How to tell if a cactus is dead

Cacti are those plants that, in general, protect themselves with more or less long and fine thorns. In addition, their flowers are usually of colors that are quickly seen and very beautiful, so they are, without a doubt, very interesting to collect. As they can be in a pot for a very long period of time, and there are even some that, since they do not grow much, it will not be necessary to plant them in the ground.

But sometimes they start to go bad, wrinkle or rot, and we wonder how to tell if a cactus is dead . Is there a quick way to find out? Well, sometimes it’s very obvious, but sometimes it’s not so obvious.


  • 1 What are the symptoms or signs that indicate that the cactus is dying?
  • 2 How can we prevent the cactus from dying?
    • 2.1 Better control of irrigation
    • 2.2 Plant it in a pot with holes and without a saucer underneath
    • 2.3 We will transplant it whenever they need it
    • 2.4 Apply systemic fungicide in case of excessive watering

What are the symptoms or signs that indicate that the cactus is dying?

Cacti are watered from time to time

There are some other reactions that cacti can have that can be confusing, for example: when their body wrinkles or thins. This is normal for them to do if they have not rehydrated for several days or weeks, but we can also see them like this if they are suffering from an illness that is already very advanced.

Therefore, you have to think and remember the care that has been given to date to know if the symptoms or damage it has are those of a plant that is dying or one that, yes, it may be. going through a little rough but his life is not in danger. So to make it much easier to get it right, we are going to talk about different situations:

  • Excessive watering : we may also have put a plate under it and with a soil that absorbs water quickly. The plant has reached a point where it becomes soft, wrinkled and in very severe cases rots.
  • Lack of watering : the cactus has not received a drop of water for a long time. The earth is very dry, it may look cracked, and its body begins to wrinkle and shrink, but it still remains hard and green.
  • Sunburn : although there are many cacti that need direct sun, none should be placed in that exposure if they have not been acclimatized beforehand. The burns will always appear from one day to the next, or after a few hours, and in the most exposed part (usually the upper part). But there is no more symptom than that.
  • Stains due to disease : these spots are different from burns, since they progressively increase in size, as the days go by. And although it is not visible to the naked eye, they are accompanied by other symptoms, such as the death of the roots, the softening or rotting of the cactus, and also the soil may be too wet.

Based on this, how can we know for sure that our cactus is dying? It is not easy, because it will depend on what is causing this general weakening of the plant and the state in which it is currently. But there are symptoms that can make us suspect that he is not well:

  • like the spots that increase in size with the passing of days,
  • rapid softening of your body,
  • a fungal disease (such as rust, which covers your body with reddish or orange spots) that progresses rapidly,
  • or even if it starts to grow in a way that is not natural for it, that is, if it becomes etiolated, something that happens if they do not have enough light or if the pot has become too small.

How can we prevent the cactus from dying?

The most important thing is to find out the cause, since depending on it we will apply one or another treatment. So, let’s see what measures we have to take so that it can be recovered:

Better control of irrigation

Cacti are not plants that resist drought well, as is often said. In fact, it is very easy for them to die from lack of water, especially if they are small and/or in pots. But they do not support waterlogging either.Cacti are sensitive to excess waterRELATED ARTICLE:Why cacti are not easy to care for

For this reason, it is important that if we suspect that they are dehydrating, we water them conscientiously, and if, on the contrary, we think that they have been watered too much, we will change the soil. From there, we will water when we notice the dry land .

Plant it in a pot with holes and no saucer underneath.

Cacti do not resist excess water

While pots without holes are nice, for cacti they are a death sentence. Sorry to use those words, but it is so. Cacti are not aquatic plants , so they should not be planted in such containers. The water, not being able to get out, accumulates inside, and the roots have more and more water and, therefore, more problems breathing. After a few days, the cacti rot, so to avoid this , they should be planted in pots that do have holes . Likewise, they should not be put under a plate, except if we are going to remember to drain it after each watering.

We will transplant it whenever they need it

Even if we are taking good care of them, if we keep them in the same pots they will not always have the opportunity to grow, and that could weaken them a lot. For this reason, we have to change them to slightly larger containers if they have been in it for more than three years and/or if the roots come out of the holes.

Apply systemic fungicide in case of excessive watering

To prevent the fungi from destroying the cacti , we have to apply a fungicide to them whether we suspect that we have watered them a lot, or if it has been raining heavily in recent days. We will use a spray, like this one , and we will apply it to its entire surface as indicated on the package.

It’s not always easy to tell when a cactus is dying. But don’t worry, because these tips will surely help you recover your plant.

How to tell if a cactus is dead

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