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 Rescuing a neglected cactus...

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Lachy
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PostSubject: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Sat Apr 24, 2010 2:41 pm

G'day all...

Here's another mini-project of mine.

A bit over a week ago I pulled into a local nursery, where I found a very crook-looking Trich. It was sitting in the corner of a neglected greenhouse. The soil it was growing in was dry, powdery and looked to be completely without anything a plant needs to survive. I don't think it had ever been watered. The plant was dehydrated, shrunken and appeared to be suffering sunburn, scale, and some sort of weird skin condition that may be fungal in origin.

In short, it was a pretty crook looking plant.

From what I can tell, it's a T. scopulicola. It's still pretty shrivelled due to its prior mistreatment, but I reckon with a bit of TLC, I might be able to get the bugger to grow, and with a bit of luck turn it into a decent plant.

At this stage I've given it a bigger pot, fresh cacti mix and it's had a decent amount of rainwater.


At this early stage it's still looking fairly poorly...




However if you look at the growing tip, you can see that even in a week something's starting to happen




Here's some of the damage in close up. Any idea how to treat this? Or what caused it in the first place?

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blowng
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Sat Apr 24, 2010 3:22 pm

hell yeah i love saving cacti!! get a nice pup (id cut it up to force pupping, well i just couldnt bare to look at the scarring to emotionally challenging for me lol) , and it will forget its trauma, thanking you with lush growth in no time ...respect!
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Hellonasty
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Sat Apr 24, 2010 3:52 pm

Good job Lachy and I agree it's a nice T.Scop Smile


I think it should be ok. Sometimes when trichos are very dehydrated it can be difficult to get them to take water in and occasionally they never fully recover. Just be careful not to over water it, the roots/root ball will be prone to rot being in this condition.

The skin looks like it may have been attacked by scale and borer. Look in the first photo a long line of damaged skin, looks like a borer to me. Treat it with a good systemic and a horticultural oil and you should be apples Smile

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Navajoa
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Sat Apr 24, 2010 6:59 pm

Must admit I'm not a huge fan of rescuing sick and infected plants - it's enough work keeping what I've got pest and disease free ! But if you really must, just be sure to quarantine it from the rest of your plants...it'd be terrible to lose your treasures due to bringing something in, even with the best intentions !

Good luck with it....
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WoodDragon

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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Sat Apr 24, 2010 10:02 pm

Personally, I don't mind a bit of character on the base of my spinies.

I'd actually be inclined to leave it as it is, rather than to cut it up, if for no other reason than to see what it might become in the future. You can always get pups from it down the track.

I agree though that it could probably do with some quarantining, even though I don't see anything but resolved scarring in the close-up photos, probably arising from neglect. Think about natra-soap for the top; and Confidor, rustica tea, or Rogor for the old root-ball.

Oo, and seaweed or fish extract.

Let it simmer with not much water over winter, and then lavish care on it over the next few seasons. It'll fatten up, and it might even shed some of the scar tissue.

In the long run, a healthy plant with history on its skin can be a very rewarding plant.
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lewis
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Sat Apr 24, 2010 10:38 pm

I agree with HN, I have found that a lot of really dehydrated cactus can be slow to take up water and recover after very long dry periods. Sometimes they do not recover at all, I think this may be due to all the roots being long dead as a result of being kept completely dry. When finally watered the roots rot, sometimes this rot can spread to the plant body but Trichos in general seem particularly resiliant.
Guess you will have to just have to wait it out and see what happens.
What sort of shape did the rootsystem appear to be in when you repotted it?
BTW I think that the scarring is old damage that has sorted itself out as WD says, perhaps either sunburn or pest damage, likely both given the fantastically growth-conducive conditions provided to it by its previous owners.
WD's treatment advice above also sounds most appropriate. Smile
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Lachy
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:01 am

Sounds like solid advice guys, I appreciate it.

Lewis, when I repotted it the roots actually seemed okay. Granted, they weren't fantastic but they were better than I expected, with no obvious signs of mealie or rot.

My intention is to keep the plant as is, rather than giving it the chop to force pupping. I like plants with a bit of character, and personally I like the challenge of working with what I've got. I've got some Rogor I might use on the roots to clear out any nasties that I missed, and I think a dose or three of seaweed extract might tickle it along nicely.

I've had some luck bringing crook plants back into condition, although I must admit I've never had a plant quite as damaged as this one. In the meantime, it's quarantined away from my other plants, so I guess we'll see how it all goes...
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WoodDragon

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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:48 am

I reckon that it'll go great, mate. I'd have done things exactly as you have, although I might have planted it a teeny weeny bit deeper, just to tickle a few more new roots above the old root ball - but if the root ball is as good as you say, you should be fine.

