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Cactus

This plant did very well for a year and bloomed. At some point I think I over watered it and it started looking 'dusty' and then parts turned black. I snipped off the worst parts and let it dry out for quite a while. About a month ago I started watering it once a week and all this new growth started appearing.

It looks like the center is still in poor shape. Should I try to remove more?

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    I'd bust off one of those healthy branchlets carefully, stick it in some sandy pebbly soil with a little low quality dirt, and water it a little every couple weeks. Maybe it'll grow roots. Lots of cacti propagate that way. Your main plant is never going to be a thing of beauty again. – Wayfaring Stranger Jun 24 '15 at 15:11
  • Thanks! Do you think rooting hormones help or hinder? – Paul Croarkin Jun 24 '15 at 16:14
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    Can't help as I've never used them on anything more succulent than a Sedum. I'm certain someone else here knows. – Wayfaring Stranger Jun 24 '15 at 16:17
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I'd get rid of all the dead material for sure. Yes, rooting hormone would help but over watering with cacti is a big deal as you've learned. Use a sterilized potting soil do not use garden soil. Make sure your saucer is always dry after watering! (get rid of the saucer and get the bottom of the pot off the surface so there is air between the bottom of the pot and its surface...or saucer!

Clay pots do best for cacti and sedums as they 'breathe'...these are very shallow rooted and if I were you I'd get a much shallower pot...wider than high for sure. Be careful about watering. Think of a quick spring rain in the desert...drainage is everything. Make sure you don't have any rocks or gravel beneath the soil as this actually creates a perched water table and the soil will become saturated before it drains out of the pot.

Don't water again until the soil is extremely dry but before the plant's skin starts getting dusky and puckered! Minimal fertilization, use an extended release fertilizer such as Osmocote and no more than every 4 months or what the label informs. Use bottled water, NOT TAP. Unless of course you have a well! Even then try to find bottled water without fluoride...as you should for your own needs. Fluoride is an idiotic additive supposedly for our teeth but NOT!! It is a toxic chemical for us humans and plants...crazy, huh!

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  • Agree on the cacti side of things - well draining soil is the secret - makes it harder to over water. I'm a geologist by background, and the science for fluoride in small quantities resulting in a substitution of chloride ions in apatite (the mineral in your teeth) is sound, although I question the efficacy of many dental treatments as they are applied over such a short period. Yes fluorine is nasty stuff, and large quantities of fluoride will result in fluorosis (which can occur naturally from well water btw) - but everything is poisonous in large quantities. – winwaed Jun 25 '15 at 13:35
  • Is fluoride accumulative? It is so nice to talk with scientists. What you are saying makes so much sense. Shall we go talk on a private site? This dichotomy with realities is not making me very happy...truly, this is the first I've heard about fluoride in well-water. Gees, just learned that fluoride is in ALL bottled water not to mention BPA's. Thanks, Winwaed... – stormy Jun 26 '15 at 19:10
  • Most wellwater is fine - and as with everything it is relative, but chronic fluorisis from drinking water famously reported in Iceland post-Laki (volc. eruption) in the late 18th C, and today is seen in the Danakil Depression Ethiopia (again volc origins). Actually Google came up with a lot of African groundwater fluorosis cases. BPA is one of those things where there's little evidence either way BUT it is the kind of chemical we don't expect to do much good, but in normal usage probably doesn't leach into the water in quantities to do harm (I wouldn't put a BPA water bottle in a microwave!) – winwaed Jun 26 '15 at 19:34

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