My husband and I have inherited a 40 year old cactus. The bottom half was brown and parts of it almost look like a tree trunk. The cactus is almost 6ft tall. Is this normal for a cactus of this size, or is it a disease of some sort? The cactus also will not stand up on its own, I want to report it into a large container to help it stand, but will too much dirt kill it? It recently grew a new piece on the top, should we cut that off and root it to start a new plant, and forget about the rest of it? I'd feel horrible throwing out such an old plant if I didn't have to.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
The soil that it is planted in is likely the culprit here. This was a vigorous fungal infection that was likely caused by remaining too wet for too long. This is due to the low porosity of the soil that is is in.
I recommend taking that growth at the top, and starting it as a new plant. Start this in a cactus soil mix, so that you can be certain that there is proper drainage. Only water this mix when it is almost completely dry, and the piece will root itself over time.
This new offshoot is, sort of, like a last ditch effort to save itself. This will easily propagate to ensure that the cactus stays alive.
They will normally get this tall over along period of time but keeping peaces of the new growth will allow you to start fresh with a new plant.