Cacti and other succulents are really very interesting plants. They are characterized by accumulating large doses of water throughout their trunk and leaves, a fact that makes them extremely resistant to lack of constant watering and high temperatures. Thus, it is not surprising that the habitat of many of them are desert areas or areas with little rainfall, even though they have the ability to adapt to a wide variety of different environments and conditions.
These plants are increasingly present in our homes, offices and terraces, but do we really know how to take care of them? Do we know what to do if they get sick? Although they seem easy to care for, cacti need minimal care, since they need water at least once a week and also nutrients in times of greatest growth. In addition, cacti can suffer from various types of diseases, such as mites, mealybugs or nematodes, but in this EcologíaVerde article we will focus on studying the fungi that affect cacti and other succulents and we will explain how we can carry out various homemade fungicides for cacti and in a very simple way.
Fungi that affect cacti
mushrooms they are immobile living beings that normally live in humid places and, unlike plants, they are heterotrophic, which means that they are not capable of making their own food, but instead feed on the remains of organic matter from other organisms. There are approximately one and a half million different species of fungi, which can be roughly separated into two main groups, the higher fungi and the lower fungi. In the first group we would find the Ascomycetes and Basidiomycetes, the former being saprophytes that can inhabit a wide variety of environments (soil, food, etc.) and the latter being the typical mushrooms found in the mountains.
But in this article, we are looking for fungi that belong to the lower classification, which may well be of the genus Colletotrichum, Gloeosporium, botrytis either coniothyriumamong others.
Usually, if a cactus gets sick because of a funguspresents a symptom called anthracnose or canker, which are irregular spots of a brown, orange and blackish color, which give rise to a slight putrefaction that spreads throughout the trunk, leaves and fruits. They can also submit a grayish dust or mold. It is not a serious disease, but it must be treated properly and at the right time. This type of fungus usually affects cacti in spring and summer, since humidity and high temperatures favor its formation and spread. It is also possible that cacti do not show physical signs of infection, but they do have strange behaviors, such as not growing or blooming at the wrong time.
In the face of concern about whether this fungus can infect us or our pets, no one should worry, since these fungi are mostly only phytopathogens, that is, they only affect living plant beings, that is, the floors.
So, what is very likely is that our infected cacti can pass the pathogen to other cacti that are nearby. If we talk about other plants, although it is not impossible that they transmit the fungus to tomato plants, peppers or lettuce, normally these fungi are so specific that they tend to focus on a particular family or genus. If you also come across fungi on tomato plants, we also recommend this other EcologíaVerde article on homemade fungicides for tomatoes.
The best homemade fungicides for cacti and how to use them
Every day it is more common to see cacti or other succulents in our homes, in our offices next to computers or as a decorative object in many establishments and stores. It is also true that more and more unique varieties are seen with a wide variety of shapes, colors and textures. Thus, without standing out as a popular plant, the cactus has been making a small niche for itself in the market, mainly because it is different and relatively easy to care for. But like all living beings, there are also certain diseases that can affect them and even kill them, and as explained in the previous section, a very common pathogen that they can have is fungi.
If we observe that our cacti begin to show small spots, generally of a light color that darkens over time, we can suspect that a fungus is infecting them. From here, we can begin to take certain measures, always trying to go from the least aggressive method to the most aggressive, more than anything so as not to damage the plant unnecessarily. Obviously, the easiest thing would be to buy a fungicide in any establishment that is allowed to sell it, but there are also certain home remedies that can work and that are not so aggressive for the plant.
Here we will explain some of the best homemade fungicides for cactiwith everyday materials that have really very interesting properties.
This infusion has very interesting elements, such as calcium, potassium and sulfur (in small proportions, obviously). The most interesting ingredient as a fungicide turns out to be sulfur, since it is a component that will help us control fungi or, rather, it will prevent them from coming out. In other words, chamomile tea turns out to be more of a preventive method against fungi. Also, it should be mentioned that it is normally used with plants with softer leaves such as tomato, so it may not be efficient enough with the thickness of the trunk or a cactus leaf. Even so, it is a non-invasive way to start treating the plant in question.
