Why Is My Cactus Turning Yellow? (The Reasons Explained)

Are you worried that your beloved cactus is looking a bit yellow? Youre not alone.

Many cacti owners have experienced this puzzling yellowing, and its important to understand the answers.

In this article, well cover the various possible causes and solutions to this problem, including identifying pests and diseases, checking the soil moisture, making sure the cactus is getting enough sunlight, providing adequate nutrients, and more.

Dont worry if your cactus is turning yellow; well make sure you have the knowledge to get it back to its healthy, vibrant self.

Short Answer

Cacti turning yellow could be caused by a few different things.

It may need more sunlight, or it may need more water.

It could also be getting too much water, or it may have an insect or disease problem.

It’s best to check the soil moisture and make sure the plant has enough light, and if not, adjust your care accordingly.

If the problem persists, you may need to consult a local plant specialist.

Causes of a Cactus Turning Yellow

When a cactus is turning yellow, it can be caused by a number of different things.

While some of these causes are easily solved, other can be more difficult to diagnose and treat.

Below are some of the most common reasons a cactus might turn yellow.


Too Much Sun: Cacti are native to dry, sunny environments, but too much direct sunlight can be a problem.

If the cactus is receiving too much direct sunlight, the leaves may start to turn yellow.

To avoid this, make sure your cactus is in a place that gets at least four hours of indirect sunlight a day.


Overwatering: Cacti thrive in dry conditions and dont need to be watered often.

If your cactus is sitting in wet soil for too long, the leaves will start to turn yellow and the roots may rot.

To avoid overwatering, make sure the soil is completely dry before you water it again.


Nutrient Deficiencies: Cacti need a balanced diet of essential minerals and nutrients to stay healthy.

If the cactus is not receiving enough of these nutrients, it may start to turn yellow.

To ensure your cactus is getting enough nutrients, consider using a fertilizer specifically designed for cacti.


Pests: Cacti can be vulnerable to pests such as aphids and mealybugs.

These pests can suck the moisture out of the cactus, causing the leaves to turn yellow and eventually die.

To get rid of pests, try using an insecticidal soap or neem oil.


Diseases: Cacti can also be vulnerable to fungal and bacterial diseases.

These diseases can cause yellow spots on the leaves, as well as a general yellowing.

To avoid diseases, make sure the cactus is in a well-ventilated area and isnt being overwatered.

If your cactus is still turning yellow after you have addressed all of these potential causes, it may be wise to take it to a gardening expert for further advice.

They will be able to diagnose the problem and help you find a solution.

Identifying Pests and Diseases

When diagnosing why your cactus is turning yellow, the first step is to look for any signs of pests or diseases.

Insects or other pests can cause discoloration or yellowing of a cactus, as can certain fungal and bacterial diseases.

Common pests that may afflict cacti include mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids.

All of these can be identified by their distinctive appearance and size.

Fungal and bacterial diseases can be a bit more difficult to identify, as their symptoms can vary widely.

However, some common signs of fungal or bacterial diseases include yellowing of the plant, spots and discoloration on the plant, and wilting.

If you suspect your cactus is suffering from a pest or disease, it would be wise to take it to a gardening expert for further diagnosis and advice.

Checking the Soil Moisture

When trying to diagnose why a cactus is turning yellow, one of the first things to check is the soil moisture.

If the soil is too wet, it could be causing the cactus to suffer from root rot or other issues that can lead to the yellowing of the plant.

To check the soil moisture, use a soil moisture meter or simply insert your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle.

If the soil is too wet, its time to let the cactus dry out before adding any more water.

Additionally, make sure the pot has adequate drainageif the pot doesnt drain well, the soil may become overly wet and this can lead to yellowing problems.

If the soil is too dry, you can water the cactus but be sure to avoid overwatering.

Making Sure the Cactus Is Getting Enough Sunlight

When it comes to understanding why your cactus is turning yellow, making sure it is getting enough sunlight is an important first step.

