Don’t Let Your Barrel Cactus Turn Yellow – 5 Proven Remedies

Barrel cacti are super cool and low-maintenance plants. But sometimes, you might notice your cactus turning yellow, which can be a little worrying. Don’t stress! There are a few common reasons why this happens, and we’ve got the solutions to help your cactus get back to its healthy, green self.

barrel cactus turning yellow

5 Reasons Your Barrel Cactus is Turning Yellow (and How to Fix It)

1. Too Much Water

One of the biggest reasons barrel cacti turn yellow is because they’re getting too much water. These tough plants are used to living in dry conditions, so when they get overwatered, they can’t handle it. The cactus swells up to store extra water, but too much can make it turn yellow and even rot the roots, which stops it from getting the nutrients it needs.

The Fix: Only water your barrel cactus when the soil is completely dry, about every 2 weeks. Make sure the pot has good drainage, and never let the cactus sit in water.

2. Temperature Drop

Barrel cacti love warm weather, so a sudden drop in temperature can shock them and cause yellowing. These plants are used to hot climates, so when it gets too cold, their cells get damaged and can’t absorb nutrients properly.

The Fix: Keep your barrel cactus in a spot where the temperature stays between 60-85°F. If it gets too cold, move the cactus indoors or cover it with a blanket to keep it warm. You can also mist the leaves to add some humidity.

3. Too Much Sun

barrel cactus turning yellow

While cacti need plenty of sunlight, too much direct sun can actually sunburn them and turn them yellow. The top of the cactus is usually the first to yellow and shrivel if it’s getting too much light.

The Fix: Place your barrel cactus in a spot with full sun, but make sure it has some shelter from strong winds and the hottest midday rays. You can also move it indoors during the peak sun hours.

4. Fungus Attack

Even tough cacti can get fungal diseases, especially if they’re overwatered or have open wounds that allow pathogens in. Fungus can cause yellow or brown patches on the stem, and make it feel mushy.

The Fix: Don’t overwater your cactus, and keep an eye out for pests that can spread fungus. If you see any signs of infection, clean the area with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water, and consider using a fungicide.

5. Natural Variegation

Sometimes, a barrel cactus will just naturally develop yellow, red, or orange splotches as it mutates and changes color. This is called variegation, and it’s totally normal – no need to worry!

yellowing barrel cactus

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an overwatered barrel cactus look like?

An overwatered barrel cactus will look yellow or discolored. It might also be wilting, and the stem could feel soft and spongy to the touch.

How often should barrel cactus be watered?

Barrel cacti should only be watered about every 2 weeks, when the soil is completely dry. Never water until the soil has fully dried out from the last watering.

Does a barrel cactus need direct sunlight?

Yes, barrel cacti do need direct sunlight to grow and photosynthesize. However, too much harsh, direct light can damage their delicate tissues.

yellow barrel cactus

Can a barrel cactus get too much sun?

Absolutely! While barrel cacti need sunlight, too much intense, direct sun can essentially sunburn the plant and turn it yellow or discolored.

How do you revive a barrel cactus?

To revive a struggling barrel cactus, first identify the cause (overwatering, lack of nutrients, pests, etc.). Then, water deeply but infrequently, repot in fresh soil if needed, prune any dead parts, adjust the sun exposure, and treat any pests or infections. With proper care, it should bounce back.

Is my barrel cactus dying?

If your cactus is turning yellow, wilting, or looking generally unhealthy, it might be dying. But don’t give up yet! With the right care, you can often revive a struggling cactus.


With some TLC, your barrel cactus should perk up and regain its healthy green color. Just be patient and keep an eye on it. If all else fails, ask an expert at your local nursery for advice.

So don’t panic if your barrel cactus starts looking a little yellow. With the right solutions, you can get it back on track and enjoying its low-maintenance lifestyle in no time!