Why Is My Cactus Dying?

Cacti are hardy plants that are accustomed to surviving harsh conditions. It makes them ideal low-maintenance house plants. However, sometimes we may see that the cactus is starting to wilt, dry, and die. It signifies that the cactus is undergoing extreme stress. Thus, you need to take immediate steps to ensure that your cactus survives.

Why Is My Cactus Dying?

Some of the reasons which can kill your cactus are –

  • Improper Sunlight
  • Inappropriate Watering
  • Nutrient Deficiency
  • Pests & Diseases

1. Improper Sunlight

The cactus needs around 6 hours of bright, indirect heat to flourish well. However, if it receives excess, direct sunlight, the cactus can be prone to sunburn. Similarly, if it does not receive adequate sunlight, it may start to wilt. In both cases, the plant may eventually begin to die out.


The ideal solution is to place the cactus in an area of partial shade. If the cactus is kept indoors, place it near a south-facing window to ensure it has access to adequate bright, indirect heat to enable it to regain its health.

2. Inappropriate Watering

If you are overwatering your cactus, it will turn soft and mushy. The cactus will be prone to rotting and eventually start to die off. Similarly, if you underwater your cactus, it will start to wilt and dry out. It will eventually cause the plant to die out.


If your cactus is overwatered, immediately stop watering it. Only water it when the soil is dry enough to absorb the required water. You also need to check the roots of the cactus to detect any signs of rotting. If detected, immediately cut off the affected root and treat the plant with an effective fungicide. You also need to report the plant with fresh, sterile soil to reduce the chances of re-emergence of the fungal attacks.

If your cactus is underwatered, adequately water the plant until the plant gets back to its original health. You can also add nutrient-enriched fertilizers to help quicken the process.

3. Nutrient Deficiency

If your cactus is starting to weaken, lose color and dry out, it is most likely due to a lack of essential macro-nutrients which are required to carry out the task of photosynthesis. It happens either if the roots of the plant are unable to absorb the nutrients or if the soil lacks the required nutrients.


Check your cactus for signs of root rot, which prevents the roots from absorbing nutrients. If detected, immediately cut off the affected roots and treat the plant with an effective fungicide. Similarly, you can test the soil to identify the nutrients it lacks.

In both cases, the cactus needs to be re-potted with fresh, fertile, and sterilized soil. You can also add nutrient-enriched fertilizers to help the roots absorb the required minerals.

4. Pests & Diseases

Your cactus can often start to weaken and die out if infested with pests such as scales, mites, and mealybugs which suck out the plant sap. These pests can cause extensive damage to the cactus and need to be curbed immediately.


You can use chemical pesticides or a solution of diluted rubbing alcohol to help curb the menace of these pests. Immediately isolate the affected plant to contain the spread and spray the solution in regular intervals. Thoroughly ensure that the pests have been removed before placing them with other plants to prevent any re-infestations.

Thus, these are the steps to revive your dying cactus and nurture it back to health.

Leave a Comment