I did it again(this one's for you, Cereus-validus)

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Well, I was sitting in the livingroom the other night, and was looking at the cart where I have some of the cacti and a few plants sitting it out in front of a southern window until I can once again put them outside for full appreciation for sun, rain, etc, when I decided for some reason to look closer at my huge golden barrel cactus I'd purchased a year and a half ago. It had survived thru the first winter after I bought it in replacement to the smaller one, and loved the spring, summer and fall outside despite the massive rainy weather we had last year. Moved it inside to the livingroom (where my house is warm and dry due to heat pump), it got winter southern exposure and slight watering every three weeks in a well draining pot that I made sure never had standing water on it. Walked over to it and poked it carefully with a chop-stick and sure enough, my subtle feelings were dead on.............it was dead, the spines were just fooling me into thinking it was still whole. I've killed yet another large specimen. Cereus, is it because ALL these cacti need cooler, dryer temps? Emphasis on the cooler......the house was consistantly 76-78 degrees, and dry. (heat pumps do that, dry out the air badly) and I have decided regardless of wheather there appears yet another large and tempting golden barrel cactus for sale at Lowes for $19.97, I will NOT purchase it despite my adoration for them. What on earth am I doing to these poor things that they're dissolving like this? Makes me decide never to grow cacti again.........I know why the kalanchole died, you hafta water those and I've been distracted with the two under the aquarium with the timed plant light. this has been a distractable year, to say the least. But I'll appreciate you're take on the reason, as this isn't the first nice cactus I've had to do this over a span of a couple of decades. (the Cerius cacti by the way is fine.......but that pot is HUGE, the plant is HUGE and I suspect it rides out the dry enviroment better than the smaller plants, althought this barrel cactus was as large as a basketball.........sigh sniff :( ) Thanks for response when you see this, Cereus. madgardener, up on the soaked and damp ridge, back in faerie holler, overlooking cloud draped English Mountain in Eastern Tennessee
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Hey Maddie, I suspect your cactus was overwatered, perhaps by Lowes. I water all my cactus once a month during the winter months. All get some some sun, then *some* are placed out on the deck (without saucers) during the summer months when I feed them with some diluted fish emulsion. I prop the pots up on two sticks for fast drainage. My pencil cactus survived some sunburn last summer. In Oak Ridge, TN
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No honey, I've had it for over a year. It came in a shipment of cacti and I grabbed it. I tried not to overwater it this winter, but I suspect that the warm, dry house was the inevitable cause of it's death. I just wonder why they mush out and dry up and appear to be still alive. Two weeks ago it was solid and fine. This literally happened in the last two weeks when I wasn't paying attention.
I will say that I am not replacing lost cacti this year at all. I won't be working in two more weeks, and the plant budget will be cut severely. What I have that has survived thru the years and winters will be what I have for now. It'll be good for me not to be up under the temptations of the plants all the time <g> I'm putting in notice Friday.

I have all my cacti in fast draining soils and clay pots and no saucers and they thrive outside. It's inside they suffer horribly. I don't have a cool enough room to put all of them where they can get the winter light. That means, I have too many......................... As much as I love them, I have to quit this impulsivness because I always lose at least six or seven plants every winter. This time, I lost more plants than normal because of my erratic schedules. Maybe once I get back to normal routines from not working I can be more attentative to the plants I have remaining. I hope so. (that golden barrel was sooooo beautiful!! and HUGE sniff )

mine did fine, but I lost the largest pot of them, the smallest one is just fine.............I've lost a lot of plants this winter..................................time to reassess my plant passions a bit better. (Zhan's Korean crinum bloomed downstairs where I placed it under fluorescent lights for the winter, and I wonder if that would have been the better spot for the larger cacti? )
I bet your redbuds and dogwoods around your home are bursting all over the place too! With the time I hope I'll have later, I hope I can get a handle on the weedy pathways between my garden boxes and do that clearing I have needed to do forever. This is our 10th year and I still haven't cleaned out the fence row that runs west down my slope. Once I clear out those privet and honeysuckle vines, there will be more light in the sides of the yard and I might be able to have a fence row strip with sun loving flowers........we'll see how that goes.
thanks for the input!
madgardener
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madgardener wrote:

<snip>
Why on earth do you keep your house so warm? Don't you have a room with some light and a door to close it off for the winter? I have 2 cacti, don't know the names but they do fine in a South window. We keep the house at 68 during the day and 65 at night.
--

Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
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because I can? Because I get cold, and this is despite my layers of clothing? Because my husband doesn't mind, he just wears shorts when he's home? Or the probable answer............because the cat's like it warm and miss our heated waterbed..................
Don't you have a room with

Nope. I have a northern room that somehow Squire has turned into a "pantry" that has a large but not large enough northern window. Yes, the vent can be closed as it is above the totally unheated tool room that lies below that USED to be the garage........But it never freezes down there because of the bricko block walls, and the fact that the back of the house is underground and temperatures maintain 56o underground. And before you ask.........yes, the toolroom might be perfect (even the inner room that houses the furnace and assorted things that need throwing away yesterday) and even the room off THAT one that is off the open carport and sits underground completely and has a huge front window that faces north and I could just hang lights there and put tables and they'd love it, long as I let them have dark..........................that room is the coldest. Doesn't freeze because despite that I said the carport was "open" it is open in pieces. The addition they built over it is over the top, with a large opening that faces east but has northern exposures when the winds blow. Then there is the place where there COULD be a rather neat but huge window that sits directly center of the north part of the carport where there are huge concrete supports and a lower bricko block wall that is about four foot tall. There is then a door sized opening that goes out the "back" of the carport and to the back terrace that the house sits on that is just wide enough for some mischief by some garden fairies once I get rid of that insidious black walnut tree. These openings make the carport drafty, REALLY cold as it faces north and east, and it's backside is kinda underground. But with the inner "tool room" (apparently that really WAS a tool room the previous owner built after he removed the room sized boulder out from under the house first when he decided to build the room onto the house later on, you should SEE this boulder! He moved it himself without a bobcat or gas powered machine, just man power and leverage tools. It was round enough he worked it out across and to the edge of the first drop off of the land, and he just rolled it over and it sits there still.....I'd LOVE to have a crane to lift that puppie outa it's spot and put somewhere obvious and obnoxious (like the middle of the end of the shared driveway <EG> so it was defining the property line....and then plant that puppy up with sempervivums and sedums LOL
I have 2 cacti,

Well, that's perfect for cacti and most succulents, but lately I've seemed to like a warmer house. I'm sure I'll adjust once the budget tightens. <g> Ain't you glad you ain't dealing with me at the thermostat! madgardener

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The sudden loss of a plant can be a perplexing thing to deal with. Sometimes they seem to just die despite our best efforts seemingly for no reason. You appear to have done your best to hold them over the winter dormancy period so you shouldn't feel responsible for the plant's untimely demise.
Succulents are most susceptible to rapid infections and parasites during the winter resting season. It could have been a fungus infection. Usually the cortex is too far gone before there are any apparent symptoms and there is nothing that can be done to save the plant. You may also want to check the roots for signs of root mealy bug infestation.

