How to revive a cactus

Cacti are a whole family of succulent plants that are characterized by their great resistance and their thorns. They are very beautiful and unique plants, which are very commonly used to beautify gardens and interiors with their unique and exotic touch. Sometimes they suffer from health problems and wilt, but thanks to their extraordinary resistance, it is possible to recover a cactus that at first glance might seem insurmountable.

If you want to learn how to revive a cactus and save it from a bad situation, keep reading this article where you will find a practical guide to recover it, whether it is drying up or getting soft or has some disease or plague.

How to revive a dried cactus – tips

For those less used to these types of plants, knowing when to water a cactus may not be easy, and it is easy to make the mistake of watering it too much or too little. If you do not know if your cactus is dry, notice if it seems to lose volume due to lack of stored water and wrinkles , or if you see your cactus yellow or brown . These are all common signs that your cactus needs a little more water.

To make sure, dip your finger or a wooden stick into the substrate or soil of the cactus, with a couple of centimeters you will see it, and check the humidity level: if something wet comes out it does not lack water, worse if you remove it dry yes lack of water and your cactus is drying up. If you’ve made sure it’s dry and lacking in water, you have two options to revive a dried cactus :

  • If the lack of water is still not very serious, it will be enough to water it paying attention to the speed with which the soil absorbs the water. Never flood the substrate or you will cause its roots to rot.
  • If the drought is advanced and there is a large part of the cactus wrinkled due to lack of water, it will be necessary to resort to something more drastic and risky: a transplant. Change the container cactus, being very careful not to damage it now that it is more fragile, and transplant it to one with a suitable and new substrate. Leave it for a few days in an illuminated area but without direct sun, and water it trying not to go overboard. 

It is also possible that your cactus visibly yellow in the areas where it receives the highest incidence of sun. Not all cacti are prepared to be exposed to very intense sun, and some can turn yellow from receiving too much light . If you see this, immediately remove them to a more protected location, a semi-shadow area, or the damage will get worse.

How to revive a cactus - How to revive a dried cactus - tips

How to revive a squishy cactus

If your cactus becomes soft, it is most likely due to excessive watering or humidity. This occurs because the roots of the cactus are sensitive to rot when they are in a soil or substrate with more moisture than adequate. However, it is not easy to touch the stem of all cacti, especially due to their thorns. If your cactus seems to have shrunk a bit, has altered its shape by losing smoothness, or is turning a black cactus , it is probably softening. Follow these tips to revive a squishy or drowned cactus :

  • If this is the case, the first thing will be, logically, to avoid this excess humidity. Stop watering it and transplant it to a new area or container with suitable, porous soil that offers the best possible drainage. If you place it in a pot, make sure it has drainage holes, and place a base of coarse gravel at the bottom of the pot and then add the sandy substrate.
  • If, in addition, the pot has a plate underneath to collect the excess water from the irrigation, never forget to remove it no more than 15 minutes after watering, or the humidity will return to the soil.
  • If the rotting process was very advanced, it is possible that some parts of the body of the cactus or its roots are unrecoverable. If you see that there is part of the cactus rotten, remove and prune the affected roots or parts without fear, with a previously disinfected knife or scissors. This will leave a hole in the plant forever, but it will be saved.

How to revive a sick cactus

To finish, we tell you cases in which a cactus can be sick and dying and how to help it:

How to revive a cactus with mushrooms

Most of the time there is a sick cactus , it is due to that excess humidity that we have mentioned above. However, it may happen that other causes of disease are, for example, poor pruning with unsterilized tools, or an injury caused by something like a fall.

In any of these cases, fungi can penetrate the cactus and attack it and you will see it black or white. If this happens, you should limit the watering of the cactus to a minimum, and it will be necessary to apply fungicide , either specific or made at home with one of the many ecological products that can be used. As in the previous cases, if there is rot, you will have to remove it, and a transplant may be necessary.

Other problems in cacti and how to recover them

It is also possible that you see the white cactus, or with spots of this color. This may be due, apart from a fungal attack, to the cottony mealybug infestation.  However, if you see it white, it could also be because you are watering the cactus with water that is too hard. If this happens, switch to bottled water instead of tap water.

With all this, you should have enough tools to be able to revive the cactus in most cases where it is in danger or even when it looks like a dead cactus.

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