Cacti and other succulents are really interesting plants. They are characterized by accumulating large doses of water throughout their trunk and leaves, a fact that makes them extremely resistant to the lack of constant watering and high temperatures. Thus, it is not surprising that the habitat of many of them is desert areas or areas with little rainfall, although 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 how to act 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 the periods of greatest growth. In addition, cacti can suffer from diseases of various types, such as mites, mealybugs or nematodes, but in this article, we will focus on studying the fungi that affect cacti and other succulents and we will explain how we can make various homemade fungicides for cacti and in a very simple way.
Fungi that affect cacti
Fungi are immobile living beings that normally live in humid places and, unlike plants, are heterotrophs, which means that they are not capable of making their own food, but instead feed on remains of organic matter from other organisms. . There are approximately 1.5 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 first being saprophytes that can inhabit a great variety of environments (soil, food, etc.) and the second being the typical mushrooms that we find 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 or Coniothyrium , among others.
Normally, if a cactus becomes ill due to a fungus , it presents a symptom called anthracnose or canker, which are irregular spots of brown, orange and blackish color , which give rise to a slight rot that spreads throughout the trunk, leaves and fruits. They may also have a grayish powder or mold . It is not a serious illness, 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 flowering. out of 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 plant living beings, that is, to the plants.
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 for them to transmit the fungus to tomato plants, peppers or lettuces, these fungi are usually so specific that they tend to focus on a family or a particular genus.
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 and with a great variety of shapes, colors and textures. Thus, without standing out as a popular plant, the cactus has been gaining a small niche 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 present 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 one that is most aggressive, more than anything else 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 also not so aggressive for the plant.
Next, we will explain some of the best homemade fungicides for cacti , with materials of daily use that have really very interesting properties.
This infusion has very interesting elements, such as calcium, potassium and sulfur (in small proportions, of course). 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 help them not to come out. That is, chamomile tea turns out to be more of a preventive method against fungi. Also, it should be mentioned that it is normally used with softer leaf plants such as the tomato plant, so perhaps it is not efficient enough with the thickness of the trunk or a cactus leaf. Still, it is a minimally 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 noticed, it is recommended to change the method.
This spice, as we already know, has a very particular smell. This is because it is composed 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 with a sprayer, it is possible that we can prevent the appearance of fungi on our plants.
This component is really very alkaline, so it increases the pH of the plant surface and the fungus cannot settle on it. Thus, a tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate will be added, along with a liter of water, and in addition to adding a splash 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 perform this operation when the sun has already set.
Milk or buttermilk
This method, although it may seem strange, is very efficient. This is because milk has many amino acids, and whey even more. These amino acids provide antiseptic properties, which turn out to be extremely beneficial against phytopathogenic fungi (mainly due to infection of the mildew fungus, even if it does not affect cacti). So, if we want to try this antifungal method, what we must do is place three parts of water for one and a half 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 product in question is spread even with sunlight, it benefits and further enhances the properties of this fungicide,
Garlic has many beneficial properties for humans, and it has been found 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 garlic cloves (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 on we can apply it by sprinkling 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 are) we can begin to infuse it 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 combatted 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 too acidic for the fungus to live. Finally, it has also been seen that dilution in water with a little bleach (bleach) is effective, although we must be extremely careful not to go overboard 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 (if it has been in that ground for a long time it is preferable to add new, which provides new nutrients) and in some cases and depending on how large the infected part is. has been removed, some fans recommend smearing the cut part with a little sulfur.
How to prevent fungi on cacti
In order to prevent the appearance of fungi on cacti , we must mainly regulate the amount of water with which we water them. This is mainly due to the fact that 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 budget. What we can surely do is keep the cactus with a nourished soil 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 ground before the cactus grows, in order to try to prevent infections especially in the initial stages.