En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - June 03, 2012

From: Temple, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Cacti and Succulents
Title: Problems with Strawberry Hedgehog cactus from Temple TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I had purchased a Strawberry hedgehog Cactus (echinocereus stramineus) a few years ago from the Wildflower Center's annual plant sale and planted it then. It has now started to brown from bottom to top. How can I stop this and why is this happening? The only reason I can imagine why this has happened is because I recently pruned a plant back that was covering the cactus, but the cactus was normal before I did this. Help Please! Thanks ahead of time!

ANSWER:

The very first question we need to ask is, is this plant being grown in a pot outside?  We followed this plant link Echinocereus stramineus (Strawberry hedgehog cactus) to our webpage on this plant and learned that it cannot tolerate temperatures below 50 deg F. Plants in pots are only protected by a thin layer of potting soil and a thinner layer of plastic or terra cotta and are more vulnerable to freeze damage. So, if the pot was exposed to temperatures under 50 deg, especially for several hours, that may explain the browning.

The next thing we would consider is your statement that you pruned back a plant that was covering the cactus. Normally, that would be considered a good thing, because this cactus needs full sun, and may not have been getting it. But maybe the sudden removal of that shade has caused sunscald.

From Cactus Art, here is more information on Echinocereus stramineus (Strawberry hedgehog cactus), including this sentence:

"Rots easily; it is sensitive to overwatering (rot prone) needs a very good drainage to avoid rotting, Keep drier and cool in winter." 

Somehow, since the plant is browning from bottom to top, we suspect that rot may be the answer. When we searched on "treating rot in cactus," we found this site, Cactus Expert 2. At the middle of the page is a discussion of how to identify rot in a cactus and what to do about it. From CactiGuide.com is a website on cacti pests and diseases.

We truly salute your bravery. Hope you have some good heavy leather gloves.

 

From the Image Gallery


Strawberry hedgehog cactus
Echinocereus stramineus

Strawberry hedgehog cactus
Echinocereus stramineus

Strawberry hedgehog cactus
Echinocereus stramineus

Strawberry hedgehog cactus
Echinocereus stramineus

Strawberry hedgehog cactus
Echinocereus stramineus

Strawberry hedgehog cactus
Echinocereus stramineus

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Problems with non-native Chinaberry tree from Tucson AZ
September 05, 2013 - I have a 30+ year old Chinaberry tree and this year the branches are much sparser with leaves and there are a lot of small dead branches. Should I fertilize and what should I use? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Pruning mature cedar elm trees in San Antonio
September 14, 2008 - When is the right time to prune my several mature cedar elm trees? I'm in San Antonio, and they have never been trimmed in the 55 years we have lived in this home. I have several that are at least 7...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage to Mexican olive in Austin
December 13, 2009 - I have a Mexican Olive tree/bush. It is young - about 8 ft. tall. This last freeze in Austin made many of its leaves turn black. I got this from your database: "Its native range extends no farther...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Thuga occidentalis in Canton MI
May 11, 2009 - I have emerald arborvitae that have become very "shaggy" and somewhat orange at the base of some leaves, while my neighbors look compact and dark green. What am I doing wrong?
view the full question and answer

Fungus type problem on native blackeyed susans in Ohio
August 20, 2008 - I have black eyed susans that have recently developed a black fungus type problem in the bottom and on the leaves. The flowers are now wilting and dying. What is this and how can I stop it from possib...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center