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Durham, NC

Durham, NC


What is wrong with my cactus? Read this before you panic!
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What is wrong with my cactus? Read this before you panic!

· · Comments

When someone asks us “What is wrong with my cactus?” we typically see three reactions to people thinking their plants are having a problem:

  1. Repotting
  2. Giving the plant more water
  3. Putting the plant in direct sunlight

A lot of times these three go-tos will actually hurt your plant more than help!

We want you to have the tools and confidence to have the plant hoarding paradise you have always wanted! Whether you are a beginner or a practiced plant parent, here is how we’ve learned to speak Cactus and Succulent through our own research and experiments over the years:

If you are asking yourself “what is wrong with my cactus?” keep reading to find out what is going on, and how you can help make your plant healthier! 

My cactus is looking dry or wrinkled!

  • It may be under-watered. Make sure your cactus or succulent gets some water but be careful not to overcompensate - this will cause other problems! If you aren’t the best at watering your cactus regularly, check out our blog What to do When You Forget to Water Your Plant.

The soil my cactus is in always seems to be wet. 

  • If the soil of your cactus or succulent is still wet after a day or two, they were over-watered and do not need to be watered for a while. The soil should dry out between waterings.
  • All of our plants come with specific watering instructions to avoid this problem - most of them only need to be watered once a month!

My plant is getting some brown spots

  • Make sure your plant is not in direct sun or under a grow light - this can burn your plant, creating something similar to a sunburn. It is a myth that cati and succulents need full sun to thrive.
  • Fertilizer can also cause brown spots. We never recommend fertilizer - if you have nutrient filled soil, like ours, you shouldn’t need it at all. Stop using the fertilizer so your plants have a chance to recover and won’t develop any more burns. 

My cactus is leaning and I’m not sure why

  • When cacti and succulents start to lean, they are reaching for light. Simply moving them to a sunnier spot or rotating your plant each time you water it can help straighten them out.
  • If you aren’t sure what type of light your plant will like best, check out our blog all about How to *actually* understand different types of indoor light

My soil has some sort of white fungus growing, what in the world is that?!

  • This is a sign of overwatering and it can usually be stopped by spraying the soil with 10% peroxide to 90% water solution and reducing the amount you usually water with. 
  • My cactus or succulent is looking dark, almost like it is rotting in the middle. 

    • This is usually a sign of overwatering or is caused by watering on top of a cactus or succulent. We recommend watering only into the sand or soil. 

    • This can be hard to fix - you will want to decrease the amount you are watering with and spray the rotting area with a 10% peroxide to 90% water solution. If possible, you may need to remove the damaged section altogether. It will take several weeks to potentially recover. A little bit of neglect can be the best course of action in this situation - cacti and succulents are not big fans of too much attention.

    Whenever you notice something wrong with your plant, whatever you do don’t panic!

    Instead of making big changes (like repotting, watering more, or putting in direct sunlight) see what small, incremental changes you can make to avoid putting your plant into shock.

    Your plant will thank you for it and you’ll be expanding your happy and healthy plant collection in no time.

    From this former plant killer, I know you can do it! 

    Notice something going on with your cactus or succulent that’s not on this list? 
    We can help! Just email us at