Cactus problem: what to expect?

I noticed that for the first year ever, my big potted cactus did not have a great time overwintering in the garage.


I'm hoping those of you with more cactus experience will offer some advice or at least let me know what to expect.

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I don't know what species of cactus this is, as it was purchased from Home Depot as a tiny thing close to 20 years ago. It's getting to be quite heavy now, with two stems. The taller (older) of the two is the one having problems.

First, although it's not overly clear in this photo, it's looking a bit yellow at the top:


Second, there are these disturbing spots forming all over it:


Third and most distressingly though, it's got this going on:


Here it is in relation to the whole plant:


So, what can you tell me? What's happening? Is this stem doomed? What about the second stem? Is there anything I can do?


I'd really hate to lose this big guy, as I've had it for so long. Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!

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Teri  – (May 7, 2013 at 9:11 AM)  

Could you ask over at Shaw's Gardens?

Gerhard Bock (Bamboo, Succulents and More)  – (May 7, 2013 at 10:44 AM)  

Alan, the big black spot is rot. With any luck it will remain localized. Most likely you'll end up with an unsightly hole in the side but the rest of the stem will still be viable. The second stem should be OK.

You've had a lot of rain recently, right? If so, the rot might be a result of that rather than spending the winter in the garage. Keep the cactus dry and warm, that's about all you can do.

danger garden  – (May 7, 2013 at 10:48 AM)  

If it were mine I would consider cutting the bad arm off below the rotten/black spot, it will look a little odd but should develop new growth. Also I'd save the top, above the bad spot, and after letting it callus over try and root it too.

Alan  – (May 7, 2013 at 12:55 PM)  

Thanks! The rot started indoors I believe -- it was there as soon as I brought the cactus outside. The long, cool, wet spring hasn't helped for sure.

So it sounds like I either wait and see if the rot stops and turns into a hole (for a cactus wren, right?) or be proactive and chop the thing up. Hmmm.

Gerhard Bock (Bamboo, Succulents and More)  – (May 7, 2013 at 7:30 PM)  

Loree's suggestion is a good one. You can certainly give that a try if you're not willing to live with a hole in the side.

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