How Do You Save a Dying Pencil Cactus?

Compared to many houseplants, pencil cacti are extremely versatile succulents that can grow in various settings.

Owners of pencil cacti face a serious problem with their plants dying. There are numerous causes for this issue and several ways to save your pencil cactus. If your pencil cactus appears limp, fragile, mushy, gray, or brown, it is likely to die.

Your pencil cactus may be dying out due to improper soil conditions, root problems, inappropriate temperatures, humidity, or inadequate watering.

The good thing is that by resolving these issues, you can recover your dying pencil cactus. Let’s look at the typical issues that pencil cacti encounter and how you can overcome them.

1. Appropriate Watering

The most typical cause of pencil cactus mortality is overwatering. The plant requires less water to survive because it is naturally drought-tolerant and native to arid places.

Your cactus will get excessively heavy and stressed if it attempts to retain excessive water. You can check by feeling the ground. If it is moist, your pencil cactus has received too much water.

You only have to water your plant once every ten days in the spring or summer. During the winter, you can just water it once every month.

Always examine the soil before giving the plant water. If it is dry, you should water it. Give the soil another few days if it’s still wet. You shouldn’t have to water your plant if it is outside and it has been pouring.

If your cactus has been overwatered, it is preferable to repot it in fresh, dry soil. This also stops root rot, which can cause your cactus to die even before you realize it is in trouble.

2. Selecting the Right Soil

The pencil cactus must be grown in sandy soil with excellent drainage for them to develop healthily and energetically. If the soil is excessively compact, any additional water will not drain, causing root rot or excessive moisture absorption in your plant.

An improperly mixed soil may retain too much moisture, which will cause the roots to rot. The optimum growing medium for pencil cacti is a cactus soil mix. The unique quality of cactus soil mix is that it does not retain too much moisture.

Perlite can be added to the growing media to hasten the medium’s drainage, which will help the plants develop. Also, you may cultivate them in a rocky, infertile soil mixture.

They could be used in rock gardens along with other succulent plants. As a substitute, you could even cultivate them in your yards in container gardens.

3. Adequate Sunlight

Direct, powerful sunshine is necessary for pencil cactus plants to flourish. These succulent plants are accustomed to dry environments with plenty of sunlight.

Position your plant near an east, south, or west-facing window if you’re cultivating it inside for the most sunlight to reach it.

The optimal conditions for pencil cactus growth are outdoors. It is challenging to provide this plant with light when it is grown indoors. This plant should flourish if you keep it as close to the window as you can.

4. Ensure a Comfortable Temperature

Pencil cacti thrive in the 50°F to 70°F temperature range. Having said that, they are also capable of withstanding brief frost.

These plants will flourish even in temperatures of 30°F and higher. However, you must safeguard your cactus from freezing weather if you live in an area where your plant may frequently experience frost.

You can use frost clothes to accomplish that. You can even allow them to grow in miniature greenhouses. Allowing the pencil cactus to grow outside in the fall and winter will allow you to see its beautiful red foliage.

Pencil cacti suffer in homes with chilly draughts and become rather drooping and limp. They do best in warm climes. The persistent flow of cold air from the outside can seriously shock and harm the plant.

You might not notice the cold air entering through gaps in windows and doors, but it can really suffer if the plant is there. You can observe a general lack of development in addition to the sagging leaves.

Transfer your pencil cactus to a little warmer location in your house, or aim to draft-proof the doorways and windows that your indoor plants are close to.

5. Application of Fertilizer

Your pencil plant only needs fertilizer once a year, ideally in the spring. It is strongly advised to use liquid fertilizer because you can dilute it to roughly half its strength and get greater results.

Before application, ensure that the soil is just a little damp. You must consider your soil’s nutrient content when choosing the appropriate fertilizer.

If the levels of potassium and phosphorus are excessive, you can use nitrogen fertilizers like 33-0-0 or 21-0-0. Instead, you can aim for a balanced ratio of 20-20-20 or 10-10-10 if those levels are low.

Pencil Cactus - Live Plant in a 6 Inch Pot - Euphorbia Tirucalli - Beautiful Indoor Outdoor Succulent Houseplant

6. Sufficient Pruning

You need to consider pruning pencil cacti when you spot carrying dead leaves. You could also prune them to maintain their shape and their size too. Keep in mind to wear protective gloves and eye protection as well.

Once you cut the pencil cactus leaves, you will see how they form a milky sap. That would be toxic and would cause allergies in your skin and in your eyes. Therefore, make sure that you do not get in contact with the sap.

Care CategoryDescription
Appropriate WateringWater the pencil cactus every 10 days in the summerReduce watering in the winter season when the plant is dormant
Selecting the Right SoilUse well-draining soil with sand or perlite added.
Adequate SunlightProvide direct sunlight or adequate ambient light
Ensure a Comfortable TemperatureKeep the temperature in the 50°F to 70°F temperature range
Application of FertilizerCut back any overgrown or leggy stems in spring. Wear protective gloves and keep your eyes covered
Sufficient PruningWater the pencil cactus every 10 days in the summerReduce watering in the winter season when the plant is dormant

Final Thoughts

The most frequent problems a pencil cactus owner could have are the ones described above. Identifying the issue before it spreads to the entire plant is essential to save a dying pencil cactus.

Now that you know how to save a dying pencil cactus, you should be able to take care of the plant properly. Every time you water, thoroughly inspect your plant. You should also invest in tools to monitor warmth, moisture, and light levels to ensure that your plant is receiving the proper atmosphere and care.

You may also like: