... i recently bought 6 peruvianus cactuses from
your site. i quickly repotted them using screened soil composted from yard
clippings (they give it away at our local dump). i mixed the compost with
sand, perlite, and peat moss at the ratios recommended on your site. .. i am watering them once
a week with water mixed with one tablespoon of all
purpose miracle grow fertilizer. the cactus's are receiving about 4 hours of
direct sunlight per day...a small spot just about an inch
above the dirt, the skin has turned a pale brown color and seems to be dead.
under the "dead" skin, the cactus looks to be rotting. i dug down into the dirt,
and this seems to have extended down below the soil towards the roots. i dug
around the rest of the base, and the rest of it looks healthy... and overall,
the cactus looks healthy and strong. it's just that one small area that is
do you know this is and what might have caused it?... what
can i do to prevent it from getting worse?
Don't repot a large specimen immediately after receiving it. Plants live by
their roots which include thousands of fine hair thin roots that branch off the
large, visible ones. Handling the specimen for packing, shipping, and unpacking
is going to break/disturb many roots. Allow a recently shipped plant to sit
quietly in a shady location for a week or two to recover.
Don't use yard waste as "compost". That stuff is horribly toxic and
suitable only for use as mulch around shrubs or trees. I know what I'm talking
about from direct experience.
THE TRUTH ABOUT
MOUNTAIN VIEW YARD WASTE COMPOST
You obtained this
material (so called compost) from the "dump". I've been to that
very same dump
used to live in Mountain View, CA where you are. The city is
trying to get residents to take this "free" compost as part of
their efforts to reduce landfill. But it is NOT compost - it is like
foul smelling, steaming hot shredded wood with sewerage sludge.
The "yard waste" is not
just grass clippings. I
used to see what Mountain View residents put in their YARD WASTE RECYCLING
TOTES. I saw drywall, plywood, tree branches, along with noxious plant oils from pine (terpenes) and oleander. People dump all sorts of crap in them as a way to
avoid paying for trash pickup.
all that to "compost
it" only it won't decompose because the huge amounts of wood
(carbon) requires an added
source of nitrogen - lots and lots of nitrogen. Know how they do that?
They use another waste produce; sewage sludge. That's right - foul smelling concentrated sewage
- which is very high in nitrogen.
I drove to that same dump you went to with a helper
about 9 years ago to get a pick up truck
load of the "free
compost". The smell was terrible. The stuff was not composted -
it was hot, fresh and smelled bad! It looked like black shredded wood
- wood is something you never want to put in plant soil because it robs nitrogen, from
the plants, in order to feed the micro-organisms to break it down. Underneath
the soil those pieces of wood will rot by anaerobic fungal/bacterial activity;
tying up nitrogen that the plant needs.
The stuff was unfit to put into the soil of a garden - instead I
used it to mulch along a driveway around shrubs and rose bushes. It
took a year or two for my local bugs & microbes to digest it. I
never went back to that dump for any more "free compost."
|CALIFORNIA CODES / FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL CODE
13190. (b) "Compost" means the product resulting from the
controlled biological decomposition of organic wastes...
When you get compost from the city dump it is steaming hot
because it is NOT yet compost! It is
carbonaceous material heated up with added nitrogen to activate thermophillic bacteria.
That hot product from the dump is the verb composting; as opposed to
Organic compost should sit and age for a year.
After the initial heat dies down it will "cold compost" with
worms, insects, fungus, etc. - a complex world of micro-organisms.
These are an essential element for organically healthy soil.
City dwellers can't make piles comprised of many tons of material
that have to sit for a year. That is why I advise buying a potting
mix. Screen out the wood as
shown in my
My directions are to buy potting mix, then
screen out the wood as
shown. Also, use coir - not peat moss because peat moss supports some diseases. Coir is better
and helps with small root growth.
Real compost is humus - the fine, spongy stuff you find under the leaves of a
forest floor. But yard waste compost is shredded wood drenched in sewer
sludge. And you think this is "compost?" If you read my articles about this
subject and my enclosed literature I clearly state that real compost is out of
the reach of people living is cities, etc. For that reason I recommend
buying bagged potting mix.
Plants have an immune system and heal themselves
Apparently you rushed to repot the specimen in toxic sewerage sludge yard waste.
Then you found a "brown spot" -that is a bruise - just like when a human
gets a bruise. You should leave such things alone, don't pick at it, don't dig up the roots,
etc. Picking at brown spots and digging up the roots invites infection. When left alone
bruises turn into the tan colored
scabs commonly called blemishes on a cactus.
You probably bruised the plant during repotting by
mechanical injury to the tissue. After potting I
move plants to a shady spot to recover without watering for about a week. This
allows any broken roots to heal before watering the plant. Don't repot a
large columnar cactus and immediately water it. Itsa cactus and doesn't need
water right away as would a deciduous tree or shrub.
Transplanting guide, summary of recommendations for city dwellers
Allow a new plant rest after shipping - to heal any broken roots.
Do not use what "you think is compost" for repotting soil because
After repotting let the specimen rest in a shady area without
watering for a week.
Small "brown areas" may be the surface appearance of a
bruise (mechanical injury).
Introduce the plant to full or direct sunlight gradually to avoid
Don't obsess on blemishes, tip pimples, bruises; the plant
is not a statue. It'll grow huge.
Never perform "surgery" to cut out bruises - that introduces
After watering let the soil dry out (stick your finger in the pot)
Don't pick at scabs
You picked at the "small brown spot" because you state that under it you
found it rotting. Well... it was simply dead tissue and the plants immune system will take
care of it. LEAVE IT ALONE! Bruise heal to become hard tan colored blemishes.
They are normal.
After repotting in toxic yard waste sludge, bruising the plant, then
picking at a small bruise to open it to infection, you dug into the roots to
disturb them, then you began watering & feeding fertilizer. It needs to rest
& recover - the last thing the cactus needed was a shot
4-hours a day of light?
Inadequate light is an invitation to a sickly plant. My
3-page cactus guide (included with orders) has a paragraph about light on the
first page. Cactus need bright light but not all day direct sun. Read the advice
in my handout.
This essay is public to serve as a reference to others. I emailed to
the customer my money back guarantee. While I don't mind fully
explaining this once for everyone - I cannot write all this information to
person, then have to explain it again, and again to another person.
Please use this as a reference on what happens when an inexperienced person
ignores my repotting advice and makes up their own rules. Oh, well.
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