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

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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

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