thus prove helpful.
Houseplants gradually outgrow their pots and their roots then become compacted and overcrowded. When there is a lack of space the plants cannot grow fully and can even die.
If you notice the roots growing above the soil level or through your pot’s drainage holes, or the leaves look unhealthy and the roots are overcrowded, then it suggests your plant has outgrown its pot.
You need to move your cactus to a large container so that the roots can spread properly and the plant can grow to its full size. Do not forget to disinfect your new pot using one part of water and bleach each.
Help Develop New Roots
If excessive watering or any other reason has damaged the tissues or roots of your cactus then you should encourage the development of new roots.
For the purpose, you need a clean, sharp knife using which you will get rid of any rot from your plant. If you let the rot stay it will keep on spreading. On the other hand, even if there is a little healthy tissue it can support the growth of a full cactus plant.
Let the plant dry for a few days until you notice a thick scab appear on the cut parts. Add cactus soil in a proper sized clay pot and then place the remaining section of the cactus into it, Bury the plant approximately 1-inch deep until much of the cactus is not left. Do not water your plant for one week after planting. Thereafter water in moderation until you notice new growth.
Do Not Forget To Feed Them
If your cactus looks like it is about to die it can also be because of lack of nutrition. So, you must feed your plant with good fertilizer on a frequent basis. From spring until early fall you must feed once in two weeks. During the winter and fall, feed once in a month.
Do Not Go Overboard But Remeber To Fertilize
Yes, fertilizing is necessary. But as you are interested in learning how to save a dying cactus, you must remember that if you over-fertilize, your cactus can reach a bad state even if you water it regularly. The leaves may turn very soft or the leaf tips may even look brown.
To be safe, you must follow the instructions given on your fertilizer package. If you are still not sure then use less than is suggested. The fertilizer you select must be ideal for houseplants.
Let Your Cactus Rest
Chances are that you do not have to save your plant as it is not dying. When buds are shedding or certain parts die off. it may just signify that your plant needs some rest.
If the buds of your cacti plant shed one winter you do not have to panic as it shall bloom the next year. Provided that the roots look healthy you do not really have anything to worry about.