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Cactus and Succulent Problems

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Most pictures of cacti and succulents that you see in books and other media are the 'best of the best', so to speak. The average person would be hard-pressed to have his or her whole collection looking as healthy as the ones seen in books. So, if you have been dazzled by too many beautiful pictures, spare a thought for the less pretty ones...

Owning to my less than exemplary performance in providing care to the plants in my collection, I have managed to kill quite a few plants and disfigured many others. Cactus and succulent collectors who are working (or those who live in a city) will encounter the same problems that I have faced.

Before you proceed further, I must warn you that the photos which I am about to show you are not a pretty sight... in fact some are pretty disgusting. Disgusting. You have been warned!

It's true that I could have had less problems... but my philosophy is to minimize the use of powerful poisons. The less often poisons are used, the less they will get into the environment (and into yourself). Some of the practices described by cacti_etc members scares me in that they use fungicides and pesticides religiously.

I use strong pesticides 2 to 3 times a year. I use fungicides and a mild phyretrin-based insecticide (bioallethrin) maybe about once a month. The rest of the time I try to practice prevention. It ain't a perfect formula, but I reckon that I am in reasonable harmony with nature.

Here is a list of plant problems. Some are interrelated, some are effects rather than causes. The grouping is only for convenience's sake. Often there are multiple causes involved in any particular case.

I have added some lines of description where possible, to try to explain the cause and effect of the problem. I don't pretend to know everything, indeed, there are some problems which mystify me -- like the orange scarring (Chileans disease) which is not explained in books but is discussed in cacti_etc, but no one seem to have the last word on it.

It disturbs me sometimes that I have killed so many plants (especially seedlings). Well, better plants than pets... forgive me Father for I have killed lots and lots of succulent plants...

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  Last modified: 2002-10-04  Copyright © 1997-2002.  Kein-Hong Man.  all rights reserved