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Squirrels Eating Your Roses: Here’s Why…

You planted some roses with the purpose of enjoying them, only to have the squirrels come in and eat them before they could grow. Not only do they gobble down the climbing new shoots, but they also eat the rose buds too.

Why do squirrels eat roses? Roses smell lovely to squirrels, which can draw them in for a meal. They taste like strawberries: another plant that squirrels love to eat. Even if the squirrel does eat the rosebuds, don’t worry because this won’t kill the rosebush.

If you’d like to learn more about why squirrels eat roses, keep reading because we will cover this subject in-depth in the coming article.

Squirrels: Prodigious Sense of Smell

Squirrels can smell food under 12 inches of snow, and they will tunnel in to retrieve it. Male squirrels can smell a female squirrel in heat from a mile away. Squirrels rely on their sense of smell when it comes to finding food. That should give you an idea of why they go after your delightfully smelling roses.

Unfortunately, as much as we love the smell, of roses it attracts the squirrels to it, also.

Important to Note: Not only do squirrels eat roses, but they also eat daisies, daffodils, marigolds, hyacinth and geraniums. Outside of roses, squirrels love the smell of these flowers as well

How to Tell if Squirrels Nibbled on Your Roses

Some people mistake squirrels for deer because of the incredible amount of damage unleashed on their rose bushes. When these little guys attack your roses, you will see half-eaten flowers with most of the center disk missing. This hands you a clue that squirrels have taken a liking to your roses.

Other animals that like roses include:

  • Deer
  • Rabbits
  • Gophers
  • Feral pigs

Why to Take Squirrels Eating Your Roses Seriously

Gray squirrels can unleash devastation on roses because of how they pick them like apple pickers. They store up food for the winter, which causes them to hoard more food than they need. That means that when they eat your roses, they will take more than their fair share. Always take this greedy garden bandit seriously because they will unleash incredible damage for such small creatures.

On top of eating your roses, they will damage the bush from climbing on it.

How to Keep Squirrels Away from Your Rosebushes

Now that we have covered why squirrels eat your roses, let’s look at how to keep them out of your rosebushes.

To keep the squirrels from having a heyday with your roses, put up a chicken wire fence. Chicken wire only costs between $0.50 to $3.50 per foot. Bury the wire in the ground 12 inches to ensure that they can’t dig underneath it.

Experts recommend that you use wire mesh no larger than 1 inch to stop squirrels from coming in. Anything larger and they could squeeze through it.

Let’s say that you don’t want to ruin the aesthetic appeal. You have other things that you can do as well to stop the squirrels from eating your roses. For example, you could pour cayenne pepper on the ground. No animal outside of humans likes spices. When they taste the cayenne pepper from licking themselves, they will avoid the area. The problem with this strategy is that once it rains, it washes away the cayenne pepper.

Keeping the squirrels away from your rose bushes, you can make them taste bad too. You might, for example, spray apple cider vinegar in the area and on the rosebushes as a way to keep them away.

This will keep cats and other animals away as well as squirrels because they don’t like the smell. Humans find this pungent odor distasteful, and they don’t even have as strong of a sense of smell. Like with cayenne pepper, this strategy will only work if you continue to apply it.

Motion-Activated Sprinkler for Squirrels

The Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer and other products like it will turn on the sprinklers as soon as the squirrels think to go after your roses. You can use any motion-activated sprinkler, have it installed and wait for the fun. It makes watching the squirrel’s attempts to feed on your roses, or even a bird feeder, fun to watch. Revenge is sweet.

A motion-activated sprinkler will humanely repel squirrels from the roses with a short spray of water, maintaining the aesthetic appeal. This handy piece of technology can be used for roses and other things too. Plus, it keeps your roses watered. Set it anywhere that you don’t want squirrels in the rose bushes.

With a device like a motion-activated sprinkler, remember to move it every once in a while to continue surprising them. Eventually, this can lose its effectiveness if you don’t keep surprising them.

Feed the Squirrels Elsewhere: Can That Work?

You have some people who have accepted that they must pay tribute to the squirrels to keep them out of their roses. The goal here comes from encouraging them to move elsewhere so that they will go for that food source instead.

You could a variety of foods to distract them from the roses, such as:

  • Chopped apple
  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Celery
  • Carrots

Place this in an area farther away from the rose bushes as a way to encourage them to eat elsewhere.

Suggested Articles:

How Long Can Succulents Survive in a Box?

Why is My Cactus Turning White?

Why is My Cactus Turning Pink?

Ground Squirrels vs Tree Squirrels

Two types of squirrels exist, and we think it worth knowing the difference since it can explain your problem.

Some people say that the squirrels in their neighborhood don’t bother their roses. Others complain about the squirrels eating their roses relentlessly and causing a terrible amount of damage.

Ground squirrels live on the ground, rather than in trees. While they may occasionally bother the roses, tree squirrels have an infamous reputation for being the culprit with bothering the roses. They will eat every shoot and every rosebud.

Furthermore, they will damage your roses because they love to climb the shoots. You might protect your roses by surrounding them with thorny rose branches. Most often, squirrels will eat the young rose bush before it can reach adulthood because it doesn’t have as many thorns. You can use thorns of any type.

Tree squirrels, in comparison, will bother the roses and other plants as well. They will dig up your bulbs and make an active mess of any garden.

