My cactus is soft

1. Fix root rot in Cactus

Discoloration, shakiness, and mushy roots are often signs of cactus root rot. Other symptoms may include your cactus turning brown or black.

And here’s why root rots are common in cacti plants:

Cacti have a wide, shallow root system to maximize water collection in their natural habitat. In the constricted space of a pot, over-watering, compacted roots or poor drainage will quickly lead to root rot.

Sometimes just the base of the cactus, and not the roots, is affected by water that does not drain quickly enough and is standing around the base of the plant. These are among the most common problems with growing cacti in the home.

If you notice that your cactus plant has begun to get mushy, act quickly and you may be able to remedy the problem. Even cacti rotted all the way down to the soil line can bounce back with proper care.

Once you’re convinced that your plant is suffering from root rot, taking the following actions as a matter of urgency.

You should remove your plant from its pot and check to see the condition of the roots. If some are still white, cut away the darkened, mushy roots and any rotted areas at the base of the cactus with a sterile knife.

Allow the plant to dry and heal out of the soil before re-potting in a clean container with fresh cactus potting medium. You should always wear protective hand gloves or use a folded length of newspaper to avoid being pierced by the cactus’ spines.

2. Watch Your Watering

Optimum watering is one of the most effective ways to save a dying cactus. Too much water is especially detrimental just as lack of water is. But when it comes to cactus, it’s better to err on the lower side.

Moreover, it’s important to water well while the cactus plant is flowering while observing the following:

Underwatering your cactus

If you rarely water your cactus, it puckers or shrivels, but can also discolor (usually getting brown and dry, or calloused). If your succulents and cacti are showing these symptoms, it’s a way of telling you that they’re thirsty and dehydrated. To remedy the situation, give them a nice thorough watering.

Overwatering your cactus

When overwatering is a chronic problem, help the cactus to shed as much water as quickly as possible.

To do that, Select an unglazed clay pot only slightly bigger than the cactus and fill it with a commercial cactus mix. Pot the cactus in the mix gently, so you don’t upset its delicate roots. The clay pot will wick away more water from the root zone while the loose cactus mix allows water to drain quickly and completely.

You should only plant very large landscape cacti directly in the ground because landscape plantings give you less control over drainage.

If you’re having doubts on how best to water not only your cactus but indoor pot plants, I’d recommend you read this article: How to water potted plants and keep them happy.

3. Change the potting soil

As we’ve already seen, over-watering is the root cause of cacti root rot. However, let me make one thing extremely clear.

Water doesn’t directly cause the rots but rather a member of the water mold called Phytophthora spp. But the rot cannot take hold unless there is adequate moisture – which you gladly provide when over-watering.

Now what does all this have to do with changing the potting soil?


First reason is that the pathogen that initially caused the rot is probably still present in the current soil. And the second reason, probably the most important is; some potting mixes are known to be heavy and probably hold too much water.

Hence you need to change to a lighter, porous potting soil like this Classic Potting Mix. What I like about this mix is that the blend is resistant to many pathogens and provides fantastic drainage while absorbing an ideal amount of water.

You can further learn how to improve drainage by reading this article – how to improve drainage in potted plants.

4. Repot your cactus

Cactus Care

Although cacti are known for surviving in the dry, desert heat, they also need water to flourish. However, not all cacti and succulents need the same amount of water.

It is important to research the amount of water and humidity your cactus or succulent will need in order for it to have a long, healthy life.


Do a thorough job when watering cacti and other succulents. Think of a cloudburst in the desert. Then let them go a long time until the next drink.

In the winter, many cacti become dormant and watering should be restricted. African succulents often go into dormancy in the summertime; when they are in this state, hold back on the water. Water combined with cold or dormancy spells disaster.

When the plants are actively growing, water them quite frequently and keep them moderately moist. Water and warmth while the plants are growing spells growth.

