ruttiger123

help! Crassula ovata 'Tricolor' dying?

Hi all!


I have a Crassula ovata 'Tricolor' that is about three years old. It became into a really nice tree recently, and I replanted it about 8 months ago, but then just a couple of months ago the branches began to bend down and the leaves seem to be wilting. It doesn’t seem to be taking in water.


Here is a “before” picture from last September (I do not normally keep it away from the window, sometimes I just put it on my desk at night):




Here are some “after” pictures from today—the branches are very floppy and as you can see, the leaves are wilting (though also redder). I've replanted it in new soil and tried to balance it with rocks:







Here’s a close up of the leaves—they are paper thin, not firm at all like they use to be.




I also cut off a branch that was really wilting and took a picture of the inside of the stem. I see there are some very small brown spots—but I’m not really sure what to look for here. Here are photos of the cut off branch and of the spot cut off from the bigger plant:








Recommendations? I’ve tried to water it but that doesn’t seem to have any effect, and I don’t want to overwater it. As I mentioned, I’ve replanted it in new soil, but that doesn’t seem to help either.


I’m thinking I could cut off all the branches to try to make it lots of little plants, if the problem is in the base of the plant, maybe the disease or rot hasn’t spread to all the branches? I could also wait to see if the little branch that I cut off begins to grow roots, but by the time it does I fear that the rest of the plant will be dead. If this wilting is normal, though, that I could also support the branches with bonsai wire. Short of that I don’t have any ideas! Please help!


Thanks and I hope you all are well, safe and healthy.


Comments (33)

  • bikerdoc5968 Z6 SE MI
    last month

    A jade that is wilted so severely MAY indicate the base or main stem and/or roots are rotted. At this point, cutting the main stem at the soil level can't do any further harm. If any portion of the cut surface is anything but GREEN, continue cutting until it is. Callous for a week and replant, or as you indicated, cut off several arms and establish many new plants.

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    Top Answer
  • KarenS, NYC
    last month

    Pls describe what you found the roots to be like when you repotted it. Did you remove ALL the old soil when repotting?

  • Ruttiger (5b Upstate NY)
    Original Author
    last month

    Hi there! Thanks for the reply. I did remove all of the old soil, but I could certainly give it another pass if you think that's it! I didn't notice anything about the roots--but not sure what I should have been looking for?..... I could provide photos of the roots as well.

  • goshdarnit
    last month

    What soil mix did you plant it into? How often is it watered? Is it humid in your house?


    I live in an arid climate, and I had big cuttings of it, forgotten, that were throwing roots into the air and lived for more that 12 months like that, with no especial problems.


    It can be overwatering just as much as hydrophobic soil that causes wrinkling. If it's got a fungal infection in the roots or lower down, you could save it by chopping all of the roots off and replanting as a cutting.


    First things first, take the whole lot out and have a good look - much easier to take out a small pot like that and replant, than to struggle along with a sick plant.


    If it's hydrophobic soil, mix it with hydrated coconut coir (about 25%) and throw in some more gravel. Should help, at least, if it's not fungal. Also a little natural vegetable soap in some water helps with hydrophobic soils.

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  • KarenS, NYC
    last month

    I don't grow this so I was waiting for someone to come along who did.

    If you unpot it again, pls do show pix of the roots. Any soft, mushy roots are rot, any dry brittle, crunchy are dead & should be removed.

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  • Ruttiger (5b Upstate NY)
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Thanks all for the suggestions!

    Goshdarnit—I use miracle gro cactus and succulent mix and perlite (a 50/50 mix). About humidity: It was in a bathroom window for a few months but I moved it because even though we shower with the windows open I didn’t want it to have too much humidity (also, I moved it over a year and a half ago.....). Otherwise, it’s not humid in the house. I don’t think I overwater it.

    KarenS & Goshdarnit – I took it out and enclose photos here of the roots.





    Does anyone think this is root rot? They do not feel particularly soft or mushy, nor do I see many dry brittle ones…

    Bikerdoc—that’s an interesting suggestion to start cutting at the main stem at the base and let callous. I suppose if it was a root problem, that would allow for all new root growth—assuming it’s healthy enough to do so….

    I suppose I could wash the roots per goshdarnit's suggestion--or I could just make a cut at the base?!