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The sudden loss of a plant can be a perplexing thing to deal with. Sometimes they seem to just die despite our best efforts seemingly for no reason. You appear to have done your best to hold them over the winter dormancy period so you shouldn't feel responsible for the plant's untimely demise.
I just feel a bit responsible because I should have been more attentive. Having said that.................I've found yet another dead one, looking like all the world like it was alive. And I've had THIS one for years......but it was close to the Golden barrel. There will be a LOT of really neat looking pots that will be emptied of their bodies and soil very soon. (possibly today) The cacti will be put into the compost pile near the back so that the spines can eventually decompose, and the soils will be put into the compost pile as well, since I suspect you are dead on with a few of the deaths. Fungal problems are sneaky.
Succulents are most susceptible to rapid infections and parasites during the winter resting season. It could have been a fungus infection. Usually the cortex is too far gone before there are any apparent symptoms and there is nothing that can be done to save the plant. You may also want to check the roots for signs of root mealy bug infestation.
I usually recycle the soils on my cactus mix, but I think that this is a perfect year to stop that cycle and start fresh. The ones that are still alive and thriving (other than the normal winter stress, like the Ox-tongue that has shriveled a bit, but seems fine, except for the bowl of different ones that a sneaky cat or puppy (when he was smaller and more curious and able to get into the space to where the bowl was sitting in the den) dug up and I missed it. I haven't watered the plants in the den for a month, but since this is the largest spot for the bulk of the cacti and a few tropicals because there is a huge window that makes up the whole wall that faces south, I suspect I can save a few that are lying outside the sandy soils. I'll pot up the survivors and water them really well. This is what they do in nature, which makes them awesome plants. Generating from broken pieces as long as there is a succulent piece left is the neatest thing about cacti and succulents. I just hate that I've lost large and older plants. For what it's worth, the barrel probably was raised in Arizona somewhere, it didn't even have tough sunburned skin yet. I suspect these aren't as tough as babies that had been raised out in the desert. Having said that silly statement, I think you know that what I'm saying is maybe some of the fast grown cacti and succulents aren't given time to callous up and grow "normal". .
I sometimes wish I lived where I could plant these outside where they'd thrive. And another tangient thought...........if I had a true sunroom, I'd just have a cactus garden that was exposed to south and western sunlight, drained really well, wasn't heated so that it'd get cold but not freezing in the winter, and they'd probably do just fine, including flower for me. That's how I know they're not totally in their element. I used to have a perfect place at the rented farmhouse we lived in before we bought this place. It had great windows all the way around the house, leaky, drafty windows. They were huge, too, to let in as much light as it could. And the window sills were really wide. Wider than normal, I think. The two bathrooms weren't that warm either, and one window faced south eastwards and I used to put all the smaller pots of cacti on that window, the window behind the washer and dryer (the vent was directed thru the wall into the bathroom to add heat) despite the washer, was cooler and housed more smaller pots of cacti and my larger ones. The room upstairs was the perfect room. Not finished, raw, with just floor joists for a floor, the window was very leaky with no insulation in the outer walls that faced eastern and southwards (the house was a bit cockeyed in directions,) and all the largest cacti were placed there for the winters. The big one just suffered in the livingroom that faced northeast and got indirect western exposure thru the west window. I think the Cerius cactus has survived because it had the most soil and has a good developed root structure.
enough of this, thanks Cereus-validus for the thoughts on fungal diseases (especially now that I've found another one dead and looking still alive just next to the barrel cactus. fungal is very likely)
madgardener getting spring mad...........<gbseg>
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..the house was consistantly 76-78 degrees, and dry.
Holy cow, Mad....now I know why Americans think British houses are so cold!!!!!!!!!
Janet (barefoot and comfortable, thermostat set at 65).
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On Thu, 14 Apr 2005 11:43:14 +0100, Janet Baraclough

I live in Texas and during the winter if it is cold outside we keep our house at about 70-73 during the day and 60 at night. I couldn't stand it being 78 degrees in here. Not all Americans think British houses are so cold. I think they are damp, and cold!
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What is "cold outside" where you live?

Oh, have you been inside one?
Janet. (Heating off. Stalactites dripping down neck)
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On Thu, 14 Apr 2005 15:54:10 +0100, Janet Baraclough

During the day it can be anywhere from 30s to 60s, all of which are believed to be cold! Normally, our average temperature is 73 degrees on the year. In winter, we get 30s for a few minutes here and there, most nights are in the 40s and days in the 60s. Cold enough to need heat for us.

Yes, of course, how else would I comment?

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Maybe part of the reason for this communication breakdown is because you are talking Fahrenheit and Janet is talking Centigrade.
In any case, I do not appreciate the two of you having a pissing contest in a thread meant for me. Unless your intention is to amuse me with this comical farce. Abbot and Costello have nothing on you!!!!
opined:

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opined:

In
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No I wasn't. I gave my thermostat setting in F, because this is an American group .

We're used to each other. I was talking Fahrenheit, of course.Brits of my generation are bilingual in Fahrenheit (which is what we grew up with) and Centigrade which is what everywhere except America uses now.
Janet
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On Fri, 15 Apr 2005 23:48:42 +0100, Janet Baraclough

Yeah, and any day now religion will be running our country. Pretty soon, this will be almost exactly like Iraq.
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Be quiet you big baby.
On Thu, 14 Apr 2005 17:14:25 GMT, "Cereus-validus....."

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You are the one having the knipshin fit, poopy pants.
Maybe you are overdue for your naptime?
After all, you are the poster child for Valium!!!!
opined:

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Last time you mentioned a trip to Britain here on the group, you decided not to come in case Brits were all like me :~}
Janet.
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On Sat, 16 Apr 2005 14:34:12 +0100, Janet Baraclough

They ARE all like you!
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So you knew what to expect :-) If I'd known you were here I'd have invited you up.Where did you go and what did you do? This is my real email addie if you prefer.
Janet

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