Bring in an Active Predator

It may sound cruel, but squirrels are cruel too. They will even pillage a robin’s nest for bird eggs. To keep them off your roses, if everything else failed, bring in a cat or dog with a taste for squirrel.

Show them the area and have them patrol it. Some people may not be willing to do this, but it works after a few squirrels get eaten.

Intelligent creatures that can even recognize human faces, squirrels will learn fast to avoid your roses if they don’t want to become the lunch of the day.


Squirrels like roses because of the strong aroma. It draws them to it as a source of food like other flowers. You may have tried everything to stop the squirrels from eating your roses. If one thing doesn’t work, try another. Before trying any of the methods outlined to protect your roses, first check the local regulations. In some areas, they may have made certain methods illegal, which can leave you with an expensive fine.

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Keeping Your Cactus Alive: How to Do It

Do you have a reputation for killing plants? You bought a new cactus in excitement, but you worry about how you will keep it alive. Not to worry, cacti are a hardy species, In fact, some types of desert cacti can last for up to two years without water. Now, let’s have a look at how to keep your cactus alive.

Water Your Cactus Regularly

Previously, we said that desert cacti can last for up to two years without water, but you should water your house cactus on average of once per week to keep it alive.

You have a few signs that you may need to water your cactus more often, such as:

  • Cactus starts to fold in half
  • Signs of wrinkling
  • Mushy cactus
  • Drooping leaves
  • Subtle leaning
  • Sagging tips

With cacti, you soak the basically drown it in water. This may look funny, but cacti in the desert live on feast or famine. Either they receive a lot of rainfall flooding all at once, or they receive little rainfall. By soaking them in water, you mimic the same environment as what they’d experience out in the deserts.

Use the Proper Soil

If you use soil with poor drainage, your cactus will die. The roots will rot because of the wetness that stays in the soil. You want to keep sandy soil in the pot for the cactus to remain in good health. Cactus soil differs from other types of soil. In fact, to learn more about how it differs, check out my article, “Can You Use Cactus Soil for Other Plants?”

You can either choose to buy cactus soil, or you can make it yourself. The one advantage of buying it is that you know you got the mixture right.

A cactus’s soil should be sandy, porous and have good aeration. This all leads to good drainage in the soil. You also need to see that the soil offers good nutrition to the cactus. Good soil will have a presence of microorganisms, bacteria, bees and earthworms.

Know Your Cactus Species

Some cactus species can handle the direct heat of the sun, but you have others—most, in fact—that prefer indirect sunlight. To be clear, you don’t want to put any cactus in the corner of a room that receives the least light because this can cause root rot, discoloration and fading colors.

Most cactus need between four to six hours of sunlight each day to survive. They like a bright and sunny location, but if your cactus starts to turn funny colors, it could be that your cactus received too much sunlight (see my article on this here).

Another reason that you want to get to know your cactus species is that it can go a long way to keeping it alive. For example, you will know what the cactus likes and what it doesn’t like.

Choose the Right-Sized Pot

Believe it or not, too big of a pot can kill your cactus. The water may remain standing in the soil, causing moisture near the roots. Cacti don’t like moisture.

Not only can too big of a pot kill your cactus, but it can stunt its growth. In a larger pot, the cactus will grow its roots down into the soil. Instead of growing upward, it will move its roots into the soil, focusing its energy on that instead of the growth upward.

Expert Tip: To pick the right cactus pot size, choose it one size above its current pot. Unless it came with too large of a pot, you shouldn’t have a big issue.

Usually, you want to repot your cactus every two to three years. Too small of a pot can restrict its growth, and it won’t receive as many nutrients. The roots won’t have as much soil to absorb nutrients, and in some cases, the roots will even start to grow out of the drainage holes: consider that a sign to repot your cactus.

Don’t Over Fertilize Your Cactus

Some don’t believe that they can over-fertilize a cactus, but over-fertilizing a cactus can put it at just as much risk as under-fertilizing it. Look for the active growth period of your cactus.

Most cacti will have specific periods of dormancy and growth. Usually, you want to fertilize your cactus in the late spring to early summer because the growth period has kicked off.

Expert Tip: During the winter months, you may want to water your cactus less and don’t apply fertilizer. The cactus most likely goes dormant during this time, and it doesn’t pay to fertilize. It won’t do anything with the fertilizer.

Too much fertilizer can cause root rot and weaken the plant.

The signs of over fertilizing include:

  • Yellowing near the bottom
  • Wilting leaves
  • Defoliation
  • Slow growth or no growth
  • Crust of fertilizer on the surface
  • Brown leaf tips

Pay Attention to the Color of Your Cactus

The color that your cactus turns can say a lot about its health. In fact, we’ve written extensively on the different colors that your cactus can turn:

  • Why is My Cactus Turning Black?
  • Why is My Cactus Turning Red?
  • Why is My Cactus Turning Purple?
  • Why is My Cactus Turning White?
  • Why is My Cactus Turning Pink?

Any one of these colors could mean something. You should never ignore your plant turning colors because it could indicate serious health problems in some cases. You want to rule out the most serious problems with the cactus before you write it off.

Interesting Fact: Some people like to purposely turn their succulents colors to bring out their beauty. You do this from not watering them as much. They call this process stressing the plant, and you can do the same thing with cacti. In fact, cacti belong to the succulent family of plants. You can do stressing with cacti, but some people don’t like the results as much as with other succulents.

A cactus that turns black should always be a cause for concern. You want to address this problem as soon as possible.

