My Cactus is Wilting

You can tell cactus is wilting from the shriveled appearance of plant tissue, drooping leaves and overall limp looks. Take action when you notice wilt to save that plant.

While many gardeners experience wilt with Christmas or Easter cactus plants, all types of cactus and succulent can wilt, given the right conditions. Wilt indicates that something is off balance in the plant’s environment. While wilt alone may not be serious, failure to correct a wilt problem can kill a cactus.

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Cactus plants should appear round or full; the leaves or trunk of the cactus should be firm to the touch. These plants store water; when they wilt, they may be low on water. When wilted, plants will appear deflated, baggy or limp. Some cactus plants may develop brown spots on the base, along with the wilted look, or turn yellow.


Many gardeners experience wilting problems with Christmas cactus, per North Dakota State University Hortiscope and University of Illinois Ask Extension. However, other types of cactus may wilt, too. Knowing the symptoms can help you recognize and treat your wilting cactus plants before the problem worsens.


Lack of water can cause wilting, and also stresses plants. Plants can wilt quicker when they need to be repotted, since the container dries out faster with the low soil to root ratio. Plants with more dirt room dry out slower. Too much humidity and too much water can also lead plants to wilt, and to develop rot if the conditions continue.


Examine your wilting cactus thoroughly. If the plant has brown spots near the base of the stems, it may have rot. Plants with rot should be repotted into fresh containers with new soil; they may be able to be saved. If the soil in your cactus plant pulls away from the side of the pot, you’re letting the cactus get too dry. Increase watering frequency to reverse the wilt. If the soil feels boggy, you’re watering too much and need to reduce watering to avoid rot.

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Published in: Gardening


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