Why Is My Cactus Leaning?
Detailed Helpful Tips to Set it Straight

A leaning cactus is a sign that your cactus needs help. It's where it's desperately calling out for you. So what to do for it?

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Kelly Adams

April 18, 2021

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Cacti are the toughest plants out there and, they are incredibly tolerant too. They are easy to grow and don’t require much care. But, they still need your attention. If you are not paying heed to them at all, they can start leaning in an attempt to tell you that something is wrong.

Why is my cactus leaning: Some of the leading factors that cause leaning in cacti are overwatering and underwatering. Apart from that, your cactus could be stuck in a pot that is too large for it. It could also be affected by week roots, root rot, insufficient sunlight, or a pest attack.

Why Is My Cactus Leaning

Some leading factors that cause leaning in cacti are overwatering, underwatering, cactus is potted in a large container, week roots, root rot, insufficient sunlight, or a pest attack.


Cacti in Sun image

Cacti love sunlight and, most of their species enjoy bright direct sunlight. They like to face the sun, and most of them naturally grow towards the best with high levels of it.

If the cactus is placed in a shade or somewhere it can’t get enough sunlight, then it’s leaning due to the lack of sunlight.


Each cactus has it's own sunlight requirement. To avoid sunburn, make sure to provide the right amount of light based on the cactus type.

Cacti also tend to stretch out to get sunlight to aid growth. If a cactus can’t get enough sunlight, the result will be a weak, sick and leaning cactus.


Cacti in Sun image

One of the most obvious reasons for leaning cactus is underwatering the cactus. If you don’t provide your cactus with sufficient water, it might go dormant or get purplish. An underwatered cactus doesn’t have sufficient water in its cells and, the stem becomes weak, and they start leaning.

Similarly, in the winter season, you might think that cacti don’t need water, but that’s not the case. You should lessen the amount of water you usually give. If you typically water them once every two weeks, you could reduce the frequency to once every three weeks.


Underwatering a cacti in winter can lead to loss of roots. The more roots your cactus loses, the more fragile and weak it will get.


Overwatering a cactus can lead to bigger and irreversible issues as compared to underwatering. Cacti prefer a well-drained soil condition where the water won’t stand. So, you need to plant your cactus in a well-drained pot system like this Amazon product. This ensures that the water doesn’t stand in the pot and is dry for the next time you want to water your cactus.


Overwatering the cactus causes root rot which in turn causes leaning. Overwatered cactus would become soft and mushy with a brighter hue

In winters, the chances of severe damage get even higher. So, make sure you water the cactus lightly, Don’t leave any standing water in the pot. The best approach would be to water the cactus once every 5 to 6 weeks.

4. Extra large container

Cacti in Sun image

The current container you are using can also be a cause of the cactus leaning. Succulents don’t like large pots with overgrown spaces. So, you need to pick an ideal pot for your cactus that can give it some inches of space sideways and 1 to 2 inches space on the bottom side for the roots to spread efficiently.

Choosing the right pot and repotting on the right can ensure surplus growth of your cactus. It would help if you repotted your cactus once every 2 to 3 years.

Pro Tip

When roots start stretching out of the pot's drainage hole, then that's the ideal time for repotting your cacti!

5. Frost Damage

Cacti are sun-loving plants and are not used to extremely low winter temperatures. Hence, whenever the temperature shifts to below freezing point, there could be serious damage to the cactus. Many exposed stems will start developing black spots and, these will soon dry out and lean.

Good News

If the freezing period was minute, then the damage will easily be recovered and new offsets will replace the damaged areas

The easy solution to frost problems is exposing the cactus to the warmth of sunlight. But if the frost period continues for too long, then you should move your outdoor cactus indoors and use a cotton sheet to cover the cactus for extra warmth.

6. Pest Damage

Another reason for the leaning of your cactus might be a pest attack. If you recently noticed any damaged areas, visible spots, or weakened signs on your cactus, then it has been attacked by a pest. Pests can be troublesome to deal with and can cause a lot of damage to your cactus’s stem, soil, roots, and can even suck out the juice from the cactus. After going through all of this, a cactus starts drying out and leaning.

Two common known pests that attack cactus include: Mealybugs and spider mites. The best solution to deal with both is rinsing the plant with insecticidal soap such as Safer Brand Insecticidal. After rinsing it with soap and let it dry for about a day. During this period, you need to protect the cactus from direct sunlight to avoid sunburn.


It may take several attempts to completely git rid of these pests

Useful Products

Cactus Plant Pot (Pink)

For all the cactus loving people, check out this amazing cactus plant

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45 w LED grow light

If you plan to grow your cactus indoors, I recommend this great product!

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Safer Brand Insecticidal

Perfect insecticidal to keep Mealybugs and Spider mites away from your cactus

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Water Drainage pot

Well-drained soil is really important in growing cactus. So, I recommend this product to help you get the best results

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Ending thoughts

Your cactus is probably leaning because of an issue like overwatering, underwatering, pests, and deficient light conditions. Take proper care of your cacti, and it will flourish instead of leaning!

If you want to learn more about cacti, I recommend you read our post on taking care of cacti plants.

How to take care of Cacti Plants? Every Essential Question Answered

Cacti are a popular succulent choice. And even though they prfer dry atmosphere, you have to take good care of them!

Kelly Adams Picture

By Kelly Adams

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Kelly and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Kelly Adams Picture

Kelly Adams

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Kelly and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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