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johngalt
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Location: Dallas, TX

Cactus Fine on Day 1, ALL "petals" Fell Off Day 2

Hi All,

I'm relatively new to gardening and recently purchased a cactus. It is labeled as a "Pachyveria Glauca" (aka. "Little Jewel"). Pretty small plant, I've attached a picture of what it looked like on day 1 (note: this is not the actual cactus that I bought, but a representation of what it looked like, that is to say, completely healthy and normal) ...

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3477/3741193249_7f09c4f51d.jpg[/img]

The next day, no more than 18 hours after I brought it home, I noticed that all the "petals" had begun to fall off. The following is a picture of the actual cactus I bought - as you can see the vast majority of the petals have become detached and fallen off (I did not pull them off, they completely detached and fell) ...

[img]https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3486/3741193205_6ef129ef45.jpg[/img]

To give some background (perhaps this will help provide some clues that I am unaware of):

* I live in Dallas, TX so the weather is dry and hot.

* I re-potted the cactus on Day 1 without disturbing its root system. I simply tapped it out of the cheap plastic container the store kept it in.

* I then added a mixture of [url=https://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=78595-446-72986655&lpage=none]Miracle Grow potting mix[/url] with a small scoop of [url=https://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=233821-446-100962]Miracle Grow Blood Meal[/url] (this has nitrogen in it, so perhaps that could be an issue?) into the bottom of a new ceramic pot.

* I placed the cactus + dirt/root bundle into the new pot and filled in the edges with the same Miracle Grow mixture as above. I then watered the plant.

* The cactus had been outside in the sun for about 4 hours in the evening, then 8 hours of night (it was not cold, dropped to about 70ish degrees), and then a few more hours in the morning sun.

* There were no large wind gusts and I did not shake the plant. It just sat there.

* The weather has been between 70F and 85F with little humidity, so mild by Texas standards. Any help in diagnosing what went wrong would be greatly appreciated! If any other information is needed please let me know!

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vintagejuls
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Aaaaah, poor little plant. :shock: Oooops. :oops:

I thing what caused this was repotting it with the rich Miracle Grow potting soil and blood meal. If you had repotted a geranium, gardena, or a rose, etc. these products would have been perfect. But not for a succulent.

Cactus and succulents like a more sandy type of soil. Generally, when I buy a new plant, I let it stay in it's original pot for awhile; placing it in the ceramic or clay pot intended for it long term as it remains in the plastic. But I do think the main problem here is the soil and blood meal.

You could take what remains and repot with a cactus soil or just let it be and see how it does...? :?
~ Julie

Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well... Emerson

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Kisal
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I would say it was probably the repotting. That, and putting it in the outdoor sun, without acclimating it first. These little cacti are usually grown indoors under lights prior to being offered for sale.

Cacti neither need nor want a rich potting mix. It's more important that they have a mix that drains very rapidly. Most potting mixes for cacti are composed of sand, grit and small stones. Sometimes, they will contain some ground-up coconut fiber, but not always. You really don't want anything in the mix that will hold water, except maybe a little perlite. No compost or peat moss, though.

Also, cacti do better if the potting mix is allowed to dry before they are repotted. The pot it is in (second picture, the one with the leaves off) looks like it's too large for the plant. IMO, a pot about 1" smaller in diameter would have been about right for that plant. JMO, though. :)

I think you can salvage the plant if you let the soil it is in dry for a few days, then remove it from the pot. Gently remove as much of the Miracle Grow stuff as you can ... just brush it off of the root ball with your fingertips. Repot the plant in a slightly smaller pot. This time, use a potting mix that is designed especially for cacti and succulents. (It's readily available. I can even buy a reasonably good brand at my local supermarket.) Don't water the plant after you repot it.

You can place it outdoors, but not in direct sun. Keep it in the shade for a few days, maybe a week. Now give it a good watering. It might be good to submerge the entire pot in water just to the rim and let it soak until you no longer see bubbles coming up from the soil. Drain it thoroughly and move it to a spot where it gets direct sun, but only in the early morning. Each day or two, increase the length of time it's in direct sun.

You live in a hot area, so if you're going to have the plant in direct sun all day, it may need watering more often that you might expect for a cactus. Don't water it every day, though. That would be too much.

HTH! I'd like it if you'd let me know how the plant does. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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johngalt
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Location: Dallas, TX

@Kisal and @vintagejuls,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and for providing your recommendations. I was really surprised at how quickly this plant reacted - I've never seen a plant quite literally shed all its leaves in a matter of hours because of something it does not like in its new environment!

I've gone out and purchased a smaller ceramic pot (about 1" less in diameter) that has holes for drainage in the base (the first, larger pot had drainage as well). I'm going to purchase either of the following soils later today as well:

[url=https://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=248406-446-73078300&lpage=none]Miracle-Gro 8-Quart Cactus, Palm and Citrus Soil[/url]

or

Scotts Miracle Gro Cactus Potting Mix

I've brought the cactus inside and will let the dirt dry out and then attempt to re-pot in a few days using the new pot / soil. I'll put him outside in the shade thereafter and try to slowly let him get some sun in the morning.

@Kisal - I'll post an update in a week or so and hopefully this little guy will be a much happier plant (or at least moving in that direction!). I'll send you a personal message when I do post so you won't need to keep checking this thread.

Thanks again!

a0c8c
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I made one of your mistakes and almost killed my jade. I put it outside directly in the sun and it about died, once you've got it repotted, take your time before you get it in full sun. Start with shade and move it a couple inches every few days and slowly get in the sun. I might even start moving mine back inside, it doesn't seem to like our heat that much.

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johngalt
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Update

Hi Everyone,

I have some good new and some bad news ... the bad news is that the first cactus I posted about did not make it. Unfortunately it was too far down the path and could not be rescued. The good news is I purchased another succulent and he is doing brilliantly! I used the cactus specific soil that was recommended and avoided placing him directly in the sun / heat for any long period of time.

Thank you all for your help! Very much appreciated!

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Kisal
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Excellent, John! Although I'm sorry the first little plant didn't make it, I'm very happy that you bought another, and that it is succeeding well for you. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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vintagejuls
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Location: Southern California / USDA Zone 10

Good to hear about your success with the second plant. Happy gardening! :D
~ Julie

Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it well... Emerson

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