Pencil cactus dying is a very big problem among pencil cactus owners. There are various reasons for this problem and different methods to protect your pencil cactus from dying.
In this article we are going to discuss reasons, treatments and prevention methods for “pencil cactus dying”
Why is my Pencil cactus dying?
There could be several reasons which attribute the pencil cactus to die. Over watering is the biggest problem which could mainly affect this condition.
In addition to that root rot could also cause the pencil cactus to die. Moreover, wrong soil mix and too much temperature and humidity could also cause the pencil cactus to die.
Overwatering could affect the pencil cactus to die, usually these plants could start to look shriveled when you supply them too much water.
Further they would become shaky and droopy as well. You could spot these signs very well since they do not prefer over watering at all.
In addition to that, they would tend to look brittle. In this circumstance, you could misinterpret it assuming the plants are lacking water, but it is not actually due to that.
It happens due to overwatering. Apart from that, chances are that the branches could also get gray, brown in color which would ultimately tend to fall off to the ground.
How to identify a dying cactus
Just like with other succulents and cactus in general, pencil cactus would also die once you supply it with too much water. There could be following signs once a pencil cactus is dying,
- Mushy Stems
- Foliage which is discolored
- Drooping growth
Aforesaid are the signs which could indicate you once there is excess water in the roots and which could ultimately lead for the pencil cactus to die.
How to save a dying pencil cactus
Regulate the Watering
The most important thing you need to keep in mind in terms of watering them is that you need to water them only when their soil is dry.
Further you need to adjust the frequency of watering depending on the temperature and on the season as well.
When it comes to dry and hot summer seasons, you need to water them at least once every week or once every two weeks.
In terms of watering the pencil cactus in the winter season, you could skip watering them at all.
Further it is important that pencil cactus soil needs to be dry between two watering sessions as well.
OVER WATERING is the biggest mistake you could make when you are growing the pencil cactus. For example, if you water the pencil cactus when their soil is moist, it could lead to over watering.
As you may already know, pencil cactus used to grow in dry and hot weather conditions.
As such, there would be less repercussions when you under water the pencil cactus rather than you over water them.
Moreover, when you water the pencil cactus, make sure that you drench the ground completely.
Once you drench the ground thoroughly, it would make sure that roots could get hydrated sufficiently.
However, always be mindful that you wait until the soil completely dries out prior to watering them again.
Moreover, you need to apply the soak and dry method when you water them, and you could apply that method for both indoor grown and outdoor grown pencil cactus.
If you consider a pencil cactus which you have grown in your garden, there could be rainfalls on and off during spring and summer season. In this circumstance, you need to skip watering them at all.
Having said that, if you spot that your pencil cactus stems tend to become wrinkled and brown in color, it would be an indication which would notify you that you need to water the pencil cactus.
Choose the Correct soil
It is essential that you grow the pencil cactus in sandy soil which is well draining as that would help them to grow healthy as well as vigorously.
I would recommend a cactus soil mix as the best growing medium to grow pencil cactus. The special characteristic when it comes to cactus soil mix is that they do not retain excess moisture.
You could add perlite in the growing medium as that will be beneficial to fasten the draining of the medium and that will help them to thrive.
In addition to that, you could grow pencil cactus in rocky infertile soil mix as those conditions would suit them best.
You could use them for rock gardens whilst using other succulents as well. Alternatively, you could grow them in container gardens in your yards as well.
You may use a mix of cactus soil mix and perlite as a good potting mix to grow the pencil cactus in pots.
You could add the cactus soil and perlite at a ratio of 2:1. More importantly, it is vital that the potting medium you use should be a porous one which would help for better drainage.
The quality of Potting medium is not something which you should mainly be concerned about.
What is essential is only to have a potting medium which is well draining, and which does not store any excess moisture.
Provide Suitable Temperature
Pencil cactus would perform well in a temperature range of 50°F to 70°F (10°C – 21°C). Having said that, they could also withstand light frost too.
They could thrive in temperatures in 30°F and above too. On the other hand, they could survive in temperatures such as 100°C.
Consider that you are living in a location where your plant will be exposed to regular frost, then it is up to you to protect your cactus from intense colder weather conditions.
To do that you may use frost cloths. Instead of that you could even let them grow in mini greenhouses as well.
You could let the pencil cactus grow outdoors during autumn and in winter so that you could spot their stunning foliage in red.
You may provide them with dry and arid weather conditions for the pencil cactus to thrive well.
What you need to ensure is that you provide them a good aeration and that would help the plant to survive well.
In terms of pruning the pencil cactus, I would say it is very hard that you need to do that. However, you need to consider pruning them when you spot the cactus carrying dead leaves.
If not, you could prune them to maintain their shape as well as their size too. If not, you might want to trim them to obtain cuttings for propagation as well.
Keep in mind to wear protective gloves and eye protection as well.
Once you cut the pencil cactus leaves, you would see how they form a milky sap. That would be toxic and would cause allergies in your skin as well as in your eyes. Hence make sure that you do not get in contact with the sap.
To briefly explain on how to proceed with pruning,
- First, wear your protective gear such as gloves, goggles etc. That will protect you from the irritating sap they produce when you cut them.
- Start taking off the dead stems. Make sure you are using sterilized pruning shears to do this.
- Proceed with pruning the branches from above and that would help to reduce the height of the cactus and further it will help to stimulate the bushy growth as well.
- When you cut them, you could spray some water on the edges and that will avoid the sap forming out.
- Best is to dispose of all cuttings in a secured place or even burn them unless you do not use them to propagate them.
- Clean the tools you used and disinfect them as well.
Can my pencil cactus die due to disease?
Root rots is the biggest disease of pencil cactus. Further it is something which you could commonly spot as well.
To avoid this condition, the ideal thing to do is to water them appropriately.
Do not water the pencil cactus when their soil is moist and adhere to the aforesaid watering principle when you water these cacti.
Avoid letting them be in soggy soil and let soil become dry between two watering sessions.
In addition to the aforesaid disease’s pests such as mealybugs, spider mites and aphids could also trouble them.
Generally, they are pests resistant. However, if you do not care for them properly, it would badly affect them.