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Why is My Easter Cactus Dropping Leaves?

You bought an easter cactus loving the look of it, but you soon find it dropping leaves. What gives? A common problem with the plant, many people don’t know how to address it when the Easter Cactus starts dropping leaves. We’re going to cover why this happens and how to address it.

Why is my easter cactus dropping leaves? Overwatering the Easter Cactus is the main culprit behind dropping leaves. Check the soil. You may not have overwatered it. In some cases, you used the wrong soil mixture, which holds the moisture in too well, and this causes overwatering.

Easter Cactus Drainage Common Problem for Many Cactuses

All cactuses need sandier soil to let the moisture pass through more easily. Cactuses can handle copious amounts of water, but the water can’t remain in the soil for too long or root rot occurs. When you go to grow an Easter Cactus, it prefers soil natural to its environment where it thrives on rocks and trees.

To grow well, the easter cactus requires rough soil. That means you would use potting soil with a mixture of:

  • Pumice
  • Perlite
  • Tree bark

Especially for easter cactus, they prefer pumice, so you’d want to use more pumice in the soil.

Bugs Can Cause It to Drop Leaves

Scales, in particular, like to feed off the Easter Cactus, and it can cause the plant to shed its leaves as the insects suck the fluid from the stem and leaves. You can spot a heavy infestation of scales because the plant will turn yellow. Parts of the cactus will begin to die, but if left untreated, the entire plant will die.

To kill scale on your easter cactus and stop the leaves from dropping, you can apply Dawn liquid dish soap to kill the insects and keep them from returning. This alternative has advantages over using insecticidal soaps.

Shedding Leaves in Dormancy Period?

The easter cactus, also known as the spring cactus, has a dormancy period beginning in December and going until late March. During this time, you want to encourage your cactus to enter dormancy. Minimize the watering and decrease the fertilizer as it enters dormancy because if done incorrectly, the leaves will shed more in the dormancy period.

You want to apply just enough water to prevent the leaves from wilting. Maintain nighttime temperatures between 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Several processes happen during dormancy to help your easter cactus feel healthy.

Spot Changes Can Cause Dropping Leaves

Let’s say that you had put your easter cactus outside to feel the summer sun on its leaves. Come the autumn season before the first freeze, you bring it back inside so that it doesn’t die. The sudden change in placement and temperature, however, has been known to cause some of its leaves to fall off.

You can’t do much about the shock it experiences from changing spots except to let it drop off some of its leaves. As you move your cactus indoors, beware of putting it next to drafty windows or a heater vent because this can exacerbate the problem.

The Right Lighting

Easter Cactus usually don’t like direct sunlight. While they like the sun, they don’t do as well in direct sunlight. Indirect sunlight works best for the Easter Cactus and the Christmas Cactus. Using indirect sunlight can cause your cactus to bloom on cue. Bright but indirect sunlight yields the best results for the Easter Cactus.

Direct sunlight will burn the leaves of your Easter Cactus and cause them to wilt. Left unchecked, the cactus will start to die. Although, the Thanksgiving Cactus does fine in direct sunlight.

Overwatered Easter Cactus

The chief cause of problems in the Easter Cactus, such as when the leaves start to fall off it, comes from when you overwater it. You want to water the cactus thoroughly, but once you have watered it, you won’t water it again until the top half of the soil feels dry. Never let water stand in a cactus because it can cause root rot, which kills your plant.

If you know for certain that you have overwatered your Easter Cactus, the best thing that you can do is to take the plant out of the pot and re-pot it with new and dry soil. This gives your Easter Cactus a fresh start and can revive it.

Easter Cactus usually only requires water every three to six weeks. You have minimum maintenance with this plant.

Any of these things can cause your Easter Cactus to have leaves that fall off the plant. Check some of these factors to see if that isn’t the cause. In many cases, if it isn’t because the Easter Cactus has gone into dormancy, it has to do with overwatering or underwatering the cactus. Be aware of the temperature and type of lighting that your cactus gets as well.

Is My Cactus Growing?

The most rewarding part of a cactus comes from watching it grow. Like many plants, cactuses begin their lives as seeds and grow from there. Germination of a cactus takes anywhere from several weeks up to several months, depending on the species. In the beginning, don’t expect the cactus to grow too much.

