Even today, when the fruit, or tunas, are turning red-purple and falling off, prickly pear cactuses in Southern California are so abundant that they blend into the background.
The ornamental appeal of the Santa Rita variety (Opuntia violaceae var. santa rita) is more important than the fruit. The palm-sized paddles turn a vibrant red-purple under duress from cold or drought, offering a bright dash of color to the monotones of a dry garden.
If you want the color, this accent plant requires almost no maintenance. When a plethora of blooms appear in the spring, it’s like icing on the cake.
“According to Roy Dowell, they first produce a peach blossom, which then turns marble yellow. In a three-quarter-acre garden in the Verdugo Hills, he and his partner, the artist Lari Pittman, have planted Santa Rita trees. “They receive tunas, but unlike the other opuntias, they are very little. Surprisingly, the deer don’t worry them.
The reason, according to Molly Thongthiraj of the California Cactus Center, is the tiny clusters of sharp spines that can shoot off the paddle with the slightest movement.
“Deer will test the young ones, but she claimed that after that, they will grow back even more spiky. ” Small but painful and challenging to remove, the spines are small. They just fly all over you, landing on your lungs and clothes. We don’t move them around much as a result.
She advises putting on leather gloves and loose-fitting clothing. You’ll probably need to discard the spines because they are so small and fly about the air so easily. Her suggestion was to cover up completely by donning an old painter’s jumpsuit. Applying an adhesive, such as duct tape or Elmer’s glue, to the affected area will help eliminate skin spines.
Thongthiraj instructed people to disregard them once the Santa Ritas were put in place. Just during the hottest summer days should you think about watering, and even then, only once a week. These cactuses will remain green if provided with water (or shade). Thongthiraj places plants next to a wall or another source of radiant heat to intensify the hue.
Prickly pears from Santa Rita can tolerate poor soils, including clay, but they struggle in a commercial cactus mix. Most combinations contain peat moss that is overly acidic. Allow the paddle to harden off for two weeks before planting it if it was recently cut. To help the roots develop, add mycorrhizal fungi, and water lightly for the first month. then take no action.
They turn more purple as they receive less water. When compared to other opuntias, they grow slowly, rarely rising above 6 feet. Worldwide Exotics and the California Cactus Center are two sources.
Every Tuesday, The Global Garden, our series that examines Los Angeles’ cultures through the prism of the landscape, is posted here.
How come my cactus is becoming purple?
Stress is sometimes indicated by cacti and succulents turning purple or brown. This may be brought on by extremely high temperatures, excessive sun exposure, inadequate watering, excessive repotting (which, as Kakteen said, may indicate discomfort or issues with the root structure), or a combination of these factors.
Even in their natural habitat, several species (such as Aloes, Haworthia, and Gasteria) exhibit this phenomenon; photographs of wild plants occasionally show them to be substantially different from those of cultivated plants.
Many of my cacti and succulents experience this, especially during the winter months when they are kept completely dry with at least a few hours of direct sunlight exposure. This is especially true of my aloes, ferocactus pilosus, gymnocalycium marsoneri (which is turning almost entirely purple-brown), chamaecereus, and cleistocactus winteri (which is turning yellow), among other species. Even in the middle of summer, the edges of my Echeveria rubromarginata’s leaves become purple.
I played around with an aloe last year and after leaving it in the sun all day without any water (as ondy did with his stenocereus), it turned entirely brown after two to three weeks. It turned emerald green in less than a month after I gave it shade and started giving it regular water. After that, I shifted once again, and my chameleonic behavior persisted.
Nothing goes wrong if you don’t push it over its breaking point. The plant simply needs something, and this is just a signal. They occasionally appear even better.
How can a purple cactus be fixed?
When the majority of the leaves on your cactus are visibly purple, there is cause for concern due to the color change.
Additionally, wilting, stunted growth, or wet foliage are warning indicators of a problem. To ascertain whether your plant is in any immediate danger, it’s critical to identify the reason for the color change.
When cacti are under duress, their colors shift. Betalain, a purple pigment found in cacti, is one that they create more of when stressed.
Too Much Sunlight
Cacti have adapted to thrive in direct sunshine, but the one you have at home may be struggling.
Cacti found in stores have often been produced in greenhouses with shade. They are therefore not accustomed to such intense sunshine.
Bright light is necessary for cacti, but indirect, diffused light is preferable. An abrupt exposure to harsh light can scorch a cactus’s skin, turning it purplish-red in hue.
Your cactus is probably sunburned if it is fresh or if you recently moved it to a sunnier location.
How to Treat Sun Scorched Cactus
Fortunately, treating a sunburn is not too difficult. Your cactus should be moved to a location that receives less direct sunlight.
Cacti still require a ton of sunlight, so don’t move it to your basement just yet!
Direct sunlight is light that shines directly on a plant, such as via a south-facing window.
The indirect sunlight from the other windows in your home will be more evenly distributed and kinder to the plant.
To avoid sun burning, move your plant to a window facing any other way.
Make a DIY sun filter if all of your windows are on the south side. To provide your cactus with some much-needed shade, simply place a paper towel over it.
Purple leaves may indicate stress brought on by high temperatures. When cacti’s roots get too hot, they sometimes turn reddish-purple.
Additionally, cacti can become purple under extreme cold. The plant can no longer contain fluids if it has frost damage because its cells burst.
How to Fix Temperature Stress
Since the ideal temperature is somewhere in the middle, it’s crucial to keep your plant away from environments with significant temperature fluctuations.
