The obvious indicators of an overwatered cactus caused by a fungus in the soil include black or brown blotches and mushy stems. It’s time to carefully chop them off with a knife if you experience any of these bodily symptoms. Use a sterilized knife while handling a rotting plant to prevent the spread of the infection.
You will have to exert more effort if the damage is severe. Essentially, what you’ll be doing is multiplying the portions of your plant that are still alive. Wear nitrile gloves to protect your hands from the cactus’ spines while you chop off the rotting sections, and exercise extreme caution when handling the plant. After cutting out the damaged areas, let your cuttings air dry for a few days, or around a week.
How can you tell if your cactus needs more water?
Here are a few frequent problems that many plant owners have when trying to determine the best approach to take care of succulents and cacti.
Cacti and succulents adore light. No succulent or cactus we’ve ever seen wants to sit on your gloomy office desk, even if some species (for succulents, try haworthia or gasteria; for cacti, try epiphytes like rhipsalis and hatiora) can endure lower light. To thrive, these guys need to be close to a window, ideally one that faces south so they can make the most of the sunlight. The first step in determining whether you are prepared to care for succulents and cacti is to choose a light spot in your home.
When they don’t receive enough light, succulents exhibit peculiar behavior. If your succulents require more light, you’ll frequently notice yellowing in them. Bright pink, purple, or yellow colors frequently return to simply plain green, while deep green will eventually fade to pale green.
The development habits of succulents are similarly impacted by inadequate light. Succulents frequently become long and spindly in an effort to reach for the light. Sempervivum and echeveria species, which typically grow in rosettes, may suddenly start growing tall and reaching for additional light.
Likewise with cacti. As the cactus strives for light, what was formerly dark, robust flesh may turn pale. Additionally, just like “reaching succulents,” cacti that don’t get enough light will exhibit odd growth patterns. Etiolation is the process of new growth being significantly smaller than the rest of the plant; occasionally, long, tendril-like branches or unusually skinny new growth on the top of the cactus will emerge.
Succulents and cacti can bounce back from too little light, but the etiolated growth habit is irreversible. If the strange growth pattern bothers you, consider trimming it off. Many succulents and cacti may flourish after pruning. The new growth that appears should be “normal and non-etiolated” as long as you relocate your plant to a position where it will receive enough light.
Finally, because the soil will remain wet for too long in the absence of proper light, root rot might also result. See if your plant might be experiencing root rot as a result of inadequate light by seeing the photographs of it below.
Most cacti and succulents can withstand direct sunlight. However, if your plant isn’t used to it, using too much can be hazardous. For instance, moving a succulent or cactus onto the porch for the summer (very recommended!) and suddenly exposing it to 3 or 4 hours of direct sunlight per day will cause it to burn.
Burn typically manifests itself on your cactus and succulents as browned or calloused flesh. Your best approach for recognizing burn is to look for discoloration, especially on the side of the plant facing the window. A coarser texture will develop on the burned leaves or meat compared to the remainder of the plant.
Burnt leaves cannot be repaired; you can either remove them by pruning or by changing the surroundings so that your plant receives more suitable light.
Succulents and cacti should be moved outdoors during the summer, but do it gradually to give them time to become used to the brighter environment. Start them off in a shaded outdoor space (which will still be brighter than your living room, most likely), and gradually increase their exposure to light over the course of a week or two.
not enough It is undoubtedly safer to provide too little water than too much in the context of caring for succulents and cacti. Despite this, succulents and cacti do require water, particularly in the spring and summer when they are actively growing.
The problematic issue is that having too much or too little water can sometimes appear alike. However, if you err on the side of caution, you might reasonably assume that you are under-watering if your plant exhibits the following behaviors.
When succulents receive insufficient water, they frequently pucker. Because they store water in their foliage, succulents and cacti are lush and meaty. The plant relies on these water reserves to live during dry spells. As the plant physically consumes its water stores, the flesh will start to shrivel or pucker. As observed in these jade species, this typically begins on the lower leaves and moves its way up the plant:
Here’s another illustration of a succulent that is thirsty (a few of which often happen to be etiolated from low light). Observe how they seem a little bit shriveled:
Additionally, a dry cactus may pucker or shrivel in addition to discoloring (usually getting brown and dry, or calloused).
Give your cactus and succulents a nice, thorough watering if they exhibit these symptoms. But always choose cactus or succulent soil that drains properly, as your plants won’t want to stay in wet soil for very long. The leaves should quickly re-puff up!
too much From only a picture, it might be difficult to tell whether a cactus has received too much or too little water. Without knowing how much water it received, for instance, it would be difficult to determine whether this opuntia cactus received too much or not because the symptoms are frequently similar:
However, a succulent or cactus that has received too much water will feel mushy rather than simply puckered. These plants can store a lot of water, but once that storage capacity is exhausted, the plant will literally come apart as the cell walls and roots decay. This results in them becoming mushy, and it’s a crucial distinction that may help you distinguish between over- and under-watering while also looking at your own watering practices and the surrounding environment.
