Why Is My Cactus Deflating?

Cacti are ornamental houseplants, widely kept due to their adaptability and minimal maintenance needs. While it can adapt to most cases, sometimes your cactus may appear deflated. It signifies an unhealthy cactus and you need to take immediate steps to save your cactus from dying.

Why Is My Cactus Deflating?

Some reasons which can lead to a deflated cactus are –

  • Improper Soil
  • Inadequate Watering
  • Lack of Sunlight
  • Pest Infestation

1. Improper Soil

The cactus tends to deflate if the soil in which the cactus is planted is not porous or fertile enough. It prevents the cactus from absorbing the essential minerals to carry out photosynthesis. Since the cactus is a hardy plant, it comes under stress and starts to devour its energy reserves. This causes a void inside the plant and the cactus caves in, making it appear deflated.


Test the soil to see if the soil is porous enough and has enough nutrients. If the soil is lacking, immediately re-pot the cactus with fresh, fertile soil. Ensure that the container has proper drainage and the soil is adequately porous.

2. Inadequate Watering

If the cactus is underwatered, it starts to shrink and dry out, making it appear deflated. Similarly, if the cactus is overwatered, it turns soft and mushy. This makes the cactus prone to rotting, which eventually causes the insides of the plant to rot and appear deflated.


If your cactus is underwatered, water it adequately in regular intervals until the plant starts to regain its original shape and health. However, if the plant is overwatered, you must immediately stop watering the plant. Only water it when the soil is dry enough. You also need to check the cactus for signs of rotting in the roots. If detected, immediately severe the affected parts and treat the cactus with an effective fungicide before re-potting it with fresh, sterile soil.

3. Lack of Sunlight

A cactus needs 6 hours of bright, indirect light every day to be healthy. However, if the cactus lacks adequate sunlight, it cannot carry out the essential process of photosynthesis. This forces the cactus to survive off the plant reserves due to which the cactus starts to thin out. If such starvation is prolonged, the cactus tends to deflate and eventually dies.


Place the cactus in an area where it receives proper, bright sunlight to help it carry out photosynthesis. You can also add fertilizers enriched in minerals to help the cactus regain its health and grow back to its original form. If the cactus is grown indoors, place it near a south-facing window to ensure it receives adequate sunlight.

4. Pest Infestation

Pests like scales and mites tend to suck out the plant sap and essentially weaken the cactus. It causes the stems and roots of the cactus to weaken and eventually shrink. Thus, giving the cactus a deflated appearance. If the pests are not removed, they can cause severe damage to the plant.


Keep a check for pest infestations and if detected, immediately isolate the plant. Spray the plant with an effective insecticide or a solution of diluted rubbing alcohol to rid it of the pests. Ensure complete removal of the bugs before re-introducing them to other plants to reduce the chances of a re-infestation.

Thus, these are some of the steps to help you bring your deflated cactus back to its original shape and form.

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