Common Problems With Cactus and How to Fix Them!

Cactus plants are some of the most common plants in the world today. With everyone staying inside during the pandemic, the need for some organic reminders of the world outside was strictly necessary, which is why so many people decided to take in these plants, which are generally easy to take care of.

You’ll find cactus plants everywhere. They’re present in small shops, workplaces on employee desks, and people’s rooms.

Cactus plants and succulents are generally confused with each other. It makes sense because both of these plants are xerophytes which means they have particular adaptations, making them perfect for survival.

Cactus plants are especially adept for survival, so they make such a good choice for beginners at plant rearing.

Since they’re so good at surviving, they don’t need a whole lot of input from a potential caretaker. Certain requirements to be met in the right amount to keep your cactus plants alive.

You also have to protect these cactus plants from problems in their growth. In the article below, we’ll look at the common problems that may occur with cactus plants and what you can do to fix them.

What Are Some Common Problems and Their Treatments?

The Cactus plant is very hardy. However, specific problems can occur even with all of its hardiness. We can break these problems down into three main branches,

  • Environmental Problems
  • Pest Problems
  • Disease Problems

Environmental Problems

Environmental problems may occur due to errors in the environment. It’s important to remember that to grow the cactus plant needs a pretty perfect environment.

These plants are used to growing in the extreme temperatures of the desert, so anything more significant than that can cause them to die an early death. Some of the problems that may occur in the environment are as follows:

1. Overwatering

If there’s one thing you don’t want in your cactus plant, it’s to have an overwatered cactus plant. Succulent plants like cacti tend to store water in their tissues.

Cacti use this stored water in their plant to survive the whole day. Cactus plants generally grow in dry places, which means they have the natural ability to get water into the plant as soon as possible.

However, they have issues getting rid of excess water. Thus, if you keep giving your cactus plant more water than it can handle, the cactus plant will start having problems.

If you overwater a cactus plant, it will swell up so much that the stem might break apart. Another thing that may occur is that the roots may start to rot.

Once the rot remains, root tissue will be lost, whereby the plant won’t absorb water or nutrients again.


If you feel like you’ve accidentally overwatered your plant, the first thing to do is stop watering it. Another thing you may want to do is to move the cactus plant from the current pot to one with more dry soil.

This may allow you to save the plant time. However, don’t report immediately. Let the stem lower in girth before repotting it, so it has more space.

2. Etiolation

Cactus plants are used to the desert climate, which is why they may need a lot of bright light to thrive. People may find it challenging to provide this level of light indoors. However, it also depends on where in the world you’re living.

If you’re living in a country where the sunshine hours are less, you may need to increase the amount of light you have indoors.

You could use unique lights indoors that allow the difference to be made up, but fluorescent lighting is not a proper replacement for sunlight.

Etiolated growth is sickly and out of form, but it is still growing. A new cactus caretaker may not know what to do with it.


Once a plant has etiolated growth, it’s permanent. You can’t do anything to change the way the cactus has changed its shape.

However, you can heal the remaining parts of the plant. You can provide it with the right situations to grow better.

You will have to bring your plant into the sun to fix etiolation. If the plant is indoors, it will do well to place outdoors.

However, you can’t do this immediately. If you do so, you run the risk of the plant getting sunburnt and destroyed utterly. Instead, you have to slowly but surely bring it into more sunlit places.

Even plants that are generally healthy can get sunburn if their levels of sunlight increase dramatically. Thus, there are greater chances of a burn for a plant that’s already diseased.

3. Dried-Out Plants

Plants that don’t receive suitable water may succumb to desiccation. Sometimes, people think that since cactus plants are so hardy, they don’t need a lot of water, if any at all. You mustn’t overwater a plant.

However, the converse underwatering can also kill the plant. You have to ensure that the plant doesn’t get a lot of water.

However, it should also have enough water. In most cases, you should go underwater than overwater cactus plants.

You have to take care of the temperature when trying to water plants. You must ensure you water plants more often when the temperatures are higher.

If you consistently don’t provide the cactus plant with water, it will likely just stop functioning and become dormant instead. If you don’t bring it out of dormancy by giving it water, it will die instead.


You’ll have to add more water to your plant. You want to ensure that it gets as much water as it needs.

Since you’re running an apparent risk between underwatering and overwatering, you can buy a water-level indicator that informs you about when you need to water your plants.

4. Sun Burn

If you generally keep your plant in a more shady location and then decide that it’s better to keep them in a more well-lit location, you may have to take some measures.

Immediately moving a plant from a low light place to a place where it receives a lot of light may cause sunburn. Sunburn on a cactus plant is likely to show the most grievous effects on the side in direct contact with the sun.

So, the part facing the sun that burns more quickly is the one you should be most careful of. The ridges that face the sun are more likely to burn.

A light burn is not something you will easily decipher, as it’s just a white mark. More severe burns become more hard tissue that’s brown or reddish.


It depends on the degree of your burn. If you find that the cactus plant only has one slightly white mark, then there’s space for recovery.

