What To Do About Cactus Turning Yellow

Are your cactus turning yellow? Here’s the deal!

Cactus can thrive in very harsh circumstances, but they must be particularly harsh circumstances.

cactus plant with yellow sunglasses attachedPin

Unfortunately, there are many stresses and unfavorable conditions brought on by well-meaning people which the cactus just can’t handle.

When this happens, cactus may experience several symptoms, including turning yellow.

In this article, will review the several reasons why your cactus may be turning yellow.

Stress Management Is Important for Cactus

Many different stressors can cause your cactus to turn yellow.

Among them are:

  • Incorrect Exposure to Sunlight, Inadequate Light
  • Wrong Amount of Water
  • Nutritional Deficiencies
  • Inadequately Sized Pot
  • Wrong Kind of Water
  • Abrupt Transitions
  • Pest Infestation

Changes in color, such as turning from green to yellow, indicate something is wrong.

Fortunately, this specific symptom of distress is usually reversible.

When you see your cactus is fading and becoming yellow, review your care techniques to know where you may be going astray.

Ask yourself these questions.

Is Your Cactus Getting Enough Of The Right Kind Of Light?

We all know cactus enjoys lots of light, but it is possible to give them too much light or the right amount of light.

If your plant is receiving too much sun, it may become bleached, orange, or yellowish in appearance.

It may even develop a scorched and discolored ring near the top. This is not a reversible symptom.

Remember a windowsill cactus may be receiving magnified light through the glass.

This is why it’s a good idea to give your plant a little bit of protection from the direct rays of the sun shining through a window.

Put up a lace curtain or set your plant back away from the window a bit so it gets bright indirect sunlight rather than bright direct light.

Conversely, a lack of light can cause yellowing.

If your plant is not getting enough sun, its leaves may begin to turn yellow, and it may even stretch toward the light.

If this is the problem, gradually move the plant to an area where it will get 6-8 hours a day of bright, indirect sunlight.

Related: Why are my Succulent Leaves Turning Yellow?

Are You Giving Your Cactus The Right Amount Of Water?

Your goal as a cactus caretaker should not be to simply keep your plant alive. Instead, you should be working on helping it thrive.

Ideal cactus conditions are slightly different from the harsh and punishing conditions of the desert.

Cacti are famous for their drought tolerance, but this doesn’t mean they can do without water altogether.

Just the right amount of regular watering is a must for successful cactus care.

Underwatering can cause your cactus distress. Without regular watering, your plant will be not only thirsty but hungry.

Conversely, in a home setting, overwatering your cactus is very easy to do.

If you use the same watering schedule you use for other plants; your cactus is sure to become waterlogged and experience problems such as root rot and yellowing.

To establish a good watering schedule, monitor the soil regularly. Drainage is important.

When the pot your cactus is in feels light, and the soil feels dry, it’s time to water.

Provide a deep and thorough watering by either placing the cactus into a tray of water for 15-20 minutes so the cactus soil can soak up as much water as it needs.

Alternately, pour water through the plant’s well-draining soil to thoroughly drench it.

Don’t water again until the soil is completely dry.

Once you’ve established how long this will take, mark your calendar or set up a reminder on your phone to remind yourself when it’s time to water again.

Are You Using The Right Kind Of Water?

Tap water is often full of chemicals and unwanted minerals.

If you notice white stains are forming around the edges of your cactus container or on the surface of the soil, this is an indication your water has too much salt in it.

This is especially a problem if you’re using a water softener.

If you see this is the problem, you will need to repot your plant with all new cactus mix.

Moving forward, just use distilled water or rainwater to water your cactus.

Did You Transition Your Cactus Too Suddenly?

If you just recently bought a cactus and find it’s becoming yellow in your care, the problem may be a sudden transition.

When you choose a cactus in a nursery, take note of its current conditions.

Replicate them in your home.

Even then, your plant may suffer from transition shock because it has just taken a long trip from a large nursery to a store setting and now to your home.

If shock is causing the problem, simply keep your cactus in a setting with consistent warmth and light and water it on a sparing, regular basis.

It will soon perk up and lose its yellowish cast.

Is Your Cactus Cramped?

If you’ve had your cactus for a while, it may be creating offshoots crowding it out of its pot.

This can cause yellowing.

The solution is simple: it’s time to repot.

Get a pot for your main cactus just a little bit bigger than the container it’s in.

You will also want to get a few smaller pots to transplant the pups.

Are Pests Occupying Your Cactus?

Cacti are generally resistant to pests, but every once in a while a bug infestation of scale insects, spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, or some other tiny little critters will set up housekeeping and begin sucking the very life out of your cactus.

When this happens, your cactus will begin to turn yellow as a way of showing its stress.

Once you have dealt with the pests, your plant should regain its proper green color.

Is Your Cactus Getting Enough To Eat?

If the soil mixes your plant is sitting in is depleted, it will not give the plant enough nutrients to survive happily.

When this happens, your cactus may begin to turn yellow.

Again, the simple answer to this problem is repotting with a fresh, clean type of soil cactus mix.

Moving forward, remember to use a specially prepared cactus fertilizer or a succulent fertilizer throughout the plant’s growing season, which typically ranges from the middle of springtime to the middle of autumn.

Follow fertilizer packaging directions carefully.

Is Your Cactus A Yellow Variety?

Some types of cactus are green when they are very young and then mature to natural yellow color.

If you don’t know what kind of cactus you have, search online or go back to the nursery where you acquired it and see if you’re able to identify it.

Your cactus may naturally be yellow and nothing is wrong with it.

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