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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