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Over-watering is frequently the cause of a cactus turning yellow. Cacti are drought-tolerant plants that do not tolerate persistently moist soil. If the soil becomes too wet and does not dry out between watering, the cactus suffers from root rot, causing the cactus to become yellow and mushy.
Cacti become yellow in the winter because of over-watering and temperatures below 40°F. Cacti remain dormant over the winter, which decreases their water requirements and puts plants in danger of root damage from over-watering.
If cacti are transferred from relative shade to full sun without time to acclimate to the greater light intensity, they may become yellow at the top owing to sun burn. Cacti may also get yellow and wrinkled if they are not watered often enough or if they are watered too lightly.
To rescue a yellowing cactus, imitate its original habitat by watering when the soil is dry, maintaining a temperature range of 55 °F to 85 °F (13 °C to 29 °C), and removing any unhealthy roots using a sterile set of pruners.
Continue reading to find out what is causing your cactus to become yellow and how to put the remedies in place to rescue your yellowing cactus.
Yellowing, Softening, and Mushy Cactus
Over-watering and freezing weather are the causes of a cactus becoming yellow and soft. Cacti are drought-tolerant plants that need the soil to dry between watering and enjoy temperatures ranging from 55 °F to 85 °F. When the earth becomes too wet and cold, the cactus becomes yellow and mushy.
Cactus are drought-tolerant plants that have evolved to thrive in warm, arid areas with well-drained soils and infrequent rainfall.
To grow a cactus and keep its leaves from turning yellow and brown, it is important to plant them in soil that is gritty and well-draining, and only water them when the soil around their roots has dried out.
If the soil surrounding the cactus’s roots is persistently moist due to over-watering or poor drainage soil, sections of the cactus might become yellow and brown with a soft mushy feel, indicating root rot.
Saucers, trays, and fancy outside pots may also keep water from leaving the pot and pooling around the roots, which could lead to root rot and a yellow, mushy cactus.
How to Save a Yellow, Soft, and Mushy Cactus
Reduce the frequency with which you water your cactus. If you water your cactus more often than once a week, this is why it is becoming yellow and mushy. Cactus plants should only be watered after the soil surrounding their roots has entirely dried up. This normally takes 14 days, but may vary depending on the size of the pot, the environment, and the soil’s drainage.
Remove the cactus from the container, remove the dirt, and check the roots for root rot. Healthy roots are strong and thick, with a white appearance (or somewhat brown owing to the potting soil), but sick roots are mushy and decaying, with a terrible odor and a brown appearance.
Cut any infected roots back to healthy growth using a sterile pair of pruners. Wipe the blades of your pruners with a disinfectant-soaked towel between each cut. This way, you won’t spread infections from infected roots to healthy roots.
Re-pot the cactus with fresh soil. Pot the cactus in specially formulated “succulent and cacti soil,” which matches the cactus’ original environment’s rough, well-draining soil. Normal potting soil retains moisture for much too long for the drought-tolerant cactus to withstand, and is often the cause of a cactus becoming yellow. “Succulent and cactus soil” decreases the danger of root rot caused by over-watering and is reasonably priced at garden shops or online.
Plant a cactus in a container with drainage holes in the bottom and empty saucers and trays on a regular basis. Cacti may be planted in a variety of pots, as long as the container has drainage holes in the bottom to enable excess water to drain properly and avoid root rot.
Terracotta or clay pots are ideal because they have a porous structure that helps the potting soil dry out more uniformly, which is ideal for cactus, which prefers drier circumstances. Plant cactus in pots that are appropriate to their size, since bigger pots have more soil and therefore a higher capacity for keeping moisture, slowing the pace at which the soil dries up and increasing the danger of root rot.
Feel the soil at the bottom of the pot via the drainage hole in the base of the pot to determine when the cactus potting soil has dried up around the roots.
If the soil seems moist, wait a few days before watering the cactus. When the earth begins to feel dry, it is time to water your cactus.
Watering your cactus after the soil has dried up efficiently mimics the natural circumstances of a rainfall followed by a drought cycle to which the cactus is uniquely suited.
