How to Save an Overwatered Cactus?

Having an over-watered cactus is a bad thing. If a cactus is watered too much, it will die. It might not look dead, but it is. It just has no water to help the cactus survive.

If you over-watered a cactus, you will have to buy a new one. But, there is hope! I have found a way to save YOUR cactus

While the pandemic still rages on, people are determined to have a sense of normalcy in their lives, and an important focus has been reforging their connection with nature by introducing plants to their immediate surroundings.

However, if you’re someone who doesn’t know much about plants and how to grow them in general, you may want to start with a hardier plant like cactus.

The cactus plant is one many people like to have in their homes. These plants are low-maintenance, which increases the chances of you keeping one alive.

The good thing about cactus plants is that if you manage to keep them alive, you can graduate to trickier plants that require more effort.

Cactus plants have different adaptations, including their enhanced capacity to store water, so unlike other plants, they don’t need to be watered frequently.

Instead, what you can do is maintain a ritual that allows for them to grow in the best way possible. However, even though you know this, you can still accidentally overwater a cactus.

In the article below, we’ll be talking about some of the ways that you can save an overwatered cactus plant, so you don’t have to worry about losing all your effort.

Can You Save an Overwatered Cactus Plant?

The simple answer is yes. It may be a little difficult for you to get your cactus plant back on track. However, with the right steps, you can set your overwatered cactus plant on the path to recovery.

If you’re someone who’s a chronic overthinker and over-giver, you may find it difficult to stop watering your plants.

You’ll be happy to know that even if you feel like you’ve watered the plant too much, there is a way to save it.

Effects of Overwatering in Cactus

Overwatering is one of the most common problems in a cactus plant. Since cactus plants are hardy, they don’t require a lot of water, but you might accidentally overwater them if you’re not familiar with their water needs.

If you manage to overwater them, you will find that certain problems may arise as a result.

1. Lack of Color

Cacti come in different colors, which include shades of green and yellow. You will also find that they can even come in darker colors.

However, if you keep watering your plants consistently, without paying much attention to how they’re responding, you will find that they will get overwhelmed and start changing color.

They will start losing their deep vibrancy and instead respond by losing their colors. They will start to pale in comparison to what they once were.

The discoloration generally starts slow, and then the plant will become paler and paler as time passes.

If your plant is originally a lighter color like light green or yellow, you may find it even more difficult to know that the cactus is losing color. You, thus, have to keep an eye out for any major changes.

If your cactus plant was green all this while, then you may find that it’s starting to turn yellow. These color changes occur due to chlorosis which occurs due to overwatering.

Chlorosis refers to the loss of green pigment called chlorophyll in the plant. Chlorophyll is responsible for capturing sunlight and conducting photosynthesis in the plant.

Thus, when this starts to reduce, you will find that the plant no longer grows like it’s supposed to. When there’s too much water in the soil, you will find that the plant can’t grow how it needs to.

Thus, you must have the right amount of water.

2. A Plant Which Isn’t Upright

When you overwater any plant but especially a cactus plant, you will find that it won’t be able to save and trap as much water after a while, and it will start drooping.

You have to understand that if you touch the cactus plant and find that it’s squelchy and looks defeated, you should start worrying.

The state of the tissue being turgid and mushy is the same as the difference between plants is perfectly watered and overwatered.

If your cactus plant has had too much water, the plant will start to droop.

Plants cells have strong cell walls made of cellulose, which is why they can handle water just as well. These cell walls also have a limit, though.

You can’t keep overwatering because the water table will increase so greatly that these cells will start to rupture after a specific amount of time.

When the cells and tissue rupture, the internal working of the plant also gets affected. Once this happens, the plant can no longer transport water or maintain its shape effectively.

Different plants are affected differently by this entire phenomenon. For columnar and tubular cactus plants, like the Saguaro, you will find that they tend to topple over.

3. Root rotting

When you expose your cactus plant to too much water or moisture, then you will find that rot is inevitable.

Too much water causes the plant to suffocate as the oxygen won’t teach the plant. Waterlogged soil will affect the air supply to the roots, which may cause them to die.

In general cases, rot occurs at the tip of the roots. It can then start spreading from the tip to the base.

It generally happens below the surface, and it’s generally difficult to understand the damage before it’s too late.