When the cactus turns colors, think of it as trying to tell you something. You have to figure out what it wants to tell you. Never ignore a cactus turning colors if you want to keep it alive. With all of the colors, the deeper the color, the more serious it becomes.

Larger Cactus Easier to Care For?

You may be surprised to learn that you can keep a larger cactus alive more easily than a smaller one. Cacti in a pot at 4 inches in diameter or less have a lower chance of survival than a big one. If you fear that your plant-caring skills won’t keep the cactus alive, try a larger one.

Why do small cacti die more easily than larger cacti? This has to do with the lower amount of soil. It dries out much faster and needs water faster. If you forget to water your plants often, a larger cactus can survive longer without water, depending on the species.

Don’t Forget the Drainage Hole

Drainage holes ensure that your cactus doesn’t receive too much water. At the same time, it ensures that the water drains properly from the soil. Standing water in a cactus pot can cause root rot that will eventually kill your cactus. This plant inhabits the desert, and it likes dry soil.

Location Makes a Difference

A lot of people have said that a south-facing window works best with cactus because of how it doesn’t expose them to direct sunlight, which can prove harmful, but they still receive plenty of sunlight. Pay attention to the individual needs of your cactus and where it seems to like it the best. With cactus, you should even exercise caution when you pick it up to put it back on the side where it receives the sun. Turning it on a side where it wasn’t receiving sunlight can cause sunburn because it isn’t used to this.

Some of the best places to put a cactus include:

  • Near a window
  • Outdoors
  • Location with air movement
  • In front of computer

Indoor Cacti Prone to This Problem…

Indoor cacti have a vulnerability to pests. Especially beware of overwatering your cactus indoors because this can send the pests straight to it. Keeping the pests away can help to keep your cactus alive.

If you have to get rid of the infested soil in a pot, be sure to disinfect the pot before you put new soil into it, or it will carry over.

Don’t Touch the Spines

Not only because it hurts, but touching the spines can remove them permanently, hurting the cactus. Cactus use the spines for defense. If you damage the cactus spines, they don’t grow back in most cases. This permanently removes the most iconic thing about a cactus: its spines.

Cacti use their spines for a variety of functions like collecting water vapor, providing shade from the sun and defense. Think of the spines like the leaves on trees. When you remove the spines, it leaves your cactus susceptible to pests that will have an opening. You have a weaker plant that will ultimately die because of its vulnerable state.

Also, beware of the over-curious feline that likes to rub up against cactus plants.


Understanding a few things about your cactus can go a long way to keeping it alive. Many times, you will have warning signs that your cactus may need help. Pay attention to changing colors and signs of damage to the plant. The color can serve as a big indicator of the plant’s health.

Want to brighten your day? Check out this beautifully crafted cactus mug. It sure brightened my day!

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Cactus Not Growing? Learn Why Here…

You bought your cactus excited because you wanted to see it grow, but you bought it only to see it do nothing week after week.

Why is my cactus not growing? Check the season because cactuses stop growing in the summer to focus on surviving high temperatures. Other factors that can stop your cactus from growing include a lack of fertilizer, too big of a pot, soil mixture and lack of cool temperatures.

If you’d like to learn more about why your cactus might not be growing, keep reading because we will explain further.

Naturally Slow Growing Plant

You have cases where your cactus could be growing, but you don’t see it because the plant grows slowly. Depending on the species, most cactus grow to the size of a marble in the first six to 12 months.

After two to three years, they will reach a few centimeters in height. Some species like the Pereskiopsis can grow up to 1 inch per week, but this shows you the exception. Most cactus will only grow 1 to 3 centimeters per year once reaching maturity.

Cactus grow slowly because of the need to survive. They must conserve energy to put it into survival in the barren deserts, rather than pour the energy into fast growth.

Provided this isn’t the reason, let’s have a look at why your cactus may not be growing.

Summer Season: No Growth

In their natural environment in the desert, cactus stop growing altogether as they focus on survival. The lack of water during the hottest months demand a different focus. Water evaporates from the plant, a process known as transpiration, during this time.

We talked about the summer season, but cactus go dormant in the winter season as well. Most plant experts advise you not to water your cactus too much during this time because it can have elongated growth and thinning. Ultimately, you end up with a weaker cactus.

However, don’t stop watering your cactus altogether because it still needs water. You might water your cactus once every month or every five to six weeks in its dormant stage. Keep in mind, your cactus won’t grow as much during this dormant period. Also, don’t fertilize your cactus in the winter months because it doesn’t actively grow during this time.

Lack of Fertilizer

Even cactus plants require nutrients in the soil like phosphorous and some level of nitrogen. To learn what happens when cacti don’t receive enough phosphorous, read my article, “Why is My Cactus Turning Purple?”

Previously, we said that you shouldn’t fertilize your cactus in the winter season because of its dormancy, and it won’t spark new growth.

When do you fertilize your cactus to encourage growth? You could put fertilizer in the soil of your cactus two to three times per year. Do it in the spring, summer and fall of the year.

Technically, you only have to do it once a year, and the spring season works best because it is the growing season, but doing it more will actively encourage growth throughout the year. The late spring to early summer experience the peak of the cactus growing season, which makes it the ideal time to feed it fertilizer.

Many cactus lovers will use a time-release mechanism to feed their cactus throughout the year to ensure that it doesn’t miss out on the peak growing times.

