5 Warning Signs For Cactus Root Rot

Whether you're a serious cactus collector or you keep them in your office, chances are you need to know how to care for cactus plants. Cactus plants do better when they are carefully taken care of and kept in the right environment. However, cactus plants have certain signs of being sick that need to be seen and treated as soon as possible.

Cacti are plants that take a very long time to grow. Sometimes you may think your plant is dead when it’s perfectly healthy. But there are times when the cactus is just portraying stunted growth as an indication of trouble. You may think it’s a normal slow growth when your cactus is rotting.

Root rot is one of the most common cactus problems that every gardener should look for. It’s many gardeners’ nightmare. Many things can cause your precious cactus plant to rot. One of those problems includes giving your plant too much water, especially during the cold seasons. Other causes of root rot include attacks by diseases, pests, and pathogens.

If you discover root rot issues early enough, you might be able to save your precious cactus from dying. But since the problem occurs underground, you might not see it until it affects the entire plant. Well, there are signs you can discover early enough, but there are those that you only see when the plant is already too affected. This article will look at various signs of root rot in your cactus and what you can do to save it.

1.  Change in Color

Sometimes root rot in the cactus may not be visible on the root itself but the upper parts. Many cactus plants begin to change their color when they’re disturbed. If you know the natural color of your precious plant, you’ll easily identify when it starts to take a weird color.

Some color changes may be a sign of happy cactus, so you must do your research. A reddish cactus means it’s getting a good amount of sunlight. The color change is also common in an older cactus. If your cactus is old enough, you might notice some brown patches on the stem going upwards. As the cactus continues growing older, the brown patches turn gray.

Root rot might make your cactus plant change the color from green to brown or yellow.

However, if your cactus plant starts taking a brown or yellow color, it will probably have a deep rooted problem. Some cactuses may also take a darker shade or just turn black. When you notice a sudden color change on the leaves or the stem of your cactus, you might have overwatered your plant, and the roots have had enough.

You can still save a cactus from this kind of root rot, especially if you notice that the source of trouble is overwatering. Make sure you adjust your watering routine before things fall apart. You can also consider removing the discolored areas so they don’t spread all over and cover the entire plant.

2.  A Bad Smell

If you uproot a healthy cactus, you’ll notice a very comforting earthly smell. This would be the smell of the soil that the cactus was sitting on and not the smell of the roots. But not always will you uproot your cactus and get greeted with that beautiful smell. A rotting cactus will not smell nice at all.

3 Dry Quart Organic Potting Soil, Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix, Fast Draining Pre-Mixed Blend, by The Succulent Cult
  • EXCELLENT DRAINAGE for INDOOR/OUTDOOR CONTAINERS: Our Specially formulated SUCCULENT POTTING SOIL helps improve drainage to avoid over watering which is the #1 reason why most succulents and cactus...
  • PERFECT FOR PROPAGATION: Propagating succulents and cactus is hassle free when using the right soil blend. This is the only blend we use in our greenhouses when it comes to propagating leaves, seeds,...
  • PRE-MIXED and READY TO USE SOIL MIX: Pre-mixed and ready to use soil to help make your gardening or hobby growing a breeze. Simply transplant your desired succulents into their new container and add...
  • FORMULATED BY PROFESSIONALS: Professionally formulated to help succulents and cactus thrive in their container whether kept indoors or outdoors. If your looking for a compatible soil for your...
  • ORGANIC LIGHT WEIGHT SOIL: 100% Organic ingredients with a neutral PH balance to provide optimal growth. Soil contains 75% natural substrate and 25% Organic perlite.

If you get some strong odor that you can’t stand instead of the early smell, you should know that there’s a problem. And that problem may not involve removing the cactus and planting somewhere else. The problem of a smelly root involved finding the virus behind the problem and killing it.

As the rot continues to spread in the plant, the smell also becomes stronger each passing day. Sometimes the root that is rotten to the extent of emitting a foul odor is already dead. There’s nothing much you can do to save it. The best solution is to throw it away, so the disease doesn’t spread to other healthy plants.

3.  A Shaky Plant

A disturbed root may not be strong enough to hold the entire cactus plant. If a disease or fungi attacks your cactus, some of the roots may begin to fall off. The root may not have the strength to go deeper. Your plant will start getting weaker and shaky.