    Thanks again! :)

  • KarenS, NYC
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Hey Jade growers: pls chime in as I don't grow this, but doesn't it look like it has lost most of its roots?

    Again, am not a Jade Grower, but shouldn't this have a lot more roots? Like a whole ball of them for that size diameter trunk?

    Sorry to say I think your plant is dying & if mine, I'd take the healthiest looking tips to try to root them anew, DRY.

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  • rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
    last month
    last modified: last month

    It is very wilted, trunks - separate arms look like it too. Even one you cut is 'spongy-looking'.

    I grow few, and they are all from cuttings taken from same original plant. I find they react to adverse conditions faster than 'regular' green Crassula ovata. Usually by loosing few leaves from either too dry (leaves drying to crisp and falling off) or too wet (more wrinkly plant over-all). Easy to grow, but bit more sensitive (if that is right word...)

    I keep mine all in much grittier mix: no soil (few have some, but perhaps 10-15%, no more). Approx. equal parts of sifted perlite and chicken grit, and very little turface (10-15%) is the mix I use for just about all my succulents.

    I have one similar looking (not as 'spongy-looking' as yours, but droopy). It didn't have best light whole winter long and has been in same pot for 3+yrs, time to repot and check the roots.


    It is difficult to judge health of your plant, since cut seems to be bit rough - probably because it is so soft. Use very sharp blade/scalpel to get better cut. Stems-trunks should be harder, and able to support plant. Mine above is drooping somehow because not enough light IMO. I have others, and they are much more upright - but they were in better light

    Roots of your plant seem to be quite sparse, perhaps many have dried up? Plant may not be getting enough water with such sparse root system, and if the soil retains water, maybe it sits in it, wet, for too long.

    If you determine plant is overall healthy (meaning no rot), it may grow much more healthy, stronger roots. I would use much more inorganic mix to do that. You could 'sacrifice' one of the thicker arms to check, rather than cutting whole plant at the base right away. If you find rot, keep cutting...

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  • goshdarnit
    last month

    No no! I wasn't saying wash the roots! I was saying mix the slightly soapy water with the soil if it was hydrophobic...

    To me, that soil looks far too wet.


    If you can't see signs of rot in the root ball, you could leave the plant in the shade, with roots out in the air for a week to dry out. Then see if it's wrinkled more, or firmed up. Then you have a choice to cut the root ball off and use it as a cutting, which will not harm it. If you do that, don't water for at least two/three weeks. It can't use water with no roots, it will take water from the air.

    Your other choice is to re-pot as is, into a much more free draining mix. Either way, it needs a better mix.


    Those bagged mixes are $@#%#$$&%. Perlite ok, good call, however the soil looks like it still has too much organic matter. Take the mix you have, and put in several handfuls of sharp gravel - round is OK if that's all you have, but not ideal, sharp is best. Then put some small grade pumice in it, if you can get it. Then a couple spoons of bagged sand, like playground sand - wash the sand first. The goal is a much lighter, coarser, mix. If you can't get the pumice use scoria, (aka lava rock), small 5 or 6mm pieces. If you can't get that, more sharp gravel. You can eyeball the amounts until you get a very crumbly, open mix.


    You live in a zone that has a lot of 'ambient' moisture, for want of a better term. I have about 21 inches of rain annually where I live in Australia, desert dry, and I still have to use a dry mix.


    My from scratch mix is one quarter regular potting soil, one quarter coconut coir, one quarter sharp granite gravel, and the other quarter depends on the plant... moisture lovers like echeveria get the other quarter as half/half potting mix and coir, cacti get the other quarter as coarse sand and/or small grade scoria, plants like this get another lot of sharp gravel half/half with potting mix.

    The potting mix you should buy for succulents is the dry, coarse one, with no extra food or wetting agents, not soft loamy soil that you would buy for flowers or indoor tropical plants.


    That pot looks too shallow - you can only go for the bonsai effect once you have a strong, healthy plant.


    These plants like to grow big, I have one that's three feet around and three feet tall... they are much bigger than most other succulents in nature, and root ball to match. If you want to keep it small, you have to either keep chopping the roots off or keep taking smaller cuttings.