Is my cactus growing? As your cactus grows, you start to see small new growths. Over time, these growths will extend and get larger as more new growths happen. Cactus will often flower on the growths, which means that if your cactus remains unchanged, it hasn’t grown.

How to Tell if Your Cactus Grows

Check the center of the cactus from above. A cactus that is growing will have different colored spines in comparison to the rest of the plant. This signals that your cactus has newer spines. Older spines have a duller color and less sheen than the newer spines.

You could snap photos of the plant to check the growth of it over time. Usually, when a cactus grows, you can tell if it grows in a meaningful way.

Patience the Key

In some cases, cactus will develop new growths quickly, but you have cases where they don’t do much. It could be because of how cactuses need certain conditions to grow. If it has stopped growing, check some of these conditions:

Direct Sunlight

You want to check to see that your cactus receives direct sunlight because low sunlight conditions can lead to poor growth. Cactuses need sunlight to convert to food and grow. Scientists classify plants as autotrophs, which means that they make their own food through the process of photosynthesis. Animals have to hunt or forage for food, but plants can make their own.

Correct Soil Mixture

The right soil can promote growth with a cactus. You have hundreds of soil companies that claim to have the best soil, but as you can imagine, they can’t all be the best. Getting the best soil depends on each plant species. For cactus, I’d advise that you use a mixture of 1/3 sand, 1/3 gritty and 1/3 soil.

That mixture ensures that the soil doesn’t hold in moisture and cause root rot, which will keep the cactus from growing.

Older Cactuses May Need More Nutrients

Did your cactus seem to stop growing? What happened? After about a year, your cactus may have absorbed all the nutrients in the soil. You can add more nutrients to the soil to remedy the problem.

Use a good cactus fertilizer. Usually, cactuses like a fertilizer higher in phosphorous than nitrogen. Some cactus experts recommend the 5-10-5 solution.

Choose the Correct Pot Size

Many people don’t even think about the importance of a pot for the cactus. If you use too small of a pot, the cactus will stop growing because it doesn’t have the space to expand its root system. On the other hand, too big of a pot can be detrimental to the cactus as well. With too big of a pot, the cactus will stop growing because all the growth will happen in the root system. It wants to fill the planter before growing.

How Do Most Cactuses Grow?

If your cactus hasn’t grown too much, don’t worry. Most cactuses will grow slowly, but this depends on the plant species too. You will usually get a cactus that grows to the size of a large marble at between six to 12 months. In general, you can expect your cactus to add an extra 1 to 3 centimeters each year. As long as you can see some growth and the plant looks healthy, don’t worry!

How Can I Make My Cactus Grow Faster?

You can help your cactus to grow faster by making sure that it meets the right conditions. Make sure that your cactus gets enough sunlight, has enough fertilizer, uses the right soil and has the correct pot size.

Establish a consistent watering schedule, use soft water and make sure that your cactus gets enough sunlight. Putting fertilizer in the soil during your cactus’s growth period ensures that you maximize its growth. Come the winter season, let the cactus go dormant. This follows a natural cycle.

How Often to Water the Cactus to Ensure It Grows

You will want to water your cactus every week consistently. For example, you could set the water schedule to watering it every week. During the watering, you soak the soil. While some people get nervous about that, this is perfectly natural. It mimics the cactus’s natural environment where it either experiences feast or famine with waterings.

Understanding How Cactuses Grow

Let’s have a look at how cactus grow to get a better understanding of when your cactus grows. Especially in the wild, cactus will grow in large clumps. You will see new offshoots of the cactus that start to grow. Some call these cactus clusters.

Some people don’t like the look, and you can remove the growths to replant them, but this will slow down its growth since that’s the natural way that a cactus grows, but it gives it a cosmetic appearance.

Hopefully, this helps you to understand a little better how your cactus grows. If you can’t see any growth of your cactus, check the health of it. A cactus in poor health won’t grow as much since it will expend most of its energy on survival. The color of the cactus can indicate health. A healthy plant will usually have a green glow. Beware if the cactus starts to turn black. I wrote about that here and how to respond to it if your cactus has started to turn black.

