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Advice neede for sick Christmas Cactus

About 30yrs ago I inherited a Christmas Cactus. Its lived happily in our dining room for the last 20yrs, however last year I accidentally managed to overwater it without realising.

The plant went all droopy, so I decided to repot it last October, thinking that that might perk it up, but when I took it out of the old pot, I realised it was far too wet, and parts of the stem  were breaking due to rot (I assume).

I've put it in some new compost that said it was suitable for Cactus, a larger pot, and didn't water it for a number of weeks to let it dry out. Its condition didn't improve, so I gave it a small amount of baby bio (as this has made it look very healthy in the past), all to no avail.

As it is now dry, I've been watering it a small amount with plain water, however if anything it looks even more droopy now.

When I re-potted it, I planted one of the better looking brances that accidentaly came off, into a separate pot. However this looks exactly the same as the main plant.

As I've had if for such a long time I'd really like to save it. is there anything I can do, or does it sound like its on the way out? any advice, most welcome.



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 83,847

    It does sound as if it's on its way out ... I would take several cuttings ... possibly the branch you planted may have been too big to root effectively

    Have a look here 

    It is apparently also suitable for rooting in water, although I've not done it with these plants 

    Good luck image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,136

    I think you may be killing them with kindness.  They don't need much compost to grow and they don't like to be wet.   Put the plants somewhere bright but out of direct sunlight and in a cool room (min 12C) until March or April.   No further watering.  

    Once days lengthen - past the equinox - you can start with a bit of watering.   I like the dunking method - put the pot in a bucket of water till no further bubbles appear then let it drain completely for a few hours before putting it back in its cache-pot.    Since yours have fresh compost they probably won't need feeding but you can try light feeding from April onwards with houseplant food.   

    The RHS offers this advice which includes how to take cuttings.   They're not good taken fresh but if you follow their advice you should be able to rescue some, if not all of your plant -

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • The cutting I took was longer than 3 leaves, so probably too big as you say. I'll have another try following the instructions on the link. Thanks. 

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,062

    The method I would use is as follows :-

    1) Purchase a small heated propagator .

    2)  Look for adventitious roots growing from the base of each segment along the stems . Not always immediately apparent .

    3) Plant individual segments in a tray of either Perlite or Vermiculite ; DON'T WATER THEM IN !! This allows for any cuts to callous over .

    4) After 2-3 days , moisten the growing medium and keep slightly warm ; a brightish place but not in full sunshine .

    Hope I'm not boring you image

    Plant as many segments as you can , preferably the more 'woody' ones as they will root more readily . Soft green segments will simply dry up and fade away .

    There's a good chance that some will 'take' ; don't overwater , just keep damp and you should see new growth when rooted .

    Even if only one survives , at least you will have saved part of the original plant . Good for you especially if sentimental issues are involved .

    Good luck !image

    Last edited: 05 January 2018 18:25:08

  • Thanks for the advice, I'll definitely give that a try. The plant originally belonged to my grandad, and I inherited it in '89. It nearly died in 93 when it was being looked after by my lodger, who didn't water it at all, but subsequently recovered. I'm devastated that I've caused the current problems, and hope that we can preserve it, in whole or in part. 

    Here are a couple of photos of the main plant, an my "cutting" which is clearly much too big. imageimage

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,136

    Bear in mind that plants need roots to provide food and water to the parts we're interested in.  There's no way a rootless cutting that size can support itself and too much to ask of any new baby roots to support that much top growth.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,062

    The roots you may find occur where the segments join ; there's no reason why it shouldn't work .

    A bottom temperature of around 15-20C should suffice .

    Hope you have success .image

  • Quick update for this thread, I've now taken as many cuttings as I could from the old plant. Unfortunately the rest of the plant was not worth saving, although I've left the roots in the original pot to see if there's any life left there. Quite a few of the branches were green in the middle when they were cut, do hopefully that's a good sign.

    image Here's a picture of the cuttings. 

  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Thankyou. Some of them had more roots than others, so we'll see. I think I'll either end up with 8, or none. 

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