Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken
gozz@gozz.com

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Trying to save a doomed cactus 

cactus cutting

I believe I was overly enthusiastic about watering my big cactus this spring (the cactus is two columns of San Pedro), although I also think I may have let it get too dry as most of the yellow, scaly blight is on the side which had been facing the southern sun window.

From what I've read over the last week through google searches, it's pretty simple to start a new cactus from an existing one: Cut a section or top free from blight, let it dry until the cut surface is "corky", then stand it up in cactus soil, keeping the soil only slightly moist and making sure it's not exposed to direct sun until you see new growth.

Some suggest to pare the edges of the cut surface; I imagine this is so the cutting stands up easier on the soil and new roots have an easier time growing primarily growing "out" instead of "down". I did this, as I know my cactus really likes growing it's roots "out".

Some say it takes a couple weeks to get corky, others a few days. I let it dry a few days as it was obviously already quite dry, perhaps because I had also cut off the top which had turned black and the texture of plastic.

Some say dipping the fresh cut surface in rooting powder may help, I did this because I happened to have some and how often does one such as I who just has a few houseplants get to use rooting powder? Others say to mix some powder into the soil, although nobody says any powder is necessary - usually unnecessary. One kind writer suggested placing a plastic bag over the pot to easily keep the soil slightly moist.

cactus cutting

I am hoping the rest of the cactus makes it; it was already scarred from something when I bought it late two winters ago and I figure my apartment has a lot going for it compared to the desert. Although I do suppose cacti generally prefer desert to apartment.

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