Exercise caution not to overfeed your cactus either because this can weaken the plant, rather than to help it to grow. Signs that you have over fertilized your cactus include:

  • Wilting and yellowing on the lower plant
  • Rotting roots
  • Slow to non-existent growth
  • Crust of fertilizer on the soil

Be careful not to over fertlize your cactus either because this can also stop it from growing. How a cactus grows will depend on its species, but fertilizer can make a big difference.

Schultz Cactus Plus 2-7-7 Liquid Plant Food can help your cactus to take off. If it doesn’t seem like it’s growing, specialized fertilizer like this may help. You want to use a liquid fertilizer low in nitrogen for cactus fertilizer. Fertilizers with too high of a nitrogen content can cause root rot. In some cases, you may only have a few rotting roots, in which case, you can just prune the roots.

Using Too Big of a Pot

One of the reasons that your cactus may not be growing could come from the fact that you used too big of a pot. Instead of growing upward in these cases, the cactus roots will experience more growth.

In fact, too big of a pot can even kill your cactus. Larger pots hold in the water longer, and it fills more space with moisture. This can cause root rot and slow decay of your cactus. Your cactus may not be growing because it’s trying to survive. You only want to use one size up from the last sized pot that you had.

The right-sized pot ensures that your cactus grows properly. Most cacti like small spaces because they find it cozy, and they can remain in the same container for a couple of years. Don’t use too small of a container either, however, because that can prove equally as detrimental.

You want to repot your cactus every two to three years to ensure optimal growth. Use of the right container size will encourage your cactus to grow correctly. If it isn’t growing, this could be one of the reasons.

Soil Mixture

In some cases, cacti don’t grow because of the wrong soil mixture. You have to use soil with good drainage because cactus plants need this to keep from root rot. In their natural environment, this is the type of soil that they’re used to.

Specialist cactus soil will especially work well because they have specifically designed it for that purpose. Organic Potting Soil, Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix may be able to help. You can also use this to repot your cactus. Choosing specialist soil like this ensures that you have the right mixture on hand.

Otherwise, you can make your own cactus soil using 3 cups of sand with 3 cups of regular soil and 2 cups of pummice or perilite.

In particular, cactus might grow slowly from the wrong soil because of the water damage that occurs. Let’s say that you poured water over your cactus, but you used the wrong soil, and it holds in the water longer. Because of this, it damages the plant roots, which can stop your cactus from growing altogether, or it will grow more slowly as it tries to heal and survive.

Lack of Cool Temperatures

Cacti like temperatures between 45 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees. However, anything under 55 degrees and they go dormant thinking it’s winter season. After that point, they start to enter survival mode, and this explains why they won’t grow.

Interesting to note: Some cactus species can survive temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold moisture is what increases the likelihood of them dying. At night in the desert, temperatures can drop to as low as 26 degrees Fahrenheit because nothing in the desert holds the heat in.

Maybe you have your cactus in an area where it gets too much heat. This could explain why your cactus won’t grow. In fact, you can tell when your cactus receives too much sunlight. If you’d like to learn more about that, I wrote an article on “Why is my Cactus Turning White?”

Sunlight: Essential to Cactus Growth

Most cactus species will require four to six hours of sunlight to grow properly. Some cactus species love direct sunlight, while others would prefer being in less direct sunlight. When a cactus doesn’t receive enough sunlight, you will see elongated growth.

It can also produce etoliation, which results in poor cactus growth. Instead of proper growth, the cactus will grow overly tall and weak, reaching for the sunlight.

Important to Note: You have to exercise caution with putting your cactus directly in sunlight because this can cause sunburn if your cactus isn’t used to it. In some cases, your cactus doesn’t want the direct sunlight.

How to Speed Up Cactus Growth

Now, we have talked about cactus plants and what can stop them from growing. We have gone into depth on why they might not grow. Now, we will look at how to speed up the growth of your cactus. In addition, we will cover what not to do to speed up its growth.

If you don’t like the speed of growth with your cactus, in some cases, you may want to buy a faster-growing cactus. Some of the faster-growing cactus species include:

  • Ferocactus 
  • Trichocereus bridgesii 
  • Ficus indica
  • Mammillaria 
  • Notocactus Magnificus “Balloon Cactus”
  • Gymnocalyciums

To speed up the growth, maintain a consistent watering schedule. Most cacti need water once a week. A good soaking is best. In the dormancy period, don’t try to get growth out of the cactus because it can slow down its growth or cause elongated growth that weakens the plant.

You also want to allow for the right kind of air circulation. Cactus need good air if they will grow. Stagnant air or air high in humidity can kill the cactus if continues over a long period of time. In fact, having a fan turned on can keep the air flowing in the room.

Don’t place a cactus under an air conditioner because the cool air can rob the plant of much-needed moisture from the air taken in by its spines. It can also freeze the plant cells. In addition, don’t place the cactus near a radiator in the winter season.


Your cactus may not grow for multiple reasons, but in some cases, it could simply be due to it being a slow-growing plant. Many cacti species don’t grow quickly. Check your species to learn how fast it grows. If you wanted a faster-growing cactus, choose from one of the species that we highlighted above. When that isn’t the problem, look at the possible causes.

If you’d like a good collection to get started, try the Instant Cactus/Succulent Collection. You receive eight plants, which becomes the perfect addition to your garden.

