We Get Questions

Q: Dear Cactus Blog,

First off I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed your Cactus Blog ever since I stumbled across it a little over a year ago! I’m hoping you can help me with some cacti I recently purchased from one of the local home centers. The clerk explained to me that a large percentage of their cacti and succulents were on clearance because a former employee had insisted on watering them along with the regular plants, and as a result the plants were ailing. Always one to appraise the bargain plants, I couldn’t resist bringing home a pot with two 4′ cacti -despite the unsettling spots on them. I figured I’d likely never have a chance to get this size of cacti at this price, and if they didn’t make I wouldn’t be out too much. But please help me keep these gorgeous plants!

I’ve attached pictures of the cacti and the troublesome spots. The spot on one (cactiB.jpg) of them seems drier and more firm and hasn’t changed in the two weeks I’ve had it. However, the spot on the other seems dark, a bit soft, and has grown -today I even noticed what looks like white mold.

The clerk explained that the plants hadn’t been watered since the water-happy employee had left, and I haven’t watered it at all either -I even raked some of the soil away from the bottoms of the stems. It is currently in our back porch, a sheltered area, but roughly same temperature as the outdoors. It currently only receives filtered southern light (the only other room with southern exposure is also unheated).

Any recommendations you could make would be greatly appreciated!

Many thanks in advance,


P.S. It was labeled as Trzo. Euphorbia Amak Variegata “Golden Candelabra Plant”, is that correct? What does “Trzo.” stand for?

A: Michelle,

Since I don’t know where you are, I can’t tell you if they should be indoors or out, but we don’t let our Euphorbia “ammak”s get below freezing.

As for the damage, I’m afraid to say it is rot. The rot that is at the base of the plant that’s molding is bad. You need to cut the plant off above the rot, throw out the base, and let the top part heal. Spray with household peroxide, let dry for 2 weeks, and then place in fresh clean dry soil.

The rot up higher can be trimmed out and cleaned with peroxide and kept dry until it heals.

Please note that euphorbia sap is caustic. Please wear rubber gloves and safety goggles. If you get it on you, don’t touch your face, and wash it off immediately.

Long term the plant will be happier in a terra cotta pot with high quality cactus soil.

Finally, the “Trzo” designation is the name of the pot style (i.e. “terrazzo”).


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February 2024

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