Cacti and other succulents can tolerate the dry air very well, even though the air in most houses and apartments in winter is drier than that in the deserts.

Drench and Let Dry. Soak the plant thoroughly by submerging the pot in a bucket or sink filled with tepid water. Wait until all the bubbles have stopped coming out. The plant can then dry until its next soaking, which should take place when the surface of the soil is dry to the touch. Most of the plants that prefer drenching and drying have thick roots.

Moist. Keep the soil evenly moist but never soggy or too dry.

Wet. Keep the soil wet at all times.

Although cacti are known for surviving in the dry, desert heat, there are a variety of cacti that can survive outside all year long in Canada and Alaska. In the next section, learn about the temperature requirements of cacti and succulents.

Q. I would like to know, how do you get Christmas cactus to bloom? – O.S., Floyds Knobs, Indiana

Holiday cactus in bloom
Photo credit:Rosie Lerner,
Purdue ExtensionHoliday cactus flower
Photo credit:Rosie Lerner,
Purdue Extension

A. A little extra care will help bring your Christmas cactus back to full bloom next year. Although a Christmas cactus can adapt to low light, it will produce more abundant blooms if you know how to manipulate the light they receive.

For now, keep your plants in a sunny, indoor location away from drafts, heat vents, fireplaces, and other sources of hot air. Water them thoroughly when the top half of the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch. You can move Christmas cactus plants outdoors in summer, but keep them in shady or semi-shady locations. Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves.

When it’s time to bring the plants back inside in the fall, help the plants to slowly adjust to life Indoors by gradually increasing the number of hours they spend indoors each day.

Christmas cactus plants bloom when you give them long, uninterrupted dark periods. Begin the dark treatments about mid-October to have plants in full bloom by the holidays. Christmas cactus plants will also bloom if they are subjected to cool temperatures of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. at night. Start these cool treatments by early November to have plants ready for the holidays.

For more information about caring for and reblooming holiday cactus, visit

Why is this cactus plant turning yellow at the base?

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Are your cactus turning yellow? Here’s the deal!

Cactus can thrive in very harsh circumstances, but they must be particularly harsh circumstances.

Unfortunately, there are many stresses and unfavorable conditions brought on by well-meaning people which the cactus just can’t handle.

When this happens, cactus may experience several symptoms, including turning yellow.

In this article, will review the several reasons why your cactus may be turning yellow.

Read on to learn more.

Stress Management Is Important for Cactus

Many different stressors can cause your cactus to turn yellow.

Among them are:

  • Incorrect Exposure to Sunlight
  • Wrong Amount of Water
  • Nutritional Deficiencies
  • Inadequately Sized Pot
  • Wrong Kind of Water
  • Abrupt Transitions
  • Pest Infestation

Changes in color, such as turning from green to yellow, indicates something is wrong.

Fortunately, this specific symptom of distress is usually reversible.

When you see your cactus is fading and becoming yellow, review your care techniques to know where you may be going astray.

Ask yourself these questions.

Is Your Cactus Getting Enough Of The Right Kind Of Light?

We all know cactus enjoys lots of light, but it is possible to give them too much light.

If your plant is receiving too much sun, it may become bleached, orange or yellowish in appearance.

It may even develop a scorched and discolored ring near the top. This is not a reversible symptom.

Remember a cactus sitting on a windowsill may be receiving magnified light through the glass.

This is why it’s a good idea to give your plant a little bit of protection from the direct rays of the sun shining through a window.

Put up a lace curtain or set your plant back away from the window a bit so it gets bright indirect sunlight rather than bright direct light.

Conversely, a lack of light can cause yellowing.

If your plant is not getting enough sun, its leaves may begin to turn yellow, and it may even stretch toward the light.

If this is the problem, gradually move the plant to an area where it will get 6-8 hours a day of bright, indirect sunlight.

Are You Giving Your Cactus The Right Amount Of Water?