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Why Are My Cactus Spines Turning Yellow?

So, you initially bought a cactus with white spines, but later on, it turned yellow. You might think something is wrong with it, or perhaps you think it might indicate an unhealthy growth. Do not panic yet! Not all cactus that exhibit color change through their spines mean something is wrong with your little plant.

Why are my cactus spines turning yellow? Cactus spines change their color depending on the variety, and it is perfectly natural. Cactus variety such as Mammillaria Elongata exhibits yellow spines and depending on its type, some may be red, and some may be brown. It should not alarm you as a first-time plant owner. As long as the cactus itself does not turn yellow, it should not be a problem.

What If the Cactus Itself Turns Yellow?

When you notice that your whole cactus is turning yellow, that is the time to be alarmed. It is a big sign that your cactus is dying. So, it is better to detect the problem early than to regret it later. There are several reasons why your cactus is turning yellow.

Inappropriate Watering – This type of problem refers to the overwatering or underwatering of the cactus plant. Any inadequacy of the water intake of your cactus plant can contribute to the problem. Make sure you carefully watch the amount of water you give your plant.

Pests Infestation – What leads to the insect infestation problem? One possible answer is the one we discussed above – overwatering. Moisture on the soil invites different kinds of fungus and bacteria to the roots that multiply later on. That is the start of the infestation. You can notice your cactus getting wobbly and yellow at the base.

Mineral-Deficient Soil – Again, I will emphasize the importance of using the right soil for your cactus and other succulent plants. Sand alone is not enough. It must contain minerals that are necessary for its healthy growth, such as potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen. You can achieve this by using readily-made soil mix, but you can look it up online for instructions and mix it on your own. You can use fertilizers too.

Sudden Change of Environment – This problem usually happens when you just bought your cactus, and it exhibits yellow color. The sudden change in its environment gives a shock to your cactus. The best thing you can do is to take care of it properly, do the things that can make it adjust to its new environments, such as appropriate watering, adjustment to exposure to sunlight, and re-pot if you needed to.

Why Is My Cactus Plant Turning Yellow At The Base?

Yellowing at the base of your cactus plant is a sign that your cactus is dying. It may have been caused by overwatering or underwatering. If it is overwatered, check your soil. Did you use well-drained soil? What about the pot? Does it have enough holes for drainage? The other problem is the underwatering of your plant. Just because it is a cactus, you can neglect it for up to a week or longer without it dying. Make sure you check the soil to see if it is entirely dry. There is no exact timeline on when to water your cactus. If you notice that its soil is becoming very dry, water your cactus right away.

Can I still Save My Yellowing Cactus?

The answer depends on the extent of the damage. For example, if it turned yellowish due to sunburn, you can still save it. The first thing you need to do is to remove it away from the spot where it got sunburned. Second, water your cactus a little bit extra than what you usually do. It will help your cactus repair the damage caused by the sunburn. And lastly, make sure it gets protection from other threats such as bug infestation.

On the other hand, overwatering is a threatening issue. It leads to root rot. When your cactus roots start to rot, there is no way you can save it. That is why it is essential to use well-draining soil in a pot with good drainage.

Are There Yellow Varieties of Cactus?

Yellow varieties of cactus do exist. One example is the California Barrel Cactus. This type of cactus has a long yellow body that is very distinct and covered with spines. This cactus is a native of deserts’ Mojave and Sonoran in the United States. Aside from California Barrel Cactus, there are also other classified yellow cactus such as the Golden Barrel Cactus and Balloon Cactus. These two latter mentioned were actually green in body but heavily engulfed with yellow spines.

Yellowing spines are natural. It depends on the variety of cactus. On the other hand, if the whole cactus plant is turning yellow, that is something to watch. It is a dangerous sign that your cactus is dying. It is crucial to watch over your cactus and detect the early signs and correct the cause before it is too late. Want to make your cactus room official? Add this sweet LED neon green cactus sign to your room. It looks fantastic!

Why is My Cactus Turning White?

You brought home a new cactus and set it on the deck with the other plants. A couple of days go past, and you start to notice your cactus turning white. Cactuses shouldn’t turn white. What gives?

