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by Chris


Hi, I got this little plant from a store in Colorado for free because they received it from a local person and had no idea what it is.

It is very small, about the size of the tip of my index finger.

It has a white, curved main body with pink tentacle-looking things sprouting on top alongside new purple leaf like growth.

It looked healthy when I got it but after about a week the main white part shriveled up and started turning purplish-blue at the bottom while the tentacles and small purple leaves have not changed.

The soil was very wet when I bought it so I have not watered it since I got it, assuming it was a cactus and trying to avoid over-watering.

I have also been keeping it in direct sunlight by the back window of the house.

Once I saw it shriveling I watered it but it only seems to be getting worse.

It has been three days since it started shriveling and I am trying to find out what kind of cactus this is and how I might be able to save it.

Hi Chris, it looks as though it’s not too late for this little guy, which looks like it could be some kind of Echeveria or similar succulent.

However, the part that is ‘growing’ in the soil is actually just a leaf, the tentacle things are roots – and they want to grow down into the soil, but not the soil in your pot.

Use either regular sterilized potting soil with about half and half gravel/grit/sand or pumice, and just leave the leaf on top of DRY soil. Don’t water it until it’s evident that it’s got some new growth (the purple parts).

With any kind of succulent, if it looks like it’s shriveling, check the bottom of the stem; if it looks like it’s rotting, don’t water it.

The leaf in this case looks like it is decaying, so more water, on top of the terrible soil that it’s in is the worst thing to do.

Not to worry though, the roots look healthy, and it’s already growing into a little plant; once you get it the right way up, it’s going to be fine, and you’ll be addicted…

Good luck!

Check out my e-book for more information on rooting succulents:

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Comments for Sick unknown baby cactus or succulant

Feb 18, 2013

Thank you
by: Chris

After reading your response I immediately set out to re-pot it and replace the soil(which I had not done originally out of concern of messing up any developing roots) and discovered the rest of a large rotted leaf buried in the soil, just as you said.

It now rests on dry well-draining soil, root side down.

Thank you very much for the advice- I would have never even thought it had been put in and given away upside down.

Hi Chris, now it’s just a matter of waiting to see what happens – I think that was someone’s idea of a joke, to stick the leaf in like that!

Best of luck with your little plant – I will be waiting for an update!

Mar 23, 2013

The requested update
by: Chris

I’m sorry to say the poor thing died. It looked like it was going to be alright but then the whole thing rapidly dried up and died. I tried watering it once it started but it didn’t help at all. At least I will know what I’m looking at if I spot something like this again in the future… didn’t know some roots came in pink.

Sorry to hear that – it’s a tough situation when someone does that – fortunately, you’ll have a good idea on what to do for next time. Best of luck!