Cactuses are great and hardy plants that don’t often get affected by too many issues. However, you might experience some issues with cacti too. One of the issues is a drooping cactus, or a cactus that is falling over. In this post, you will find reasons why your cactus is drooping or falling over and how to fix that.
Few of the main reasons why a cactus is drooping or falling over is weak roots, or being potted in a container that is too large for it. Other reasons might include underwatering, pests, lack of sunlight and more.
Reading: Why is my cactus drooping
Reason #1: Your cactus is potted in a container too big
If your cactus is drooping or falling over, it could be because of a container that’s too big for it. Cacti don’t need to be potted in large containers, even if they have overgrown their current one.
An ideal container for a cactus will allow only a bit of extra space from both sides. Also, you will need to allow 1-2 inches on the bottom, to give space to roots to grow.
You need to repot cacti once in 2 years or so, and once a year if you use tap water for watering. That’s because tap water is hard (high concentration of minerals), and it accumulates in the soil. Very high quantities can damage your cactus and its roots.
If you pot your cactus in a container too big, it will start drooping and falling over. It also won’t able to properly absorb water, so this can harm the cactus in general. Make sure to repot a cactus every 1-2 years when plant has grown and needs more space.
Don’t try to take a shortcut by planting in a big container straight away. You can even pull your cactus from its soil and check if roots have grown on the bottom. If yes, it might be a time to repot your cactus.
Sticking out of drainage holes roots also indicate overgrowing. Only repot before the growing season, avoid repotting when cactus is flowering.
You can read more on repotting cacti in this post.
Reason #2: Cacti’s roots are too weak
Another reason why your cactus might be falling over or drooping is because its roots are too weak. If your cactus is potted in a big container, it can also cause this issue.
There are many other reasons why your cacti’s roots might become too weak. For example, if your cactus needs a dormancy period, you need to keep it in cool conditions and lightly water it once in 5-6 weeks.
Keeping your cactus in warmer conditions and stopping watering altogether will cause water evaporation, but lack of water in the soil. It leads to drying of a cactus and kills roots. This can then lead to a cactus being too weak to grow when growth season comes by.
Reason #3: Under watering your cacti
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If you under water your cacti, they will start becoming dry and droopy. Your cactus might also go dormant if you underwater it, and become purplish in color. Under watered cacti don’t have much water in their cells, causing weak stem and falling over/leaning.
As discussed in the previous point, you must keep your cactus in cool conditions if you lower watering in winter. You should not stop watering altogether, as your cactus still evaporates water even in cooler conditions. Your cactus might shrink a bit, but that should not pose a risk.
Underwatering in winter, especially when keeping cacti in warm conditions, will lead to loss of roots. This can then lead to a fragile and weak cactus that will be shocked by bigger amounts of water you provide when growing season starts.
You can read more about winter dormancy in cacti here.
Reason #4: Overwatering your cacti
Overwatering cacti is also a big issue. Cacti prefer airy and fast draining soil (some cacti prefer richer soil). But soil for cacti should not be kept too wet or waterlogged.
That’s especially true during cooler or colder times of the year. Don’t leave your cactus on a cold windowsill or close it under a curtain where drafts are common. Watering in winter should be very light, once in 5-6 weeks.
Before watering your cacti, make sure that the soil is dry. To do that, you can insert a stick in the soil to check if it’s wet. You can also use a soil meter like this, that will check the soil for few parameters, including moisture.
Overwatered cacti can easily suffer from rotting roots, and desert cacti are especially prone to this. Often an overwatered cactus will become soft, and can become brighter in color.
If you would like to read more about watering cacti, please read this post.
Reason #5: Pest or other damage
Another reason why your cactus might be droopy or falling over is due to pest damage. Does your cactus look damaged, weak or have any spots on it? If yes, your cactus could be damaged.
Frost, under or overwatering, using wrong type of soil and many other reasons can cause damage to your cactus.
Another issue might be pests that attack your cactus stem or even soil and start damaging roots or sucking out juices from your cactus. If this happens, your cactus will start drying and falling over.
Mealybugs and spider mites are two of common cactus pests. A good practice is to wait for the cactus to dry and take it out of the container to check the roots.
If you would like to learn more about issues and pests affecting cactuses, their signs and how to treat, please this post.
Reason #6: Lack of sunlight/differences between light and temperature
Most cacti, especially desert cacti, require lots of bright light. Some cacti can even tolerate full sun for most of the day. Without enough sunlight, your cactus will not be able to photosynthesize, and will slowly waste away.
This will then disturb its metabolic processes, too. Over time, your cactus might become weak and droopy. Each cactus has its own light requirements, so make sure to check them out for more information.
In general, tropical or epiphytic cacti will need more shade than desert cacti. South-east and south-west facing windowsills are suitable for most cacti genera/species. On south-facing windows, you will need to be more careful and provide more shade.
Another reason that causes droopy or leaning cactus is differences between light and temperature. If temperature in the house is high, but there’s no light, your cactus will start stretching out.
That’s why you must always be careful with sudden temperature drops (taking cactus outside when indoors at night etc.). Also, never water with cold water – water must be lukewarm.
While most cacti love lots of bright light, most will need shading during hottest day hours. If you take your cacti through a dormancy period, you must also allow them to slowly get adjusted to more sun over time, to prevent burns. Read more about light requirements here.
Reason #7: Cactus trying to reach for light
In general, cacti don’t like being turned too often. If you have few cacti on a windowsill or just sitting next to each other, make sure that each cactus has its own space and doesn’t cover another one.
However, if your cactus seems to be droopy or falling over, you can turn it around (180 degrees) to allow it to straighten out. If you see your cactus leaning towards one side, turn it to another side to allow it to straighten out.
Reason #8: Your cactus has not been able to go dormant in winter
If you live in a place with cold winters, you need to allow your cactus to go dormant during this period. This is usually during the end of October to beginning of March. During this time, you need to keep your cactus in a cool spot (around 59 F/15 C), and water your cactus only once in 4-6 weeks.
You must not keep your cactus in a warm spot and stop watering in winter. If you do this, your cactus will start thinning from the base and showing thin and elongated growth. Its roots will also weaken. This will then lead to droopy or falling cacti.
Thank you for reading this post! If you would like to learn more about cacti care, please see this resource page. In this post, you can read more about cactus diseases and ailments.
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