Why Are My Cactus Leaves Turning Yellow

A cactus going yellow can be a sign of too much light, the improper soil, or a pot that is too tiny. Don’t be alarmed if it turns yellowish; you can probably bring it back to life. You’re either underwatering or overwatering, most likely.

It’s possible that you’re drowning your plant by committing a common cacti watering blunder. You may simply fix this by altering your watering schedule. When a yellow tint starts to appear on your cactus, we consulted a houseplant specialist for advice.

Leaf Envy (opens in new tab), a retailer of indoor plants and cactus, is owned and operated by Beth Chapman. She has extensive knowledge in this subject and claims that while there isn’t a universal solution, there are a few common aspects relating to its habitat and conditions.

She advises us to start by understanding where our cacti are placed in the house. Cacti, in contrast to most plants, benefit from a lot of bright, direct sunlight.

“Not getting enough light exposure could affect its health and induce discoloration,” says Beth. Second, cactus don’t require as much watering as the rest of your plant collection because they can withstand desert heat and drought-like circumstances.

Beth advises to water plants only after the earth has become completely dry and to generally water plants less during the winter. She advises not watering your cactus if you’ve overwatered it until the soil has dried out and checking to see whether the roots have died.

If they haven’t passed away, you’re in luck, and we recommend repotting your plant using soil made specifically for cacti, says Beth. However, gloves are advised because the terrain can be somewhat thorny.

Cacti cannot be grown outdoors in the UK, but there are many inventive cactus garden ideas for anyone who lives in a warm, dry region. These ideas can be used to create an eye-catching outdoor show.

Cacti and other succulents are a terrific option, whether you’re the happy owner of a collection of ladyfingers and blue columnar cacti or if a giant rabbit ear cactus gives your living room a Joshua Tree feel. You now know to use a method of elimination to correct it if you notice a yellowish tint to yours.

How can yellow cactus be fixed?

Overwatering is frequently the cause of cacti turning yellow. Cacti occasionally require watering, but in most situations this should happen less frequently than once per week.

Your plant will begin to turn yellow (and occasionally have some brown spots on its edges) and eventually die if you overwater it.

A standing puddle around the base of the plants or pots should be avoided as well because this might result in overwatering issues like root rot or stem decay.

Try letting the soil dry out between waterings if you suspect that your cactus is becoming yellow as a result of overwatering.

If this doesn’t resolve the issue, check sure there are no standing puddles close to the base of the structure and that it is receiving enough sunlight and airflow.

Not Enough Sun Exposure

Since cacti require a lot of light to develop and thrive, if you keep one in the dark for an extended period of time, its color will begin to change.

Make sure there are no obstructions preventing sunlight from reaching the plant if it is outdoors.

Additionally, observe whether any of your plants need more strong light because they were recently repotted before they start to produce new green growth.

A succulent plant’s color will also depend on where it is located inside, as some artificial lighting can lead them to change color over time.

Place your indoor cactus in a location with lots of natural light.

Too Much Sun Exposure

However, cacti can become fried and become yellow if they are planted in a location where they are exposed to strong sunshine.

Cacti frequently get sunburned and turn yellow if they are left in the sun for an extended period of time.

Relocating your plant so that it isn’t exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day is the best method to avoid this.

Your cactus plant can also be placed in an area with early and afternoon shade, or you can put up a sun-blocking screen.

If you transfer your cactus from a shaded place to a sunny one, yellowing may also occur.

The plant will suffer exposure damage and turn yellow if it isn’t used to getting so much sun.

But it won’t always be this this! Your cactus’s natural defenses will also strengthen as you gradually expose it to more sunshine, which should stop any further damage or yellow discolouration.

Not Enough Water During Hot Weather or Drought Conditions

Too much sun, drought, or even putting the plant in a pot for a few weeks without any watering can all contribute to this.

You’ll need to water more frequently and thoroughly till the soil is moist once more to resolve this issue.

Misting your plant can also prevent it from turning yellow if there isn’t any rain or moisture in the air.

If your cactus has been yellow for a while and they live in a hot area or a drought, you might want to attempt the following:

Make sure it isn’t being sunburned by being in a place with too much light first.

If this is not the cause of the yellowing, make sure to water the plant frequently and wait until the soil is totally dry before watering it again.

A location with some shade or close to an open window where there may be some humidity in the air is another option for moving your plant.

Poor Soil With Low Nutrient Content

Your cactus plant will become yellow if it is being grown in a pot with inadequate soil and little nutrient content.

Cacti require premium, porous soil that can hold plenty of water without becoming top-heavy or prone to tipping over when irrigated.

Because they contain additional elements like iron and calcium, which are crucial for good growth, potting soil mixtures specifically designed for cacti (succulent/cactus soil) are typically highly recommended.

Temperature Change

Changes in temperature are among the most frequent reasons why cacti turn yellow.

They can be brought on by moving the object from one place to another or by positioning it next to a heat source, such as a heater or an oven vent.

Your plant may be turning yellow if you haven’t recently relocated it and the temperature in its current location has considerably altered.

Move your plant to its new place gradually over a few days to avoid cactus yellowing from temperature changes.

You can stop a cactus from turning yellow due to abrupt temperature fluctuations by moving it gently.

A cactus may require some time to recover if it becomes yellow as a result of abrupt changes in its environment.

In this situation, you ought to hold off on more fertilization or irrigation until the color has returned. Otherwise, root rot can develop if water was provided too soon after the temperature change while remaining at high temps.

Keep the soil damp but never wet when gradually moving plants between locations with big temperature fluctuations to help prevent cactus root rot.

Too Much or Not Enough Fertilizer

Over- or underfertilizing a cactus is another factor that might cause it to turn yellow. Lack of water will cause the plant to begin to stress out and eventually turn yellow from a lack of nutrients.

The surface leaves may also turn brown and peel off as they degrade if too much fertilizer is sprayed in one day.

Salts in excess fertilizers accumulate on the soil’s surface and prevent moisture from reaching roots.

Although it’s challenging, the best technique to “correct this problem” is to give the plant consistent watering for at least two weeks without giving it any fertilizer.

After some time, you can gradually reapply fertilizer until the plant’s leaves appear better and have sprouted new leaves.

Pests

Pests attacking a cactus are among the most frequent causes of its yellowing.

Typically, these are pests that have multiplied and populated the plant, sucking away all the nutrients from its yellow leaves, like mealybugs or spider mites.

Check your plants frequently for any indications of insect infestation to avoid this because even a small amount of pests can quickly grow to be overpowering levels.

Most importantly, make sure to remove any dead matter from surrounding or close to your plant so that it won’t be used as food. Dead organic matter will only encourage bugs to multiply.

Simply spray it on the plant and rub it thoroughly to remove any remaining white residue, just like you would with an insect repellent. Although it smells awful, it produces fantastic effects!

Diseases

Cephaleuros wilt, a common fungal disease brought on by the fungus Verticillium dahliae, is one such condition that might manifest this characteristic (Vd).

The plant loses its ability to carry water throughout the rest of its body as a result of this illness, which also causes the tissues that conduct water to die. Yellow may also be a result of other signs of diseases like chlorosis.

Due to their low nutrient uptake, cacti and succulents are most frequently afflicted by chlorosis or iron insufficiency.

When this occurs, you could notice that your plant’s general color is a lighter shade of green with light brown flecks.

Though it can occur at any moment during a cactus’ lifespan, it typically does so when the plant receives either too much (overwatering) or not enough (underwatering) water (underwatering).

Repotting them into new soil will help plants acquire new nutrients and a better drainage system. Then, be careful to use a pair of scissors to remove any dead roots, and immediately provide a lot of direct sunlight!

Frost Damage

The cactus might not be able to recover if the damage from the frost is causing it to become yellow.

Frost damage has the potential to permanently scar the surface of a plant’s leaves and do irreparable damage to its cells and tissues.

This kind of injury typically happens when it is below freezing overnight or when mild freezes last for several days.

If possible, try relocating your cactus to a location with more direct sunshine or greater humidity levels in this situation.

If the cactus was damaged by frost, keeping it somewhere with temps about 50 degrees Fahrenheit may help it recover over time.

Move your plant back into its usual environment as soon as this region warms up and new growth starts to emerge. Keep doing this until all traces of frost damage are gone.

Exposure to Chemicals

Some chemicals have the ability to turn cacti yellow. These include fluorine, chlorine, and other elements that can be found in fertilizers or water.

It’s possible that a nearby chemical spill or overuse of these goods surrounding your plants is the source of your cactus’ yellowing.

Moving them away from any suspected sources of contamination, such as sprinklers used on nearby lawns, may help if you feel that this is the cause.

Can a yellow cactus revert to greenery?

The soft yellow sections of the cactus do not turn green again if root rot is the cause of the yellowing, and they should be removed to stop the rot from spreading throughout the entire plant.

The cactus does not turn green again if it has been turned yellow by sunburn. Keep the cactus out of direct sunlight and produce a new green cactus from any offshoots, pads, or cuttings that are still healthy.

The cactus should turn green again if it has been yellow and wrinkled as a result of submersion. Make sure the soil is evenly moistened by giving the cactus plenty of water. This aids in replenishing the cacti’s moisture stores and transforming their previously yellow appearance into one that is healthy and green.

What does a cactus that is overwatered look like?

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 determine if a cactus has been overwatered or not?

The cactus won’t typically seem radically different from day to day because underwatering typically happens gradually over time.

There are a few indicators, nevertheless, that will let you know if your cactus is submerged.

Signs of an Underwatered Cactus

Knowing the warning signals of an underwatered cactus is crucial for prompt response. Your cactus will have a better chance of recovering if you do this.

The most typical warning indicators of a submerged cactus include:

The Cactus Is Light Green or Yellowish

Since this normally happens gradually over time, the color change might not be apparent right away.

If your cactus begin to become light green or yellowish, keep an eye out for more symptoms of an underwatered plant.

The Spines Are Falling off Easily

A well-watered cactus has roots that go far into the ground and take in water there.

Their root systems do not, however, work correctly while they are underwater because the dearth of nutrients in the soil leads them to wither away.

As a result, the spines become fragile and easily detach.

another typical indicator of a submerged cactus

The Cactus Is Wilting

Due to nutrient deficiency, their spines cannot support the plant adequately, which causes them to lose their shape.

As a result, plants that were formerly upright and in good shape gradually start to sag or droop.

Decay at the Base of the Plant

Roots will cease developing and begin to deteriorate over time if they are unable to absorb enough nutrients from the soil as a result of a lack of water, which will eventually result in decay at the base of the plant.

It’s possible that you won’t immediately notice whether or not your cacti are underwater because this normally happens gradually.

The New Growth on Your Cacti Is Weak and off Center With Older Growth

Lack of nutrients will have an impact on how a cactus develops new limbs.

In this instance, you’ll see that the younger growth is somewhat deformed and less symmetrical than the older ones-another indication that the cactus has been submerged.