How To Save A Cactus From Root Rot

While skin-deep disorders in the upper body of the cactus can be easily handled, those that have spread to the roots typically result in a plant that is slowly dying. Excision of the diseased tissue works successfully for the majority of cacti. Dig out the damaged flesh with a clean, sharp knife, then let the hole dry out. When the wound is healing, avoid overhead watering.

There is not much you can do if the roots have been affected by the harm. You could attempt to repot the plant by removing the unhealthy soil and adding sterile soil in its place. Before replotting the roots in a new potting medium, thoroughly wash the roots out.

Taking cuttings and allowing them to grow roots for a brand-new plant is another way to salvage a mushy, soft cactus. Before inserting the cutting into the sand, let it a few days to callus over. The cutting may need to be rooted for several weeks. A healthy cactus that looks exactly like the parent plant will be created using this method of propagation.

When its roots decay, can a cactus recover?

“simple to maintain

When you hear the word, that is likely the first thing that comes to mind “cactus. These plants need very little care and attention to flourish, but there are still a few things you need to do to make sure they live and grow. One of the typical cacti issues that you must avert at all costs is rot. Any portion of a cactus plant, from the tip to the roots, is susceptible to rot.

So, are you interested in learning how to revive a dying cactus plant? As long as the damage isn’t extensive, a decaying cactus can be saved. There are a few things you can always do to save the plant, regardless of the portion of your cactus plant that is decaying. Avoiding overwatering, repotting the cactus in dry soil, and removing the rotting areas are all ways to treat root rot.

How can cactus root rot be treated?

Regrettably, rot is a typical issue with cacti. It’s important to recognize that rot is a fungal or bacterial disease and will likely continue to develop unless something is done. While environmental factors are involved (rot is most common when the plant is overwatered, growing under conditions of high atmospheric humidity, when the stem has been wounded, after an insect infestation, etc.), it’s important to understand that the rot itself is a disease.

From the roots to the tip of the plant, rot can develop. However, crown rot—which starts where the stem meets the soil—is perhaps the most typical. Look for moist, somewhat depressed, black or dark tissue that is often surrounded by light green or yellow growth. Given that it occurs underground, root rot is the most challenging to find. It frequently manifests itself first when the plant’s entire top starts to yellow and sag.

Over time, many cacti develop a corky and brown base, which is typical for certain species. Try sticking a gloved finger into the plant’s base. It is not rot if the brown portion is hard. Soft rot will exist.

Cacti frequently self-heal in the wild, compartmentalizing the wound with callus tissue to prevent it from spreading. As a result of the lower light and higher humidity that are invariably present inside, that is not nearly as common. Furthermore, even if the rot stops spreading, the damaged area will always detract from the beauty of your plant. Major surgery is advised as a result. Thankfully, you don’t need years of medical school to perform this.

Sterility is essential in the operating room, as any surgeon will tell you. The same is true with cactus surgery. Always maintain your cutting instruments (knife, pruning shears, even saw [for particularly thick stems]) hygienic by washing them down with rubbing alcohol before cutting and between each cut during the subsequent operations.

Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to quickly cut off and discard the top portion of the plant when rot appears aboveground, close to the tip or in the middle of the stem. Make sure there are no signs of rot by inspecting the wound on the lowest half of the stem (dark, spreading tissue or even just an orange discoloration). If so, make another, lower cut until you can see that the remaining tissue is sound.

Though less crucial than with root or crown rot, you might want to apply powdered sulfur to the wound.

One or more new stems will begin to form right below the cut as the cut calluses over with time. You get to choose whether you want to maintain a few stems or just one. If you provide the plant with the proper growing circumstances, the plant will eventually fully recover.

You’ll need to perform more extensive surgery when the roots or the stem’s base exhibit signs of decay. The plant must be severed from its stem and its top rerooted. Only if the top portion is still wholesome and green will this be effective. I’d advise arranging a small cactus funeral service if it’s already yellowing or getting soft before buying a new one.

Cut off the plant’s top above the wound with a knife or pruning shears, if the top is healthy. Throw away the bottom portion. If you choose to preserve the pot, be sure to completely empty and clean it before reusing it to get rid of any disease spores.

Look at the wound. The tissue is it healthy? Lay the cutting on its side and take off another portion as you would a carrot if you detect the tiniest hint of brown or orange inside. Repeat as necessary until you have a section free of rot. Occasionally you’ll discover that the rot has permeated the entire plant, in which case it’s game over, but typically you quickly reach healthy tissue.

Apply sulfur powder to the wound (it’s a natural fungicide) once you’re confident that you’ve removed all of the rot and pre-rot (orange tissue).

For thin-stemmed cacti, callus production can take as little as a week or as long as three months. If callusing will take just a few weeks, you can simply lay the stem on its side. The stem tip will start to grow upward from its prone position if the cutting is likely to endure a few months, damaging the cutting’s future symmetry. If so, either stand the cutting upright or rotate the prostrate stem a quarter turn each week to prevent it from recognizing which way is up.

When callusing is finished and the cut surface is entirely dry and hard, put the cutting into dry potting soil, preferably using a cactus mix. Do not water immediately! In dry soil, let the new plant a few weeks to establish roots. Start watering sparingly after that. You can start watering normally after you notice some healthy new growth.

When rot develops on a stem of a clumping cactus, the disease can sometimes be treated by simply removing the one or two affected stems.

But division might be the best option if it turns out to be root or crown rot that only affects one side of the plant. Pull the cluster apart, keeping only the healthy stems, and remove the plant from its container. They’ll likely already have roots, in which case you may simply pot them up. Delay watering for a week or two, though.

