Helping a Dying Cactus

Category Cactus
This is a page about helping a dying cactus. Determining why your cactus is not thriving can take some research.


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January 26, 2010


I have a cactus that is dying. Normally, I dislike cacti, so I would throw it away. The problem is that my mom recently passed away, and it was her cactus, so it has a lot of sentimental meaning. How can I save this cactus before it dies? It used to have about 10-15 stems that grew beautiful burgundy flowers. All that is left is 2 stems and no flowers!

Sandi from Canada



I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother. Since I'm assuming you moved the cactus from where your mother was to where you are now, it's also safe to assume that some the environmental conditions the cactus was used to have changed. Your best chance for success will involve trying to mimic, as closely as possible, the conditions (light, temperature, etc.) of the plant's former growing environment.


General growing requirements for desert types of cacti include the following:

Temperature: Average warmth from spring to autumn with cooler (50º F to 55º F) temperatures in the winter. Hairy cactus like Cephalocereus senilis and Espostoa lanata need slightly warmer minimum temperatures (60º F).

Light: The more sun the better, but move them away from windows during cold winter nights.

Water: Treat your cactus like a normal houseplant from late spring through late summer. Water the cactus only when the compost begins to dry out. Cacti are sensitive to over watering, so if you have a tendency to over water houseplants in the first place, use a moisture meter to help you keep tabs on the soil's moisture level. At summer's end start backing off on the water. Keep the cactus almost dry from autumn until early spring. During this time, give it only enough water to keep it from shriveling.


Humidity: Keep it on the dry side. It will appreciate some fresh air from an open window on hot summer days.

Flowering: Cacti usually flower on new growth. Leaving them slightly pot bound can help stimulate this.

If you're worried that your cactus is on an irreversible downward spiral, try taking stem cuttings or offsets to start a new plant before it's too late. Let the cuttings dry out (cure) for a few days before inserting them into a peat-based compost.

The above are only generalities. I would recommend finding out what type of cactus you have so you can address its specific growing requirements and follow detailed propagation techniques.


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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

My cactus is dying. Last Sunday it was still in good condition, but yesterday it seemed to be dying. The head of the cactus is turning a black color. The area near the roots is turning yellow. Is there any way to save my cactus?


Hardiness Zone: 4a

By Jenny Choong from Selangor, Malaysia


February 12, 20100 found this helpful

Your cactus is a grafted cactus if you search them or google them you may find a solution. Sometimes the top part dies and your left with the bottom part it was grafted or "glued " to. Is it still humping along or is it dead by now?

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February 13, 20100 found this helpful

hmph, already a month then only get a feedback. I think it's cant save anymore. My mom had put outside my house and see it will recover by itself or not.

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July 15, 2019

Our cactus was growing normally until a week ago. One pad on the back, the one with the most fruit, dropped almost to the ground overnight. A friend thought we were overwatering (a once a week - we live in El Paso, TX). We stopped watering.


About 3-4 days ago we had some heavy wind. The next morning the other pads were bent in the direction of the wind. Another friend says we are under-watering. Any help appreciated. The cactus has sentimental value.


July 15, 20190 found this helpful

Drooping cacti need more water.

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