Root rot makes your cactus plant weak and it might no longer be able to stay in place.

If you try pulling off a shaky plant, it will easily come off. You won’t need to apply the slightest amount of force. The wobbliness of the plant is also characterized by loss of turgidity and firmness of the leaves and stem of the plant. Unfortunately, by the time you notice these symptoms in your plant, its roots would have been damaged beyond repair.

4.  Soft Segments in the Plant

Another sign of a rotting cactus involves soft and swollen plants. You can easily break off the soft parts without applying any force. Try pulling the spine off the plant to see if it comes out without any struggle. That should be a sign of a problematic root and a dying cactus. You’ll also notice several soft spots in the flesh of the plant.

If the spines of your cactus plant come out easily, it might be experiencing root rot.

Another instance of a rotting cactus is some cockiness and discoloration around the soft spots.  The center of the plant can portray some wetness and mushiness. Sometimes the softness of some parts of the plant may not be rot but a mechanical injury to the stems. But if you’re certain it’s root rot, you need to deal with it immediately. This way, you’ll stop it from spreading to the rest of the plant and killing it.

5.  Severe Wilting and Drooping

A rotting cactus will start to droop and will portray stunted growth. The cactus portrays some wrinkly appearance on the leaves. The stems will appear droop. This happens because the roots become weaker and weaker every day.

The first reaction that many people undertake to save a wilting cactus is watering. But sometimes too much water can be the cause of the problem. So, if you add more water, you’ll make the situation even worse.

Sale
SE SUN-E Sun-E Modern Style Marbling Ceramic Flower Pot Succulent/Cactus Planter Pots Container Bonsai Planters with Hole 3.35 Inch Gift Idea(4 in Set) Plants Not Included
  • SUN-E New collections!Ideal for adding a dash of refreshingly modern design to your home,Great Gift - this ceramic pot can serve a variety of purposes. Perfect gift for family and friends who love...
  • Material:Ceramic(Made of top-quality clay and baked in high temperatures);Package content: 4 pcs*Pot.
  • Approximate Size: 3.35 x 3.35 x 2.56 inch (L x W x H).Planting caliber:2.5 inch.
  • A simple and sleek contemporary petite Beautifully with elegant, attractive color plant pot.Gardening props, suitable for decorative gardening,desk,bookshelf,dinning table,living room,hosting room and...
  • Decorations and plants are not included. Color may vary.Order it now!Decorate your home easily.Perfect choice of home decorations and will Display them individually or as a collection for an eclectic...

The best way to save the situation may involve transferring your plant to a new container and adjusting your watering schedule. Make sure you choose the right soil when you decide to re-pot your plant here are our recommended ones. And remember not to overwater. Too much water is the main cause of root rot in the cactus. Pay attention to the kind of soil you give it, and only water when you see that the soil is completely dry.

Cactus Root Rot Questions

How do healthy roots look?

One way to find out if your roots are rotting is to start by knowing how healthy roots look like. You should not mistake healthy roots for rotting ones. Healthy roots are yellowish-white with white fuzzy layers on the surface. The layers are either hair that the plants use to absorb water or mycorrhizal fungi that help the plant absorb nutrients.

If you happen to uproot a cactus with healthy roots, you’ll notice they have an earthly smell. Rotting roots emit a foul odor. Now that you know how to tell healthy roots from rotting ones, you can now understand how to better care for your plants. You’ll also know how to identify problems before they kill your plants.

Can cactus recover from root rot?

Depending on the magnitude of the rot and how early you identify it, your cactus can recover. But this will only happen if you get rid of the things that cause the rot in the first place. You should avoid overwatering if that’s what’s causing the cactus to rot. If it’s a disease, you should look for an appropriate way to eliminate the infection. You should also remove the parts that show signs of rot by doing drastic surgery.

How do you know if you’re overwatering your cactus?

Most cactus plants originated from the deserts. You have to give them desert-like conditions for them to thrive. However, many people don’t understand this and give their plants too much water than they need. You might think you’re doing your plants justice by giving them enough water when you’re just causing them more damage.

Overwatering is one of the most common causes of the root rot of a cactus plant.

An overwatered cactus may start to rot from the roots. You’ll see this in the change of color of your leaves and stem. The leaves and the stems will turn either brown or black.   

