Why Is My Cactus Changing Color?

Cacti typically appear in vibrant shades of green. However, if you notice your favorite cacti starting to change color , it may be due to the plant undergoing stress.

In some cases, the cactus starts to develop a brownish layer. It is a common phenomenon called corking and signifies that your cactus is undergoing the natural aging process. This is not a cause of concern but if the cactus starts to turn yellow or pale green, it requires more urgent attention. It signifies an ailing plant that needs extra care.

Causes of Cactus Changing Color

So, let us discuss some reasons why your cactus is starting to change color –

  • Improper Potting
  • Excessive Moisture
  • Inappropriate Sunlight
  • Fungal Infections

Improper Potting

One of the main reasons for your cactus changing color can be due to improper potting. If you plant your cactus in the wrong sized container or with the wrong type of soil, it can prevent the plant from absorbing the required nutrients. The color of the plant changes due to such deficiency.


Ensure that the pot in which the cactus has been planted has only 1-2 inches of space for the cactus to grow to ensure proper growth . Also, check the soil for nutrient balance, and if deficient, re-pot the cactus with fresh soil that retains minimal moisture .

Excessive Moisture

Another reason for the cactus to turn yellow is when it is over-watered. It oversaturates the plant cells and starts to drown the plant. The inability of the cactus to absorb the essential nutrients causes the plant to weaken and start turning yellow. Yellowing is also the first sign of a rotting plant. Overwatering the cactus makes it prone to infections and rot , so keep checking the plant for signs of such fungal infection.


Cactus needs minimal watering. So, if you water it overzealously, you are likely to drown your cactus. So, only water the cactus when the soil is dry and ensure that no stagnant water is left behind. If you detect signs of fungal infection; immediately take the required measures to enable the cactus to start healing.

Inappropriate Sunlight

Excess sunlight can cause sunburns to the cactus. This causes the cells to die, and the plant starts to discolor and turn brown. Similarly, lack of sunlight causes etiolation, and the color of the cactus starts to turn pale.


Always place your cactus in a location of partial shade where it has access to bright, indirect sunlight for at least six hours of the day. Avoid placing the cactus outdoors under direct sunlight to avoid sunburns. Similarly, avoid growing your cactus in dark areas to prevent it from etiolating and turning pale.

Fungal Infections

Rotting is a common phenomenon caused by fungal infections such as root rot or crown rot. The rotting cactus loses its color and starts to turn yellow. It can cause severe damage to the cactus and if left untreated, be of fatal consequence.


Ensure that you do not overwater your cactus or use infected soil . If you detect any infection, immediately quarantine the plant and prune the infected parts. Treat the plant regularly with a strong fungicide and re-pot it with fresh, sterilized soil once healed.

Thus, these are the steps to take if your cactus is starting to change its color ; to ensure that the cactus is nurtured back to health.

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