What's wrong with my cactus? Please don't laugh

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  1. Ok I love to garden. Only discovered my love for it when we bought our first house a year ago. It had a pocket garden and a huge balcony so I became smitten with buying plants and trying my darnest to make sure they don't die. I am a TOTAL NOVICE and never owned plants before. I have already killed a yucca and some cacti. (I have good theories on why they died; and I am learning as I go along).

    Anyway I have this cactus and its.. Eh.. Growing.. INTO AN ALIEN. I don't get it. It's so ugly and the brown "leaves" are still stuck firmly and won't fall off and.. Yeah.. It's been growing like this for a full year.

    Just look at the photos and tell me what to do or not do.

    This is out in full sun in my balcony. Has been for a year. I water sparsely once a week.

    ImageUploadedByPurseForum1460715011.752691.jpg ImageUploadedByPurseForum1460715030.904220.jpg

    Please don't make fun of me. I'm really trying here. This is a sincere post and I want to help this guy look better. Thanks!
  2. I think you should do some googling because I have heard horror stories. I think they might be related to swollen leaves though, which I don't see in your pic. (Not joking, I just don't remember the details but IIRC it had something to do with bugs nesting. You should know about it anyway even it it doesn't apply to you.)
  3. Horror story?? What do you mean? Horror as in.. This cactus has something that can harm my family? Or horror like.. This cactus has 100 bugs inside it?

    If it's the first then let me know and I'm going to start panicking! Lol!!!

    I googled briefly and saw "etiolation" (extended growth from not enough sun) perhaps from its months of being by the wall. But it's now exposed to bright light so I don't know what else to think.

    I saw a list of photos and damage caused by bugs and fungus and don't see that either? (Or I just really don't know what I'm looking at). Sigh.
  4. Hm. Do you happen to know the exact name of your plant? I tend to think that this is a succulent that does not like being in the full sun. The brown leaves look like they have been burnt. But I do not know how your plant is supposed to look like, though...
  5. Whoops.. i don't know what it is.. lol.. I buy plants and ask the name and forget and go home all excited and talk to them and water them and all that crazy jazz.

    i think it's supposed to be cabbage or rose looking..

    AND i am honestly shocked to hear that it may not like full sun! i never ever thought that. i thought cactus=desert=full sun.. soo... sigh..

    so.. should i put it indoors now and pray it gets better??

    PS - that "horror story" hoax is stuck in my head. now i think giant tarantulas are gonna burst out of my poor cactus!! :P
  6. They are. Kill it now.
    (Kidding! ;) )

    Ludmilla makes excellent point.
    Believe local garden center could identify for you. Then suggest remedy.
    Perhaps where bought plant?
  7. Could it be this type?

  8. Not all of those plants like direct sun, esp. if they are on a balcony that turns into an oven thanks to the sun.
    I have several cacti and succulents that I put outside during summer and I put them never on the south side of our house, but on the west.
    I would take your plant to a place where it gets some sun, but not for long hours or during noon, when the sun is very strong.
  9. I think you need to change the way you water it. Leave it to soak in standing water so that it absorbs water through the holes in the bottom of the pot. When the soil is wet at the top of the pot, take the pot out of the water and put it back in its' saucer. Check the soil at the top of the pot periodically with your fingertips, if the soil sticks to your fingertips, do not water. When no soil sticks, repeat watering as above. You need to replicate mother nature, succulents are usually found in dry environments and get watered by storms or floods, and use their leaves as water stores. Yours looks thirsty to me. Also, I would cut all those dead leaves off. HTH
  10. I find your advice so exciting!!! (Mainly because its something new and concrete to try.. Will do!!!) Thank you so much!!

    I also did not think to cut off the brown leaves because although they look like petrified mummy remains, they are firmly attached to the stem! So I guess I'll use clippers to take the brown ones off.
  11. It looks like that BUT without pointed leaves? Rounded leaves like a peonie? (I am struggling to remember what it looked like a year ago when I bought it)..

    I recall it was cute and dainty and like a cabbage in bloom.. for some time I called the plant "cabbage patch" so.. I will google today and research some more.

    I did not realize how important it is to know the kind of plant and give appropriate care. Gosh, I am such an amateur! :P
  12. I would be TOO embarassed to take this to the local gardener. He will laugh so hard it will echo on every mountain in our country and be amplified and heard in outerspace. When the laughter is heard in deep space, the parents of my alien plant will be notified and they will come here and kidnap my precious cactus!

    PLOT TWIST - what if it's NOT a cactus? Hmm?! Did you consider that?! :lol:
  13. I don't know the exact name of that cacti but I have it. It actually needs good drainage and the pot and soil that it's sitting on does not provide it. Put some gravel on top, take off the saucer and let it breathe. Water it in the afternoon or evening so that the water doesn't evaporate. Hope it works out for you.