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Thread: Cactus/Euphorbia in need of some help.

  1. #1

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    Cactus/Euphorbia in need of some help.

    Cactus

    As you can see, it doesn't look "full" enough" and there are brown patches/scales?
    This thing has been declining the whole time I've had it--maybe I should repot it?

    EDIT: The darkish spot towards the base is just dirt and shadow nothing to worry about. I'm more concerned about the drooping near the back, and the browning. I think it might not be getting enough light?

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    Hi jebbewocky,

    Im familiar with this particular euphorbia though the name skips my mind. Two things, the first by what I can see is too little light. I can see that the new growth is elongated and thin and weak looking. I would gradually move it into more light until your able to get it into direct sunlight to bright light. But a few hours of direct sunlight won't hurt it. And I mean bright light for most of the day time. Mine gets about three to four hours of direct sunlight...depending on the time of year. During the hot summer months it can start to cook whereby I need to move it to a less sunny spot. Doing this you should notice it start to grow properly. Second, I would go ahead and repot it. You can repot it in the same pot but try a cactus/palm potting mix which you can find and Lowes and/or Walmarts.

    ONe thing when the new growth starts growing normally again it might start weighing down the branchs due to the older elongated ones. You might end up cutting them off.

    All in all this is my thoughts on your plant. I hope this helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joel143 View Post
    Hi jebbewocky,

    Im familiar with this particular euphorbia though the name skips my mind. Two things, the first by what I can see is too little light. I can see that the new growth is elongated and thin and weak looking. I would gradually move it into more light until your able to get it into direct sunlight to bright light. But a few hours of direct sunlight won't hurt it. And I mean bright light for most of the day time. Mine gets about three to four hours of direct sunlight...depending on the time of year. During the hot summer months it can start to cook whereby I need to move it to a less sunny spot. Doing this you should notice it start to grow properly. Second, I would go ahead and repot it. You can repot it in the same pot but try a cactus/palm potting mix which you can find and Lowes and/or Walmarts.

    ONe thing when the new growth starts growing normally again it might start weighing down the branchs due to the older elongated ones. You might end up cutting them off.

    All in all this is my thoughts on your plant. I hope this helps.
    Thank you so much !!

    The thing that worries me about that is that I have it facing our huge west (or east? I know it's definently not N or S) glass door, but there's a big tree in front of it. Maybe I should put it outside (but it's been so cold lately!, I'm in MI!) I'm a bit intimidated by the prospect of repotting such a large, pokey plant! Any suggestions?

    I have some regular potting soil leftover from my spider plant, would it be OK to mix that in with the cactus mix? I don't want to have too much dirt laying around, lol.

    This plant was at my old apartment, but my old room-mate left it when he was evicted, so now it's MY big awesome cactus, I just hope I can keep it healthy.
    I might have to re-home it--I don't want it sick or dead because of insufficient light. :/

    Any ideas on the brown spots?

    ALSO--I water it with water from my aquarium when I do water changes--I figure that has some nutrients in it, but is that a bad idea?

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    pik's Avatar
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    Pair of leather gloves and a helper (with gloves of their own). cacti arent like CPs, they like nutrients, or even need them depending on what your mix is. I would go with a mostly mineral mix, or anything well-draining. save the peat for your CPs.
    Grow to learn, learn to grow.

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    It's not peat--just regular potting soil. I do have a bunch of leftover peat as well though.
    Is there any brand of soil that works well in particular? I planned on Miracle Gro unless there's something cheaper/better--MG is my mom's go to brand for like everything, but she doesn't grow cacti/oither xerophytes that I know of, mostly flowers.

    EDIT: Going to get some leather gloves though! Don't know why I didn't think of that!
    EDIT THE 2nd: I meant, is used aquarium water a good source of nutrients--it's also got ammonia in it. D: But I've heard of people using it in hydroponic setups? I also have this plant food/fertilizer stuff I use, 20-20-20.

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    Let's positive thinking! seedjar's Avatar
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    I believe that's E. trigona. It's one of the easy Euphorbia that accept regular soils, but they really perform a lot better with a fast draining mix with lots of inorganic aggregate mixed into a compost- or peat-based soil. Miracle Gro works fine for them. You'll probably want to get something like lava rock, hydroton or coarse perlite to add to the mix for drainage though. Gravel works but is heavy; in smaller pots that can be a good thing, but if your plant grows into a monster and you've got to move a five-gallon pot full of wet media and rocks... well I guess what I'm trying to say is that a big spiny poisonous stick like E. trigona is not the plant you want to be manhandling.
    This blog has some helpful cultivation info on this and other Euphorbia.
    My understanding is that they're from montane grasslands where there's a cool dry season and a hot rainy season, so they're not really desert succulents - they have the ability to tolerate moist soils and the same warm-climate conditions that most typical houseplants prefer. All Euphorbia descended from grassland plants so they have some ability to tolerate moisture, but they have more adaptations for living without water than they do for living with a lot of it. I imagine that they're the evergreen shrubs in regions of productive seasonal grasses and wildflowers, with a dry winter where everything dies off or is eaten by persistent herbivores. Thus the milky poison sap and nasty little thorns.
    E. trigona is from the "Euphorbia" subgenus of Euphorbia, which seems to include a lot of the cactus-like species that still tolerate and even appreciate heavy watering and feeding when you time it right. But even if you can treat them like a houseplant in ideal conditions, they're still succulents, so a well-drained mix that you can let go dry is a good safety precaution.
    Aquarium water shouldn't be counted on for complete plant nutrition. People do successfully use fish emulsion - poop vacuumed up from gravel aquarium beds, often in tanks stocked with fish known for having heavy appetites. But it's used with nutritional supplements and consideration for the soil it's being added to, not to mention where it's used 'cuz it stinks to high heaven. Likewise if you just dump aquarium water into a hydroponic system you'll often get a frothing, soupy, reeking mess. Water or emulsion both need to be prepared or a special hydroponic system has to be employed, either consisting of a simple biological filter or otherwise a full-blown ecology of other organisms (aquaponics) that serves to break down nutrients into forms the plants can use, manage excess nutrients, and keep diseases and pests in check.
    Which is not to say you can't do it - actually doing it right is a really valuable lesson in horticulture whether you're building a hydroponic system or just mixing compost. But keep in mind that aquarium water is basically a dilution of algae and poop, and make sure that however you offer it to your plants, it's the plants that are using it. The safest place to use aquarium water is in your garden outside.
    ~Joe

    PS - My 4000th post! Hooray!
    Last edited by seedjar; 07-01-2011 at 03:32 PM.
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    That's really helpful, thank you.

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    Operation: Repot Big*** "Cactus" was successful. I used a cactus mix, don't remember the brand now, lol, and some Miracle Gro potting soil, and a layer of perlite. We re-potted it outside on the porch, in a bigger terra cotta looking plastic pot.
    EDIT: I went outside and nearly melted today. Cold is NOT a factor today, lol.
    And it's already a monster--New pot is a 40 Qt! (10 gallon)

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