8 Reasons Why Your Cactus Is Not Growing

Reasons Why Your Cactus Is Not Growing

Cacti are a great way for new gardeners to begin honing their green thumb. But, even if you’re a master gardener, you may notice your cactus not growing. Remember, these are famous slow-growers due to being harsh-climate survivors.

But if you notice a considerable amount of time has passed, then something else could be happening. If you’re new to caring for these succulents, it’s often the result of a watering issue, too little or too much fertilizer, poor soil, improper pot size, or sunlight sufficiency, among others. 

Whether it’s forest cacti or desert cacti, here are the most common 8 reasons why your cactus isn’t growing.

1. Watering Too Little

Not giving cacti enough water can present problems with their growth. Keep to a strict watering schedule don’t let it go bone dry for too long; so around every seven to 10 days should be sufficient. A more humid climate means watering only when the soil needs it, so allow the schedule to be random.

The Cacti species and variety will play a major role in watering. For instance, a Christmas Cactus needs even less water than most, only every two to three weeks.

2. Too Much Water

While it’s true you shouldn’t overwater cactus plants, even the slightest amount more will cause soggy soil. Ensure you only water when it’s totally dry and do not water these succulents every day. as a matter of fact, it thrives best on a little neglect.

Also, it’s better to mist your cactus more than direct watering. If you live in an area with nights dropping below 55°f in summer, then use warm water. Otherwise, water early in the morning, before the hottest part of the day sets in. will help mimic morning dew and the plant’s natural water-storing capacity.

3. Proper Lighting Balance

If you notice your cactus lacking in a color that accompanies stunted growth, it could mean it’s not getting proper light.

Even though desert cacti developed an intricate system for dry, arid conditions, they shouldn’t have too much direct light. Put the plant in a bright and sunny spot, but it should only get a few hours of direct sunlight per day.

Keep the plant on a covered porch, balcony, patio, or windowsill and no more than a foot away from the light source. It should receive warmth and brightness but the body of the plant shouldn’t have direct light for too long. 

For colder climates, you will have to use an LED light to ensure the Cactus stays warm. Anywhere between 60°F and 90°F makes Cacti happy.

4. Fertilizer

Should You Fertilize Cactus

If you didn’t use a slow-release fertilizer when first planting the cactus, it may not be getting enough nutrition. Things like eggshells and bone meal are good at the very bottom of the pot. these give nutrients in a gradual manner.

In the case of liquid fertilizer, the cactus should have it at ¼ to ½ the regular strength once a month. Fertilize during the growing season not while the cactus is in its dormancy.

5. Pot Is Too Big or Too Small

Succulents like cacti need a pot with plenty of drainages. Plus, if the pot is too small or too big for the cactus, it will have difficulty growing. The pot should be two to three inches deep and around in proportion to the shapes and sizes of the cacti.

6. Cactus Soil Is Inappropriate

Are Coffee Grounds Good For Cactus

Remember, cacti don’t need nutrient-rich soil. If you’re using a regular potting mix throughout the whole pot, it could be choking your plant. Make sure there’s good soil drainage with things like sand, stones, peat moss, or other large particles. 

7. Poor Airflow

Another important factor inhibiting cacti growth is the lack of flowing, pure air over its body and roots. Outdoor air is best but, if you have to keep the plant inside, the air can get stagnant. This is sure a killer for cacti. Turn on a small, oscillating fan near the cactus, but don’t blast it.

8. Root Rot

If the plant has discoloration, softening skin, or shrunk in size, the cactus is probably dying. Check the root system, if they are black and brown, root rot has set in and there is no saving the cactus. But if the roots are white and healthy-looking, then evaluate the plant’s current living conditions along with its fertilizing and watering schedule.


Taking care of cacti isn’t a difficult endeavor, but you do have to mimic its natural habitat if you want it to survive and grow.  When done right, a cactus plant can last for decades.

They aren’t picky or fragile plants. But, if cacti don’t get the right amount of light, water, nutrients, fertilizer, or air, it can truncate their development.

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