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  • rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
    last month

    Most of us do not use sand in mixes, especially not the play sand. It is too fine - at least here, maybe different in Australia...but I do not think so. Fine sand doesn't make mix lighter and/or coarser, it packs and interferes with drainage. Coarse sand, often called horticultural sand, is ok to use.

    I use perlite since I can't get pumice easily. Here is photo of mix I use (gravel is black and some white; tan pieces are turface. Cocopeat/coco coir or soil could be used instead of turface - in same small amounts):

    ):


    Also, roots could be washed if old soil doesn't come off. Sometimes, blast from a garden hose is enough. If soil become hydrophobic, soapy water - using only vegetable based soap - or warm water could be used to help re-wet hydrophobic soil. Either swish roots in it, or let soak for a bit - only as long as needed. Plant should be left to air dry after that, using something absorbent under it (paper towel, rag...) to help wicking off the extra water. Leave plant to dry in shady spot.

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  • goshdarnit
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I use the play sand (and coir) here because I actually need to keep moisture longer... We have 120f days in summer regularly and can be less than 20% humidity... I have measured 10% for a few weeks in the worst. You have to go for your conditions. I wasn't suggesting to use my mix, just saying what it was. I only advised gravel/sand etc for quick fix of existing mix.


    The play sand here is pretty big grains, but soft. If your play sand is fine, then definitely not! The coir keeps it from compacting, in my experience, along with the coarser grain gravels/additives.


    I don't use a lot of perlite as, being so light, it always tries to shift to the top, and then I get a layer of it under the topdressing, and it's just messy blowing around with repotting.


    Use your common sense - potting mixes are to be mixed for your conditions, which is why the bagged ones usually fail. Pretty much anything you do is gonna be better than that.

  • Ruttiger (5b Upstate NY)
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Thanks so much, Rina, goshdarnit & KarenS!!!!

    So, the soil around the roots was in fact just slightly moist when I took it out—and it sounds like that’s a red flag. Goshdarnit, I do get the soil for cactus and succulents, not the stuff for regular plants, and always let it completely dry out after watering. So I’m surprised this was just a bit moist. Maybe the miracle gro soil is still too moist… but the soil in all my other succulents is normally nice and dry (unless it’s just been watered, but it drains quickly) and it’s the same soil/perlite mix.

    Anyway, sounds like I have two options. I just gave the roots a more thorough cleaning-- using a toothpick to poke out as much soil as I could, gave part of it a quick rinse, and tried to wipe off as much soil from the roots as possible with a paper towel. So, I could let these roots dry out as is. Here’s a picture.... it really feels kind of impossible to get ALL of the soil off… It seems to be clinging to the roots, but I could keep trying.... Maybe per Rina's suggestion I should soak it in water?? But won't it absorb too much water that way??





    OR--as a second option, per Rina’s suggestion I could use a sharp sterile blade for better cut, and I could cut at the bottom of stem see what it looks like (maybe I will upload another picture to decide where to make final cut or cuts!). If it looks no good, I would start cutting the arms until I find stems that look ok and let them calice (?...)

    Any final recommendations? Cut it or let roots dry out?....

    To me the plant seems so sick that I am not confident that it would grow new roots if I made a big cut, but I really don’t know… and Rina, yes—the arms are squishy, not firm like my other jades and not like this one used to be. When I made the one test-cut the stem still looked pretty gree… not sure how I’d know if there was rot? I could make another test cut and ‘sacrifice’ one of the smaller branches—but one near the base, if that would help determine this….

    In the meantime, I can order some more stuff for repotting while it drys out or calluses (local hardware and greenhouse doesn’t have great selection). Rina it sounds like in your Crassula ovata 'Tricolor' you use equal parts of sifted perlite and chicken grit with maybe a dash of soil. I just read up on chicken grit online for succulents, and it sounds like if you get it with no organic matter like limestone-- where it is *just* crushed granite--then you’re good to go. Found some at a reasonable price online so could get that to supplement my perlite. I could also get turface per goshdarnit’s suggestion or pumace. I will be curious if anyone thinks turface or pumice would be better than grit....(?).....

    Thanks again all! Maybe part, or all of this plant can yet be saved--at least it has a fighting chance now!

  • KarenS, NYC
    last month

    I'm sorry, but I really don't think it's worth the bother. Those roots look dead to me from here. Squishy is just not fixable & is terminal, sorry.