When you have a single cactus that doesn’t appear to be growing, you can also buy other cactuses as a way to add to your collection while keeping it fun. Owning plants can be a rewarding hobby.

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Cactus Spines: Do They Grow Back?

Maybe you looked over at your cactus and saw the spines falling off the plant. With the needles of the cactus being the defining trait of a cactus, that makes it a big deal.

Do cactus spines grow back? No, cactus spines won’t regrow after removed. Cacti can grow spines at other parts of the plant in newly grown areas, but they won’t grow again where the spines were removed. This is permanent, so you want to take care not to lose spines.

If you’d like to learn more on how cacti lose their spines and how to stop it from happening, keep reading because we will cover this in depth.

How Do Cacti Lose Their Spines?

Your cactus could be losing its spines for several reasons like:

  • Lack of fertilization
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Pests
  • Sunburn
  • Overwatering
  • Touching the cactus

Cacti will lose their spines for a number of reasons, but this highlights some of the key reasons that they lose their spines. In knowing this, you can take action to stop the cactus from losing its spines based on the cause. Prevention is better than the cure, especially because you can’t return the spines to their normal state. Once the spines get removed, it’s permanent.

Understanding the Cactus Spines

To better understand why cactus spines won’t grow back after you have lost them, let’s have a look at the spines. They act as a type of leaf, but they do this for the cactus. Cactus spines serve the following purposes:

  • Protection
  • Collect water vapor at night
  • Hold in an insulation layer of air
  • Provides shade against the sun
  • Water regulation

A cactus without spines will have an increased risk of water loss because the spines provide you with an extra layer of air protection.

Cactus plants that have had the spines damaged in an area won’t regrow in that part. This leaves them susceptible to a number of problems like predators eating the plant, sunburn in that portion of the cactus and less water regulation.

If you have ever noticed when watering a cactus, the spines can change colors. In fact, I wrote about that here in my article, “Why are My Cactus Spines Turning Red?”

Development in New Areoles

Cactus spines that have broken off on a plant won’t regrow in that spot, but they can develop on new areoles. Areoles are light-colored bumps from which the cactus spines will grow out of. In some cases, the cactus will grow new spines in an areole still active. You don’t, however, tend to see this with older parts of the cactus.

You don’t want to remove the aeroles because the spines won’t grow back if this gets removed.

Because of how the spines play such an essential role to the cactus, it will make every effort possible to bring the spines back. In cases, where the damage was too great, the spines won’t regrow.

What Do You Do When the Spines Won’t Regrow?

In some cases, the spines don’t return: What do you do? First, identify the reason why the spines have fallen off. The answer could be as simple as a cat that likes to rub up against the cactus. Believe it or not, the cactus needles break off easily. You have to exercise caution. Even touching the cactus with your hand can break off the spines, and they won’t regrow after they have broken off.

Prevention is the only way to respond to this. Once the needles have fallen off, consider it too late. If the plant has mealybugs, a common reason for cactus plants losing their spines, you have to respond fast.

To kill mealybugs, you will take a solution of 75-percent rubbing alcohol and 25-percent soap mixture.

Important to note: This will kill the existing mealybugs, but it will do nothing to stop future outbreaks. Beware of overwatering or overfertilizing your cactus because this can attract mealybugs.

Mealybugs can sneak up on a person, and they will suck the juices right out of the cactus until it dies. For that reason, you should check your cactus occasionally for an infestation. You can also use Apple Cider Vinegar to stop the molting process of mealybugs and killing them. This has the advantage in that it doesn’t use harmful chemicals that will hurt your plant.

What Do You Do if Your Cactus Lost Its Spines?

We have covered why the cactus loses its spines and how the cactus won’t grow back spines. What do you do after the fact that a cactus lost its spines? On a healthy cactus where it continues to grow, don’t do anything. You can’t do anything.

Instead, let the cactus grow until the portion with the loss of spines look much smaller than the rest of the cactus. Identify the cause of the damage to keep your cactus from further losing its spines.

In cases where extensive damage removed the spines from your cactus, you can try to keep it, but the loss of its spines will make it vulnerable to many things. To worsen the problem, the spines will never return, which will always leave it vulnerable. Prepare for the possibility that the cactus will die.

You have one situation where someone’s so-called friends skinned the spines off his cactus intentionally. Let’s just say, that isn’t a friend. Get new friends. Unfortunately, the cactus won’t survive in most cases, and if it does, it will survive as a shadow of its former glory. The only thing that you can do is to move it indoors and protect it from damage, but even this may not keep it alive.

In cases where the damage was extensive, the best thing that you can do is to start over by buying a new cactus.

Now, if you feel curious about the color of your cactus spines, check out my article, “What Color Should My Cactus Spines Be?”

What Can You Heal with a Cactus?

While spines won’t grow back on a cactus, you do have other things more forgiving. This plant knows how to deal with harsh conditions. For example, you can heal damaged roots and broken plant stems in most cases. You could also restart the cactus. Once a cactus loses its spines, however, it loses the crucial thing that makes it identifiable.

Think of cactus spines as like an adult tooth. Once you lose them, they don’t come back. The damaged part will eventually move closer to the bottom of the plant as it grows. New growth will have good spines that protect it.

Certain Cactus Species That Can Possibly Regrow Spines

We say that cactuses won’t regrow their spines because, generally speaking, they won’t, but you do have some cactus species that some cactus lovers say can regrow their spines. You might choose some of these cactuses if you were a beginner who wanted a choice that can handle more harsh conditions.

