Freefalling cacti

Discussion in 'Cacti and Succulents' started by britishphoenix, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. britishphoenix

    britishphoenix Member

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    A cactus of mine took a spill this morning after a curtain brushed past it, I'm not sure of the breed, but it's about 1-2 feet tall and looks like your stereotypical desert cactus, minus any arms, a few of the ribs have some bruising and I'm wondering if this is fatal for the plant or if it can recover, I've had the cactus for about 10 years and it'd be a shame to lose it. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    could you post a picture? that would help as we'd be able to see which type of cactus it is as well as how severe the damage is.
     
  3. Cereusly Steve

    Cereusly Steve Active Member

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    What does a stereotypical cactus look like?

    Do you mean like in a John Ford movie or a Road Runner cartoon?

    It does seem your plant went through a Wile E. Coyote moment. :-)

    You would probably be amazed by the diversity of forms real desert cactus take on in the real world.
     
  4. Cactus Jack

    Cactus Jack Active Member

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    I doubt it. Cacti are tough creatures. They can handle a little bruising, or even a lot of bruising without much problem, usually.

    Some Americans use them for target practice. They can absorb a lot more bullets than people can!
     
  5. britishphoenix

    britishphoenix Member

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    Sorry I don't have a working camera at the moment, it looks very similar to the third from the left only with double the amount of 'ribs' on it, the bruised patches have gone quite dark, is that normal? If so then I think it'll survive if cactus jack's right. Thanks. :)
     
  6. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    as already stated, they can take a fair amount of abuse...

    just think about the conditions they live in when they're in their natural environment!! extremes in temperature from super hot to super cold, animals pecking at them to get to their reserves of water, etc. there are tons of specimens that are out in the deserts that are clearly hundreds of years old and they have the scars to prove it and they're still thriving.

    i'm sure your's will be okay. i'd just make sure there's extra air circulation for a bit so that the damaged areas can heal over without getting any fungus growing (a fungus attack on the damaged spots would be a problem). keep an eye on it - and feel it every now and then (with clean fingers, mind) to see if the damaged areas are turning mushy. if any of them do, post again so we can help.

    if you keep the air circulation up and keep it from any excessive moisture (as in extra humidity added to your heating system) while the spots heal over, i'm sure it'll be just fine!! a small fan placed close by is all you to keep the air moving.
     
  7. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    Agreed, it should pull through with no dramas!!

    Ed
     
  8. Cereusly Steve

    Cereusly Steve Active Member

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    Cactus don't take as kindly to abuse as you all seem to believe. If the plant is getting dark pactches, it is likely that rot is beginning to set in. Once that happens, it is too late to save the plant.

    Sorry Cactus Jack, your average American does not use cactus for target practice. Only deranged sicko gun nuts who have no regard for life would do such a thing. Those kind of people usually wind up in jail. Columnar cactus in Arizona are protected by law.
     
  9. britishphoenix

    britishphoenix Member

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    Thanks for the reply, how quick does rot set in? The dark patches appeared on the areas that impacted things on it's fall, they look like dark bruises on an apple or similar, except they aren't softer than the rest of the cactus, if anything the affected areas are harder, and they're in a well ventilated dry area. The patches appeared within about an hour or so after the fall. If it's rot then there's not much I can do either way, so time shall tell I guess..
     
  10. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    You'll probably find the dark patches will eventually turn into woody brown scars that will always be there. So it'll be less attractive, but still healthy.

    If it does go soft and rotten, then excavate out the soft rotted stuff, and expose the wound fully to air and sun so it can dry out (kills the decay fungi, but not the cactus); this will leave a sunken cavity with again brown scar tissue on its surface, but the rest of the cactus will carry on.
     
  11. Cereusly Steve

    Cereusly Steve Active Member

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    Once bacterial rot sets in and becomes plainly visable, it is already too late to save the plant because it has already spread throughout the cortex.

    Gouging out the visably affected parts is a waste of time because it infects the plant tissue long before showing symptoms.

    The cool moist climate of Britian is especially condusive to rot, especially this time of year. You will never acheive the very low humidity and warmth of the arid climate of a desert region no matter what you try.

    If you plant has twice the number of ribs as the Cereus cultivars you show in the picture, it would most likely belong to some other genus.
     
  12. britishphoenix

    britishphoenix Member

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    The scare story is all well and good, but my original question to you remains, would rot really set in that quickly after a fall? Granted I'm no professional, but after a little research and looking specifically at different types of rot in succulants and cacti, none of them seem to match up with how mine looks at the moment, and most of them look like they'd take a little longer than an hour to set in, my plant still feels firm and looks healthy other than it's newly aquired battle scars, I'm aware of the humidity of this country and the difficulties involved in sustaining a satisfactory environment but I think I provide a decent enough environment so I'm inclined to lean toward some of the other comments here.
     
  13. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    But where would the bacteria that cause it come from? I assume it is a particular species of cactus-specific pathogen, rather than everyday Salmonella or Staphylococcus or E. coli, etc., etc.?

    Given the general rarity of cacti in Britain, and their isolation from one another indoors in buildings, I'd think the risk of infection would be low.
     
  14. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    britishphoenix, please try to ignore the overly negative and argumentative statements. seems to me that the posts by you and those in reply haven't been read thoroughly :)

    as i said earlier, keep the air around the plant dry and well circulating - that will help to avert the bruised spots becoming infected with virus/fungus and therefore turning into rot.

    yes, rot can happen fairly quickly - it does not happen within a few hours of a bruising like your cactus received. it would be at least a couple of weeks before it has time to develop enough that it is noticable.

    and it won't develop if you keep the plant in a spot where the air is dry and the air moves well. i would also recommend that you not touch the plant - especially on the areas where there is bruising. i'd also say that turning the pot so that the bruised spots are not getting direct sun would be a good idea - let them heal over a bit before subjecting them to the damage of the sun's rays (which are more intense this time of year even inside the house). oh, i wouldn't water it for a couple of weeks - even if it's scheduled to be watered, let it go the one time and give the plant a chance to deal with the injuries completely before adding moisture to the situation.

    monitor the bruised areas visually for the next week or so - then feel them to see if they're getting mushy (wash hands first). i doubt it you will find any soft areas.

    especially if the plant is well cared for and generally healthy, these bruises will heal over with no residual damage to the plant.
     

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