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Pruning an unwieldy cactus

My other half has a cactus in the bathroom that has some sentimental value to her, but it's got wildly out of control and I'd love to prune it back before it dies (if it's not too late!)

I've tried searching online for cactus pruning but I can't find anything that matches the sort of plant I have with the sort of problem it has.  Can anyone offer any tips on how to approach this? 


Thanks in advance! :-)


  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 2,984

    Looks like a rather leggy form of Austrocylindropuntia sp. ; best get rid of all that dead growth on the right ; remove from pot , choose the healthiest part of the plant and repot !

    They need as bright a position as possible if indoors , and very little (if any) water in the winter . Poor light leads to etiolation , which is the soft 'stretched pale green ' growth sprouting on the right .

    They are a fairly hardy S.American genus , and actually grow quite well outside in the summer in full sunshine !

  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 4,050

    A decent burial in the compost heap is my first thought. It is looking rather unhappy. Best to move it somewhere where it can get a lot more light. 

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • DaisydotDaisydot Dartmoor Posts: 21

    We've just done this with our many and overgrown various cacti. We got larger terracotta pots whether shallow or deeper, and larger, if required, to suit each. We also got cactus compost (pots and compost from homebase), mixed it with grit, put a layer of crocks in the bottom and then repotted each cactus in this way, wearing gloves!

    Then we pruned according to desired result but didn't go too radical because you can always take more off later. After that we moved the plants to a very bright spot and watered quite well - I would pour in the water until it just appears in the drip tray and stop.

    Good light is the key and an unseated room is also needed but I think B3 is bang on - the dead growth needs to be removed. And once you have watered as described, keep the watering to a minimum until mid spring.

    Hope that helps, and good luck with it. I have managed to keep houseplants given me by my dad when I left home at 17 still going strong, and I turned 50 in September!


  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 2,984

    Fascinating photographs on this website ; illustrates the resilience and endurance of many S.American cacti .

    To explore properly , click on 'english' at the bottom of the page , then open up A&M at the top of the page .

  • Thank you for the advice. We did realise the etiolation was a sign of a plant struggling rather than a plant thriving! We will try to find the healthiest part to replant...I'm not sure exactly which bit this will be given the state of it, but we will try!  I've transferred it into a window spot to catch the winter sun for now, and will repot over the winter break when I can get some decent compost for the job. 

    Thanks for the link too - I've learnt a lot about cacti today!

  • I used to keep cactus Tristarch, and regularly took cuttings or repotted them, but never at this time of year.  Yes they need light, but also a constant temperature.  I would give them a good once over in mid Spring when they had the best light and warmth for a few months whilst they settled down again.

    The shoots that are hanging off the main branch/hanging growth on the left can be gently twisted off, and putting them into a shallow tray or seed tray with a good mixture of grit, sand and poor soil, if cared for (plenty of light and not too much watering), they should root over the period of a few months or up to a year.

    Good luck.

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