Barrel Cactus Turning Yellow

Barrel Cactus Turning Yellow: a Detailed Guide

The intriguing family of cacti plants come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, along with a multitude of unique traits. Growing cacti is a fun hobby that numerous individuals choose to pursue because of their fascinating appearance and less maintenance compared to other plants.

On the other hand, there are instances when our cactus exhibits undesirable symptoms, such as yellowing, which could cause concerns.

Growers should be especially aware of the other signs their cacti are exhibiting, aside from yellowing, because there are a multitude of reasons why cacti can begin to turn yellow.

This article will extensively explain the reasons for your cactus turning yellow and how to fix and prevent any reoccurrence.

Reasons for Barrel Cactus turning yellow

It can be really annoying to see your healthy cactus turn yellow. The following are typical causes of yellowing cactus, along with remedies you could consider to promote recovery:

Barrel Cactus Turning Yellow

Fungus attack

Despite their resilience, cacti are still vulnerable to fungi. Generally speaking, fungi will start to develop on a damp surface if they receive too much water. Open wounds on the cacti stem can allow pathogens to enter and infect the stem tissue. After that, the cactus will stop being green and start to develop yellowish spots with light brown boundaries.

Pests are another factor contributing to the growth of fungus on cacti. Aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, and scales release honeydew, where mold begins to grow. Mushy, brownish-yellow stems are one of the indications of the fungal disease, which can affect any part of the cactus.

It’s crucial to refrain from overwatering the cactus and getting rid of pests to prevent fungal diseases. Furthermore, it is best to treat the area with a fungicide if there are any wounds. Another option for cleaning the affected area is to use a solution of rubbing alcohol and water.

It’s also critical to regularly inspect the plant to detect any indications of disease or pest infestation.

Inadequate/excessive sunlight

Your cactus could be turning yellow because it requires more or less sunlight.

Inadequate sunlight

Since cacti require lots of sunlight to develop and flourish, storing it in the dark for an extended period ultimately causes the color to change.

If the plant is outside, ensure nothing prevents it from receiving sunlight.

Furthermore, evaluate whether any of your plants require additional direct sunlight before they start to sprout new green growth if they were recently repotted.

Barrel Cactus Turning Yellow

Excessive sunlight

Even though cactus plants require a lot of sunlight to flourish, not all cacti are desert plants. Your cactus may burn and turn yellow if you place it in an area where it receives too much sun.

Repositioning your plant so it isn’t exposed to too much sun all day is the best method to avoid this.

You may also create a screen to keep the sun off your cactus plant or place it where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade.

Transferring your cacti from shaded to sunny spots can also cause yellowing. The plant will be damaged and become yellow if it is not acclimated to receiving so much sunlight.

However, this isn’t going to last forever. Your cactus will develop stronger natural defenses in response to progressive exposure to more sunshine, which should protect it from further damage or yellowing.


Overwatering is one of the most frequent causes of yellow cactus. Cacti are ideal for people with little spare time to water their plants because they need little care. When the plant has reserved enough water, it swells as a defense mechanism to retain more water and keep itself healthy.

Nonetheless, excessive intake of anything isn’t good. Overwatering cactus causes it to wilt, and the plant turns yellow, which may ultimately result in root rot, which prevents them from receiving vital vitamins and minerals that they need to thrive.

It is advised to plant Barrel Cacti in gritty soil with good drainage to prevent the plant from turning yellow. Water the plant only after the soil surrounding the roots has completely dried out. It is important to avoid oversoaking the cactus as this may result in discoloration. Furthermore, the cactus should be exposed to direct sunlight for approximately four hours every day for best results.

In reality, it is possible to save an overwatered cactus. However, it depends on how much damage has been done.

To save an overwatered cactus:

Take the cactus that has turned yellow from the wet soil and clean its roots.

Give the plant no fewer than three days to a week to fully dry out.

Place the plant in a bright, dry area away from direct sunlight to prevent burning and total drying of the roots.

After drying up, plant again in a well-draining potting mix, but hold off on watering right away. Hold off on watering for two to three days. Water thoroughly and then wait until the soil is dry before watering again. Avoid overwatering again.

You may also find this our guide useful: Bottom watering cactus

Chemical exposure

Exposure to certain chemicals can make cacti turn yellow. These include substances that are present in water or fertilizers, such as chlorine and fluorine.

The overuse of these products around your plants or a nearby chemical spill could be the cause of your cactus turning yellow.

Should you have any suspicions about this being the reason, consider relocating them to a different location that isn’t close to any possible sources of contamination.

Inadequate/excessive fertilizer

Cacti require fertilizer to grow. Eventually, Golden Barrel Cactus turns yellow if there is insufficient fertilizer because it won’t have enough nutrients.

When excessive amounts of fertilizer are applied, significant damage is caused, and the cactus plants turn yellow.

Fertilizer is usually applied to cacti once every two weeks while growing. The most common type of fertilizer used is rotten liquid fertilizer. Fertilizers ought to be applied monthly during the fall and winter seasons.

