Common Cactus Problems

Cactus Is Dying

Cactus plants thrive in warm areas with bright, indirect sunlight. Only water when the soil is dry because these plants have low water needs. Desert cacti like arid environments with low humidity. Forest cacti prefer average to increased humidity.

Make it a habit to inspect the plant at least every month to look for signs of damage resulting from improper care, pests, or diseases. Look for irregularities on the foliage, like discoloration, sunken areas, or mushy stems. Feel the soil to gauge if the plant is over or under-watered. Lastly, evaluate the location of the plant to make sure the plant is receiving the right amount of sunlight and humidity.


Cactus Leaves Turning Yellow

Yellowing is often an indicator that a cactus houseplant is overwatered. In advanced cases of overwatering, cactus plants can develop mushy stems or black spots that may ooze liquid. Stop watering a cactus at the first sign of yellow foliage. Let the soil completely dry before watering the plant. If the cactus is badly damaged, you may need to repot it using fresh, dry potting mix.

Cactus Pests

Pests like mealybugs, scale, fungus gnats, and spider mites are all potential problems for cacti. Routinely inspect the plants for signs of pests, including webs, shriveled foliage, and a mold-like coating. Treat an infestation on a cactus houseplant by cleaning the plant using water or a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Treat severe infestations by spraying the plant with horticultural oil.

Cactus Diseases

Most diseases that impact cactus houseplants result from overwatering. Monitor the plant for signs of mildew or leaf spots caused by overly damp conditions. Address any disease by ensuring the plant receives bright, indirect sunlight and letting the soil dry completely before watering.

Cactus Not Blooming

Most cactus varieties bloom, but the plants must first mature and live in ideal conditions. Help a mature cactus bloom by providing the perfect levels of sunlight, temperature, humidity, and water. Fertilize the plant to support new growth, and let the cactus become slightly rootbound. Cactus houseplants are likelier to bloom when they fit snugly in their pot.


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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 12-06-2023