Why is My Cactus Turning Yellow?

February 4, 2011

Yellowing CactusI got what I think is a type of barrel cactus from my sister when she passed in November. I put it in a south window, but it started turning yellow. A friend told me to give it more water, now It's really turning yellow. It was my mothers, so its at least 20-30 years old. What can I do? I took some pics to help with my answer.


Hardiness Zone: 4a

By Beth from WI


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February 5, 20111 found this helpful
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Hi Beth, Your cactus turning yellow can be a sign for quite a few things. Just there a baby growing off of it? Has it been in the same pot for a long time? The root system might have grown and needs to be repotted. It might be lacking nutrients and a good plant food for cactus might help.Just follow directions on package. Make sure it has the right kind of soil. Cactus need a sandy mixture and good drainage at bottom of pot. Don't over water. Sometimes too much attention to cactus is a bad thing. They are use to being on their own and don't require much water. Yellowing means it's experiencing some kind of stress. You just need to rule out the main reasons and it should revive itself. Good luck!

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February 11, 20112 found this helpful
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I think (though I may be wrong) that it's getting too much water. I keep killing my cactus because I insist on watering them even if it's only every few weeks. I've read that you should never water them, just spray them once or twice a week with water. Good luck. I actually have some that is living finally, outside, where I completely forget about it. Last summer once or twice I saw it looking like it was drying up so watered it, and it was fine.


But I think if I'd have 'mothered it' it would have died for sure. I also think that once cactus starts rotting, there may be nothing you can do, and it might be too late. Good luck! And if you try this, and it helps, please post back so we know it's valid. :)

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September 24, 2018

I'm experiencing an issue with my Mammillaria elongata cactus. I've had this plant for about a month and recently it's started to turn yellow. I have it by the windowsill and water it once a week so not sure why it's turning yellow.



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September 24, 20181 found this helpful
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It sounds like you are over watering. Yellow is usually caused by too much water. Although my dad, who used to raise various cacti, would have the same yellowing issue if we forgot to water. Most of the time if was too much water though.


Most people say to water cacti weekly, but if your home is moist every two weeks works. The trick is NOT to over water...only water so the soil is damp, NOT saturated...think desert like conditions where they thrive.

Hope your cacti is well soon!

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