Why cactus isn’t growing: The 12 possible reasons

Why cactus isn't growing

When it comes to our beloved cacti, we often care a lot, but sometimes they don’t seem to grow. It’s a common problem that can often be frustrating, but there are ways to overcome it. In this blog post, we’ll explore why your cactus might not be growing and what you can do about it.

The main reason the cactus is not growing is the lack of sunlight. Cacti need at least six hours of sunlight per day to grow properly. Another reason could be that the cactus is not receiving enough water. Cacti should be watered about once a week, ensuring the soil is completely dry before watering again. Finally, the cactus may not be getting enough nutrients. 

If your cactus isn’t growing, here are some potential reasons why: 

Lack of sunlight

When it comes to cactus, most people think of them as hardy plants that can survive in just about any condition. While that’s true to an extent, there is one thing that cacti need to thrive– sunlight.

Without enough sunlight, cacti will simply not grow. They need sunlight to photosynthesize and produce the food they need to survive. And while they can survive for a short period without sunlight, eventually, they will start to wither and die.

So if you’re thinking about growing cacti, ensure you give them plenty of sunlight. Please put them in a south-facing window where they’ll get plenty of direct sunlight throughout the day. And if you live in a climate that doesn’t get that sunny, you can always supplement with grow lights.

Trust us; your cacti will thank you for it!

Tropical cactus-like Schlumbergera, Rhipsalis, and some members of the Epiphyllum family are a bit different. These species are native to areas with lots of rain but not a lot of sunlight. They grow high in the rainforest canopy with plenty of moisture but only filtered sunlight. For these cactus, it’s not as crucial that you put them in direct sunlight. They’ll do just fine.

Too much water

When watering your cactus, it is essential not to go overboard. Too much water can stop the growth of your cactus. Here’sHere’s what you need to know about watering your cactus to keep it healthy and growing. Cactus are native to dry, arid climates, and they are adapted to survive with very little water. Too much water can harm a cactus, causing it to rot or become waterlogged.

When you water your cactus, make sure to do so sparingly. Allow the soil to dry out in between waterings. And, when you do water, make sure to do so at the base of the plant, avoiding the leaves and stems.

If you notice that your cactus is starting to wilt or its leaves are beginning to droop, it is a sign that it needs more water. Slowly increase the frequency of your watering until the plant perks back up.

In general, it is best to err on the side of too little water than too much when it comes to cacti. By following these simple watering tips, you can help your cactus thrive.

Not enough water

As cactus are native to dry, hot climates, they have adapted to survive prolonged periods without water. However, this does not mean that they do not need water at all – cactus still need some water to grow.

Without enough water, the cactus will stop growing. This is because they will not be able to absorb the nutrients they need from the soil. In addition, their leaves will begin to fade, and their stems will become thinner.

If you think your cactus is not getting enough water, give it a good soak in a bowl or sink of water. Let the water drain away, leaving the cactus to dry out before watering it again.

Poor drainage

If you have a cactus that isn’t growing, don’t forget to check if it is for poor drainage. Cacti need well-drained soil to thrive, so if your cactus is in a pot with poorly-draining soil, it could be why it’s not growing.

To improve drainage for your cactus, you can either repot it into a pot with better-draining soil or change your potting mix. If you’re using a potting mix that doesn’t drain well, you can add some perlite or sand to the mix to improve drainage.

Once you’ve improved the drainage for your cactus, it should start to grow again. Be sure to water it regularly, as cact need to be watered about once a week during the growing season.

Poor soil

When it comes to growing cactus, one of the most important things to consider is the quality of the soil. Cactus is native to arid and semi-arid regions, so they are adapted to growing in soils that are not particularly nutrient-rich. If the soil is too rich, it can be detrimental to the plant’s health.

If you’re having trouble getting your cactus to grow, it could be due to the quality of the soil. If the soil is too sandy, it can drain too quickly, and the roots will not be able to get the moisture they need. The soil is too clay-like and can compact and suffocate the roots. The ideal soil for cactus is loose and well-draining.

If unsure whether your soil is the problem, you can always take a sample to your local nursery or gardening center and ask for advice. They will be able to tell you whether the soil is too rich, too sandy, or too clay-like and make recommendations for how to improve it. With suitable soil, you can grow healthy and vibrant cactus that will thrive for years.


When it comes to your cactus, more is not always better than any plant. Overfeeding your cactus can stunt its growth. Your cactus needs the right balance of nutrients to thrive. Giving it too much of one thing can throw off the delicate balance and prevent your cactus from growing.

So, how can you tell if you’re overfeeding your cactus? One telltale sign is if your cactus starts to produce smaller, yellow flowers. This signifies that the plant is not getting the proper nutrients and is beginning to struggle.

