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Thread: Cephalotus - seasonal casualties

  1. #1

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    Greetings:

    I have been growing Cephalotus outside here in Guatemala for about 5 years. While I have managed to grow them well to a certain size (rosettes about 20 cm across), each year about this time (during the lull in the rainy season), I ALWAYS lose my biggest plants to what I presume is a root fungus. My plants are grown in full sunshine in NZ sphagnum, get RO water, and receive prophylactic, systemic + contact fungicidal sprays every month or so. Last year this plague took out a whole pot filled with seedlings from '02, this past weekend its attacked my largest plant. I pulled the whole mess apart, discarded the limp and discolored portions, and threw the rest into a 30 min Physan dip. Placed the whole lot in a sealed plastic container with some damp sphagnum and found that the next day all the stems had scads of 8-10 mm long fungal hypha emerging from the rootstock. I initially thought that this might be the Trichoderma (RootShield) that I innoculate the medium with every once in a while, but I now suspect that it's the pathogen that's killing my plants.

    So much for the efficacy of Physan...

    I know that Cephs are infamous for succumbing precisely this "sudden-death" syndrome, but someone has to have licked it.

    Any thoughts and/or recommendations?

    TIA/SJ

  2. #2
    Stay chooned in for more! Clint's Avatar
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    try trichoderma. if i ever get around to it, i'm going to order some for myself.

    during the rainy season, dry growing them somewhere where conditions are similar to the "dry" season. just an idea

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    Ummm.he already uses Trichoderma.
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    Stay chooned in for more! Clint's Avatar
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    oh i'm so dumb! i didn't see that lol!

  5. #5

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    I succssfully grew a ceph in pure peat until it started to turn brown. I repotted, and noticed the peat had turned sour ( P-U!).
    I think cephs like a more loose medium than NZ sphag ( IMHO). I use 40% perlite, 40% milled sphagnum, 10% peat and 10% sand. They seem to like a changing water table, so I use the tray method, and don't add water until it's dry.
    I think NZ sphag is probably better than pure peat for being loose, but pure peat is what was recommended in the olden days.

    Cheers,

    Joe

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    I lost a few crowns off my ceph when I top-watered it over the winter (it was in a terrarium). However, I have had no problem with it outside in the rain. My feeling is that they have trouble when the folliage stays wet in stagnant conditions. Tempermental little buggers, eh? They do seem to appreciate a drier lifestyle than many cps.
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  7. #7

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    Thanks for the input.

    Yes, I've also tried growing them in peat + pumice (50:50) and had what appears to be the same pathogen mow down a beautiful large colony in two days. What's weird is that it is only a couple plants each year that get whacked - almost always the biggest ones. I originally suspected that a weevil or moth larvae was attacking the stems, but I am now convinced its fungal, and that it's very resistent to a wide array of fungicides that I use.

    I started using the tray system, also with a mobile water table, about two months ago for the plants up on the terrace with the cacti. Sunshine up there can be of thermonuclear intensity on clear days and evaporation is lightning-fast. I wonder whether anyone has grown Cephs in a pure mineral substrate, like straight pumice?

    Rgds/SJ

  8. #8

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    I've grown Cephs in just a 50:50 mix of sharp sand and perlite. I t worked OK. But, I had to use peat water with a regular 1/4 strength seaweed extract feed for watering. Like most Cephs once they get used to certain conditions they will do OK.

    Jonathan

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