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.
If there’s no rain or moisture in the air, misting may also assist protect your plant from turning yellow.
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.
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 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!
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!
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.
How can an overwatered cactus be identified?
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.