If you think you might be overfeeding your cactus, the best thing to do is to cut back on the amount of fertilizer you’re giving. Once your cactus is back on track, you can slowly increase the fertilizer amount again.

Giving your cactus the right amount of food is essential for its health and growth. So, be careful not to overdo it, and your cactus will be fine.

Incorrect temperature

Regarding growing cacti, temperature is one of the most critical factors. Cacti are native to hot, dry climates and can’t tolerate cold temperatures for long periods. If the temperature dips below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, cacti will start to experience stress and may even die.

Incorrect temperature can affect the cactus in many ways. For example, the cactus will experience stunted growth if the temperature is too cold. The plant may also become etiolated when the stems and leaves become thin and pale due to a lack of sunlight. Additionally, the cactus may develop black spots on its leaves or branches, a sign of frost damage.

If the temperature is too hot, on the other hand, the cactus may experience accelerated growth. However, this rapid growth is often unstable and leads to deformed or misshapen stems and leaves. The cactus may also start to drop its leaves or flowers.

It’s essential to keep an eye on the temperature if you’re growing cacti, as even a slight change can significantly impact the plant. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, try to adjust the temperature accordingly. With a little trial and error, you should be able to find the perfect temperature for your cactus.

Incorrect pot size

When it comes to cactus care, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the pot size. Cacti are slow-growing plants, so they don’t need much space to spread out. In fact, putting a cactus in a pot that’s too large can actually stunt its growth.

The roots of a cactus are very sensitive, so they need to be in a pot that’s just the right size. If the pot is too big, the roots will be too loose, and the plant will be unstable. This can cause the cactus to topple over, damaging the plant and even killing it.

On the other hand, if the pot is too small, the roots will be constricted, and the plant won’t be able to get the nutrients it needs to grow. This can also stunt the plant’s growth and cause it to produce fewer blooms.

So, how do you know what size pot to use for your cactus? The best way is to look at the plant’s root ball size. The pot should be big enough to accommodate the root ball, with extra space around the edges.

If you’re not sure what size pot to use, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and go for a slightly smaller pot. You can upgrade to a larger pot later if the plant outgrows its current home.

Regarding cactus care, pot size is something to keep in mind. The wrong pot size can stunt the plant’s growth, so choosing the right one from the start is essential.


Overcrowding cacti can be especially sensitive. In fact, overcrowding can cause no growth at all for cactus. This is because cactus rely on a delicate balance of water, nutrients, and space to thrive. When overcrowded, they can’t access the water and nutrients they need and can’t spread their roots properly, leading to stunted growth or no growth. 

If you’re growing cacti and notice that they’re not growing as they should be, it might be due to overcrowding. In this case, the best solution is to transplant them into larger pots or containers. This will give them the space they need to grow correctly. Just be sure to do it carefully, as cacti are delicate plants. With a bit of extra attention, your cactus will be thriving in no time.

Nutrient deficiencies

When it comes to cactus, there are a variety of different nutrient deficiencies that can cause problems with growth. One of the most common deficiencies is a lack of nitrogen, which can cause the plant to produce less chlorophyll and produce smaller leaves.

A lack of phosphorus can also cause stunted growth, and a lack of potassium can cause the plant to become less drought-tolerant. In some cases, a lack of magnesium can also cause problems with growth, as it can cause the plant to produce less chlorophyll.

Pests and diseases

If your cactus isn’t growing, it could be due to pests or disease. Pests like aphids, scale, and mealybugs can suck the sap out of your cactus, causing it to wilt and preventing new growth. Diseases like root rot and crown rot can also prevent your cactus from growing. 

If you suspect that pests or diseases are to blame for your cactus’s lack of growth, take a sample of the affected plant to your local nursery or Cooperative Extension office for diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Environmental stressors

When it comes to plants, cacti are some of the most resilient. They can thrive in hot, dry climates where other plants would quickly wither and die. But even cacti can be affected by environmental stressors.

Too much heat, for example, can cause cacti to stop growing. They may also start to produce smaller, misshapen flowers. Too much cold can damage cacti, causing them to develop black spots or to drop their leaves.

Drought can also be a problem for cacti. If they don’t get enough water, they will stop growing and may eventually die. Overwatering can also be a problem, as it can cause the cactus to rot.

So, if you’re growing cacti, you must be aware of the potential environmental stressors that could affect them. By taking steps to protect them from the elements, you can help ensure that they continue to thrive.


If you are having trouble getting your cactus to grow, it may be due to one of the reasons listed above. Ensure you are providing your cactus with the right amount of light, water, and nutrients, and it should start growing.