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  • goshdarnit
    last month

    Hi Ruttiger...

    I think you misunderstood? What I was trying to say (badly) was that the cacti and succulent bagged mixes are generally no good.... they usually hold too much moisture.


    Without having the plant in front of me for a really close inspection, my vote would be to chop it off, let the base callous over and repot into barely moist mix and leave dry for three weeks.

    These plants really have 'the will to live' and will take extreme abuse.


    Just make sure when you cut, that there is clean flesh showing. If there's anything dark or mushy, cut it off. You may just have to take branch cuttings if it's bad all through the stem.

    Nil desperandum!


    You'd be surprised what succulents come back from, though I agree with others, this one can be finicky.


    I stopped taking new cuttings of the tricolour as the Hummel's Sunset variety did so much better in this climate as to growth rates.


    I don't have a photo of my tricolour, but this is a photo of the hummels after we split a huge one into 3 parts - this was october 2019... we just lit into it with a saw. I potted this piece, but another piece is at my mum's, still not potted, just happily living propped up like this one was, waiting for an area to be cleared to put it in the ground. I think it was about December before I got around to re-potting this piece, as we had an overseas trip in between. Treat 'em mean!


    The soil this one was in had a fair amount of sand, maybe a quarter, I think. You can see how it was, given that this was only a third of it.



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  • rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I think you did enough of cleaning the roots, I wouldn't go any further soaking or washing.

    Is the base of trunk firm? If so, plant will regrow the roots. If it is soft and squishy, there could be problem. BUT, as goshdarnit said..."Without having the plant in front of me for a really close inspection"...we are all just guessing here. Even if base feels bit soft (not squishy), it may be just from dehydration. You could do some cutting of the thick part of stem, possibly where the red, yellow or blue line is:


    Always use sharp blade (for cutting of any plants), wipe with rubbing alcohol between cuts. You could cut anywhere else, this is just a suggestion. Remember, I am looking only at the photo, and guessing what exactly shape of plant is. When cutting, consider 'final' result. JMO, but plant is splitting very close to the soil line right now/as is (that is why red or yellow line suggestion). To aim for thick trunk, tapering somehow, is better for the eventual look. As I said, JMO.

    Cut pieces, if not rotting, could be re-rooted for new plants. Thicker stems may take bit longer, it shouldn't harm plant to leave them to callus for few days. Here is example of few thicker stems I rooted:


    I do not have a clear close-up, but you could see some of the completely green colored flesh in bottom left pic. It could be of slightly lighter and bit more creamy color, but no dark spots of any shape.

    I use chicken grit without anything else added (there is some with crushed shells - good for chickens, not succulents). Here is the bag I bought last time, and grit itself (grower size):


    There are other co that you may find it from.

    Use pumice if you have it, but do not eliminate grit. You could grow in lots of pumice, but I do not have it so will not make suggestions (some ppl grow in 100% pumice...) Approx.equal amount of pumice (or perlite) + grit; + smaller amount of turface (or cocopeat or soil) is what I would use. I do not use soil (very seldom); I use turface but only in smaller amount, about 15% or so. I find more than 1/4 of total is retaining too much water (that is why I reduced amount of it)ETA: I wouldn't worry even if I had to cut off all existing roots. In proper conditions, plant will grow new ones. Here is a photo of different jade plant I trimmed the roots quite a bit (before and after on bottom):

    This plant fell out of pot and was behind the shelve for months - I guess about 4mo. It was very wrinkly - see below:


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  • Ruttiger (5b Upstate NY)
    Original Author
    last month

    Goshdarnit-- thank you for the encouragement, I will not despair! And that is a very impressive hummel sunset plant!!! Thanks for sharing. And finally, also thanks for clarifying what you meant about the succulent bag mixes. I will try to phase them out.


    Rina-- thanks for all the specific advice! I will quit trying to clean the roots. And not to worry, I do understand that you are all totally guessing here! And thanks for the suggestion on cutting-- I use extremely sharp stainless steel kitchen scissors to cut and use rubbing alcohol in between cuts. I've heard blades are better but I don't think I have one sharp enough.... And thanks for the suggestions on where to cut-- that photo is helpful! It looks like you’re suggesting if I were to take cuttings past the very base of the stem to go for the base of each branch, or just above one of the “nodes”. And thanks for the suggestion about the type of grit to use! Looks like I’m on the right track to avoid the stuff with any crushed shells or limestone or additives.