One way to refuse the temptation of overwatering your plant is to grow them indoors. Once indoors, you should not water often. The best thing to do is hold water for two or more days until the soil dries out. Cactus has their own water reserve, and they won’t die even if you hold water for a week.

Summary

If you’re an experienced gardener, you must know that cacti are one of the easiest plants to care for. They don’t need much care and can survive well without too much water. But these plants are not immune to diseases and fungi attacks. They develop problems that get into the roots and cause rot.

Usually, there’s very little you can do to save rotting cactus roots. But you shouldn’t lose hope because there are also several ways to save a cactus that’s affected by root rot. One way is to cut off the rotting part, change the soil (Here are our recommended ones), or adjust your watering schedule. Another way is to destroy the plant so that the rotting doesn’t spread to nearby plants.

Last update on 2022-09-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

read this next

The notion that cacti plants require little to no water to survive has caused the death of many plants due to dehydration. Although these plants are drought-resistant, it is good to keep in mind that they can easily die if you don’t provide them with sufficient water.
How to care for a string of pearl plant will probably be the first question that you have. This succulent is one of the more hardy ones, but it does have some specific needs. In this article we will tell you how to care for your string of pearl plant and provide you with tips on how to make sure that you are keeping it happy and healthy.
Cacti are among the most popular house plants due to their undemanding nature and lack of light preferences. These topped our list of best small cactus species for your indoors, which you can keep as a table or desk plant.
The prickly fruit is one of the healthiest fruits you can include in your diet. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber that offer a wide range of health benefits. In fact, the fruit is a staple in parts of Latin America, and Mexico mostly served with eggs and
The Madagascar Palm is a sturdy houseplant with arching, feathery green fronds. Native to the island of Madagascar, this palm likes bright indirect light, so keep it away from direct sunlight. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry, and use the 11 golden rules to determine if it needs water. This easygoing plant is a wonderful introduction to having a palm in your home.
Of all the succulents commonly sold indoors, Echeveria seems to be the most misunderstood. You may have seen it labeled “full sun,” “partial shade,” or even “light shade” in gardening centers, but what does any of that mean? It’s time to put such labeling to rest by going over the needs of Echeveria and other common succulents.
Succulents are some of the easiest plants to grow in the world. Succulent seeds can take anywhere from 10 to 40 days to germinate depending upon how warm they are kept and what type of seed they are. Let’s learn how to start succulents from seed right now!
Golden Barrel Cactus needs direct sunlight to thrive; since golden barrels grow outdoors in desert conditions that receive intense sunlight, the cactus cannot acclimate itself to low light. These plants do best when they receive full sun exposure while also planted in well-draining soil.
Growing succulents at home is now a popular endeavor, alright but do you know the pros and cons of the same? Before embarking on this journey, it is important to tae an objective view of what you need to have in place for succulents and how they could help or hinder your garden.
There are over 1,500 cacti species that come in different sizes, shapes, and colors. The average lifespan of these plants varies greatly from one species to the other. Species such as the Saguaro can live for up to 200 years while jungle cacti species such as Christmas cactus have an average lifespan of between 20 to 30 years
Nepenthes or carnivorous pitcher plants have a kind of suction tube or bucket-like plant native to Malaysia and Sumatra. They make for an amazing houseplant as well as a curious ornamental plant in the garden. But here are some amazing facts about these plants that you probably didn’t know!
Desert rose is a drought tolerant plant. It requires direct sunlight to bloom fully. Desert Rose can grow in the following conditions: Well-drained soil, while it has shallow roots, You should prepare well drained soil with rich organic material before you plant it, and make sure that you water it regularly.
Growing golden barrel cactus in your home or office is an easy way to add some spiny texture to your space, and it’s a fairly low-maintenance plant as well. Also known as the mother-in-law’s cushion, this sun-loving plant will perform well if you keep in mind these few tips and tricks.
String of pearls is one of the most popular genera of succulents. These gems have small rounded and oval-shaped leaves, arranged in strings making them resemble a string of pearls. String of pearls plants will produce many offsets that can be separated from the mother plant, which then can be potted separately to form new plants.

Receive the latest news

Get Our Cacti Newsletter

Stay updated with the latest facts, tips, advice, and more!

Your privacy is important to us.