Cactus Care Tips
How often should I water my cactus?
From April to September established cactus plants only need to be watered once a month at a slow drip for 2-3 hours. Newly planted or transplanted cactus can be watered twice a month for the first three or four months after planting. If you already have a drip irrigation system, you should put 1/2 gallons per hour emitters on all cacti. It is important to put all cactus on a tree valve or their own separate valve and not the shrub or perennial valves. Cacti should be on their own watering schedule and never on the same schedule as shrubs and perennials.
It is essential that all cactus have time to completely dry in between waterings. Always try to remember that your yard is an extension of the desert, therefore you must emulate the natural conditions for your cactus of their original regions.
At the end of October you should stop watering all cactus by putting good plugs in all of your micro tubing going to each cactus. In April you can remove all plugs and resume your regular watering schedule.
Do I need to weatherproof my cactus?
Yes, you do need to weatherproof your cactus. When winter time arrives it is best to prepar for the dreaded frost ahead of time. You should purchase a large amount of frost cloth from your local nursery to cover all frost sensitive cacti and succulents. When the temputure dips below 40°, you should place styrofoam cups on the tips of your columnar cactus; this will help prevent frost damage.
If you are not sure what to cover, it is best to be safe by covering all of your succulents and thin skinned cactus such as cerus monstrauss, cerus puruvians, etc. Listen to the weather forecast at night and cover your cactus anytime temperatures will be under 40° F (just to make sure it does not get colder than predicted).
If you plan to transplant any cactus this spring, you should cover them with shade cloth to prevent sunburn. I recommend using a 30% shade level cloth for your cacti and a 40% or 50% shade level cloth for your succulents. Many of your cacti will need to be covered for only the first year until they have acclimated to their new location.
Help! My prickly pear cactus has white sticky spots! What are they and how do I get rid of them?
When your prickly pear and cholla cactus begin to be covered with white sticky mounds, it means you have a cochineal (mealybug) problem. This is not a disease, it is actually an insect infestation. The white sticky mounds are the housing for cochineal bugs. When these first start to appear it is best to spray them off the prickly pear cactus pads with a power nozzle attached at the end of your hose. If the infestation begins to get out of control, I suggest treating the areas by scrubbing them with insecticidal soap or unscented dish soap. In small areas you can scrub with a tooth brush but for larger areas it is best to use a long handled brush. Or you can just spray all of the surfaces of the prickly pear pads thoroughly using a power nozzle attached to your hose and then thoroughly spray with a solution of spectracde or malithion and insecticidal soap. Do not rinse after applying the spectracide (or malithion) and insecticidal soap. After the scrubbing most of the cactus pads will turn a purple color from the cochineal bugs, just rinse with your power hose attachment again. The last step is to throughly spray with a solution of spectracide or mailthion and insecticidal soap without rinsing off.
During the winter months the most effective method of cochineal eradication is to spray with neem oil which can be purchased online. Follow the neem oil manufacture's directions for mixing. I prefer this method of eradication because no scrubbing is required in order to kill the cochineal insects.
If you prefer an organic treatment, power wash your prickly pear pads using a power nozzle attached to your hose and then use an organic natural soap and neem oil solution to spray, then scrap with a brush and spray again with the solution and do not rinse. This will remove the cochineal scale and mealybugs organically.
If you would like to view our educational video on cochineal scale removal click
Why is my saguaro cactus leaning?
If your saguaro cactus at home is beginning to lean, do not lose hope for there are ways to remedy this problem and prevent it from falling.
First you must understand the three main causes for your saguaro cactus to lean are:
~ there is a water source near your saguaro which is loosening the soil around the base, this is the most common cause
~ the balance of the saguaro cactus is offset by having too many heavy limbs on one side, this is the second most common cause
~ it has bacteria necrosis at the base, this is the least common cause
Most saguaros that are less than 23ft tall can be straightened manually but large saguaros with several arms must be straightened by either a cradle truck or by crane. When you first notice that your saguaro cactus is beginning to lean you should take action immediately so it does not fall and destroy itself, property or injur any bystanders.
You need expert help - call The Cactus Doctor today to schedule an appointment today - 602-465-0566.
Big or small The Cactus Doctor takes care of them all!
What is Bacteria Necrosis?
If you see a leaning saguaro in your yard and it is oozing with black goo near the base, chances are it is infected with bacteria necrosis. Bacteria necrosis only attacks saguaro cactus and is usually caused by too much water near your saguaro, or it is infected by a metal object, heat stress or frost damage.
One of the first signs of bacteria necrosis is a swarm of gnats that are concentrated around a particular area on your saguaro cactus. Gnats will always be present whenever your saguaro cactus is infected with bacteria necrosis. Another sign will be when you see a browning area that is unlike any other part of the saguaro. Chances are you will probably also be able to see black goo oozing from the section of the saguaro that is browning. The most prevalent sign of all is that you will be able to smell very strong nauseating odor. This will occur when your saguaro cactus is in its last stages of decay.
Whenever you are sure that your saguaro cactus is infected with bacteria necrosis you should have it treated immediately by a certified specialist who has many years of experience doing saguaro surgeries. If you catch your saguaro cactus in its initial stages of bacteria necrosis there is an 80% chance that it can be saved and continue to live a long healthy life.
Always remember if you or your friends ever need saguaro help with a dying saguaro The Cactus Doctor is always available to ensure your saguaro’s health and is always willing to give out valuable saguaro information. Call The Cactus Doctor today to schedule an appointment - 602-465-0566. Big or small The Cactus Doctor takes care of them all!
If you would like to view our educational video on the removal of bacteria necrosis click
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