Overwatering is characterized by a variety of symptoms, including browning or blackening of the plant’s leaves or stems, browning or blackening at the plant’s base, mushy or leaky plants, and plants that are practically decomposing in front of your eyes.
Gently remove your succulent or cactus from its pot and look at the roots if you suspect decay. When a plant has brown or black roots, it
To cool Because they are native to desert settings, the majority of succulents and cacti are well-suited to freezing nighttime temperatures (jungle cacti, for example). Most succulents and cacti prefer chilly nights, especially in the winter. In fact, several species, such jade, christmas cactus, and epiphylum, bloom more readily in colder climates.
Low temperatures, however, can be an issue indoors because they frequently coincide with high humidity levels. When you water your cacti and succulents in the cool winter months, the soil will remain moist for a lot longer than it would in the hot summer months. You guessed it: root rot results from cool, damp soil.
Pay close attention to your succulent and cactus watering schedule if your house gets quite cold in the winter. You might only need to water your plants once a month or even less, depending on their type, size, drainage capabilities, and pot. Additionally, we advise erring on the side of caution when it comes to winter watering and giving the plant a moderate amount as opposed to completely soaking the soil.
The procedures outlined above for identifying over-watering are the best approach to determine if too-cold temperatures are having an impact on your succulents and cacti.
too warm Cacti and succulents are particularly skilled at tolerating high temperatures since they can survive cold temperatures for the same reason! After all, the desert is a region of extremes.
However, excessive heat in an indoor growth setting frequently causes watering problems. If your plants are outdoors in the heat, they will quickly dry out. Depending on the heat and exposure, you might need to water your succulents and cacti twice a month or even every week.
When put in a window, excessive temperatures can also be a problem for cacti and succulents. Plants can be burned by the sun’s heat coming through glass since it tends to be more intense. Utilizing the detection procedures outlined under “too much light,” check for burn.
What cacti-related issues have you had? How are succulents cared for? There is so much to learn, and we’d love to learn from you. Please share with us in the comments.
Have inquiries? For a chance to have your issue addressed in the upcoming episode of Pistils Rx, feel free to post it in the comments section or send us an email with images.
What does a cactus that hasn’t received water look like?
Cactus plants may thrive in hot, dry regions. The succulents can survive in dry environments more easily because of their deep-rooted ability to collect water. Some cacti species, however, can rarely flourish in desert environments and yet require adequate hydration for cell creation and growth. What occurs then if the cactus is submerged in water? What can you do to keep the succulent alive and well?
A cactus that has been submerged will start to lose its prickly exterior and start to become brown on the stems and leaves. The succulent will start to bend and lose its erect position due to the extremely dry soil. If the cactus’ potting soil is compacted, repot it and give it an emergency watering to save and revive it.
How can you spot a dying cactus?
When a cactus looks shriveled and husk-like, it is dead. Additionally, dead cacti can become unstable in their soil and topple over. They could start to smell rancid and becoming mushy, both of which are indicators that they are rotting. Cacti that are dead lose their spines and frequently appear brown.
Can you save a cactus from too much water?
But if you notice any green on your cactus, there’s a strong possibility you can still revive it, regardless of how awful it appears. The task of saving an overwatered cactus is definitely doable. With some patience and some work, you can grow a healthy cactus in a few weeks.
Can a cactus that is overwatered survive?
Do I water my cactus too frequently? Very likely. Although they are drought resilient, cacti actually require some drought to survive. Their roots are susceptible to decay, and too much water can be fatal.
Sadly, the signs of overwatering in cacti can be highly deceptive. Overwatered cactus plants first exhibit signals of health and contentment. They might fill up and sprout new growth. However, the roots are in trouble underground.
The roots will rot and die when they become wet. The plant above ground will start to decline as more roots die, typically becoming softer and changing color. It might already be too late to save it at this point. When the cactus is ripe and expanding swiftly, it’s critical to identify the symptoms early and to drastically reduce watering at that time.
My cactus: Is it too dry or too wet?
You may have spent a lot of time and work on your little plant because cactus grow very slowly. Unfortunately, by overwatering our cactus, many of us kill them unintentionally. This is the main cause of a house cactus that is having trouble. They do an excellent job of letting you know when you are doing this, which is a blessing.
- Your cactus breaks apart.
- Your cactus is puckered and squishy.
- The moisture in your soil remains too long.
- In the winter, your cactus is starting to wither.
- Your cactus is fading, especially at the base, becoming black or brown.
Your Cactus Splits
Perhaps you took a long vacation or temporarily forgot about your cactus. The soil appeared to be extremely dry when you returned, so you poured a lot of water on it. The cactus’ skin begins to split the next thing you know.
When a cactus absorbs too much water at once, this happens. These plants draw in more water than other home plants because they are very effective at absorbing and storing it. Although they are intended to expand when it rains, too much expansion might be dangerous. This is what separates them.