All you have to do is by a shade for your plant or move It into a place where it can receive shade. If your plants have a more severe sunburn, you can let the plant grow out of it since the damage is more permanent. It’s necessary to remember that you should provide defense as the best offense.

5. Frost Damage

If you live in a generally cold area, you may have to protect your cactus plant from frost damage. Frost generally occurs in freezing temperatures, so you have to protect your plant in the winter.

The good thing about frost damage is that you know when it may appear so that you can take precautions with ease.

However, it’s necessary to note that while some cacti can handle relatively cool temperatures and don’t face any danger until the temperatures are freezing, others would grow dormant in even cool temperatures.

Typically, it’s not even about the cold as it is about the rot that being cold comes with. Cold generally also comes with a wet environment.

Since cactus plants have trouble getting rid of excess water, they may not know what to do with the condensation that comes with the cold weather.

Additionally, the cold can also harm the plant. If there are freezing temperatures, the water the cactus plant has stored up will freeze within the cell.

When it freezes, it will cause the plant cell to burst. The damage is unlikely to be apparent immediately and will show up later.


The problem with frost is that there’s only so much you can do to fix it. It causes irreversible damage.

You can cut the damaged area entirely and allow the plant to grow on its own instead. Frost generally occurs from the top-down, so you can simply cut off the offsets and allow for the plant to grow otherwise.

6. Pot Bound

These plants have been kept in their pot for so long that the pot becomes overwhelmed with their roots.

As a result, the mass of the root becomes light so that even water has a difficult time passing through. If this happens with your cactus plant, you’re likely to have much trouble sustaining the plant.

If you water it the way you typically water a cactus, the plant will not have the water it needs for sustainable growth.

The plant is likely to desiccate because it won’t be getting the required moisture. If you try to soak the roots, the problem will be something else altogether. You’ll have an overwatered plant instead, and you’ll be in trouble.


The solution to this kind of problem is simple. You’re going to have to report your plant. You have to find a big enough pot that can take all of the roots and disseminate them in a conducive way to their growth.

When you have a severely pot-bound plant, you will have to break it apart before you report it.

It can be difficult to do this, but the best method would be to dig deep in with your hands and then break the whole thing apart. Once you’ve done that, you can move the plan into a much better place.

Pest Problems

Pests are some of the worst types of infestations that you could have on your cactus plant. You would think that with all of the thorns and protective measures in place, bugs would think twice before they ever crossed cactus plants.

However, that’s simply not the case. Some of the most common bugs and their treatments are stated below.


The scale that you would find most often on a cactus plant comes from the Diaspididae family, and they attach to the cactus plant with quite a lot of strength.

When you try to remove the scale insect from the plant, you will likely see that they leave behind some sort of indentation.


The first thing you would do is find a way to physically remove these insects. You can use your fingers or a tweezer.

However, most people swear that the most efficient way is using a spray nozzle to blast them off the plant.


These bugs are some of the most tenacious pests to find their place on a cactus plant. These mealybugs may even live on the spines of the cactus plant and try to suck the sap from them or sit on the stems and feed on the cactus sap. They are relentless and can cause a fair amount of damage to the plants. s

Treatment :

These bugs are exceptionally difficult to get rid of, which is why you have to be very organized when it comes to them. You would most likely have to use a systematic pesticide so that they may be completely gone.

Red Spider Mites

These insects aren’t spiders, but they are mites. Spider Mites enjoy eating new plants, and if you’re not careful with them, they will attack the outer part of your cactus plant and eat it completely before working on the inside.


The only way to treat plants with a red spider mite infestation is by applying pesticides.

Disease Problems

Cactus is a succulent plant related to the aloe plant, which has the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. Cacti can be found all across the world, and they can be used in a number of ways.

Some cacti are grown for their beautiful flowers, others are grown as houseplants, and others are grown for their decorative foliage.

Fungal Attacks

These attacks may happen due to rot. The way to know that there has been a fungal attack is to look at your plant and see if you can view any brown or red-colored spots.

Rot could sometimes be a fungus eating up plant tissue, but it may occur due to some other reason.


Once your plant is infected with fungus,  your best route is to find a part of the plant which hasn’t been affected, cut it up and replant it.


Rot is the most common problem that new gardeners are likely to face. Cacti are likelier to face rot because they have a lot of water and moisture in their tissues.

Fungus and bacteria can thrive in a place where the water content is more. Rot is unlikely to occur in desert conditions since the conditions are balanced.

However, when you’re trying to grow cactus in your backyard, there is only so much you can do. Rot usually starts from the bottom-up and in overwatered plants.


To protect your cactus plant from rot, you can simply not overwater it. Once you detect rot, it’s generally too late.

However, in some cases, you’ll be able to save your plant. The first order of business should be to report the plant.

Once the plant is drier, you can ensure that it gets the right amount of water, sunlight, and nutrients to thrive.

Final Words

In conclusion, cactus is a popular addition to any garden, but like any other plant, they can have issues. By knowing what these issues are, you can easily prevent them from happening.

We have given a list of common problems and their fixes. It is always good to keep a checklist handy.

If you go through this list of tips and tricks, your cactus and succulent will live for years without any problems.