Its application would be by means of a spray sprayer, once or twice a week. If after a couple of weeks no difference is noted, a change of method would be recommended.
This spice, as we already know, has a very particular smell. That’s because it’s made up of very special volatile chemical elements that have antimicrobial properties. Precisely for this reason, if we dilute a teaspoon of cinnamon in half a liter of water, and then spread it using a spray bottle, we may be able to prevent the appearance of fungi on our plants.
This component is really very alkaline, which is why it increases the pH of the plant’s surface and the fungus cannot settle on it. Thus, a tablespoon of baking soda will be added, along with a liter of water, and in addition to adding a dash of soap and another of oil so that the bicarbonate adheres better to the plant, and therefore, its effect. also be older. It should be applied approximately once a week or after each rain (depending on what happens before) and it is preferable to carry out this operation when the Sun has already set.
In this other EcologíaVerde article we tell you how to make homemade fungicide with baking soda.
Milk or buttermilk
This method, although it may seem strange, is very efficient. This is because milk has a lot of amino acids, and whey even more. These amino acids provide antiseptic properties, which turn out to be extremely beneficial against phytopathogenic fungi (especially due to mildew fungus infection, even though it does not affect cacti). Thus, if we want to try this antifungal method, what we must do is deposit three parts of water to one and a half parts of whey in a container, and spray the affected cacti once every fifteen days or after each rain (whatever before it happens). In addition, if the spreading of the product in question is carried out even in sunlight, it benefits and enhances the properties of this fungicide even more, since the amino acids have even more antiseptic power when in contact with sunlight.
Garlic has many beneficial properties for humans, and it has been discovered that against fungi, too. This is because it has a high sulfur content, so it will not only serve as a fungicide, but also as an insecticide. Thus, we must take between 5 and 10 cloves of garlic (depending on the size) and crush them together with half a liter of water. Later we must let it rest for about an hour, filter it, and from here we can apply it by spraying it on the trunk and leaves of the plant in question.
This process can be carried out by drying the horsetail plant, also known as horsetail, and after its complete drying (it will depend on the environmental conditions and the season in which we find ourselves) we can begin to make its infusion with water .
There are other home methods to combat fungi in cacti, such as diluting an aspirin (100mg acetylsalicylic acid) in a liter of water once a month. They can also be combated by diluting a tablespoon of vinegar in a liter of water and spraying the cactus twice a week, as it lowers the pH and creates a medium that is too acidic for the fungus to live. Finally, it has also been seen that dilution in water with a little bleach is effective, although we must be extremely careful not to overdo the quantities and burn the plant or kill it directly.
In the event that our cacti present severe anthracnose, what we will have to do is remove the affected part with the help of a cutter or a sharp instrument, always making a cut as clean as possible. From here, we will proceed to bury the cactus in the ground again (if it has been in that land for a long time, it is preferable to add new one, which provides new nutrients) and in some cases and depending on how large the infected part is removed, some hobbyists recommend smearing the cut part with a little sulfur.
In this other EcologíaVerde article you can discover more effective homemade fungicides for plants.
How to prevent fungus on cacti
To prevent the appearance of fungi on cactiwe must mainly regulate the amount of water with which we water them. This is mainly because the fungi are favored by humidity and heat.
Another preventive measure would be to use sterilized compost to reduce the risk of infection, even though these products can be out of the budget. What we can surely do is keep the cactus with a nurtured land or add nutrients from time to time (depending on each species) so that it is strong enough to be able to pass a future infection (either by fungi, mites, nematodes, etc.)
Any previous preventive measure, such as chamomile tea or cinnamon powder, can also be added to the soil before the cactus grows, in order to try to prevent infections, especially in the initial stages.
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