Some of the species that some believe will regrow spines in certain cases include:

  • Echinopsis
  • Cleistocactus/borzicactus
  • Notocactus
  • Trichocereus pasacana
  • Mammillarias — Usually won’t regrow a spine cluster

This may depend on the age of the cactus as well with some species more likely to regenerate the spines after damage.

How Do Cacti Grow Spines?

To fully understand why a cactus generally won’t regrow its spines, let’s have a look at how the cactus grows its spines. The spines on a cactus serve the same function as the leaves of a tree or plant, but the cactus should never shed its needles because they never grow back for most cactus species.

The spines grow from the inside of the cactus tissues, rather than the skin, which explains why they don’t grow back. Most of the spine growth comes from the inside of the areoles. Areoles perform one of the most important roles for the plant. In some cases, they give rise to flowers, but they serve the chief function of growing multiple spines. Usually, areoles will grow 10 or more spines in a single cluster.


Cactus spines usually won’t regrow, which is why you must pinpoint the cause and correct it as soon as possible. Provided the damage wasn’t extensive, your cactus will recover in most cases, but it does leave it vulnerable. In some cases, buying a cactus online and having it shipped to your home can cause damage to the spines from it bumping around. Damage can come from something as simple as that.

If you found this article interesting, maybe you will like the article, “Is My Cactus Growing?”

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Why is My Cactus Turning Purple?

Looking over at your cactus one day, you see that it has turned a purple color. What could it mean you think to yourself.

Why is my cactus turning purple? Usually, cactus will turn purple because of stress factors like cold temperatures, root rot, drought, nutritional deficiencies, excess sunlight or crowded roots. In many cases, overwatering your cactus can cause it to turn purple.

If you’d like to learn more about what causes your cactus to turn purple, keep reading because we will explore this subject in depth.

The Science behind Why Cacti Turn Purple

Cacti have chemicals in them called betalains. When the cactus juices become more acidic, you may see the cactus start to turn reddish, but when the juices go base, they become more normal. As the stressors mess with the pH balance in the cactus, the green chlorophyll in the cactus turns the color purple.

To sum it up, the chemical imbalance in your cactus has caused it to change to the purple color.

Pinpoint the Cause of It Turning Purple

First, figure out why the cactus has turned purple. In most cases, when a cactus stresses out and turns colors, it wants to tell you that something has gone wrong in its environment. Once you have figured out the cause, you can address it. Unaddressed stressors can kill your cactus.

The most dangerous stressors to watch out for include:

  • Root rot
  • Drought
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Crowded roots

Don’t consider the purple color undesirable in all cases because you have specific species of cactus that famously turn purple like the Santa Rita Prickly Pear. In fact, that purple spot could even be a fruit. The color ranges anywhere from reddish green to purple. It depends on the plant.

Another example of a cactus known for turning purple is the Stenocereus. In some cases, the purple color marks a natural part of their cycle as they turn to purple for the dry and cold seasons. During the winter season, you may see the leaf pads develop a tinge of purple.

Deep Purple on Cactus: Big Warning Sign

A cactus with a deep purple color should ring the alarm bells because as we said before cactus turn purple through betalaines. The more stressed a cactus becomes, the more betalaines it produces. It could mean that your cactus has a serious danger of dying. In combination with any of the following signs, your cactus could be on the verge of dying:

  • Discolored scabs
  • Small sunken spots
  • Wilting
  • Soggy texture or oozing
  • Soft spots

Purple Cactus from Too Much Sunlight?

Believe it or not, cacti can turn purple because of too much sunlight—imagine that of a desert plant. In particular, you should exercise caution when you move a cactus from a shadier part to an area with full sunlight. The sudden change can cause them to respond by turning purple. If this is the cause, you will see parts of or the whole cactus turn purple as a result.

To remedy this problem, move the cactus into an area with slightly less direct sunlight. In general, you want your cactus to have indirect sunlight because it fares better. The purple could indicate that the sun scorched its skin: Basically, the cactus has a sunburn. If you suspect sunburn, try to keep the cactus shaded with a cloth at least during the hottest part of the day, which is usually around 3 pm. You may also want to move the cactus into an area with less direct sunlight. If left unchecked, the purple can eventually turn the cactus black, killing it.

In some cases, the excess sun can damage the roots because of overheated roots. Be aware of how frequently you water your cactus as well. Cactus only require a watering thoroughly once a week.

What if the Purple is a Fruit?

You have cases where the outside of the cactus is a purple fruit that tastes delicious. First, cut off the outside skin. Cut off the top and the bottom of the fruit. During the processing, you may want to use gloves to protect your hands. Even the little pricks can get under your skin. While cactus spines aren’t poisonous, they itch, and in some cases, it can put harmful bacteria into your body that you don’t want getting in. The fruit tastes good, and you can eat it along with the pulp. This is known as the prickly pear fruit, and it comes with multiple health benefits like:

  • Control of hangovers
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Treating diabetes
  • Helping with obesity

Health experts love this purple fruit for its anti-inflammatory and anti-viral benefits as well.

Root Rot Turns Cactus Purple?

In particular, purple leaves could indicate that your cactus suffers from root rot. Most often, root rot happens when you have poor drainage and overwater the cactus. Pay close attention to the soil. Cactus soil shouldn’t hold water in too well. It’s a special kind of soil that drains incredibly well. We’ve spoken about this previously in the article, “Can You Use Cactus Soil for Other Plants?”

