My Cactus Is Turning Yellow At The Bottom

Cacti make great indoor plants and bring life into your space while being extremely low maintenance. These are the most popular plants, even among those who struggle to care for their houseplants. While a cactus doesn’t require too much care, it still needs some looking after; otherwise, its health could get affected.

When growing in a not-so-ideal environment, the cactus may start turning yellow at the bottom. This could be due to varied reasons. It is integral to quickly assess your cactus and start treating it before the condition turns worse.

Here are the major reasons your cactus is turning yellow and how to fix it:

Inadequate Light

When it comes to cactus plants, you have to be careful of the amount of light your plant receives. There is such a thing as too little and too much light. However, the right amount of light for your cactus depends on the specie you have.

Too much light can be one of the major reasons your cactus is turning yellow at the bottom. Take the plant away from its location and place it under some shade for a few days. Once it starts recovering, put it under partial shade, so it gets the right amount of light.

If the weather keeps changing, place the plant under the sun for a few hours and then under the shade for the remainder of the day.

Frost Damage

Another reason your cactus is turning yellow could be because of frost damage. Unfortunately, there is very little chance of fixing the cactus after it has suffered frost damage. It is because frost damage causes irreparable harm to the tissues and cells of the cactus, permanently scarring the leaves.

This happens when the temperature becomes below freezing overnight or light freezing in small periods over multiple days. The best thing to do is to move your cactus to an area with high humidity or more sunlight.

You can also put your cactus in a room with around 50◦F. When the temperature starts warming up, new growth will start appearing. You can then move the cactus to its normal location once the frost damage signs have disappeared.   

Type of Soil

Cactus plants require properly draining soils to grow ideally. Heavy soils, like clay soil, retain a high amount of water that can cause the roots to rot and turn the cactus yellow. This happens because the plant is unable to absorb the nutrients from the soil. 

The best soil for cacti includes a mixture of chicken grit, gravel, crushed granite, pumice, coconut coir, perlite, regular garden soil, and coarse sand.

You must also ensure that the pot is not too big, as the soil tends to stay wet for longer in larger containers and pots. If the pot doesn’t have proper drainage, you can add some sand to the mixture to resolve the issue.

Chemical Exposure

Some cactus plants turn yellow after getting exposed to certain chemicals, like fluorine and chlorine, along with other chemicals that are usually included in fertilizers or water. If there has been a chemical spill or excessive use of these chemicals near the plant, then it could be the reason your cactus is turning yellow at the bottom. It is best to change the location of the cactus and keep it away from this contamination.

Overwatering or Underwatering

Being a desert plant, the cactus doesn’t require a lot of water, but insufficient water can be harmful to it. Cacti gather and conserve water to ensure their growth. When it doesn’t receive the right amount of water, it starts discoloring.

Spring and summer are the growing seasons for the cactus plant, in which it uses a higher amount of water from its reserves. If there is insufficient water, it will start turning yellow from the parts that are closest to the soil.

Too much water can also be harmful to the plant as it makes it challenging for the air to reach the roots, resulting in the cactus turning yellow. Lack of soil aeration can make room for bacteria and fungus to attack and grow on your plant. The major sign of overwatering is the leaves darkening.

Creating the right watering schedule is the best way to prevent your plant from turning yellow.


A yellowing cactus is also a sign of disease. One of the major diseases that cause this symptom is cephalous wilt. This disease is caused by Verticillium dahliae (Vd), creating water-conducting tissues in the cactus. As a result, the cactus loses its ability to transfer water to different parts of its body. 

The ideal solution is repotting the plant in a fresh pot and soil so that the plant can start getting the right nutrients. Ensure the pot has a proper drainage system. Cut all the dead roots, if any, before placing the plant in the new pot. Place it under direct sunlight.

Pest Infestation

Bugs and pests, like snails, slugs, spider mites, mealy bugs, and scale insects, can attach themselves to the plant to drink the juices of the cactus. They also leave behind marks after they detach themselves from the cactus. 

Moreover, these pests start spreading fast and attack the cactus and other plants in colonies. As a result, your plant will start discoloring and turning yellow at the bottom. Make sure to spray an insecticide to get rid of these bugs.

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Wrapping Up

The reasons for a cactus turning yellow at the bottom could be many. It is essential to assess the condition of the cactus and its environment to determine the right cause. The yellowing cactus is a sign that the plant is not getting proper care.

In most cases, the reason is too much sun or improper watering technique. Be sure to use the techniques mentioned to fix the problem and save your cactus while ensuring the healthy growth of your plant.