Why Did My Cactus Shrivel Up

Beginners can fairly easily care for cacti. If your cactus is shriveled, though, it could not be receiving enough attention.

Remember that you can still save a dying cactus before it dies before you throw it away.

I’ve had my cactus plant for about two years. I’ve experienced identical issues with my cactus in the past.

I conducted research and compiled a list of possible causes since I was curious about the many reasons why this might have happened.

Inadequate irrigation, aging, rotting, and too much light are the most frequent reasons of cactus shriveling. The main issue with these problems is their root systems. These problems can be resolved by offering the right amount of water, enough sunlight, and routine disease checks.

There are numerous more potential causes, and this article will explain how to handle shriveling and wrinkled cactus.

How can a withered cactus be revived?


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

Why does my cactus seem to be losing air?

This may occur if, for example, the soil is not sufficiently permeable, if the plant is in a dark or chilly location, or if it has gone a long period without water and the roots have withered. It rarely spreads, but if the plants are placed very close to one another, it can.

Can a cactus be rehydrated?

It’s time to take action and revive your cactus if it starts to appear less than lovely. It might be difficult to observe cacti deteriorating because most plant owners invest a lot of time and attention into them. However, you have a good chance of saving your cherished plant if you adhere to these simple instructions and watch out for the typical signals of distress.

Look for and Fix Root Rot

Root rot is one of the most prevalent problems that cacti have; however, it is not insurmountably difficult to treat. You are likely dealing with a case of root rot if you see discolouration, shakiness, or mushy roots in your cactus. Additionally, you could notice that the plant is starting to take on a brown or black hue.

The wide and shallow root systems of cacti are excellent for maximum water collection, but they can be difficult to grow in smaller pots. It is simple for root rot to develop when you combine a small pot with too much water, compacted roots, and/or a bad drainage system. The problem may appear to be mostly at the cactus’ base rather than at the root, but if left unattended, it could quickly take over the plant.

You should take rapid action to solve the issue if you realize that your plant is starting to have root rot. If you identify the issue before it becomes too severe, you may take care of it, and the plant should recover rapidly. Root rot can be treated in the following ways:

  • Take the plant out of the pot it is in and examine the roots’ overall health. Before repotting the plant in a fresh container with new potting soil, let it dry out and recover from its time in the soil. When handling these prickly plants, you should use protective gloves or wrap them in newspaper to protect yourself from the spines.
  • A lot of cacti respond favorably to the removal of any visible sick tissue. You should proceed with caution because if the rot has spread too far, this could become a problem. However, you can remove the affected flesh by using a clean, sharp knife. Before repotting, you must let any holes dry out; do not wet the wound as it closes.
  • You should thoroughly cleanse the roots and transplant them in sterile soil if they are covered in rot. Your plant might not be salvageable, though, if the root rot is severe. Even though some plants can recover, it can be quite difficult.
  • When it comes to your cactus, another alternative you might want to think about is the possibility of starting a new plant from the cuttings of your dying one. You can take cuttings from the plant and place them into the medium after letting them callus over for a few days. Your dying plant will produce a new, healthy cactus as the cutting starts to take root.

Monitor Your Watering

It can be a problem with watering the plant if you start looking at your plant’s roots and you don’t think the rot is the issue or if you see the rot is not too bad. When it comes to many different varieties of cacti, too much water can be just as harmful as too enough. You should use less water rather than more because these are desert plants.

Watering frequently might lead to two problems: you might be under- or overwatering the plant, and you’ll want to try to fix both of these concerns.

Under-watering Your Cactus

Your cactus doesn’t require a lot of water, but it does need to be watered frequently for optimum growth to occur. You’ll see that the plant starts to pucker or shrivel; it may even turn dark, dry, or calloused as a result of dehydration.

Give your plant a good watering and keep watering it regularly if you see that it appears dehydrated. This should result in a plant that is recovered and thriving.

Overwatering Your Plant

If you see that your plant is turning mushy, you may be overwatering it, which can even cause root rot. The issue with many plants isn’t how much water you’re feeding them; rather, it’s that they can’t adequately drain the water off. Reduce the amount of water you give the plant and how frequently you do so to start. Investigate other options if this is ineffective.

The pot your plant is currently in may also be causing it to hold too much water. Find a pot that is just a little bit bigger than the cactus and repot it with a traditional cactus mix. For this, a clay pot is a fantastic option because it can quickly drain out moisture, and the new mixture should aid in the process.

Offer Your Cactus a New Home

It’s time to acquire a new pot for your cactus because it may start to seem a little feeble. Because it requires a wider growth space, repotting cacti is frequently required by growers. A cactus will eventually overflow the container it is in, and the roots will swell and compact due to the overcrowding.

Your plant will start to experience stunted development if you are not giving it enough room to thrive, which can result in death. If you observe that your plant:

  • started filling the container
  • significant crowding of roots (roots growing out of drainage holes or above soil levels)
  • Running water directly through the container
  • Unhealthy-looking leaves

Time to repoat. To allow the roots to spread, you should transplant your plant to the next larger container size.

You should bear the following in mind when selecting your pot and repotting the plant:

  • Always thoroughly disinfect a new pot with a solution of one part bleach to one part water. This reduces any microorganisms that could be present and gives your plant a secure new beginning.
  • Select a pot that is appropriate for your cactus’ size. Choose a pot that is a little larger than your existing one rather than one that is too tiny or the same size. This will allow your plant to expand while yet providing a stable support.
  • Selecting a pot that is too large could result in even worse problems. The previously described problems result from the increased soil and water capacity of these pots.

Try a New Soil

Whether you had originally intended to repot your plant or not, giving it a new bed of soil can help it recover. You might want to try new soil if your cactus is having problems due to overwatering, undersized pots, or the fact that you are just unable to identify the root of the problem. Phytophthora spp., a type of water mold, is frequently the cause of root rot or other problems of a similar nature.

In soil with sufficient moisture, which can result from overwatering or poor drainage, this rot is frequent. The current soil contains these germs, which is why replacing the soil is crucial if you observe root rot. Some potting mixtures are also overly dense and might contain more water than the majority of cacti require.

You should switch to a lighter, more permeable potting soil if you are repotting your plant. The majority of traditional cacti combinations are still widely accessible today and work well for this. These mixtures are excellent at draining or absorbing any extra water and are frequently resistant to the bacteria that cause root rot.

Check for Mealybugs

Invasive bug species are nothing new to the cactus, just like they are to many other plant species. Mealybugs, in particular, will suck the phloem, or sap, from the cactus plant, which may result in its death. They will weaken your plant’s vigor when they attack it. The bugs also produce wax and sticky honeydew, which lowers the quality of the plants.

You should take action if you see mealybugs near your plant. Increased numbers of these insects can severely impede growth by feeding on the cactus’ stem or foliage. Almost no plant can endure high populations of the beetle, while the majority of healthy plants can tolerate a tiny population.

Many people have discovered that cacti are more susceptible to pests since they have mild temperatures throughout the year, which promotes bug population growth. Additionally, mealybugs have no natural predators to drive them out of the area if you have an indoor cactus that attracts them. Regularly check the plant for bugs, and if you spot any, take appropriate action.

There are many natural cures as well as, of course, some chemical ones for getting rid of bugs. Here are a few easy DIY techniques for reducing the mealybug population:

  • To destroy the insects, dab them with a cotton swab dipped in denatured alcohol. However, keep in mind that until all of the pests have been eliminated from the plant, this treatment must be repeated frequently. Make sure to check for new bugs every few weeks.
  • To reduce the quantity of insects, you can frequently employ a fumigating smoke cone.
  • A few drops of dish soap diluted in one cup of water can be sprayed on the cactus. This is a simple method for efficiently eliminating the bugs. For maximum success, this medication may also need to be administered repeatedly.

Set Up a Good Feeding Schedule

The fact that their plant is malnourished is a significant issue that many cactus owners encounter. Adding this additional nourishment will help cactus become healthier and more colorful even though many of plants can grow and survive without any fertilizer. This makes it crucial for you to regularly fertilize your cactus with a fertilizer that has been recommended.

From spring until early fall, you should feed the plant with a comprehensive cactus fertilizer every two weeks. Feed the cactus about once a month in the fall and winter. Aim for once every few months or even once a year once the plant is developing adequately if you struggle to stick to a timetable.

You need to be careful not to overfertilize the plant because this can cause just as many problems with growth as a nutrition deficiency. You may be overfeeding your cactus if you notice that its leaves are becoming softer, feeling like they are made of fabric, or even turning brown. When feeding your plant, you should always be sure to follow the recommendations on the packaging. If you ever have self-doubt, choose to feed it less rather than more.

Naturally, the quantity of fertilizer used for feeding the plant is just as significant as the sort of fertilizer you give it. Cacti don’t require a lot of food, thus you should diluted any fertilizer you give them to half or even a quarter strength. Your plant’s roots could rot if you use fertilizer at a high dosage.

When looking for and using fertilizer, keep in mind a few key points:

  • Find a ratio formula that works for your plant by comparing various ones. You can use a combination of 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus, and 10% potassium. A lower, more balanced option with a 5-10-5 ratio is also available. The primary thing to watch out for is an excess of nitrogen, which can cause issues.
  • Once you discover a good fertilizer, you should mix according to the directions on the bottle. If it instructs you to mix one tablespoon of fertilizer with one gallon of water, for instance, you should carefully adhere to this instruction and even reduce the fertilizer quantity by half for healthy plants.
  • You should cut the fertilizer even more in half if you’re growing a cacti species that is more of a tropical breed. The Christmas Cactus is a typical tropical plant.
  • You should move your cactus into direct sunlight after feeding it. By removing them from the shade, the plant is better able to use the fertilizer and grow more quickly. Naturally, keep the amount of light and high temperatures to a minimum.

Ensure You Are Offering Proper Light

Your plant may become floppy, pale, and prone to leaf shedding if it doesn’t get enough light. Your plant will very certainly die as a result of this lack of light. Light may be the problem if your plant is growing, but you notice that the new growth is paler or flimsier than usual.

Of course, if a shortage of light is a problem, there are several ways you can provide your plant with light. Among the techniques to give your plant more light are:

  • To provide temporary natural lighting, move it to a windowsill.
  • If the light source is artificial or natural, move it closer to it.
  • Invest in a high-quality artificial light source if you live somewhere where the days get shorter and shorter.
  • A cheap and effective technique to give your plant more light exposure is with LED bulbs or grow lights.

While having too much light might be a serious concern for your cactus, not getting enough light can also be a problem. Cactus corking is a problem that can occur if your plant receives more light than is necessary. On a healthy plant, this is when a solid, brown or even tissue that mimics bark can form just above the earth.

This often begins at the cactus’ base and progresses upward as part of the natural aging process that affects most plants. Your plant is receiving too much sun if you see that your cactus is turning brown from the top down. Your cactus can get sunburned with prolonged exposure, just like people can.

A pale discoloration at the top of the plant or on the side that faces the sun may be the first sign of minor sunburn on your plant. Severe burns will have firm, dark scabs on the surface and will resemble corking. If your cactus has developed these scabs, it has already suffered permanent damage.

You should relocate your plant into the shade to give it time to recover from minor burns or to prevent it from suffering more serious harm. Although cacti are native to the desert, they are not used to receiving a lot of sunshine, and many never see the sun completely throughout the day. You should either gradually adapt the plant to prolonged sun exposure or just reduce the amount of light it receives on a regular basis.

Monitor the Temperature

Although most cacti do thrive in warmer climates, this is not always the case, and they require frequent temperature changes. They are not flowering properly, which is one indication that they are experiencing health problems. This might be caused by the amount of light they receive or the temperature at which you keep them.

The majority of cacti do require warm temperatures to survive, but it’s crucial to keep in mind that the best temperature range for them is between 65 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You should lower these temps for proper growth during the cooler dormant months. Temperatures during these dormant months ought to be closer to 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Most cactus plants only produce flowers when the temperature is between 50 and 55 degrees. Although many cacti may survive in areas with higher humidity levels, if the humidity levels are too high, the cacti will still perish. Additionally, if the temperature is too low, allowing the plant to become overly cool can kill it.

Induce Plant Rooting

Many of the ways we can save your cactus include repotting it or taking it out of its current container. For the cactus, this can be dramatic and fatal without adequate roots Encourage fresh rooting in the plant’s new soil if you see that the roots have been compromised by rot or overwatering.

You might need to trim away damaged plant tissue from the plant, as was described in our initial step about root rot. As a result, it may become more important to establish new roots in order to survive. Fortunately, cacti are some of the best regenerators of all plants; a complete cactus plant may be produced from a small amount of healthy tissue.

Before planting the cactus, you can take a few extra actions to effectively stimulate new rooting:

  • Till heavy scabs appear on the sliced portions, let the cactus dry out for a few days.
  • Insert the remaining cactus portion into a container filled with cactus soil or another high-quality, porous soil that you are familiar with working well.
  • Cactus should be buried about an inch deep. Simply bury it halfway if the only tissue left is very little. Make sure a significant portion is in the soil and some is left above it.
  • Avoid overwatering the cactus, and for the first week, you should completely cease.
  • After the first week, you should water the plant sparingly and keep an eye out for any signs of new growth.