    So, I was planning on cutting at the base of the plant or of the stems and uploading pics, but I want to alert you all to some possible good news, and some cautious optimism: now that the roots have completely dried out over the last 36 hours or so, when I went to cut the stem tonight, and feel for squishiness at the base, it was really not that squishy, at least not as much as before, and when I picked up the plant and held it up, the brances no longer drooping! Could this mean that it has actually started to “heal”? The question will really be if they can take in water… The leaves are falling off and wilted to the point that they still look very sick. I suppose I could still consider a fresh-cut **ESPECIALLY** if you all think the roots look no good, now that maybe they are easier to see… Rita—it sounds like, based on what you’re saying, that you are not hesitant to chop off roots or to make cuts at the base…. But this is very encouraging that the branches are no longer bending down?!? Maybe all it needed was to get out of that succulent soil that Goshdarnit has warned me to stay away from???


    Here are some photos-- as you can see, I’m simply holding it at the base and it is standing up… It was not doing that before I cleaned the roots—the branches used to droop.


    back:


    roots:


    front:



    I suppose I could leave it for a week or two, replant in a grit/perlite mix (perhaps with a dash of turface, cocopeat or soil) and see if it starts taking in water? I’m still open to cutting at the base if that would stand a better chance—perhaps it is sick and needs the cut regardless of the fact that its standing up?!


    Sorry-- don’t mean to be indecisive or a bother, I just wonder if this development changes things! It is interesting to learn more this way as well.


    Many many thanks!!


  • KarenS, NYC
    last month

    Pls do not use a scissors, as it will CRUSH the stem beyond repair & damage it so, that you might as well save yourself any further effort & just throw it out. The blade needn't be super sharp, just STERILE & sharp enough & tor make a CLEAN CUT. Not that difficult.

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  • goshdarnit
    last month
    last modified: last month

    In my opinion... (only my opinion, without seeing it in person and from what you describe)

    If it seems to be recovering, and not rotting just let it dry out for a week - stand it upright in an empty pot.

    You will probably still get a lot of leaf fall of the mushy leaves.

    After a week, you can pot it into a DRY gritty mix, but don't water for another two weeks or so.

    When you do water, don't give it much - about two tablespoons should be plenty. If it's happy, you'll probably see new growth in a month. After that, try only a little water, every fortnight at most.

    A good way to gauge the soil moisture is to push a disposable chopstick in the mix and leave it for about a minute. If it comes out moist, don't water.

    And really, unless the roots are rotted, you don't need to worry about them with most succulents - the majority of them will live happily without roots for a long time - they'll throw out new ones when they're ready.

    As Laura Eubanks says, "with succulents, roots are optional"...

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  • goshdarnit
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Thought you might like to see the Hummel's now... firstly forgive the mess, we've had storms.

    So I cleaned and pruned that piece hard... I also defoliated heavily, as I was going for a slightly more Asian look. As it develops, I'll prune and defoliate more until I get really tight bunches.

    It's so huge - and it was only a third of the original one, which was monstrous.

    Second pic is a piece of tricolour (top left) I found tucked in a pot with others... I think I gave lots of it away, as it grew so slowly in comparison with the Hummel's -

    *update* I just spoke to my mother... my husband took our giant tricolour up to her... no wonder I hadn't seen it! I'd really forgotten about it as it wasn't my favourite... I'm glad you posted this question now, as that mystery is solved!

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  • rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Plant seems to be recovering. I suggested cutting some if you are concerned about rot. Another thing is to prune for shape. That could be done now or later.

    I do not hesitate to prune roots if needed. They will regrow.

    IMO, if plant has roots, it could be watered sooner than after 3 weeks (1 additional week of drying and 2 more after repotting as gosdarnit suggested). I do not water rootless cutting for about 3 weeks, or until I see some new growth - sign of roots developing. When I water, I do it thoroughly, rather than tbsp or two, especially larger plant with roots. Many suggested that your plant is dehydrated, and waiting additional 3 wks could be too long. It will not kill it, but stress it further. BUT I am just going by what is visible in photos and your description. You have plant in front of you and have to make some decisions - plenty of advice was offered, from our own experiences. Pls. ask should you have any further questions.

