Why Is My Cactus Getting Skinny?

Cacti are extremely adaptable desert plants known for their low maintenance requirements. It is this quality that makes the cactus a popular house plant . However, you may sometimes observe your cactus getting skinny. If left untreated, the cactus may tend to grow weak and eventually break off. So, immediate steps need to be taken to ensure that the cactus turns healthy again.

Why Is My Cactus Getting Skinny?

Some of the reasons for your cactus turning skinny are –

  • Lack of Sunlight
  • Extreme Change in Temperature
  • No Dormancy in Winter
  • Lack of Moisture

1. Lack of Sunlight

Cactus needs abundant amounts of sunlight to grow well. However, if your cactus is growing excessively tall and thinning at the base, it may be a sign that your cactus is lacking enough sunlight. This happens when you have placed your cactus in an area of shade or among plants that compete with it for sunlight. The excess growth is a sign that the cactus is trying to adapt and reach for more sunlight.


The cactus needs around six hours of bright, indirect light to grow well. So, if your cactus is growing in an area of excessive shade, immediately shift it to a location of partial shade and ensure that it receives adequate sunlight. If any plant in the proximity of the cactus that is competing with the cactus for light is detected, remove any such plants around your cactus. This ensures unchallenged access to light for the cactus and helps it grow well.

2. Extreme Change in Temperature

If your cactus has been subject to extreme heat or cold for a long duration, it may cause severe tissue damage to the plant. Thus, rendering the plant unable to carry out photosynthesis and forcing it to rely on its food reserves. It causes a depletion of the food reserves, and the cactus starts to turn skinny.


Ensure that your cactus is not left outdoors when the temperature fluctuates. Remove the cactus from sources of heat or cold , such as refrigerators and air-conditioners. Place your cactus near a south-facing window to ensure it receives adequate sunlight and grows healthy.

3. No Dormancy in Winter

The growth of the cactus tends to stop during winters, and it turns dormant. However, if you overwater the plant but it doesn’t receive adequate light, it fails to enter dormancy and continues to grow. It causes the cactus to appear skinny.


If the temperature drops in winter, bring your cactus indoors and place it in a location where it receives adequate light. In winters, cactus need very less water . So, water the cactus once in three to four weeks to ensure that the cactus doesn’t turn skinny.

4. Lack of Moisture

If your cactus is underwatered it will start to shrink and turn skinny. This happens because the plant cannot carry out photosynthesis due to lack of water and is forced to rely on its food reserves.


Abundantly watering the underwatered plant to help it regain its health. If the lack of moisture is severe, place the container on a plate and fill the plate with 2 inches of water to allow effective moisture absorption.

Thus, these are the steps to nurture a skinny cactus back to health.

Leave a Comment