Growing Guides

Why Cactus Turning Brown or Yellow

Though cacti are known for being low-maintenance plants, it isn’t uncommon to see a few problems like rotting and wilting. One predominant problem seen in indoor succulents is brown spots. Here are a few reasons behind your cactus turning brown:

Rot in the root: Overwatering and improper soil conditions are known to cause rotting in the root, leading to the plant turning brown. You can try to save the cactus by repotting it in better soil and by cutting off rotting tissues. 

Overexposure to heat: If the brown spots are on the top and you see shriveling in the leaves, direct contact with excessive heat is the problem and can lead to eventual rotting of the plant. Keep your cactus in mild temperatures and minimal light to save it from brown spots and rot.  

Aside from brown spots, most cacti owners will come across plants turning yellow and eventually rotting.

While it usually happens due to small slip-ups, it could still be detrimental for the cacti! If your cactus is turning yellow, these could be the possible reasons:

Lack of proper light: While cacti often look good by the windowsill, it might not be the right place for them. Yellowing of the cactus usually means it’s rotting due to too much or too little light! 

Insect infestation: Spider mites, scale insects, and mealybugs can suck out the juices from your cactus. They also make way for fungal infections in cacti. Needless to say, they could be turning yellow due to this.

There are some additional issues behind a rotting cactus! 

Lack of minerals in the soil: When you place your cactus in bad soil, it won’t have enough minerals and nutrients to absorb. This can lead to rotting in the roots, stems, and leaves, which will appear as brown or yellow spots. An easy way to fix this is by repotting the plant and checking the roots for any signs of rot!

Poor quality water: Though it sounds very unlikely, the quality of water used plays a big role in your cactus’ growth. Water that’s too soft or hard can have detrimental effects on the soil and subsequently lead to the rotting of the plant. Ensure you use good quality water for your cactus to keep brown spots away.  

Over and under-watering: An indoor cactus isn’t used to intense conditions like the cacti found in deserts. They need to be watered right so they can survive! Overwatered cacti often show discoloration and have mushy leaves. Place them in soil that’s not too wet and ensure the pot is spacious enough – this will keep them from turning brown or yellow and rotting! 


Colorful and aesthetic, cacti can give your household unrivaled appeal, provided they don’t turn brown and suffer from rotting. Don’t let their easy maintenance keep you from taking good care of them. When nourished and nurtured right, these cacti will grace your house with ample elegance!  

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