As the cactus gets too much water, it can no longer take in more water and magnesium. This leads to the cactus turning purple. Root rot, if not addressed in time, will kill your cactus. You address this problem through replanting the cactus in new soil that drains better and don’t overewater it. Once a week will be plenty of water for your cactus.

Expert Tip: Other telltale signs will usually show up in your cactus like shaky roots, discoloration and mushy roots. Pay attention to all signs. In some cases, your cactus may not be purple. It could be black or yellow and have root rot.

Buying a cactus from a store doesn’t preclude it from root rot. In some cases, you can get root rot right from the store that you bought the cactus. Not only that, but you can bring home pests from plants that were in the soil from the store. Issues with the root system can prove tricky to treat in comparison to topical problems for obvious reasons.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Phosphorous deficiencies have a reputation for turning cacti purple. Not only will this turn your cactus purple, but a phosphorous deficiency will cause the cactus not to flower and not bear fruits as much. Pay attention to the leaves. If you see that the cactus has begun to turn purple, this could largely be because of how it needs more phosphorous. All plants need this nutrient because it helps the plant to create sugars, energy and nucleic acid.

Young cacti have a higher risk of having a phosphorous deficiency than an older cactus. Have you fertilized your cactus? Other common nutrient deficiencies in cacti include nitrogen deficiencies and potassium deficiencies. A lack of nitrogen will cause the growth to slow down, and the stem may turn yellow. It could cause your cactus to turn yellow. Lacking potassium, your cactus will not grow as much, and the leaves may wilt.

Having a purple or red cactus could also indicate a magnesium deficiency. Plants need magnesium for several important functions like:

  • Making chlorophyll
  • Acts as a phosphorous carrier
  • Essential for phosphate metabolism

The symptoms of magnesium deficiency will first appear on the lower leaves. It shows up as more severe on the lower leaves because of how the plant moves the magnesium to make new growth.

Fertilizer can help you to treat a deficiency whether a magnesium deficiency or a phosphorous deficiency. Monterrey LG 7220 is one of the fertilizers that you might use to treat a deficiency. This can also help plants when it comes to absorbing phosphorous. You can also use this to kill weeds in the garden. Read the instructions to learn how to apply it to your cactus.

Roots Too Crowded

Using too small of a container can lead to the roots getting crowded. As this happens, they can’t absorb the nutrients and water as effectively. One signs of crowded roots is that when you pull of soil, the soil and the plant both tend to come out of the soil at the same time. You get one big clump. Along with that, the roots may be seen coming out of the drainage part of your pot.

Some plant experts call this Pot Bound. Crowded roots can cause your cactus to turn purple because of how it doesn’t absorb the nutrients that it needs. It leads to a nutrient deficiency but in another way. Typically, you want to repot your plants every 24 to 48 months to keep the roots from overcrowding. This depends on how actively the cactus has grown. Faster growing plants, you want to plant it every 12 to 18 months. Normally, you want to repot your cactus in the early spring of the year before the grow season begins.

Before you repot your cactus, first check the new soil for pests. You want to select a container that will be one size larger than the last one that you had it in. Someone might be thinking to go with a larger pot, but too small of a pot can turn your cactus purple, and too big of a pot can make your cactus susceptible to root rot as the soil dries. This can also turn the cactus purple because it may not have the ability to absorb the nutrients correctly.

Cactus Cysts

Some cacti will naturally turn purple, but the purple could also indicate disease in some cacti. Ornamental cactus plants have a special vulnerability to cactus cysts. It usually happens because of a pest known as a nematode infests the cactus. Along with the purple color of your cactus plant, other signs of a cactus cyst include:

  • Stunted growth
  • Wilting
  • Dying leaves
  • Reduced flower production

The pest known for causing cactus cysts also attacks the roots, which can cause root rot. This opens the door to other pests and fungi getting your cactus. Perhaps the most obvious sign that you have a cactus cyst is that the roots will have white spheres that appear on it.

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An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of the cure: That especially becomes true with cactus cysts. Once the infection takes root in your cactus, you will have a hard time stopping it. You will have an easier time throwing it in the garbage over stopping the infection.

To treat this pest, rotate your plants because the nematodes can’t survive without a host. They will die. Don’t plant your cactus in infected soil. That will go a long way to protecting your cactus. Sterilize the soil when you plant the cactus in a new pot. You can sterilize it through putting soil in a microwave and leaving the to of it open. Microwave the soil until it reaches a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This will prevent your soil from being infected and turning the cactus purple.


You have a few reasons why your cactus might turn purple. Hopefully, you have come to learn about this phenomenon and how to best address it. How you deal with a purple cactus will depend on the cause of the problem. For example, excess sunlight is an easy enough problem to solve. Nutritional deficiencies are also fairly easy to resolve. Cactus cysts, however, require a quick response if you can ever hope to save your cactus.


Can You Use Cactus Soil for Other Plants?

Maybe you have some spare cactus soil sitting around and wondered if you could use it for other plants. After all, using the spare soil lying around would save you from having to invest more cash in soils.

Can you use cactus soil for other plants? You can use cactus soil for succulents, but I wouldn’t advise that you pot regular plants in cactus soil. Regular plants don’t do well in sandy soil. Cactuses and succulents planted in regular soil will get root rot, so they need special soil.