If you don’t acknowledge how the roots are rotten, your plant may begin to lose itself more and more.

It becomes stunted as it is unable to grow. Some sections may fall off and eventually die when you don’t know how to fix the situation.

Symptoms/Signs of Excess Watering in Cactus Plants

You will find signs that often reveal themselves in plants that are not being taken care of properly. If you’re doing something wrong, chances are, you’re going to figure it out as long as you know what signs to look for.

These signs and symptoms aren’t always straight, and you may find it difficult to distinguish which ones indicate neglect or, in the case of overwatering, overwhelm.

Initially, a plant that you are overwatering may flourish immensely. You may start to feel like it has a life of its own, and all the love, attention, and water you are offering is causing it to grow.

But eventually, you will realize that this isn’t the case. It could just be that the damage has not materialized into the leaves.

Thus, you must maintain a proper schedule for watering your plants. If you continue to overwater, you will find that eventually, your plants’ roots will start to rot.

The most difficult thing about the process is that you may feel like everything is okay due to the image your plant presents, but it isn’t.

However, if you know what to look for, you can catch the signs easily. You should stop watering so regularly if you observe any of the following signs in your cactus plant.

1. Wilting

If you see that your plant is drooping and is generally looking a little more sad than usual, then the chances are that there’s something underneath that’s not going as planned.

2. Boils and Edema

If you look at your cactus plant and see different blisters and boils popping up, then there’s likely something going on with your plant.

Sometimes you may not notice edema in the cactus because of the spines. But, it’s always necessary to do a thorough look, even if you think it’s a one-off.

3. Squelchy Stems and Spines

We’ve mentioned this before, but if anything seems mushy instead of turgid in your succulent, then the chances are that you have some plants you need to take care of.

There may be some damage that you may have sustained to the plants by overwatering them, so you should stop in your tracks and try harder.

4. Yellowing

If the color turns from green to yellow, you may find that something is going on underneath the surface.

The change may happen over time, and so you may know earlier that the plant will turn yellow as well.

When you sense this discoloration appearing, you can change up your watering habits and see if that helps.

5. Leaf Drop

If the leaves start dropping for cactus plants, that’s usually not a good sign. You may want to unroot your cactus plant and check if there’s something you wish to do regarding it.

Steps to Prevent Them From Dying

Once the signs indicate that you were indeed overwatering your cactus plant, here are some steps you can take to get your cactus plant back on track.

1. Repot the Cactus

If you’re completely sure that you have been overwatering the cactus plant, replace the cactus plant in a pot with some dry soil.

Your cactus cannot thrive in waterlogged soil, which is why you should get a new pot, fill it with potting mix, and then add your cactus plant to it.

After you have repotted, you should let it be for a while before adding water to the mix. While doing this, you should make sure that you’re regularly checking up on the growth of the roots.

If any part of the plant you think is rotten, you will need to get a clean knife and cut that part right off. If you don’t do this, the rot will spread and affect the further growth of your plant.

2. Cut off all the Dying Leaves and Stems

If there are rotten parts to your cactus plant that are still present, chances are your plant will not thrive. You have to decide to remove all the dying stems and leaves.

3. Water More Moderately

Once you have repotted your cactus plant, you’re off to a fresh start. It’s up to you to then commit to watering your cactus plant the way it is supposed to. If you water your plant properly, it has a better chance of survival.

Points to Remember While Watering Succulents/Cacti

One of the most important points to remember when you’re watering your cacti or succulents is that they don’t need a whole lot of water.

These plants are used to a desert climate which means they don’t require water. You should wait for the soil to dry out before watering it completely if you’re a beginner.

You can check the water level by dipping your finger into the plant and making sure that you can feel the wetness of the water level.

If you feel like the soil is still wet, you can leave the watering for a few days.

It would be best if you also took care that cactus plants will take up less water in the water since the sun isn’t out yet, so you’re going to have to water the plant less.

You should also ensure that the plant is kept in a pot with proper drainage regardless of the weather and season.

Final Words

Overwatering a cactus is the most common problem for beginning cactus owners. When you notice your cactus is starting to shrivel or feel soft, then it needs to be watered.

There are many factors that can contribute to a cactus’s health, but overwatering can be prevented. When you water your cactus, make sure that it won’t dry out for at least two weeks.

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