I'm actually envious. Scops are one of the few more common trichs that I have no examples of, and I'd be pleased as punch to have found one like that. It has personality plus!
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mutant
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:54 pm

I agree with WoodDragon. I would probably plant it in a bigger pot though... Nice find.

In the long run, a healthy plant with history on its skin can be a very
rewarding plant.
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Lachy
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Mon Apr 26, 2010 6:16 pm

Quote :
I would probably plant it in a bigger pot though...

But I haven't got a bigger pot! Laughing

At this stage, the plan is to bring the plant back into health. Once it's looking a bit greener, I reckon I'd like to plant it out in the ground. I used to drive past a magnificent scop on my way out to work. It was something like 15 feet high, and a good 10 inches in diameter. That's my goal...
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Lachy
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Thu Jan 27, 2011 5:56 pm

Well, it's been quite some months and although the main trunk has greened up a fair bit there's little new growth on it. However, it has started to crank out a few new pups in the last couple of weeks:



Given that it appears that the main trunk has stalled (and I think I've killed the pests, Confidor is handy stuff...), what is the best way of getting the plant to divert its energy into the pups? Should I give it the chop, and if so would the chunk that gets lopped off be suitable to use to propagate from via the log method?
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Hellonasty
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:56 pm

I would leave the main head on, I think your plant has stalled due to the damaged skin having reduced photosynthetic properties. Once the new pups grow I think the main head will again begin growing. I have seen similar things on a Bridgesii of mine.

HN

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Hellonasty
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:59 pm

Additionally,

regarding the scaring/scale issue. Using the nail on your finger or something similar, I use my nail, try and scrape some of the scarring/scale off. You will find some of it will come away and the skin underneath will heal just fine.

It can be a bit difficult but will look better in the long run and may improve photosynthesis.



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Lachy
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Tue Jun 28, 2011 4:19 pm

Despite the cool weather the damaged scop is continuing to push out the pups. The grow rate isn't spectactular, but it is constant which is encouraging.



The main stem, whilst it is plumping up and going a greener shade slowly, is not yet exhibiting any growth of note. I'm dosing it with Confidor every fortnight and once spring arrives I think I will commence using seasol to try and give it a helping hand to recover from the damage.
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:17 am

Whilst repotting a few pach x scop hybrids, I also gave this plant a new home.

Getting the ceramic pot off was the biggest hurdle. Aside from it being incredible unwieldy, I was also very conscious of the risk of shattering the big pot. To further complicate matters - and this was a feature of ceramic pots that I had forgotten - the roots had very thoroughly adhered to the inside of the pot. So, it was some deft work with a steak knife to allow the plant, root ball and all, to be removed from its ceramic home.

Once I got the plant out, I was able to examine the root ball - and what I saw was very pleasing. New root growth was very strong, which goes to show how hardy this genus is. I purchased a pot with roughly twice the volume of the old one, added about four inches of 25 mil scoria for drainage, and then potted my healing scop into its new home:

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Hellonasty
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Mon Aug 08, 2011 11:53 am

Top job on the rescue. For larger plants like this that have been in a ceramic pot for ages I just hit the pot with a hammer and break it off. Once the plant is free I break the put up with the hammer into smal pieces and use it in the potting mix for the new pot Smile

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Lachy
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Sun Feb 19, 2012 2:16 pm

Six months later, and the plant is still going strong. The main trunk really isn't doing much - it remains scarred and sunken. However, the offsets are really starting to take off:



Given the growth I'm seeing in the pups, is it better to remove the old, weakened main trunk or do I leave it be?
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Sun Feb 19, 2012 4:34 pm

Thats tremendous growth. Well done.
I would remove the old trunk, chop it into 4 pieces and root them hoping all of them pup like this *greedy*
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:28 pm

Like Navajoa, I am a bit reluctant to buy unhealthy plants. Though I must say you have done a really good job of rejuvenating this scop. It's new pups look so damn good! Am glad you were able to heal it and that it is rewarding you with healthy new growth. Good job mate.
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PostSubject: Re: Rescuing a neglected cactus...   Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:42 pm

Thanks for all the kind words.

This scop is I think a classic example of the growth-boosting power of good old dynamic lifter. The mix for the whole pot has rather a lot of pelletised chook poo thrown in, and the healthy bright green new growth is the result.

I know I've said it elsewhere on this board, but scops are some of my favourite trichs for their chunky trunks and deep green colour - and near total absence of spines. I'm just glad I was able to save this one.
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