Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Texas Mountain Laurel oozing sap in Spicewood, TX.
July 05, 2012 - We have a Texas mountain laurel that seems to be sweating. Oozing sap with no apparent signs of any type of bore holes, or holes made from any birds.
view the full question and answer

Oak sap dripping on driveway in Austin
November 06, 2011 - Why would oak sap be dripping on driveway at this time when other oaks the neighbors have are not.
view the full question and answer

Causes of death to Papershell pinion pine (Pinus remota)?
December 03, 2015 - Good afternoon. I did my best to review the site and have not found a comparable question - apologies if I have missed something. I own property equidistant between Leakey and Campwood off of HWY 33...
view the full question and answer

Need help diagnosing a problem with Bur Oak in Plano, TX
April 28, 2010 - I planted a bur oak 8 or 9 years ago. It has grown beautifully until this year. When opening, the leaves are very small (a couple inches) and there are lots of seeds (catkins?). I would hate to los...
view the full question and answer

Wilting American Smoke Tree in Texas
April 21, 2013 - I planted a young American smoke tree last fall (mid-November) and it put out a good show of tentative new leaves this spring. Then to keep the tree form I clipped some little shrubby start ups at the...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.