If you’d like to learn more about soils and what works best with regular plants, keep reading for further information.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Cactus Soil for Regular Plants

Cactus soil wasn’t designed to hold in moisture, which means water passes through it with little chance of holding it in over the long term. Many plants don’t like this type of soil, and they will not thrive in it as well as regular soil. Take African violets as an example. Usually, they will thrive in compost and peat moss. You wouldn’t put cactus soil in this because its roots would rot.

How Does Cactus Soil Differ from Potting Soil?

You don’t want to pot regular plants in cactus soil because moisture doesn’t stand for long in cactus soil. It will have excellent drainage and dry out much faster than regular soil. Living in the desert, cactus know how to immediately process water that wets its root system. Meanwhile, the excess water will dry out to prevent fungal diseases from taking hold.

Potting soil, on the other hand, will keep the moisture for longer, and the plant will use the water as it sees fit.

How to Tell if the Plant Will Do Well in the Soil

With everything said about cactus soil and how it won’t work well for regular plants, this could make you wonder, “How do I tell if the soil is good for the plant?” First, look at the color of the soil. Soil rich in organic material, a good choice for regular plants, will usually have a darker appearance. It will crumble off at the roots of the plant, a good sign.

Healthy soil will usually have active animal life in it. Especially with outdoor plants, you will see ground beetles, spiders and centipedes giving life to the soil. Less than 10 and your soil likely isn’t the healthiest.

Another sign that you have healthy soil? Look at the aggregates or dirt clumps. It will normally have a rounder appearance to suggest you have healthier soil. Rounder aggregates allow the water to pass through the soil. If the aggregates don’t break apart easily, it could indicate a soil problem, such as being too hard.

Cactus Soil: Good Soil for Regular Plants?

Cactus soil for other plants, depending on the species, would most likely put a terrible strain on your plants. Most plants like soil that holds moisture and nutrients. As much as possible, you want to choose soil that mimics the natural environment of the plant.

That means that if you have bamboo palm, you want slightly alkaline to acidic soil conditions, and soil that drains well. You might buy a peat-based mixing soil and put drainage holes in the pot. That said, bamboo palm soil will differ greatly from cactus soil.

Cactus also prefer well-draining soil, but they prefer sandy and porous soil.

How to Determine if Cactus Soil Will Work Good for Your Plant

With everything said, in some cases, cactus soil might do the trick, depending on the plant. Before you use it, however, first look at the natural environment of that plant. What type of soil does it do well in? Every plant will be different, but generally speaking, cactus soil will work best for cactuses and succulents.

Can You Use Cactus Soil for Herbs?

You can use cactus soil for the herbs that do well in it, but the herbs won’t do as well if not adapted to that soil. Cactus soil drains the water fast. Herbs like thyme, oregano, sage and rosemary prefer that the soil dries out before you water it again, but it will do fine in cactus soil.

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Advantage of Cactus Soil

We have spoken about the disadvantages of cactus soil, but for plants that can handle this soil, it can work well. For example, this type of soil carries enough density to support larger plants. At the same time, the soil remains loose enough that it doesn’t impede the growth of the roots.

Cactus soil contains phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium. It contains many of the micronutrients that plants find essential as well, such as zinc, iron, manganese, chlorine and copper.

Indoor PlantsWhat You Need to Know

In general, cactus soil does better for outdoor plants than what it does for indoor plants. You can use it for indoor plants, but you may need some adjustments to fit their individual character. They prefer soil mix with better drainage and aeration than what cactus soil can give. Without this, you could get fungal infections or pest infestations that can spread to your other plants.

Can You Use Cactus Soil for Succulents?

Because succulents grow in deserts like the cactus, you can often grow them in the same soil. They like the same type of soil with easy drainage or the roots will start to rot. Succulents, like cactuses, developed similar characteristics to where they can’t tolerate standing water. They do better with feast and famine. For example, the rain will drench everything in the desert. Then, they won’t experience rain for several weeks.

Succulents only need some of the nutrients as other plants, making them an ideal choice. Another reason that you can use cactus soil for succulents is that cactuses are, in fact, the most famous succulent of them all.

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What Other Soil Options Do You Have?

Cactus soil may work for some plants like herbs and succulents and some regular plants can tolerate it. However, you do have cases where regular potting mix or all-purpose potting mix would do better. Some examples of the available soils include:

  • All-purpose potting mix
  • Orchid potting mix
  • Garden soil
  • Spaghnum peat moss

Each plant will have its own preferred soil, and it will do better in that type of soil. Before you plant something in a pot, you want to consider its natural needs and how it will do.

When you compare cactus soil to all-purpose potting mix or regular potting mix, cactus soil has high drainage. Compared to orchid potting mix, however, it has a low drainage rate.

Pick a Soil to Best Suit Your Plant

If possible, I wouldn’t recommend that you use cactus soil for regular plants. They will do better in all-purpose soil or regular potting soil. You can put them in it, but you may find it not worth the time. Depending on the plant, some will even die in cactus soil because they don’t have enough time to bring in water. Regular plants aren’t used to that type of soil and can’t adapt to it.


To sum it up, cactus soil works best for cactuses, herbs and succulents. You could use it for regular plants, but you may find that it doesn’t give you the results that you hoped for. All-purpose potting soil will work better in most cases, depending on the plant. Think of the plant and its natural habitat. If it doesn’t live in the desert, it may have a harder time with the soil.

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