How to Save a Dying Cactus

Updated: Aug 5, 2020

Have you every overwatered a cactus and thought you killed it? Well, I have. If you are having any trouble growing a health cactus, then this post might just be perfect for you. I'll show you how I regrew new roots on my cactus after its base had started to rot away.



I'd like to start out by saying, this was a very healthy cactus at one point. I have had this little guy for close to 5 years now. It has survived through countless moving days and many naughty pets.


A few weeks ago it really started to lean over in its pot. I pointed it out to my boyfriend and said "wow, that's really reaching for the sun!". Turns out, no. It was not reaching, it was falling and dying, lol. The base had started to rot away and to make it worst little gnats climbed inside and made a home for themselves. I was sad and assumed I would have to just throw my little cactus away, but then after a lot of research, I found a way to help it!


So let me walk you through what I did to save my cactus.



Here is what my cactus looked like a day after I realized it was rotting.





How to Regrow your Cactus


When handling your cactus you'll probably want to wear gloves depending on the type of cactus. Rubber gloves work best. The spikes on my cactus were softer so I didn't have to worry about them poking me as much. I just handled it to the minimum.



I started by cutting off the big chunk of bad rot and then slowly shaved off pieces after that. If it's mushy or brown you want it gone!



You want to look for healthy tissue and you don't want to keep any part of the cactus that is rotten.



Sadly I had to go to the very top of my cactus before I found good tissue. This is because I waited too long before doing anything for it. If you catch your cactus rotting and do this right away you'll be able to save almost your whole cactus.



Once you have your new cactus piece it's time to crust over your cactus and grow new roots. I used Rooting Hormone Powder but I've also been told you can use cornstarch. You want to coat the wet part of the cactus with the powder. Either by dipping it into the container or by sprinkling it on.



After the cut part of your cactus is completely coated, let it sit for about 2 weeks. You'll want to set it somewhere dry and away from direct sunlight. After a while, you should see roots start to form.



Once your cactus is ready you'll want to prepare a new home for it. Take a pot with drainage holes and fill it with soil. You'll probably want succulent soil, it drains better. Then make a little hole to place the cactus in.


You don't need anything too big, just enough to cover the new roots.



Once it's planted maybe give it a few days, then water it sparingly. For the next month, you'll want to keep watering to a minimum. Only water when the soil is completely dry to touch when you press it. And there you go!



That's everything you need to know to save your dying cactus plant. So roll up your sleeves and let's get planting!


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“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.”

- Robert Louis Stevenson

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