Drop in temperature

A sudden drop in temperature could also be the cause of yellowing Barrel Cactus leaves. Since most cacti are adapted to flourishing in hot climates, high temperatures are necessary for their growth. The leaves may turn yellow as a result of damage to the plant cells caused by low temperatures that prevent them from absorbing vital vitamins and minerals.

Placing the Barrel Cactus in an environment with a temperature range of 55 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit is crucial to prevent this. Move the plant indoors or cover it with a blanket to protect it from the extreme cold if the temperature drops suddenly. Furthermore, misting the leaves regularly could potentially add extra humidity, which will help to keep the plant healthy.

Barrel Cactus species

Sometimes, cacti naturally experience mutations that change their form and color. Variegation is a prevalent kind of cactus mutation in which the plant’s green coloring is concealed by yellow, red, or orange colors.

A cactus can become variegated due to human cultivation and hybridization, which is achieved through the grafting and cross-pollination of plant specimens belonging to the same species. There’s no reason to be concerned about the Barrel Cactus turning yellow in this particular situation.

Barrel Cactus Turning Yellow

Poor soil with a lack of nutrients

Growth in poor soil could lead to your cactus turning yellow. Golden Barrel Cactus plants require high-quality, porous soil that provides the nutrients they need to grow healthily. It is usually advised to fertilize the soil regularly and use succulent or cactus potting soil because these special mixtures contain additional nutrients that are necessary for the plant’s health, such as calcium and iron.

Your cactus plant may need to be repotted into fresh soil if it is currently growing in a container with low-quality soil to improve its chances of surviving.

Cacti require a very specific environment to develop, whether they are houseplants or are cultivated outdoors in a garden. Your cactus plant will turn yellow if grown in a pot with poor soil and insufficient nutrients.

Can a dying, rotting cactus still be saved?

Saving a dying cactus is dependent upon the severity of the plant’s damage. Undoubtedly, the more rot and damage a plant has, the more difficult it is to save. Attempting to salvage the plant as soon as you observe root rot is a wise move.

There isn’t much you can do if the root rot is bad. It also depends on how established and mature the plant is. Larger, more established plants are more likely to survive compared to smaller, newly planted cacti.

How to save a rotting cactus:

  • Check the cactus to see how bad the root rot is. Look for firm, green parts of the plant that you may save.
  • Remove any mushy, rotten parts, including the roots. All firm, green, or viable plant parts should be saved. When you cut the plant, you will be able to determine its viability. If the inside reveals green parts rather than brown or black, they might have a chance and could be propagated to start a new plant.
  • Store the preserved parts away from direct sunlight and in a dry place. Let the cuts dry for several days to a couple of weeks for them to all get calloused and sealed. Optional: apply some sulfur powder to the cactus’s wounds. Sulfur powder is frequently used as a fungicide and may be helpful with infection prevention.
  • Additionally, it’s crucial to make sure that your Barrel Cactus is planted in a pot with drainage holes and that the soil contains enough sand to promote proper drainage.
  • After the wounds have healed and dried, plant them in the soil.
  • Water the soil whenever it appears dry. Keep the plant away from direct sunlight until fully rooted to prevent burning.


How often do Barrel Cactus need to be watered?

Watering your Barrel Cactus should only be done once every two weeks, and never water it until the soil is totally dry.

What does an overwatered Barrel Cactus look like?

A yellow or discolored color indicates an overwatered Barrel Cactus. Additionally, if the plant struggles to get the oxygen required to stay healthy, it may start wilting. Overwatering can also cause the stem to feel spongy and soft.

How can you protect Barrel Cactus from pests and diseases?

Actually, you can keep pests like mealybugs and scale insects away by routinely checking the plant and getting rid of any infected parts. Refrain from overwatering, as this might cause root rot.

Why is my cactus turning brown?

Cacti can also turn brown instead of yellow. This is known as corking and is most frequently caused by aging. A cactus will eventually cork as it matures.

It starts at the plant’s base, where it comes in contact with the soil, and it can either slowly ascend or remain in one spot. The corking gives the plant a woody look. Other than that, the plant is healthy and firm.

A totally different problem arises when the plant becomes brown and mushy or soft. Most often, this indicates either disease or decay, or both.

A cactus can also turn brown due to fungal diseases or pest infestation. Usually, the plant begins to brown in different areas, and when touched, it will feel mushy and soft rather than hard.


The Barrel Cactus can be considered a low-maintenance plant that needs very little attention and care. It is well known that this specific kind of plant can tolerate unfavorable soil conditions and flourish in hot, dry areas. If you want to make sure that your Barrel Cactus growshealthilyy, you need to provide it with enough sunlight, well-draining soil, and periodic watering.

The Barrel Cactus is a great option for anyone wishing to bring a little bit of desert beauty into their indoor or outdoor environment because of its distinctive shape and eye-catching appearance.

Hence, the Barrel Cactus is unquestionably something to consider if you’re looking for a hardy, attractive plant that requires little maintenance.

The first thing to remember about a yellowing cactus is that it is not receiving the proper care from you. Therefore, the first thing you should do if your cactus starts to turn yellow is to identify what you are doing incorrectly. I hope this guide is of immense help to you.

Check also our guide: Are golden barrel cactus poisonous

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