    OTOH, jades are extremely resilient and could be left unpotted and without water for a long time - weeks and months. It will take a while for plant to recover after that, but it will. As long as it is not rotting.

    I have jade that was frost-bitten, and it recovered. It lost many branches and pieces of branches, but it is very much alive and growing very well.

    Here is photo of small Skinny Fingers that was all shrivelled when purchased - and few years later, growing into much nicer plant with thick, short and tapering trunk. It went thru few periods when it was quite dehydrated...:


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  • goshdarnit
    last month

    I think it was overwatered, rather than dehydrated - especially since it firmed up after de-potting. And the roots don't seem particularly viable - just not worth removing to risk infection.

    That's why the restricted water for a little while. You need to make the call, Ruttiger, according to what you see.

    You're coming into summer now over there? When you want to go back to full watering, it may benefit from a shady spot outside with bright light, or even an hour or so of morning sun - what are your max day temps over summer? Min night temps?

    @rina_Ontario,Canada 5a - What a lovely jade! That is a lovely fat trunk - how beautiful... my Crassula "hobbit"s are orange now, for the winter, the ones in the ground. You're such a good succulent parent - wallets suffer for the sake of succulent rescues! The shops either think they're cacti and don't water much, or water like lettuce and flood them. I see you like the Asian/bonsai reminiscent style also, with the thick tapered trunk - really lovely! Heading for a nebari, looks like.

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  • Ruttiger (5b Upstate NY)
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Hi again all,

    I’ll let it dry out as is; I balanced it with some rocks (thanks goshdarnit for the suggestion to put it upright). It does feel a bit soft still, but not like before. It seems relatively content for now:



    Though it is not as hard/firm as this jade, for example—I can definitely tell the difference:



    Goshdarnit--It is actually possible that I over watered it, since it did not seem to be taking in water for the last few months, I would add more water… Whereas really it probably already had too much water…

    Thanks Rina for the suggestion for cutting--if I suspect rot.... that is if it starts drooping again or the branches get squishy again, I will cut it at the stem or at the big branches-- and I will use a stairwell sharp knife instead of scissors—thanks KarenS!

    And Goshdarnit that is an amazing Hummel! I love Jades. Here is my currently favorite Jade, which I bonsaied and is now growing into an interesting shape in my opinion:



    Also, I have a baby one of the tricolor in this arrangement (you can see it center-left, in the middle):





    Goshdarnit--To your question—yes summer is starting in my region (upstate NY). I’m actually in an apartment in an urban area—I don’t have a porch or anything so can’t plant outside. Max day temps can get up to 90 F and low of 50 or so, but in the apartment its always around 71 F. Best I can do is open the window so at least it’s only the screen between the plants and the sun, and close the curtains from time to time (to keep the hot air out). Most of my plants are in this large, northeast facing window:



    The plants hang out here during the day, and sometimes I take them out to display them in the evening.

    Rina—it is amazing what succulents can recover from-- and very impressive that you are able to get a tree out of that skinny fingers! What a beautiful tree!

    My take away from all of this is that it is very interesting that succulents would prefer their soil mixtures to be nonorganic. I always assumed that even succulents must get SOME nutrients from the soil, but given their natural habitat, it makes sense that it would not really be the case. So whatever happens to my tricolor, I’ve definitely learned something from this thread! So, thanks!!! :)

    I'll keep you all updated!

  • rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Thank you for the compliments on that tree guys...Can't take too much credit - it has been growing on it's own :) I just water it, and just re-potted it after more than 3yrs in same pot. I keep all my succulents outside during appropriate weather. That means approx. 6mo indoors, 6mo outside.

    Ruttiger

    Hope you don't mind me saying, but most of your succulents could use bit more light. I know it is difficult indoors, I have same problem while inside. But your plants are slightly etiolated. Maybe you should consider grow lights. I am not trying to criticise, just my observation.

    It isn't huge etiolation, but it is there. Leaves are spaced further apart, some of the branches are too thin - those are very much signs of etiolation. Color could also get too light.

    Jade you wired (looks like a Crosby's Compact), is showing signs of etiolation too. It should be much more compact. Only way to 'correct' etiolation is to provide more light, and by pruning off etiolated branches. They will not get shorter even if you provide more light - but new growth will.