Cactus plants are succulents, meaning they are designed to thrive in dry, sunny conditions.

Without enough sun, they can become leggy and weak, causing them to become yellow and discolored.

When it comes to giving your cactus the right amount of sunlight, its important to observe the natural environment in which its growing and determine whether its getting enough sun or not.

If its growing indoors, you can move it closer to a window or other source of light and monitor its progress.

If its outdoors, take into consideration the amount of direct sunlight its receiving and whether its in an area thats too shady.

When it comes to cacti turning yellow, its also important to consider other causes such as overwatering, nutrient deficiencies, pests, and diseases.

If youve taken the steps to ensure your cactus is getting enough sunlight, and its still turning yellow, it may be necessary to take it to a gardening expert for further advice.

Providing Adequate Nutrients

Having healthy, vibrant cacti requires providing them with all the nutrients they need.

Cacti need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as trace elements like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and iron.

These nutrients should come from a balanced fertilizer that is specifically formulated for cacti and succulents.

The fertilizer should be applied in small amounts a couple of times a year.

Its important to apply the fertilizer when the cactus is actively growing, as this is when it needs the most nutrients.

Although cacti can survive in nutrient-poor soils, they will not thrive and may even turn yellow if they are not getting enough nutrients.

You can also supplement your cactuss diet with compost or aged manure, which will provide it with additional nutrition.

Its also important to make sure your cactus is getting enough sunlight.

Cacti need direct sunlight for several hours each day, so make sure to place the pot near a window or outside in a sunny spot.

If your cactus is not getting enough light, it can become yellow or stunted in growth.

Other Possible Causes

In addition to too much sun, overwatering, nutrient deficiencies, pests, and diseases, there are a few other potential causes of a cactus turning yellow.

Poor drainage, temperature fluctuations, and improper soil pH levels can all contribute to a cactus’s health decline.

For instance, if the soil doesn’t drain properly, the cactus may be sitting in water for too long and could become waterlogged.

This can lead to yellowing and even root rot.

To prevent this, it’s important to use a potting mix that allows for good drainage.

Temperature fluctuations, either too hot or too cold, can also affect a cactus’s ability to take in nutrients and water.

If temperatures are too extreme, the cactus can become stressed, resulting in yellowing and other signs of ill health.

To avoid this, make sure the cactus is in an area with consistent temperatures and is protected from extreme weather conditions.

Finally, improper soil pH levels can also cause a cactus to turn yellow.

Cacti need slightly acidic soil with a pH level between 5.

5 and 7.


If the soil is too alkaline or acidic, the cactus may not be able to take in the nutrients it needs, resulting in yellowing.

To test the soil pH, use a soil testing kit and adjust the soil if necessary.

When to Seek Expert Advice

If youve taken all the necessary steps to ensure your cactus is receiving the proper care, but your cactus is still turning yellow, it may be time to seek expert advice.

A gardening expert can help diagnose and treat your cactus, as well as provide further advice on how to best care for it.

An expert can examine the cactus for signs of pests, diseases, or nutrient deficiencies, and advise you on the best course of action for treating the problem.

Additionally, they can check the soil to make sure it is not overly wet, and provide guidance on improving the soil quality.

A gardening expert can also recommend the best sunlight and nutrient levels for your cactus, and provide advice on the most suitable potting mix for your particular cactus.

With their help, you can ensure your cactus is receiving the best care possible and can once again look its best.

Final Thoughts

Your cactus turning yellow can be a sign of distress, but hopefully now you have the knowledge to prevent it.

Make sure to check the soil moisture, provide adequate sunlight, and provide proper nutrients.

If the cactus is still yellow after these steps, it may be necessary to seek expert advice.

With the right care, you can ensure your cactus stays healthy and vibrant!.

James Twitty

James is a software developer by trade, but his true passion lies in plants. He loves to be outside in nature and is always eager to learn more about the different species of plants he finds. He often experiments with growing and propagating different types of plants and herbs, and is always excited to share his knowledge with others.

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