Your goal as a cactus caretaker should not be to simply keep your plant alive. Instead, you should be working on helping it thrive.

Ideal cactus conditions are slightly different from the harsh and punishing conditions of the desert.

Cacti are famous for their drought tolerance, but this doesn’t mean they can do without water altogether.

Just the right amount of regular watering is a must for successful cactus care.

Underwatering can cause your cactus distress. Without regular watering, your plant will be not only thirsty but hungry.

Conversely, in a home setting, it’s very easy to overwater cactus.

If you use the same watering schedule you use for other plants; your cactus is sure to become waterlogged and experience problems such as root rot and yellowing.

To establish a good watering schedule, monitor the soil regularly.

When the pot your cactus is in feels light, and the soil feels dry, it’s time to water.

Provide a deep and thorough watering by either placing the cactus into a tray of water for 15-20 minutes so the soil can soak up as much water as it needs.

Alternately, pour water through the plant’s well-draining soil to thoroughly drench it.

Don’t water again until the soil is completely dry.

Once you’ve established how long this will take, mark your calendar or set up a reminder on your phone to remind yourself when it’s time to water again.

Are You Using The Right Kind Of Water?

Tap water is often full of chemicals and unwanted minerals.

If you notice white stains are forming around the edges of your cactus container or on the surface of the soil, this is an indication your water has too much salt in it.

This is especially a problem if you’re using a water softener.

If you see this is the problem, you will need to repot your plant with all new cactus mix.

Moving forward, just use distilled water or rainwater to water your cactus.

Did You Transition Your Cactus Too Suddenly?

If you just recently bought a cactus and find it’s becoming yellow in your care, the problem may be a sudden transition.

When you choose a cactus in a nursery, take note of its current conditions.

Replicate them in your home.

Even then, your plant may suffer from transition shock because it has just taken a long trip from a large nursery to a store setting and now to your home.

If shock is causing the problem, simply keep your cactus in a setting with consistent warmth and light and water it on a sparing, regular basis.

It will soon perk up and lose its yellowish cast.

Is Your Cactus Cramped?

If you’ve had your cactus for a while, it may be creating offshoots crowding it out of its pot.

This can cause yellowing.

The solution is simple: it’s time to repot.

Get a pot for your main cactus just a little bit bigger than the container it’s in.

You will also want to get a few smaller pots to transplant the pups.

Are Pests Occupying Your Cactus?

Cacti are generally resistant to pests, but every once in awhile scale insects, mites or some other tiny little critters will set up housekeeping and begin sucking the very life out of your cactus.

When this happens, your cactus will begin to turn yellow as a way of showing its stress.

Once you have dealt with the pests, your plant should regain its proper color.

Is Your Cactus Getting Enough To Eat?

If the soil your plant is sitting in is depleted, it will not give the plant enough nutrients to survive happily.

When this happens, your cactus may begin to turn yellow.

Again, the simple answer to this problem is repotting with a fresh, clean cactus mix.

Moving forward, remember to use a specially prepared cactus fertilizer or a succulent fertilizer throughout the plant’s growing season, which typically ranges from the middle of springtime to the middle of autumn.

Follow fertilizer packaging directions carefully.

Is Your Cactus A Yellow Variety?

Some types of cactus are green when they are very young and then mature to natural yellow color.

If you don’t know what kind of cactus you have, search online or go back to the nursery where you acquired it and see if you’re able to identify it.

Your cactus may naturally be yellow and nothing is wrong with it.

Why is your cactus shriveling

Recently one of my cacti seemed to be shriveling from the bottom and working its way up. First I thought my cactus was rotting, this wasn’t the case and it turned out the be something completely different. Let’s have look at what caused the shriveling of my cactus and what to do with yours!

Your cactus may be shriveling because of various reasons but the two most common causes are that your cacti are either sunburned or they have a watering problem. Generally, cacti have the reputation of being easy to grow, but many of us have proven that completely wrong. The number one reason why cacti die is overwatering, let’s take a look at the various reasons your cactus may be shriveling and what to do about it.