Consider stems to be cuttings if they have not yet rooted. After cleaning them off, leave them to dry in the open air for a few weeks before potting them. As mentioned above, don’t water them at first, and when you notice fresh growth, start watering normally.

What symptoms indicate cactus root rot?

Cactus root rot can occasionally only be seen in the higher portions of the root rather than on the root itself. When disturbed, many cactus plants start to change color. Knowing your prized plant’s normal color will help you spot when it starts to take on an odd hue.

You must conduct your investigation because some color variations could indicate a happy cactus. A cactus that is reddish indicates that it receives enough of sunshine. An aged cactus will frequently undergo the color shift. If your cactus is old enough, the upward-facing stem may have some brown patches. The brown areas on the cactus turn gray as it ages further.

Your cactus plant, though, will likely have a serious issue if it starts to turn brown or yellow. Some cacti may just turn black or take on a deeper hue. You may have overwatered your plant, and the roots have had enough, if you see a dramatic color change on the leaves or stem of your cactus.

Even if you discover that overwatering is the problem, you can still save a cactus from this form of root rot. Make sure to modify your watering schedule before things start to fail. To prevent the discolorations from spreading and covering the entire plant, you can also think about eliminating the affected portions.

Why is the bottom of my cactus rotting?

Here are some of the most often asked inquiries regarding how to solve typical cactus issues. Ask in the comments part below if you can’t find the solution here.

Why is my cactus turning yellow?

A cactus that begins to turn yellow indicates that it is most likely beginning to rot. You can use the above instructions to save your cactus plant even if only a portion of it is fading.

You might not be able to salvage your cactus, though, if it is completely yellow and soft and mushy.

How do you save a dying cactus?

Without more details, it’s quite difficult to suggest ways to revive a dying cactus. Depending on how it is passing away. A cactus usually begins to deteriorate either from tip rot or from bottom rot.

So carefully examine the plant to determine whether any portions are changing color or whether the cactus feels soft. Rot can be detected by a soft or spongy cactus.

Why did my cactus rot?

As I said above, the two main causes of cactus tip rot are either water settling into the wound or a fungus or illness infecting it.

Overwatering is usually what causes cactus bottom rot. It may not be clear that the overwatered cactus was the root of the problem because it doesn’t always begin to rot right away.

How do you bring a cactus back to life?

That depends on how dead it is, I suppose. However, if the cactus is absolutely dead and has no green at all left on it, I’m sorry you probably won’t be able to revive it.

But if the plant still has a good quantity of healthy growth, you might be able to save it by doing what was mentioned above.

What causes a cactus to die?

The leading cause of cactus death, particularly in potted plants, is overwatering. An overwatered cactus plant may eventually decay from the bottom of the plant up if it is continually overwatered.

Cactus plant overwatering is difficult to detect, though. It’s frequently too late to salvage the plant once the visible symptoms appear (cactus becoming yellow, black, or brown, or a soft, mushy cactus plant, for example).

I advise purchasing a cheap soil water moisture gauge if you’re unclear of how frequently to water your cactus plant so that you can get it perfect every time.

Although cactus rot might be extremely frustrating, your plant may still survive. Unfortunately, cactus plants frequently experience this issue.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to regularly inspect your plants for rot. Additionally, always act quickly to save your cactus if you ever notice it rotting.

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How can I revive my dead cactus?


  • REMOVE ROTTING COMPONENTS. Overwatering is typically indicated by rotting.

Can a plant with rotted roots be repaired?

You must decide whether the plant may be rescued after root rot has been diagnosed. It is too late to preserve the plant if the entire root system is already mushy. Replanting the plant in new soil with proper drainage will help restore the plant’s health if it has any healthy, white, firm roots.

Clean the roots of the plants gently under running water and trim all brown, mushy roots with a pair of sharp scissors to prepare them for replanting. Just above the injured area, cut the healthy root. Work fast to replant in a short period of time. To prevent the spread of fungi to other plants or soil, sanitize the pruning shears with a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water4 after all the roots have been cut down.

If left untreated, root rot will cause plants to die. Gardeners frequently don’t become aware of the issue until it has advanced because the earliest signs of root rot appear beneath the soil. Take action right once to fix the issue if plants start to exhibit signs of root rot, such as yellow leaves or slowed growth1.

The most vulnerable plants to root rot are those in soils that are too compact for water to drain out effectively or in containers with insufficient drainage holes. Garden plants are not immune to root rot, although container plants are most at danger. By adopting measures to enhance soil drainage prior to planting, the majority of garden root rot problems can be avoided. 2 While it may appear that too much water is the source of the problem, the truth is that too much water creates the ideal environment for the true culprit: fungus.

Can I revive a drowning cactus?

After carefully relocating your cactus, prevention is the key to keeping it healthy and happy. Your plant will benefit from a location with warmth and strong direct light. If you reside in a region with a cold climate, it might even be a good idea to overwinter your cactus inside over the winter.

Of course, the key to maintaining a healthy cactus is to not overwater it. Only water your soil once it is absolutely dry. Water your cactus no more frequently than once a month in the winter; in fact, some cacti can survive the full period of cold weather without being watered! Never allow your cactus sit in water for an extended period of time when watering; instead, always dump any extra water onto a saucer. Remember that it’s always preferable to err on the side of under-watering because cacti have developed a means of storing water in their fleshy stems in order to endure drought.

When it comes to correctly watering a cactus, there is typically a learning curve. Don’t lose hope if your cactus is browning and squishy because you’re a chronic over-waterer; if it still has some healthy green tissue, you can save it. Your damaged roots and stems can be removed, and then you can enjoy your healthy comeback plant!