Gardening Advice

Why Is Your Cactus Turning Yellow

Foryoui3 /

While cacti can thrive in the harsh world of the desert, they can still experience hardship when people are taking care of them. Pot cactuses show when they are stressed out by yellowing. Stress can come from numerous factors like improper watering, wrong sunlight exposure, etc.

While they can handle a bit of neglect, succulent plants like the cactus will need to be set in the proper conditions to thrive.

Why Your Cactus is Yellowing:

The Possible Reasons Why Your Cactus is Turning Yellow

Colours can tell a lot about the health of the plant. While every case is unique in its complexity, there are some general reasons your cactus developed a yellowish tint. Luckily most of them are reversible/fixable.


While easy to look after, cacti require a very specific amount of direct light per day. Most online sources state that a full day of sunlight is around six to nine hours. While succulents like the cactus do require a full day of direct sunlight, putting it on the window can be overwhelming for the plant.

Instead, place the cacti behind a thin curtain. The amount of sunlight would be sufficient, and the plant won’t burn from the sunrays.

If you’re growing cacti in your backyard, you should plant them in places where they would get a sufficient amount of sunlight, but not burn. We do not recommend planting a cactus plant outside, as Australia can have rainy winters, which will drown the plant.

Watering Incorrectly

While cacti are considered desert plants, they still need to be watered properly. Whenever you’re watering your succulent, make sure water is draining from the drainage holes.

If you feel like you’ve poured enough water but nothing is getting through the holes on the bottom of the pot, remove any stones glued to the bottom. Most cacti are sold this way and often the stones block the drainage.


Watering your cactus too often can be a problem. If you keep the soil too wet you can see a yellow shade developing on your succulent. This is a sign of stress, and the plant can’t live in such moist conditions.

Your cactus should be watered only when the soil is fully dry. Invest in an inexpensive moisture meter, so you can precisely measure the level of moisture in the soil.


Not providing enough water can be a problem as well. If you’re watering your cactus once a month, it will turn yellow. Make sure to regularly water your plant, as the nutrients provided by the water are vital.

Use the calendar on your phone to set reminders. After monitoring your cactus for a month or so, you will understand what the perfect watering time interval is.

You may also like:
All Articles
The Complete Guide to Watering Plants

The Water Used

It’s possible the tap water you’re using is ruining the soil of your cactus. Examine the topsoil layer of your plant. If you see white stains, then you have softened tap water. It’s bad to water your cactus with it because it forms salt crystals.

If that’s your case, repot the plant in soil specifically made for cacti. It’s fairly inexpensive and it’s easily found in every botanic store.

Environmental Shock

If you’ve just purchased your succulent and the cactus is developing a yellowish tint, it may be because of the environmental change.

While this isn’t common, it may be the cause of the problem. Continue to water it appropriately and if the problem persists consider repotting the cactus in better soil.

It’s a Yellow Cactus

There are some cacti that start off as green but turn yellow over time. If you aren’t sure if that’s the case with yours, go to the place where you bought it from and ask them. You can also google the species of your cactus.

Wait and monitor the plant daily. If the cactus looks healthy and only the colour changes most likely everything is fine.

The Pot is Too Small

When growing a cactus often baby cacti will sprout from the soil. Because yellowing is a sign of stress in succulents, the problem may be that the pot is too small.

Get a bigger pot and move the main cactus in it. Invest in the proper soil as well. You can separate any smaller cactuses that are left (if multiple), and pot them separately.

Problem with Pests

While most cacti don’t have a significant problem with most pests, every species of cacti has its own pest nemesis. Depending on the type of succulent you’re growing, you should research which pest can cause a problem.

As yellowing is a sign of stress, the colour change may be the first sign that your cactus has a pest problem.

Mineral Deficiency

When minerals in the soil aren’t sufficient enough, the colour of your cactus will show it. While cactuses are pretty tough plants, they do need proper soil in order to thrive.

The soil should be regularly changed and fertilised, especially in the growing season (mid-spring to mid-autumn). This would allow for a healthy plant to develop.

Need more gardening advice? We have a vast variety of gardening services you can book for your home!

0 0 Votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Newest Most voted
Inline feedbacks
View all comments
Sayali Dinesh Patil
Sayali Dinesh Patil
4 years ago

Please my cactus is getting yellow and weak.Please tell me what to do???please

Carol LaPoint
Carol LaPoint
2 years ago

I have a cactus that’s medium tall and bunch of fine needles on it but the top is starting to turn yellowish white what does that mean

1 year ago

My yellow cacti is yellow at dirt level…why?

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x