Why Would A Cactus Turn Brown

Cacti can change color from yellow to brown. This process, known as corking, is most frequently caused by aging. When a cactus reaches maturity, corking occurs spontaneously.

It starts at the plant’s base where the soil is in contact and might gently progress upward or remain stationary. The plant looks woody after corking. The plant is solid to the touch and generally healthy.

You have a distinct problem if the plant becomes brown and feels mushy or soft to the touch. This typically indicates either rotting, sickness, or both. Rot can develop at the roots of a cactus that has been exposed to constant moisture and progress up the plant.

A cactus can also turn brown from diseases like fungus or from pest infestation. The browning frequently affects various plant components, and when touched, it will feel soft and mushy rather than hard.

How is Browning cactus fixed?

Look to check if the brown spot and the vicinity are mushy and soft. If so, your cactus has probably started to rot from the inside out and is now displaying symptoms on the outside.

After noticing soft brown areas, the best technique to fix your cactus is to cut off healthy stems (without any signs of rot) and start a new plant.

Before cutting, disinfect a razor blade or a pair of extremely sharp sheers. Cut the cactus above the area of rot, allow it to dry, callus over, and then plant it again.

Use fresh soil, and thoroughly clean and dry the pot if you’re using the same one. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to save your cactus as is once it has begun to decay.

In other words, the only method to revive a cactus that has developed rot is to cut off the healthy stems—those portions of the plant that are still green—and repot them in fresh soil.

Can a brown cactus be revived?

Cactus death is typically caused by root rot brought on by over watering and poorly draining potting soils. Between waterings, cacti require the soil surrounding their roots to dry out. The cactus turns yellow, brown, or black with a spongy texture if the soil is persistently moist.

If a cactus receives too much shade, the stem will droop or lean over, but if it is shifted from shade to full sun without first being exposed to more intense light, the cactus will turn white and appear burnt.

When a cactus is living in conditions that are drastically different from those of its natural environment, it will eventually die.

By placing the cactus in at least six hours of direct sunlight, only watering when the soil has completely dried out, and planting or repotting the cactus in specially formulated well-draining gritty succulent and cacti soil to improve drainage so the cactus can recover, you can revive a dying cactus.

Why is the stem of my cactus going brown?

The stem is frequently rotting if it begins to turn brown. A strong, green stem is a sign of health. The most frequent reason for a cactus plant’s brown, rotting stem is root rot, which is nearly always caused by either overwatering, inadequate drainage, or both. Sadly, this can spell doom for your moon cactus. The plant won’t be able to recover if the roots are killed, however you can simply check this. Examine the roots by gently removing the plant from the pot or digging it out. The plant is likely dead if they are slimy and brown. If they are white and firm, consider replanting the cactus in a fresh pot or garden spot with new, sterile soil.

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 frequently do cacti need to be watered?

The most frequent reason for cacti failure is improper watering, whether it is done too much or too little. Cacti have evolved to store water for extended periods of time and can maintain moisture through droughts because they are endemic to arid regions and dry temperatures. They have a limited capacity, which is why over-watering can result in a variety of issues.

When it comes to regularity, watering your cacti will largely depend on the season but also on the variety. Checking the soil is the easiest technique to determine whether your cactus needs water: It’s time for a drink if the top inch is dry. That entails applying the “soak and dry procedure” on cactus.

What is the soak and dry method?

The soak and dry technique is thoroughly wetting the soil until part of it begins to flow out the drainage hole, then waiting until the mixture is nearly dry before wetting it once more. If done properly, this strategy will help them endure a period of under-watering should you need to travel or leave the house because it takes use of their natural tendency to store water (or if you just get busy and watering falls to the wayside, as happens to all of us now and again).

Watering during the growing season versus the inactive season

Like with many houseplants, the season affects how frequently you need water. It becomes more crucial that you get in the habit of examining the soil to determine whether your cacti are thirsty. A healthy cactus needs watering every one to two weeks during the growing season, according to general wisdom. The frequency changes to once every three to four weeks during the off-season.

Even then, it’s crucial to examine the soil. The same way that not all interior spaces and not all cacti are alike. The only way to be certain that your cactus require watering is to carefully examine the soil to determine how dry it is because there are so many different factors.

What signs do a cactus show when it needs water?

Fair enough, it can be challenging to make the appropriate decision. Everyone will give you different recommendations because there is so much conflicting information available. Additionally, many plants have various preferences. How do you even begin?