It’s a misconception that cacti grow in deserts. Nothing can grow in a true desert, but many cacti do grow in very dry areas. Cacti can grow in a wide variety of growth habitats, even tropical rain forests.

Unless you are a long time cactus hoarder, a good chance that you may not be aware of the region and conditions that your cactus would ordinarily thrive in. The yellowing of your cactus plant is telling you that it isn’t happy with its current conditions. And that you should try something different.

To much water or not enough?

When your cactus is shriveling, this can indicate that your cactus lacks water or gets too much of it. Yes, your cactus can lack water, despite t

he fact most people think cacti don’t need much water this isn’t always the case. For instance, in summer months you will need to water your cactus ones every 2 weeks in order to fulfill your cactus watering needs.

Otherwise, if your cactus gets to much water it will start to develop root rot. Eventually, your cactus roots will die off and will leave your cactus unable to absorb new water. This will also result in your cactus shriveling over time.

The correct way to water your cactus

The amount of water your cactus needs depends on the season. Ideally, you should water your cacti whenever the compost dries out fully from your last watering. When this happens, water again and don’t give any more until the compost has dried out once again. The more sun your cactus gets the more water it needs! In the summer months, you will experience times you will have to water once every 2 weeks depending on how hot your area is.

Give less water if the plants are growing in a colder or shady position. Also, in winter times you should water your cacti less, giving just enough to keep the soil almost dry. Just remember, cacti only need sufficient water to prevent them from shriveling.


Besides giving your cactus the right amount of water, a cactus plant also requires the proper type of soil. If your soil stays moist, this will cause problems. Your soil mixture should be rather sandy with plenty of drainage. I personally aim to have a mixture of about 1/3 washed sand, 1/3 soil and 1/3 gritty amendment such as pumice (volcanic rock).

In addition to planting your cactus in the correct soil, making sure your cactus has enough nutrients is even more important. Fertilizing your cactus will help them adapt, actively grow and stay healthy. Cactus fertilizer requirements are very easy. Any good houseplant food (diluted to half) that’s higher in phosphorus than nitrogen is a good choice.

You should at least fertilize your cactus plants once a year. But if you’re really organized and can set up a schedule, feeding them 2-3 times per year in the spring, summer and fall will easily satisfy your cacti fertilizer requirements.

Keeping your cactus plants fed with nutrients and giving them the correct soil will prevent your cactus from shriveling.

Diseases and pests

You will not always see pests and diseases from the outside. If you are at the point that you are going to repot your cactus and want to make sure you don’t transfer any possible diseases.

I would recommend that you repot the cactus but wash all the old soil away from around the roots before repotting. This will also give you the opportunity to inspect the roots and base of your cactus properly to see if it has root rot.


Like most other plants, cacti won’t grow at the same pace all year round. With fluctuations in environmental influences, most cacti will go through growth phases where they grow less (dormancy) or grow more (actively growing).

Even with the best care, some species of cactus will shrivel once per year as they go into a dormant state for several months. This typically happens during the winter months when temperatures drop. If an otherwise healthy cactus that normally does well on the amount of water received begins to shrivel, it is probably going into a dormant period. When the weather warms up, it will return to its normal state and start to actively grow again.

How to extinguish rot from shriveling

It can be really frustrating to find out if your cactus is rotting or shriveling because of other reasons. To extinguish rot from shriveling you can do a few things. First carefully poke your cacti, How does the body itself feel? if squishy a good chance you have got a rot problem and you need to check if you can still do something about it.

When you poke your cactus it shouldn’t be able to move. Do they seem firmly rooted in the soil or are they like a loose tooth? Healthy roots don’t allow the plant to wiggle. If your cactus seems pretty well stable in your planter pot, this means that your root system is fine. Otherwise, your cactus might be rotting and needs further investigation.

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