Cacti are beautiful plants to have in and around the house.
Many people grow cacti in their houses for decoration as they are known to be therapeutic plants. Having a cactus indoors is a great way to brighten up your mood, as well as your house!
Cacti are beautiful plants to have around and they do not need extensive care.
This makes them great for keeping around the house as they are low maintenance and can live for over 10 years if cared for properly.
Why is my cactus dying?
It can be quite distressing when your cactus starts to wilt. The fact that cacti are so resilient and low maintenance usually means that the reason for a cactus dying is due to improper care of the plant. The main reasons a cactus starts to wilt and die are usually water-related, bad weather conditions, incorrect potting soil usage, and of course those pesky insects! Cacti are resilient plants, therefore, if you are able to identify why your cactus is dying, it will be easy to remedy the issue.
Too much or too little water
One of the main reasons your cactus may be dying is because it is getting too much water!
Cacti are native to warm and dry environments and are formed in such a way that they do not need too much water to survive.
Overwatering your cacti will rot the roots, leading to discoloration, droopiness, and eventually death.
When watering your cactus, make sure you only water it once all the water in the pot’s soil has clearly dried up.
Cacti watering will obviously take factors such as cacti size and soil amount into account.
On the other end of the spectrum, your cactus might be thirsty, requiring more water!
The fact that these plants are so low maintenance as far as water consumption is concerned, means we often forget to water them.
An effective water drainage system is required to maintain the cactus. A pot with an inadequate drainage system will lead to the wilting, discoloration, and eventual death of your cactus.
Humidity levels have an immense impact on cacti. As mentioned earlier, cacti are native to the warmer biomes and are used to very dry conditions.
A little bit of humidity won’t harm your cactus too much but if you live in an area that registers humidity levels of around 70%, then there is a chance that your cactus might get negatively affected.
Your cactus will start growing fungus or bacteria on its outer surfaces if the humidity levels are too high.
It’s important to regularly observe your plant if you believe that the humidity levels are too high.
High humidity levels lead to fungal growth such as phytophthora and fusarium on the plant. These bacteria and fungi will ultimately rot your plant in the long run.
Freeze damage from cold weather
A freezing cactus will ultimately turn white or slightly black leading to rot and decay.This is an indication that your cactus has been negatively impacted by ‘freeze damage’.
A cactus requires relatively high temperatures in order to survive and will start wilting if the temperature drops below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
The ideal temperature for a cactus to flourish is between 65 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Not enough sunlight
Cacti need a certain amount of sunlight in order to survive and thrive! These plants need constant sunlight of at least 12 to 18 hours a day.
If your cactus is not getting sufficient sunlight, the stem will start to thin out. This will give the plant a tapered and thinning appearance, resulting in discoloration and death.
Always make sure you leave your cactus by a window that will give your plant the light it requires.
If you’re not too sure how much light to give your cacti, better read about light levels first.
When planting your cactus in a pot, make sure that the pot is proportionate to the size of the cactus. A small pot will eventually restrict the roots of the plant, resulting in permanently stunted growth.
If the pot is too big for the cactus, the plant will struggle to grow as water will gather in the large pot and the roots will start to rot.
The pot for your cactus should be more or less 2 inches wider than the total width of your cactus plant.
A proportionately sized pot will lead to the successful growth of the cactus.
Incorrect soil mixture
Many plant lovers plant their cacti in regular potting soil as it is usually more accessible.
Regular soil can be used for cacti but it is strongly recommended that you mix the regular soil with a mixture that contains fewer nutrients than average.
The cactus will struggle to grow if regular soil is used without further soil admixture.
Regular soil contains organic matter that is able to keep and hold moisture for longer periods of time. Thus, it results in the pooling of an excessive amount of water in the plant’s pot, leading to root and body rotting.
This will most probably not be an issue for those who grow their cacti inside the house.
However, those who keep their plants outside should make sure that their cacti do not have any scale-like growths or waxy dots on the skin of the plant. This is a sign that the cactus could be infested with insects.
The types of insects that attack cacti are scale mealybugs, root mealybugs, and spider mites.
Mealybugs and spider mites drain the cactus of its liquid, making the plant more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.
If your plant is infested with insects, try whip down the cactus with a cotton swab and hot water. If they remain on the plant, it is advised to get a pesticide solution from a local gardening shop.
Frequently Asked Questions about Dying Cactus
How should I water my cactus?
Ideally, you should water your cactus once a week, before watering your cactus always make sure the soil in the pot has dried up. When watering your cactus, water it until the soil in the pot is slightly wet.
What’s a good drainage system?
A good drainage system will consist of a pot that has holes at the bottom so that it is capable of draining all of the excess water out of the pot.
What soil should I use for my cactus?
One should use soil that drains water such as sand, pebbles, or peat moss. It is fine to mix these soils with regular potting soil.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.