Monday, March 28, 2011

Potting rescued cactus sections

About three weeks ago I blogged about finding trimmings from a Queen of the Night cactus (Cereus hildmannianus susp. hildmannianus) in a neighbor’s yard waste. I placed the cactus segments in a dry spot on our front porch so any wounds could heal and callus over.

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Three of the rescued Queen of the Night segments

Today I took advantage of a break in the rain and put the segments in 5-gallon plastic nursery pots. Since I knew the segments wouldn’t stay upright on their own, I cut two 5 ft. lengths of ¼" PVC pipe for each pot and attached them to the pots using two small screws on each side. This will prevent the pipe sections from tilting. Originally I was going to use wooden stakes but ¼" PVC pipe ended up being much cheaper than wooden stakes—crazy!

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Screws holding the PVC pipe sections upright

I filled each pot about ⅓ of the way with dry soil mix (½ pumice, ¼ coir, ¼ regular potting soil), inserted the cactus segment, and tied it to the PVC pipe with stretch tape. Finally I added another 3" of soil mix as well a layer of lava rock for extra stability. Important: The soil has to be completely dry otherwise the sections might begin to rot before they get a chance to form roots.

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Potted segment
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Lava rock added for stability so the pot won’t get knocked over

And voilĂ , here are the potted sections lined up against the wall next to our front door. This area is roofed, so they will stay dry if the rain continues. Rooting will take some time because it’s still relatively cool. As soon as we reliably get temperatures in the 70s, it should take 6-8 weeks for roots to form. The best indicator of success would be new growth at the tip.

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The procedure I followed is basically the same outlined on SacredCactus.com for San Pedro cactus. While Queen of the Night is from a different genus, it’s similar enough so that the rooting information they give should work for my cactus as well.

5 comments:

  1. Superb job Gerhard! They should root nice and well over the next few weeks. Will you keep them in pots or put them on an arid bed?

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  2. Very nice! Any chance they'll blow over?

    There's an important and confusing typo in there. You said "...might begin to root before they get a chance to form roots." That should be "...might begin to ROT before..."

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  3. Mark and Gaz, I don't really know what I'm going to do with all of them. I can see keeping one; I might just give the others away when the time comes. I just thought it would be a fun learning experience trying to root such large cactus segments.

    Alan, thanks for letting me know about the typo. I've corrected it. They shouldn't blow over because they're in a protected spot on our covered front porch. In addition, I'm hoping the lava rocks give the pots enough stability.

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  4. I'm surprised you didn't use bamboo canes for stakes. Just kidding. ;)

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  5. David, my wife said that same thing! LOL.

    Great idea and certainly way more attractive than PVC pipe, but unfortunately I didn't have enough bamboo canes on hand and they're not cheap to buy.

    My wife's been teasing me about what the lovely white PVC pipe sections are doing to the curb appeal of our house :-).

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