    I have example of very etiolated CC, and I pruned it drastically. There was no plan for the future shape, just a "wild pruning", lol. Here are before and after photos:


    Those 2 'sticks' were put under light while indoors, and grew many new leaves really tight. You can see big difference between pruned-off pieces and new growth:


    For Bonsai, plant needs to be pruned quite often. Bonsai could be of many sizes, from tiny to relatively large. But growth should be more controlled, and compact. I would prune your wired plant quite a bit. But only if you can provide more light - otherwise new growth will be same/very similar. BTW, is that lowest branch on left growing from the trunk or root ball, or is it a separate plant? Just wondering.

    Hope you are not offended by my remarks. You have some nice plants, and I am only suggesting bit of improvement in growing conditions...

    I have been growing succulents for about 8yrs now, and eventually started using very inorganic mix. It is made of approx. equal amounts of grit, sifted perlite (I would use pumice if it was available to me), and small amount of turface. Only very few plants have any soil in the mix, and if I use it it is only about 10-20% or so. I would use small bark, but it is difficult to get. Any 'nutrition' could be provided by using fertilizer sparingly...I am pretty bad at that and need to improve, haha.

    Btw, your temps are ok. I keep succulents outdoors until temps overnight start dropping to below 10*C (below 50*F) consistently.

    I apologize for such long post...

  • KarenS, NYC
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Hi Rina,

    Just reading along here, enjoying everybody's Jade.

    As to small Bark, do your pet stores carry something called Reptibark? It's a smallish bark I started using a year or 2 ago. From the pet store for Vivariums, is pet safe, has no chemicals. I'll try for a pic to show size.

    This ruler is in tenths of an inch; oops, sorry forth blur.

    Am using this alone for some holiday cacti like EC & TC. They like it just fine. Am also using it as 1/2 to 1/3 of my Hoya mix. HTH

  • rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Karen

    Thanks. I know of reptibark, even bought some. But t is quite pricey, and I have more than 300 pots of succulents. So for that many, there is no way I would spend $$$ needed...(I am too cheap for that, haha..) I would use some for few 'special' plants, but not all. I bought some bark from orchid growers - that seems to be less $ than reptibark. Same with pumice - I could get some, but price is not right here. Sorry, I should have said that!

    So I work with what I can get easily. Grit in 50lb bag is about $12 (CD) here. I get perlite in 4 cu ft bags and it costs me about $40 (CD). And I still have one 50lb bag of turface - I bought 2 few yrs ago for under $20/each. Recently, I was gifted few bricks of cocopeat, I may use some instead of turface in some pots when re-potting.

  • KarenS, NYC
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I hear ya Rina. I'm down to about 85 plants now myself, having somewhat rebuilt my collection. I'd had a false alarm about having to move 4 yrs ago & gave away more than 1/2 my collection of C&S so they'd go to good homes. So I use the Reptibark for my Tropicals (Aroids & Hoyas), not that many plants, so I do hear you abt the pricing. I initially bought it thinking I'd just use it for a couple of things, probably were the Epis, I forget. But I liked it so much, I have some Epis growing in just this (like Rhipsalis elliptica & the TC & CCs). So I bought the smaller packs, but may look into getting a large one if they have.

    I've discovered some Sans like the bark mix, I have one in the office, in about 1/3 each Pumice, C&S mix & Bark & it's fine, I was surprised. I added the Reptibark to retain some water in case I forgot to water that one which gets watered weekly.

    Am running out of Pumice & my old friend who had access no longer does. Perhaps I'll buy some more in the Fall (post-pandemic I hope).

  • goshdarnit
    last month

    I can't imagine having the difficulties that you guys have with climate... here, they're outdoors summer and winter... I have the problem of keeping water IN some of the fussier cacti. Our hot dry summer winds will strip a pot of moisture in about five minutes after it's been fully flooded... and I sometimes have difficulty trying to find enough shade!

    I envy your prices - everything here costs about double after the conversion, if not more.

    I use bark mixed with chunky coconut coir for the EC, TC and rats tail cactus and bromeliads... plus some of the orchids. The rat tail has a little soil mixed in.

