We love cacti, but irrigation… oh! Irrigation. It is very difficult to control, even if you have been taking care of the plants for some time. Whether we water too little or too much, in the end the poor succulents cannot grow as they should.
One of the questions we ask the most, especially when we start, is the following: how to tell if your cactus is dying? Because of course, if it is dying, we can already assume that we will be losing it, or maybe not?
How to Tell if Your Cactus is Dying
Well, the truth is that as in everything in this life, it depends. What does it depend on? The cactus itself, the season of the year in which we find ourselves, the amount of water we pour into it and the frequency with which we water it. Thus, a healthy and well cared for cactus when touched, we will feel it hard, unless we apply a little pressure, in which case it is normal for the fleshy body to give way a little.
But… what happens if you don’t give the amount of light it needs or you aren’t watering properly? In these cases, the cactus becomes soft. If it is in an area that is not bright enough, what will happen to it is that it will etiolate, that is, it will grow as much as it can towards a light source. As a consequence, the new stems that emerge are very weak, so much so that they often fall under their own weight.
If, on the other hand, the problem you have is that you are not watering as often as you should, the cactus can become ill. The symptoms are:
- Overwatering: the roots die of suffocation and the fleshy body of the plant rots quickly.
- Lack of irrigation: when a cactus has not received water for a long time, to survive it adopts a drastic survival measure: to consume the water it has stored in its reserve, that is, in the fleshy body itself. If the situation lasts too long, the plant “wrinkles” as it runs out of precious liquid.
How to Prevent a Cactus from Dying?
Basically, there are three things we can do:
- Use a substrate that has very good drainage, be it pumice, black peat mixed with perlite in equal parts, or similar.
- Check the humidity of the soil before watering, inserting a thin wooden stick and see how much has stuck onto it. If it comes out practically clean, it means it is dry.
Another option is to hold the pot before watering and again after a few days. As the dry substrate does not weigh the same as when it is wet, it can serve as an indicator.
- Place the cactus in an area where it receives a lot of sunlight, if possible directly throughout the day. These plants do not live well in semi-shade, much less in shade. Of course, for this you have to let it get used to it little by little.