But the story doesn’t end there. You know, a number of things might impact how frequently you should water. To name a few:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • composition of the soil
  • Light intensity
  • Season
  • Dormancy
  • Species
  • Outdoors versus Indoors

There are other others, but we won’t go into them now. The most crucial thing to keep in mind is that, even though 10 days is a solid guideline, you should constantly be aware of the shifting circumstances. You should adjust your watering schedule to account for them.

For instance, it’s well known that throughout the summer, you should water your plants more frequently. It is, after all, much hotter. Water evaporates more quickly, and your plants do too!

Arizona experiences intensely hot and arid summers. Your succulents will need water as frequently as possible if they are in a climate like that. You should water them every day or every other day in those conditions, believe it or not.

The East Coast, including Virginia, can have extremely hot summers. The humidity, nevertheless, is also quite high. Evaporation proceeds far more slowly here than it would in Arizona since the air is already so heavily laden with water. In this situation, we advise watering every five to six days.

Naturally, winters are the opposite. Days get shorter, the sun shines less, and the temperature drops. Some of your plants enter a dormant state (much like a bear hibernating).

You water significantly less regularly throughout the winter (especially for outdoor plants). Depending on how often I remember, I water my indoor plants once every two to three weeks. Sedum and Sempervivum are examples of outdoor, cold-tolerant plants that may never need watering since the odd snow or sleet is more than enough.

Root Rot

The risk of root rot is the primary reason we lay such a strong focus on watering regularly.

The quiet killer that kills the majority of succulents and cacti is root rot. Because it takes place underneath the soil’s surface, you won’t even notice anything is amiss until the plant topples over due to a rotting core.

Why does root rot occur? In a nutshell, roots will begin to decay if they are left in water for an extended period of time. This is due to the fact that plants actually breathe through their roots and that air does not travel well through water.

The succulent essentially drowns. It also doesn’t need to be a lot of water. Root rot can develop only from being damp or moist for an extended period of time.

Because of this, frequency of watering is more crucial than quantity. Giving the succulent adequate time to dry out in between waterings is essential.

How to Know if the Soil is Dry

The first step in keeping your plant dry is to have a fast-draining soil that is primarily formed of inorganic components. Step two involves watering only when the plant has completely dried.

It is simple to determine whether the soil is dry. The simplest method is to just insert your finger into the saucepan. A minimum depth of two inches is required since sometimes the surface may be dry but the ground beneath may not be. Don’t water if it feels damp, wet, or even a touch colder than the surface. Allow a few days.

To check, you can also use a soil moisture meter. These tools are extremely helpful for inspecting numerous plants, however the less expensive models can be somewhat incorrect.

Finally, just watch for your succulent or cacti’s leaves to wrinkle. Though it seems frightening, the plant is not actually damaged. Instead of erring on the side of wet, choose dry.

What does a cactus that is dying look like?

Possible dead cactus symptoms include: Cacti topple over or are exceedingly flimsy in the ground. Spikes could come off. These two symptoms point to both root rot and overwatering. Yellow turns brown in color.

Why did my cactus turn squishy and brown?

Cactus tip rot, which is evident when the top of the plant begins to become dark and mushy, is most likely the cause (aka cactus stem rot).

That basically signifies that your cactus is starting to rot. If nothing is done, cactus stem rot will quickly become a serious problem.

A cactus will continue to deteriorate from the top down once it begins. The plant will finally perish as it continues to spread down the entire stem.

Therefore, it’s critical to take quick action as soon as you see cactus tip rot in order to save the plant.

Why is the cactus in my container dying?

Any home gardener will be excited to bring a new cactus home, but it may be disappointing when it starts to die for no obvious reason. Fortunately, there are approaches to identify the cause of your cactus’ problems and deal with it to restore its health.

How come your cactus is dying then? Since cacti are often hardy plants, poor maintenance or severe surroundings are the main causes of dying cacti. The following are the three reasons your cactus might be dying:

  • Your cactus is being overwatered (or underwatered).
  • Your cactus isn’t receiving the appropriate amount of sunshine each day.
  • Your cactus needs better soil drainage, unfortunately.

How can you tell if your cactus is dying?

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 I revive a dead cactus?

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.

How come my cactus appears burned?

Cacti plants can turn brown for a variety of causes, as was indicated in our introduction. We go over some of the main causes of this issue in this section.

Root rot

The issue may be root rot if your cactus plant’s base is getting brown and the stem is mushy and yellow.

Root rot can unfortunately be quite difficult to save because it typically starts inside the plant before spreading outside. The majority of the time, root rot symptoms don’t appear until the issue has already progressed.

The best course of action is to stop watering the plant as soon as you discover signs of root rot and repot it in soil that drains effectively.