Once you’ve addressed the reasons why your cactus is going yellow, soft, and mushy, and adopted the proper watering plan, the cactus may begin to recover.
However, if the root rot is very bad, the cacti may not be able to grow back, and the best thing to do is to grow your cactus from any healthy growth that is left.
Cutting off any yellow, squishy, or mushy areas of your cactus using a sterile set of pruners also helps to keep the rot at bay. Almost all houseplant cactus plants spread quickly from pads, offshoots, and even healthy stem sections.
In the Winter, Cactus Turning Yellow
Over-watering causes root rot, which causes a cactus to become yellow in the winter. Cacti become dormant and cease growing in the winter because of low temperatures and less light, which decreases their need for water and makes them prone to over-watering. In the winter, over-watered cactus become yellow and mushy.
Cacti are more prone to over-watering in the winter because:
Cacti remain inactive throughout the winter, with fewer hours of light and cooler temperatures, and they nearly cease growing, so they do not need as much water. Because the roots don’t get water during the winter, the soil stays wet longer, which makes it more likely that root rot will happen.
With lower temperatures and less light, the pace at which the soil dries slows down a lot. This makes the soil around the roots stay wet longer, which increases the risk of root rot, which causes the cacti to turn yellow.
How to Restore a Yellowing Cactus in Winter
Reduce the frequency with which you water your cactus in the winter. The frequency with which you water your cacti is determined by the temperature of the room, the size of the pot, and the size of the cactus. Watering cactus once every two weeks is typically suggested in the winter, but always check the soil at the base of the pot via the drainage holes in the base to see whether it is dry before watering.
Move the cactus to a brighter location. During the winter, the more light the better, so select the brightest place in your home for your cactus to help it survive.
Maintain a temperature range of 55°F to 85°F (13°C to 29°C) and avoid temperatures below 40°F.Because most houseplant cacti are native to hot and arid climates, maintain them in a room with the appropriate temperature range. This helps to guarantee that the soil does not stay moist for an extended period of time after watering.
Otherwise, the measures for rescuing a yellowing cactus in winter are the same as those for saving an over-watered cactus that is yellow and mushy.
This entails replenishing the soil as well as inspecting the roots for root rot. Re-pot the cactus after trimming any sick roots using a sterile set of pruners.
To save the cactus, I would think about growing any healthy offsets, pads, or cuttings from any healthy surviving growth. If the root rot is bad, the main cactus stem may not be salvageable.
Sunburn Causes Cactus Turning Yellow
Sunburn is the cause of a cactus becoming yellow at the top. When cacti are transplanted from low light to full sun without time to acclimate to the increase in light intensity, they might scorch yellow. The unexpected surge of light renders the cactus yellow and burnt.
Most houseplant cactus plants come from hot, dry places and can usually handle full sunlight. However, they are often grown or preserved in a shop or nursery before sale in a low-light setting.
Cactus plants are incredibly adaptive and can conform to their surroundings, even under less-than-ideal lighting conditions.
However, when relocated from a shadier place to full daylight or even outside, the cactus is not acclimated to the harsh blazing sunlight, and the dramatic difference in light intensity is what causes the cactus to become yellow.
You can often tell if your cactus is yellow because it looks burnt on the side that has been in the sun the most. This makes it easier to figure out if it was over or under watered.
The abrupt rise in light intensity is also accompanied by an increase in temperature, an increase in the pace at which the soil dries out after watering, and a drop in humidity, all of which may stress the cactus and lead to yellowing.
How to Protect a Yellowing Cactus from Sun Damage
After a time of relative shade, a cactus may acclimate to the full sun. However, it should be progressively exposed to the greater light intensity by placing the cactus in the sun for 20 minutes longer each day for about two weeks.
As time goes on, the cactus will be able to adapt to the more intense light, which will keep it from turning yellow.
If the cactus has been burned yellow, it will not become green again since the cactus’s surface does not have the ability to recover from sun burn.
However, even though the sunburned parts of the cactus look bad, they should not be harmful to the plant if it has been protected from more sun damage.
