The Q&A Archives: Cactus Color Fading

Question: I have a short round cactus that I keep in a pot indoors. I bought it about 9 months ago while on a trip to Phoenix. It is only about 1 to 1.5 inches tall. Anyway, I noticed that over the last several weeks the base of the cactus has turned from a dark green to a yellow/pale green. And this seems to be spreading higher from the base. I recently replanted the cactus in a larger pot, but it does not look any better. Is the change in color a result of winter hybernation or is it because I have over/under watered the plant. I don't know if I should water it some more and give it some food or to just leave it be. Can you give me some advice? What type of food would I give it and do you carry such a product?

Thank you.

Answer: The color change you describe could be due to several different things. One is a watering problem, since cactus need to be watered and then left to dry before the next watering. In winter, they need to rest by being in a cooler location and not watered at all for about two months. Your plant may have been trying to rest and as a result, been overwatered. Repotting can exacerbate the situation because the increased soil can hold excess water not needed by the plant.

Another reason is graft incompatibility. Some of the cactus plants sold are grafted and in some cases the top and bottom are a poor match. Eventually, this can cause problems such as the one you are seeing.

Finally, it could be a case of root rot due to poor drainage or overwatering or incorrect watering technique. Unfortunately, there is not much of a cure for this except to correct the watering regime and hope for the best.

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