Why is my cactus turning white? Believe it or not, cactuses can get a sunburn. Especially cactuses in low-light conditions will be susceptible to sunburn. When a cactus gets sunburned, the plant turns white. Treat your cactus as you would a fair-skinned human with no direct sunlight.

What to Do About a Cactus That Turned White

You can’t do much about a cactus that turned white because of the sun. Provided the sun didn’t burn the whole cactus, the rest of the plant should do fine. After you have noticed your cactus turning white, put it in the shade for a few days and gradually bring it out.

This problem commonly happens with cactus grown in low-light conditions and brought out into direct sunlight. You have to slowly get your cactus to adjust to its new environment.

Sensitivity to Ultraviolet Rays

Some species of cactus have greater vulnerability to the rays of the sun than others. Some species act impervious to sunlight. Judge this on a case-by-case basis. Don’t leave a cactus turning white out in the sun for too long because sunburn like this can eventually kill the plant.

If you have a white part at the top of the cactus, you may want to cut away at that part. That part won’t grow anything useful to the plant even if it recovers.

Exercise Caution When Turning a Cactus

After you have picked up a cactus plant, put it back carefully. You want to return the cactus to its original position. This ensures that the cactus doesn’t receive too much sun on a side that it isn’t used to getting sunlight. The wrong positioning of a cactus can also turn your cactus white. You want to return it to the same sides.

Protect Baby Cactus Seedlings

Along with adult cactus plants not used to direct sunlight, you have to especially protect cactus seedlings. For the first year, keep them in indirect sunlight. Doing this protects them from ultraviolet rays that could turn them white. Some cactus species have more sensitivity to sunlight and will be more prone to this danger.

You want your seedlings to survive. To do this, keep them in an area with indirect sunlight and good ventilation. After your cactuses have reached a point, you will slowly introduce them to the sun to keep them from getting sunburn.

Hardy Plants That Can Recover

Cactuses are hardy plants that can recover from many things. Whenever a cactus changes color, pay attention. A cactus turning white is more serious than when it turns red or pink, but it is slightly less serious than when it turns black or brown. You have to respond fast if your cactus develops black dots on it because it spreads fast.

With a cactus that turns white, the solution is simple. Move it to an area with less direct sunlight.

Insect Damage

The sunlight ranks as the most common reason for turning a cactus white. However, insects like the Narnia femorata, which feeds on the cactus, can cause white splotches on the cactus. If not acted upon quickly, your cactus will forever after grow more slowly. This bug removes the chlorophyll, and while it won’t kill your cactus, the plant won’t grow as well because it needs chlorophyll for photosynthesis. Simply remove this bug whenever you spot it.

Freeze Damage: Beware

Your cactus might turn white as temperatures drop. Few cactuses, except for the hedgehog cactus, can handle cold weather. Cactus commonly inhabit deserts and sometimes tropical jungles. They don’t have resistance to the cold. Most species will experience damage from cold weather. Freeze damage usually appears white, but it will eventually turn yellow and from yellow to black.

Take your cactus indoors to prevent damage from frost. This rule applies to many other types of plants, which can’t handle cold weather.

Cactus Beginning to Cork?

If your cactus starts to turn white or brown at the bottom, it could mean that the cactus has begun to cork. Corking happens as the cactus ages, and it’s a natural process. As long as the cactus doesn’t feel mushy, you have nothing to worry about. 99 percent of the time, corking won’t harm the cactus. It indicates its age.

The high humidity and cold temperatures contribute to corking. Especially if the cactus exists in a climate foreign to the deserts, the chances of this happening increase. A cactus that suffers damage will cork much easier than other plants, but you don’t have to worry. Avoid touching your cactus because this makes it more susceptible to damage and corking.

A cactus that turns white might be a little more to worry about than if it turns red or pink. Still, it doesn’t pose as much threat to your cactus as a plant turning black. In most cases, you can simply remove your cactus from direct sunlight, and this stops the problem. Failure to respond, however, could eventually dry up and kill your cactus. Don’t ignore the signs. When the cactus turns colors, it is almost always telling you something.

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Why is My Cactus Turning Red?