Keep your cactus away from drafty areas like open doors and windows to avoid it from getting too cold. Avoid areas with excessive heat and dryness as well, such as around fireplaces and heating vents.
Keep your cactus in a cold planter because its roots are particularly susceptible to overheating. Avoid using black plastic planters and get ones made of clay instead.
Purple leaves may also indicate root rot, which is brought on by over watering and inadequate drainage.
Your plant’s roots will dry out and become unable to absorb any more water or nutrients like magnesium if the soil is left wet for an extended period of time. Your cactus might consequently turn purple.
How to Fix Root Rot
With sterile scissors, begin cutting off the injured roots and leaves while removing as much of the moist dirt as you can.
Place the plant in a clean pot filled with new potting soil. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings and wait a few days before watering the cactus after transplanting it.
Overwatering is frequently the cause of root rot. I have a piece on how to keep your overwatered cactus alive. You will also learn the proper way to hydrate them.
Your cactus may be turning purple because it lacks the nutrients it needs to survive, which is one potential explanation. Your plant may be suffering from a magnesium deficit if it is withering and turning purple.
Magnesium deficits are more likely to occur in Christmas cacti. Nevertheless, all varieties of cacti are vulnerable.
How to Treat Nutritional Issues
Fertilizer is the remedy for a magnesium deficit in your cactus. You can buy a magnesium-enriched fertilizer, but you can also go the DIY route with an Epsom salt treatment.
In a spray bottle, combine the following items to create a magnesium treatment:
- Epsom salts, eight tablespoons
- A total of 2.5 gallons of water
- A couple of drops of dishwashing liquid
Spray the cactus’s leaves with water using a spray bottle, being sure to reach the undersides as well. Use the spray mixture consistently every two weeks until the color of your cactus returns to normal.
Another possible explanation for your cactus’ color change is congested roots. A plant’s roots may get excessively crowded, or “rootbound,” if they are planted in a container that is too tiny.
Plants that are root-bound are unable to adequately absorb soil nutrients and water. The leaves may turn purple as a stress response in response to nutrient insufficiency.
How to Fix Overcrowded Roots
Your cactus’s root system may enlarge over time and may eventually become too large to fit inside the pot it was originally in.
It’s time to repot your cactus to a larger container if you see that some of the roots are attempting to escape through the drainage hole. Normally, every 3 to 4 years, think about repotting your cactus.
Your cactus needs to be relocated to a larger location if its roots have grown crowded. Cacti should often be repotted once the roots are visible through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
This normally takes two to three years for cactus kinds with a quicker growth rate. Repotting slower-growing cactus should only be done every three to four years.
Researching the perfect settings for your cactus is vital because not all cactus species have the same requirements.
For instance, some cacti, including Christmas cacti, thrive when their roots are packed.
So, until it has lived in the same pot for at least a few years, a Christmas cactus shouldn’t be repotted.
The steps to repot your cactus are as follows:
- Make sure you are using thick gloves to protect your skin from the plant’s sharp spines before repotting your cactus.
- Look for pests and disease symptoms in the plant and the soil.
- Choose a new container that is one size bigger than the old one.
- To aid with drainage, add gravel to the bottom of the pot and sprinkle a thin coating of it on the soil’s surface.
How should a purple prickly pear cactus be cared for?
Once well established, Purple Prickly Pear is exceptionally drought hardy and requires very little to no water. This cactus should be planted in any well-drained soil in full sun. Cochineal scale, which appears as a white, cottony fluff, can affect Purple Prickly Pear. It can be controlled by spraying water on the scale. In the summer, water young plants twice a month; in the winter, water them once a month or less. In the summer, prune any pads that are sick or damaged.
Why is the color of my prickly pear cactus changing?
Cactus are tough plants that are used to harsh conditions. Your cactus may, however, start to become red if certain environmental stressors are present.
This is a symptom that something is wrong with your plant, yet it does not necessarily mean it is harmful. The good news is that you can restore your plant’s original color by altering its care and getting rid of the stressor.
When stressed by alterations in the environment, such as too much heat, too much sun, or a lack of water, cacti will turn red. In addition to these, pathogenic infections and root infections can also cause the color of your cactus to change to red.
The treatments offered will assist the plant in returning to its original color because the red signifies that the plant’s natural defense systems are in use.
Why is my succulent becoming a deep purple color?
There could be a few causes for your succulent plant to start turning purple. The reasons why your succulent may be turning purple or red, turning purple and dying, what it signifies when succulents turn purple, and what to do in this case are all listed in this page.
Purple or other color changes in succulents can occur naturally or as a result of stress. Stress can cause your succulents to turn purple or red, and the causes can include abrupt temperature changes, excessive heat or light, as well as a lack of food and water.
Anthocyanin and carotenoids, two pigments, are what give succulents their purple or red color. During periods of intense sunlight, this pigment primarily prevents succulents from overphotosynthesizing and burning.
To reveal their full potential colors, some succulent growers purposefully expose their plants to more sun. Blushing or red/purple colouring disappears after sunshine exposure is reduced once more.
Can a cactus that is overwatered bounce back?
But if you notice any green on your cactus, there’s a strong possibility you can still revive it, regardless of how awful it appears. The task of saving an overwatered cactus is definitely doable. With some patience and some work, you can grow a healthy cactus in a few weeks.
What causes my cactus to become pink?
When cactuses don’t get enough water, they can become pink. The life of a cactus won’t often be in danger if it turns pink. For the cactus to get back to normal, you might wish to water it more frequently. A cactus has to be watered once or twice a week on average to stay healthy. When exposed to sunlight, certain cactus species even spontaneously change color to pink.