    I don't use bark for anything else - nothing else really likes it here - in our temperatures it breaks down and rots really quickly.

    The following pics are today - 4th day of winter around 10 am - some of our porch pots, I have two of the big cacti either side of the bay window in front... plus some of the cacti in the ground... The bromeliad (flowering!!!!) is potted and pot sunk into the ground. Forgive the straw - it's a new bed, so that's the best way to get a great topsoil happening. On the whole I think I got lucky, climate wise...





    Ruttiger (5b Upstate NY) thanked goshdarnit
  • Ruttiger (5b Upstate NY)
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Rina--a quick reply--etiolation has been a problem since I started doing this about four years ago. Back then I bought some lights... The red/blue type, to try to get them more light and prevent this problem. But, it did not seem to really work. Maybe I gave up too soon, I'm not sure. Here are the lights I have (3 pics of the first one, 2 pics of the other one):









  • rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
    last month

    Ruttiger

    I do not have experience with those colored LED lights. I use just plain daylights, most are CFL bulbs (I got many free, so using them up...)

    Is it possible you kept lights too far from plants? Change in light levels will show relatively fast if used correctly. Acclimatize plants to it - start further away, and move them closer to plants every few days/week.

    Ruttiger (5b Upstate NY) thanked rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
  • Ruttiger (5b Upstate NY)
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Hi again all!

    So, as an update, I did in fact decide to cut into the plant. The branches started to wilt again (maybe the fact that they were standing up before was an illusion of gravity, since it had been sitting on its side!?), leaves falling fast, etc.

    The first cut I made near the base and there was no green; it was completely YELLOW—as pictured:





    So, I started going higher (thanks again Rina for suggestions of where to cut!). I did find green. I assume this green looks basically ok:









    if this green doesn’t look ok I assume that there’s not much else I can do! The first cut I made looked like this and it was very high up into the plant (this was the first “test” cut I made some time ago)





    Anyway, so here it is now--I'll let you all know what happens!





  • rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
    last month
    last modified: last month

    That yellowish flesh may have been ok - I am sure I said somewhere that usually it is greenish color, sometimes more creamy. What you do not want is dark spots, of any size or shape. Dark like brownish or blackish. But do not worry. Let cuts callus for a while, and after plant them in dry mix. I usually do not water root-less cuttings for a while; 10 days, 2 weeks or longer. I start watering when I see some new growth - sign of roots growing. (I already said that too - sorry for repeating). Some ppl recommend spritzing with water after few days.

    BW, I usually trim off that longer piece of trunk from cutting too, just as I suggested where to cut from trunk. It just dries up and heals over faster. Not everybody does that, and that is OK too. What I mean is to trim off excess below the collar. Hope you understand what I mean - if not, just ask. (I just added a photo where it is quite well visible - see end of this post).

    You could lightly dust the cut with flowers of sulfur, or powdered cinnamon,.but not absolutely necessary. Those are fungicides. Here is photo of one thicker branch I did (I very seldom do it anymore). This shows darker flesh because it is already callused, and I used powdered cinnamon - not because there were dark spots!


    ETA: here is photo of thicker branch, just cut (before callusing). You could also see how far from the collar I trimmed it:


  • Ruttiger (5b Upstate NY)
    Original Author
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Hi Rina!

    Ah, ok--I was thinking of posting a pic of the yellow before making more cuts--someone else on the thread said to keep cutting until I find green, so I just went with that. Didn't have to go far to find the green! And if yellow was more of a 50/50 sort of thing, the plant is looking so dreary that I would have probably played it safe for more cuts.... I'm hoping it lives long enough to grow new roots!

    It's reassuring that you don't say it looks rotting or unhealthy in the cuts that I made! There was a dark green ring around the edges, which I was wondering about.... but it sounds like that's nothing.

    And thanks for the powdered cinnamon suggestion--I have some and can try that! I assume it's best to wait until it calluses for that but let me know if I'm wrong.

  • rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
    last month

    If you want to use cinnamon, do not wait. Use small brush to dust the cut, or dip it into it and shake off excess. I rather use brush - dipping in works well too, but you should get some on a lid or something and discard the excess, rather than dipping into jar (just in case there is any infection).

    Ruttiger (5b Upstate NY) thanked rina_Ontario,Canada 5a
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