You look to the window at your cactus one morning to find it turning red. Panicking, you wonder if this means you have an unhealthy cactus. You might look at red as another shade of pink, and the reasons for them changing colors are similar. I had previously written an article on “Why is My Cactus Turning Pink?” Without further ado, let’s dive into the reasons why a cactus might turn red.

Why is my cactus turning red? A cactus will sometimes turn red because of too much sunlight or too much stress. Also, some cactus, such as the Gymnocalycium mihanovichii, have a red appearance anyhow. Stress can bring out a red appearance, but it doesn’t mean the cactus is unhealthy.

Stress on the Cactus

If a cactus feels stressed, this can bring out the red pigment. A red cactus doesn’t necessarily mean that the cactus is unhealthy, however. The common stresses to a cactus include:

  • Less water
  • Less heat or more heat
  • Less nutrient-rich soil
  • No fertilizer

People stress plants like cactus to make them more colorful. In some cases, the red might be desirable. You might do this with cactus to turn its colors because it remains perfectly healthy even when red. When you bring water and fertilizer back to it, the cactus will usually return to its normal color. Don’t do this for too long, or it could have a negative impact.

Mild Blush or Heavy Red?

A slightly red hue on a cactus indicates stress, and it looks beautiful. A deep or heavy red doesn’t always look so attractive, and you might return the cactus’s stress levels to normal as a way of dealing with it.

Does Stress Harm the Plant?

No, when a cactus turns red from stress, this does not harm the plant in most cases. Some plant enthusiasts will even do this to make the plant more colorful. With cactus, it doesn’t look as pretty, but you might try it for a fun experiment. Once the environmental stressors stop, the cactus returns to its normal color. Stress doesn’t harm the cactus, and in fact, they were programmed to do this through evolution.

Organic Matter in the Soil

One thing to understand with most cactus is that they don’t like organic matter. Look at the desert environment that they inhabit, and you will understand. You might turn the cactus red in some cases if you make the soil too rich.

Red Cactus Spines vs Red Cactus

Important to note, cactus spines turning red signal a natural part of the maturing process. That differs greatly from the cactus itself turning red. If you’d like to learn more about red cactus spines, I wrote an in-depth article here.

In general, red cactus spines will be even less worrisome than a red cactus because it shows that the cactus has come of age. A red cactus usually doesn’t mean that you have an unhealthy cactus, but you should still remain alert to what might be causing your cactus to feel stressed.

Root Rot

You have cases where root rot could turn your cactus red. In most cases, a cactus turning read will be benign, but you should check for telltale signs. Have you overwatered your cactus? Do you use sandy soil? Overwatering can cause root rot and sandy soil ensures that the water doesn’t hold in the soil. Beware of a musty or sour smell from the soil.

Wilting or where the plant turns red or pink could indicate root rot in some cases. You shouldn’t disregard this sign entirely because it could mean that the cactus feels stressed. If you discover root rot, you should replant the cactus into a new soil and pot. After replanting it, you will want to avoid watering it for between two to three weeks to eliminate the root rot. Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil MixOpens in a new tab. is the perfect blend of soil, and it uses a professional formula to work with both jungle and desert cacti.

Nutrient Deficiency

In some cases, red or purple cactus signals a lack of magnesium in the soil. Pay attention to the overall look of the plant. Along with discoloration, if the cactus has wilting, this signals a magnesium deficiency. Nutrient deficiency especially happens over the winter season when cold weather slows the nutrient intake of the plant.

You might add Epsom salts to the soil to correct a magnesium deficiency. Take 8 tablespoons of Epsom salts into 2 1/2 gallons of water. Next, add 1 drop of dishwashing soap. Continue to apply the mixture over the course of two weeks until the color of the cactus returns to its normal green.

Why Does a Cactus Turn Red?

When under stress, a cactus might turn red or pink. Experts call these pigments carotenoids and anthocyanins. Carotenoids and anthocyanins can also be found in fruits high in antioxidants. The antioxidants provide protection for the cactus in its natural environment to handle extreme heat, cold and drought.

