Cactus can easily be grown at home and are a popular houseplant for those who enjoy gardening. However, they do not always stay green as they mature. Some cacti turn white due to distress, and it is your responsibility to figure out what is causing your plant to turn white and address it promptly.
So, why is my cactus turning white? Typically, your cactus will start turning white due to sunburn, overfeeding, pest infestation, corking, overwatering, or root rot. Your plant may also turn white because it isn’t receiving a sufficient amount of light.
In this blog post, we explore why your cactus might be turning white and what you can do about it!
1. Pest Infestation
One of the common reasons why your cactus is turning white is due to a pest infestation. Ants, mealybugs, and scale insects all love to eat the sap that is abundant in cacti plants.
They can turn white from being covered with these pests as their bodies excrete a waxy substance called honeydew which attracts more ants!
If you suspect your plant has an insect problem, it’s best to find a solution as quickly as possible.
The best way to start is by giving your cactus plant a good wash with water and then inspecting the undersides of the leaves for any signs of pests. If you see ants or other insects crawling around, use an insecticide that specifically targets them!
A critical factor to keep in mind is that cacti should be placed somewhere with plenty of sunlight and room to grow. If you don’t give your plant enough light or space, their leaves will turn white since a lot of darkness tends to attract more pests!
Your cactus may also start turning white from sunburn. Cacti are native to desert climates, and they need sun exposure just like other plants do to survive.
But some cacti species have a highly sensitive stem that may be highly susceptible to extremely high temperatures. So if it’s not given enough time in a shade or protection from the sunlight, the plant may start turning white!
A good way of preventing this from happening is by giving your cactus a little shade during the hottest parts of the day.
You can do this by placing a piece of plywood or cardboard in front of it and then removing it at night when temperatures start to cool down!
It is crucial to understand the type of light your cactus plant loves and strive to provide it with the right exposure it requires to survive. Ensure it is not too little or too much.
3. Frost Burn
Just like sunburn, frost burn can also cause parts of your cactus to turn white.
Frost is a form of dehydration, and it occurs when an object’s temperature falls below freezing point, and its moisture freezes instantly! This will happen if you’re living in cold climates where frost is common during the winter months.
Unfortunately, the frost-burned areas of your cacti plant won’t return to normal even after the winter season is over. When you realize that your cactus is turning white due to frost burn, bring it indoors and place it on a window where it can still receive plenty of light.
But you need to ensure that it is not touching the window to avoid further damage. You can either leave the affected parts of the plant or remove them to allow new growth.
One way that may help prevent frosty burns on your cacti is by covering it with a transparent material such as a window screen or plastic sheeting. This will help the leaves stay warm and wet while also providing some protection from frost!
4. Low-Level Light
If you want your plant to grow healthy, green succulent stems and leaves, then it needs lots of light!
Cacti are best grown in a bright, sunny spot where they can receive as much sunlight as possible. If you don’t provide this to them, the leaves will start to turn white, and your plant may not grow properly!
You should aim for at least six hours of direct sun exposure per day if possible. This is perfect for any cacti that prefer a location with lots of sun and heat.
If you don’t have any windows or direct sunlight in your home, then there are some other options for providing the right amount of light that cacti require!
Fluorescent bulbs emit frequencies similar to natural daylight, which may help keep their leaves green (and they’re not too expensive either!).
If you’re a novice cactus plant owner, then it is likely that you are overfeeding your cactus!
All plants need fertilizer or nutrients to thrive, and if they don’t receive enough of these nutrients, their leaves will turn white.
However, it is the opposite thing in cacti plants. Although these succulents require to be fed occasionally, overfeeding them causes unnecessary stress on the plant making some parts start turning white.
So if you can’t see any other signs of health problems on your cactus, then parts of it could be turning white as a result of too much fertilizer!
But don’t worry because there’s an easy way to help fix this problem; simply cut back the amount you’re feeding it and give it a little time to recover.
The plant should start turning green again in a few weeks and will return to its usual self!
Typically, you should only fertilize your cactus once per year. The best time to feed it is during springtime when it is undergrowth.
Avoid feeding it during winter because most cacti species go into dormancy during the cold months and don’t need a lot of nutrients.
If you notice your cactus plant turning white from its base and nearly halfway up the plant, then you could be experiencing corking!
Corking is a common problem that happens to many different types of plants. Corky areas are usually found on the base and outside edges of your plant, but they can be all over it in some cases.
This condition occurs when there’s insufficient airflow for the roots to get oxygen, so water builds up, and the corky areas start to form. It mostly happens if you cover your plant with soil or mulch that’s too thick and prevents air from reaching it.
Remember that a cactus plant affected by corking can look white, but it may also turn brown or pale grey.
The best way to know that your plant is corking is by touching the affected areas and note how it feels. If it’s soft and wet, then this condition is likely to be corking.
7. New Growth
A cactus can also turn white due to the presence of new growth.
This is usually a sign that the plant is in distress or has experienced some injury, so it’s essential to take notice if you see it happening!
If there are no other symptoms on your cactus and some parts keep turning white but not browning, then they may be experiencing an issue with their roots and need to be repotted.
If the leaves turn white on a cactus that is not new, this may be an issue with overwatering or excess fertilizer. It’s important to take notice of any other symptoms as well before you try anything else!
8. Root Rot
If you have been overwatering your cactus or the potting mix has poor drainage, then your cactus may be suffering from root rot.
This condition is characterized by browning and rotting roots as well as a white or yellowish discoloration on the leaves, which will eventually turn them brown too!
If you have noticed that your plant has been having these symptoms for a while, then it’s time to repot into a fresh potting mix.
This should help provide the right amount of drainage your plant needs and prevent it from experiencing any further root rot problems!
If you suspect the whitening is due to overwatering, the first thing you need to do is reduce the amount of water you’re giving it. You should only be watering your cactus when the top inch or two of soil feels dry to touch, not wet!
If things don’t change, then you should proceed to repot it in the new potting mix. Ensure the new potting mix has excellent drainage and also make sure that the pot has holes in the bottom to prevent water from accumulating.
The best time for repotting a cactus is during winter because they go into dormancy during this time, so their roots won’t be disturbed by the new soil or pot!
Sometimes a cactus might turn white due to frost burn, low-level light exposure, or too much watering. These are all conditions that require care and attention in order for the cactus to thrive.
If you suspect your cactus is experiencing any of these problems, please contact your local plant expert for immediate assistance.
Furthermore, you must know how your cacti plants grow so you can properly care for them. With the right information about the diversity of problems that can occur, you’ll be able to identify and address them early.
Happy cactus growing!