In order to prevent the rot from spreading, you can also try to rescue your plant by removing all of the rotting tissue and some of the healthy tissue surrounding it.

Use a clean, sharp knife, and clean it between each cut with alcohol. When you’re through, make sure to rub sulfur powder on the wounds to aid in the plant’s recovery. The most frequent causes of root rot are soils with poor drainage and overwatering.

Indoor hazards

The same pests and diseases that threaten outdoor cactus can threaten your interior plants. Indoor plants, however, could experience extra issues that are exclusive to them.

Make careful to ensure that your indoor plants are not adjacent to a heat vent if they begin to exhibit indications of browning or drying out.

Despite the plant’s thick layer of waxy protection, the hot stream of air that the vent blows can cause the tissues to dry out. Similar harm can also be done by AC vents, albeit it might take longer for the harm to manifest.

Usually, if your plant is not directly in a window and starts to turn brown and feel brittle on one side, it is time to think about relocating it to another location.


The most frequent and likely reason for your cactus plant to start turning brown from the top is sunburn. Given that the majority of us have a misconception that cactus are sun-loving desert plants, this may sound strange.

Not all cacti species, meanwhile, do well in the intense sunlight. Some of them need only a little sun and some shade to grow successfully. If you don’t give your new cacti plants from the store or nursery enough time to adjust to the harsh outdoor light, they could also get sunburned.

Mild sunburn typically manifests as a pale discoloration on the plant’s sun-facing side. The whitish areas eventually transform into brown scars, which are a sign of severe sunburn. There is nothing you can do to repair severe brown burns on cacti plants because they have been permanently damaged.

Moving your plant to a shaded area, however, will rescue it if it has white patches. It will totally recover if you give it shade on the warmest days of the year. It would also be beneficial if you spend some time learning about the lighting requirements of your plant so that you can create the ideal environment.

Remember that species of cacti that aren’t used to being in direct sunlight need to acclimate by being exposed to full sunlight for a brief period of time every day.

Start gradually increasing the exposure over several weeks. Your plants will quickly become accustomed to the outdoor lighting settings.

It’s also important to note that some cacti plants shouldn’t be left in direct sunlight all day.


Scales are tiny insects with hard, brown shell coverings that frequently resemble brown patches on cacti plants. These insects consume plant liquids, weakening the cactus plant and turning it brown or yellow.

If this is the case, you might want to wash your plant with a reasonably light detergent solution or consider spraying it with a stream of water to remove the scales. For extensive infestations, you can use your chosen brand of insecticide.

Using cotton swabs that have been dipped in horticultural oil and applied to both sides will also kill scales. As a result, an oil coating builds on top of the scales, blocking off the insects’ access to oxygen.

Frost damage

Similar to sunburns, cacti plants may become brown where they have been damaged by cold. The only way to distinguish between frost damage and sunburn damage is by checking the temperature because the damage is pretty similar.

Cactus plant tissues that are exposed to cold temperatures experience cell rupture. Even though you might not detect the damage right away, the plant will attempt to self-heal by covering the harmed tissues with calluses.

Although the brittle patches on the plant are typically spotty, this type of self-healing mechanism also takes place after a hailstorm.

Indoor plants that come into direct touch with the window glass might nevertheless sustain frost damage.


A mite infestation may be evident if your plant is becoming brown from the top, where new growth is beginning to form.

Red spider mites are small insects that feed on the liquids your plant produces in its more delicate areas. Because these insects are so tiny, finding their webs may be easier than finding the insects themselves.

Rusty brown stains that emerge on the plant’s top and the appearance of mite webs are signs of a mite infestation.

These pests can destroy your plant if they are not dealt with since they feed entirely on the tissue of the outer layer. Red spider mites are most likely to infest indoor cactus.

The plants may occasionally leave the nursery with these mite infestations already present. Consider watering your plant from above with a reasonably strong stream of water to get rid of bugs.

Another typical sort of mite that could infest your cactus is root lice. For plants produced in greenhouses, root lice can travel from pot to pot, making control difficult.

Root lice are best treated by keeping your new plants separate from the other plants for a few weeks. To control root lice, you should also refrain from recycling and sharing soil.


A cactus plant that is otherwise healthy may suddenly develop stiff, brown tissue that resembles bark a few inches above the earth. This is an indication of corking.

Fortunately, this is a normal aspect of cacti plants’ aging processes, so you shouldn’t be too concerned.

Most of the time, corking begins at the plant’s base and progresses upward. There is nothing you can do to stop the natural process of corking if your plant is browning as a result.