While the beautiful colors brought out from stressing a cactus look unusual and stunning, you have to look at this as a baby crying. Don’t let it progress too far. The cactus is protecting itself when it turns red or pink. For that reason, you want to correct the problem eventually to ensure that the discoloration doesn’t progress into further problems for the cactus. I found this book “Cactus (Botanical)Opens in a new tab.” an excellent read on the fascinating and sometimes contradictory world of cactuses.

Why is My Cactus Turning Pink?

You look at your cactus one morning to find it turned a pinkish color. Fearful, you wonder if your cactus is in danger of dying. Does the pink color on a cactus mean something bad?

Why is my cactus turning pink? In many cases, a pink cactus doesn’t mean anything bad. A pink cactus could mean that your cactus is getting too much direct sunlight, or you may have to water it more frequently. Depending on the species, a pink cactus is normal.

Beware of Window Glass

You have to remember how a cactus that sits on the windowsill will be more vulnerable to the sun. Window glass intensifies the heat from the sun. Even a cactus can’t handle too much direct sunlight. If you suspect this as the culprit, move the cactus slightly away from the window so that it doesn’t receive a direct dose of sunlight.

Many cactus experts will grow cactus sprouts under the shade of another plant until it reaches an age where it can handle more direct sunlight. Even once it reaches adulthood, you want to monitor it closely.

Too Little Light

While too much light can turn your cactus pink, too little light can cause it to grow toward the light, ruining its outline. A cactus kept in low light needs less water. You do have some species of cactus that can grow in low light like the Mistletoe cactus, but you have to consider the species because many will lose their green sheen without natural sunlight.

Lack of Water

Cactuses will sometimes turn pink because they don’t receive enough water. In most cases, a cactus that turns pink won’t pose a risk to the life of the plant. You may want to water it more often to return the cactus to its normal state. In general, you want to water a cactus once or twice per week to remain healthy. Some species of cactus even naturally turn pink when exposed to sunlight.

Root Rot

You have to stay alert potential for dangers because a pink Christmas cactus could indicate poor soil drainage. This leads to root rot. Gently remove the plant from the container to look at the roots of the cactus. Cactuses like soil that doesn’t hold the water for too long. You usually want to mix the soil with sand so that the water doesn’t stick with the soil for too long. This mimics their natural environment in the desert.

Don’t Worry!

In most cases, you can correct a cactus turning pink more easily than if it turns black. I had previously written about cactuses turning black here. A cactus turning black and mushy requires immediate action, or your cactus could die. Usually, this happens because of pests or a fungal disease in the soil. Either way, you have a more serious situation than when your cactus turns pink because it indicates fungal disease or pests.

When to Be Concerned

Pink color or red color in a cactus isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, but pay close attention to the root of the problem. Where does the problem come from? If you see severe discoloration, you must identify and neutralize the cause because it could kill your cactus. A cactus that turns yellow or brown could mean that your cactus has entered a dire state. You will have to act fast to save your cactus.

Pay special attention to the wobbliness of your cactus. A cactus shouldn’t wobble. This indicates problems in the roots with root rot. Rotten roots will usually have a brown or black appearance, while healthy roots will appear white. In some cases, they might appear pink, which isn’t also fine.

Cactus Thrives with Pink on It?

Some plant enthusiasts have reported how when a cactus gets some pink on it, it thrives. It experiences growth spurts and does well overall. You usually don’t have to worry if a cactus gets pink on it. However, it would be wise to understand why it started to turn pink. For example, a lack of watering means that you should water your cactus more often.

Could the Soil Turn It Pink?

In some cases, the wrong soil could turn your cactus pink, or it could slow down overall growth. If you want good cactus soil without having to make it yourself, try the Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix.Opens in a new tab. As a beginner, I’d advise buying cactus soil because it guarantees that the soil does well for the cactus.

What if My Spines are Turning Colors?

I have covered this in-depth in past articles. In 99 percent of cases, if the spines start to turn colors, you don’t have to worry because this happens naturally with cactuses, depending on the species. If you’d like to learn more about it, check out my article here.

In most cases, a cactus turning pink isn’t a cause for concern. You may want to look at the cause and adjust the factors, but you usually don’t have to worry that your cactus is knocking on death’s door. In 98 percent of cases, your cactus will be perfectly fine.