As long as the circumstances are suitable, the cactus should continue to thrive (do note that cacti go practically dormant during winter and do not grow noticeably).
Perhaps the best way to save a yellow, sun-damaged cactus is to grow it from any offsets that have formed, pads, or cuttings of healthy, undamaged tissue. This will allow you to grow other cacti that can grow a healthy green hue.
Under-watering has Caused the Cactus Turning Yellow and Wrinkle
Cacti become yellow when they are not watered often enough or are watered too lightly. Cacti need a soak and dry watering cycle to guarantee that water reaches the cactus’ roots. Drought stress may cause the cactus to wrinkle and turn yellow if it is irrigated too little.
It is very common to misunderstand that “cacti do not need much water” to mean that cacti only need to be watered with a very small amount of water.
Watering the cactus too gently causes just the top inch or two of soil to get wet, and the water does not reach the roots where it is needed.
Water is stored in the fleshy stems of cacti. If there is insufficient moisture in the soil, the cactus draws on its moisture stores in the stem. As the cactus’ moisture stores run out, the cactus shrinks in size, making it yellow and wrinkled.
If the cactus is not watered often enough, it can become yellow and wrinkled. High temperatures, greater sunlight in the summer, and low humidity may all lead to a yellow, drought-stressed cactus.
How to Resurrect a Yellow, Wrinkled Cactus Caused by Under-watering
Soak the cactus well, allowing excess water to drip from the base. This guarantees that the soil is uniformly moistened and that water reaches the roots where it is needed. To prevent root rot, make sure any saucers or trays underneath the pot are periodically drained of excess water.
When the dirt at the bottom of the container seems dry, water the cactus. Watering your cactus every two weeks is typical, although this might vary according to your climate, room temperature, and potting material. Before watering, always feel the soil via the drainage hole at the pot’s base to see whether it’s dry. It is critical to avoid over-watering your cactus.
Keep the cactus in a room with a temperature range of 55°F to 85°F (13°C to 29°C). Most cacti like temperatures in this range. If the cactus is becoming yellow and wrinkled, it might be because it is too close to an interior heat source, which dries out the soil too rapidly.
Cactus that have become yellow and wrinkled as a result of under-watering usually recover extremely well after two or three watering cycles. A thorough watering allows the cactus to suck up moisture from the ground to refill its water reserves in the stem, making the cactus look good again.
It is crucial to remember that a cactus may recover from a yellowing appearance caused by under-watering much more easily than from over-watering, so make sure the soil is dry before watering.
Will a Yellow Cactus Revert to Green?
Soft yellow parts of the cactus don’t turn green again if root rot is the cause. They should be removed from the cactus to stop the rot from spreading to other parts of the cactus.
If a cactus has been burned yellow by sunburn, it will never turn green again. Protect the cactus from direct sunlight. You can grow a new green cactus from any unharmed offshoots, pads, or cuttings.
If the cactus is going yellow and wrinkled as a result of under-watering, it should become green again. Water the cactus thoroughly to ensure that the soil is equally hydrated. This lets the roots refill the cacti water stores, making the cactus look green and healthy again.
Over-watering causes root rot, which causes cacti to become yellow at the base. Cacti are drought-tolerant plants that need to dry out between watering. If the soil is continually moist and the temperature falls below 40°F, the cactus will get root rot, turning it yellow, squishy, and mushy.
Because of root rot, cactus become yellow in the winter. Cacti become dormant in the winter and need less irrigation. Over-watering in the winter makes the soil damp and cold, which makes the roots of the cactus weak and yellow. This makes the cactus soft and mushy.
If cacti are relocated from a somewhat shaded place to the full sun without time to acclimate to the greater degree of light intensity, they may become yellow at the top due to sunburn. The abrupt change in light conditions might turn the cactus yellow.
Cactus plants may get yellow and wrinkled if they are not watered often enough or too lightly. Water is stored in the stems of cacti. If the cactus is not watered often enough, its moisture stores are depleted, causing the cactus to become yellow and wrinkled in appearance.