Additionally, if they have been too dry for too long, the plant has probably shrunk in order to survive the dry environment. If it has been a while since your plant last had water, you should reintroduce water carefully to allow it to grow and expand at its own pace.
Be at ease, though! The plant is not permanently harmed by splitting. By forming a callus and enclosing the region, cacti have evolved to repair themselves from this kind of harm. Your plant should continue to develop normally if you just keep watering it lightly.
Your Cactus is Mushy & Puckered
Too little or too much water can cause puckered succulent leaves or cactus, which is an issue.
Because of the water it has stored inside, a healthy cactus will be rounded and firm. These warehouses act as reserves for periods when fresh water is in short supply. The cactus will start to draw on these stores as it dries up in order to survive. The skin starts to pull inward as water volume is lost if it sucks too much from them. This is a symptom of insufficient water and typically starts at the base of the plant.
On the other hand, if the cactus takes in too much water, the available space will be depleted. The plant stores water in its cells, but if these cells become overly full, they will rupture and the plant will literally disintegrate from the inside out. As a result, the plant becomes puckered and mushy.
In order to establish whether you are under- or over-watering your cactus, you need be mindful of your watering practices. In order to fix this, gradually increase the amount of water you add or decrease how often you water the plant.
Do you believe your plant is through one of these conditions? Check at the pictures in this article from Pistils Nursery if you’re unsure of what to look for in terms of mush or puckering. There are several nice illustrations of how these signals typically appear.
Your Soil Stays Moist for Too Long
Although you might be tempted, you shouldn’t plant your new cactus in regular potting soil or compost. The purpose of typical potting soil is to keep moisture near the plant. This is due to the fact that cactus are better than other houseplants at swiftly absorbing water.
Water is a luxury for cacti. In other words, they quickly absorb as much water as they can. This is due to the inherently dry and poor soil in which these plants are found. Any rainfall is not expected to last for very long, whether it evaporates or drains through runoff. This implies the cactus must acquire it quickly before it disappears.
Therefore, if the soil around the roots is left moist for an extended period of time, your cactus will continue to drink it until it becomes too saturated; it won’t know when to stop! And to make matters worse, this oversaturation may cause root rot and other issues.
You can replace your potting medium to a cactus-specific soil that is gritty and poor in nutrients to avoid this. This soil usually has equal amounts of:
- Unsmooth mixture (pebbles or pot shards)
some mixtures even include:
- fibrous coconut
Read the directions carefully since the need for these extra components will mostly rely on the sort of cactus you have. For instance, peat can be helpful if you live in a very dry region. Although it is made to keep moisture, if you let it become overly dry, it will be difficult to rehydrate.
Making your own or purchasing a commercial cactus mix has the advantage of draining more quickly and promoting evaporation. After changing the potting media, be sure to give it plenty of time to completely dry out before watering again. Additionally, if there is a drainage saucer, remember to empty it!
Your Cactus is Starting to Die in the Winter
Because you are currently experiencing the coldest months of the year, you could believe that your cactus is dying. Although these plants prefer warm weather and sunlight, they are accustomed to cold nights because they live in the desert. So, it’s doubtful that the winter weather is killing your cactus if you keep it indoors and it’s not right next to a cold window.
Cacti go dormant or semi-dormant in the winter, much like all other plants. Their growth is far slower, and their soil does not typically dry out as quickly. This implies that they normally use less water than they would in the summer. Therefore, if you have continued to water your cactus on a regular basis as the days get shorter, you might be doing it too frequently.
Cacti are no different from other plants in that they all require less water throughout the winter. In the summer, you might water your cactus once a week (or more if you let it spend time outside in the blazing sun), but in the winter, it might be too much. Try to mimic the cactus’ natural environment.
The majority of plant specialists advise watering the cactus just twice or three times over the entire winter season. When you do, be sure to follow the first step listed above and avoid giving it too much water at once.
Your Cactus is Turning Black or Brown
Another indication of either under- or over-watering is discoloration. Understanding the differences between various hues and textures that could show up as a result of how you water your cactus is crucial.
If a cactus is excessively dry, the tips may be turning brown and crunchy. These resemble sunburns or calluses. If your cactus exhibits this symptom, try providing it with more water; eventually, the harm will be repaired. But make sure the ground is completely permeable!
On the other hand, over watering could cause root rot if the leaves or stems are turning black or dark brown. These dark patches typically appear on the lower leaves or plant parts, or near the base of the plant. They are drenched and sometimes even gushing or leaking. This indicates that there is so much water in your plant that it has accumulated in the roots.
If you have a suspicion that this is the case, carefully remove your succulent from its container and look at the root system. Your plant may survive if the root network is extensive and appears healthy. Repot it in new, dry soil and water it less frequently.
The succulent is in jeopardy if the roots appear dead or browned. Most likely, in order to maintain it growing well, you will need to make an effort to save some of its healthier areas.
Not sure whether your cactus has dryness or root rot? To compare your plant to, look at the photo examples from this page on Pistils Nursery.