One of the most frustrating things a cactus owner can experience is when their cactus starts to lean.
If you are in this situation, to face the problem you need to ask yourself first: why is my cactus leaning and what can I do about it?
There are many reasons that this can happen, and it’s important to know what they are so you can take appropriate action.
The causes of why a cactus is leaning are varied. It can be caused by an issue with the cactus itself, how it’s planted in potting soil, or a combination of both.
The first thing to do is take note of what type of cactus you have and where on the plant its leaning takes place. This will help identify if any specific causes need to be addressed for your particular situation.
This article will discuss why your cactus may be leaning and what you should do if it is.
What Causes a Cactus to Lean
There are many different factors involved with why your cactus may be leaning and what you need to do depends on what they are.
It’s essential to identify which cause is causing this so you can take appropriate action when trying to fix the problem.
The main reasons why a cactus is leaning are:
The cactus is going to lean if it’s planted in an area with a sloped surface.
Cacti are not plants that can grow on slopes and should be planted on flat surfaces instead of hillsides, or they will end up leaning over time. Even worse, the cactus may eventually start growing sideways as well as downward if left in this position for too long.
When growing new plants from seedlings or cuttings, make sure they’re planted on flat ground, so they don’t lean over time either.
This may seem like common sense, but when dealing with something as delicate as a cactus plant, many people overlook these sorts of details which inevitably leads them to problems later down the line.
Potting Soil Issues
Potting soil is often the culprit when a cactus leans.
The cactus soil may not provide enough stability for the plant. It could settle over time and form an uneven surface that causes one side of the cactus to lean more than another.
After watering a cactus, you should wait until the surface of the soil has dried before watering it again. It is important to make sure that cacti have dry soil.
Over-watering can lead to potting soil that is too wet and unstable, leading to cactus leaning.
You can also add sand or gravel to the pot, which will help to level out an uneven surface.
To do this, fill one-third of the way up with potting soil before adding a thin layer of sand. It must be leveled so that there are no visible signs of anything but moistened dirt at the top.
Place your cactus in the center before filling around its base with more soil until you reach about two-thirds full, followed by another thin layer of sandy soil.
You should avoid packing down too hard when finishing off because it can lead to excess pressure on your plant’s roots as well as root rot over time. Leave space between each slant if possible for maximum stability while retaining good drainage qualities from all sides.
Pot Size Problems
At one point in its life, it was most likely a healthy cactus thriving in the ground. The sudden switch from an expansive space with access to all of the nutrients and water needed can cause your cactus to start leaning for lack of support. This happens because there isn’t enough room around the roots, so they struggle to find their footing as they would if left in the dirt. This causes them not only to bend but also to break off.
To remedy this problem, you need either larger pots or more pots, allowing each root system plenty of breathing room while still compact enough. Placing on a flat surface won’t tip over due to weight.
In some cases, the root system may be so weakened that it needs to be forced out of its pot and replanted.
The only way to fix this is by cutting a hole in the bottom of the container and carefully digging around each root individually. Be careful not to damage them or pull on them too hard.
This process can take time but will give your cactus all of what it needs for healthy growth and keep it from leaning over any more than it already has.
A pest infestation can cause the cactus to weaken and lean. Pests can chew through the cactus and cause it to fall over. Certain insects like mealybugs, scale insects, whiteflies, or aphids feed on plants and may push a cactus out of balance with their weight.
In the case of pests, inspect the plant’s soil to see if they are there. You can also look at the area around it and on nearby plants for signs of bugs or eggs like cocoons made from silk webs that insects weave in their larval stage.
If you find an infestation, wash off any leaves that have been touched by them with soap and water so as not to spread them further. Then spray a non-toxic pesticide such as insecticidal oil where you found evidence of bug activity (but don’t apply over large areas).
If the cactus is leaning, it may be getting too much or not enough light.
The cactus may be getting too much light if it is in direct sunlight all day and night. This can cause the plant to grow towards the sun, which causes leaning.
The cactus could also get too little sunlight if placed under a tree with dense foliage that blocks out most of its natural daylight.
If you suspect your cactus has problems because of lack of sunlight, place them outside during the day as well as at night so they will receive more exposure to natural lighting.
If your problem is due to excess sunlight, try placing it near an open window or on a shaded porch for part of the day. Move it inside next to artificial lights when not outside.
If your cactus is leaning, one of the most likely reasons for this could be incorrect watering.
If you are overwatering or under-watering, this can cause your plant to bend in either direction. Neither extreme is good, and you must adjust how much water you’re giving your hardy plants depending on their needs.
If they seem thirsty, then give them more. If there’s excess water coming out of the bottom after a day, then reduce how much time between watering sessions every week to once every two weeks.
Technically speaking, all cacti plants need very little water, so don’t worry about overdoing it as long as they aren’t wilting.
Also, remember that different species have different requirements, so make sure to research what your plant needs.
Cactus Rot Issues
A cactus rot issue is a problem with the potting mix that can cause the leaning or falling of a cactus.
This type of problem typically results when an individual uses poor quality soil, such as garden loam, to make their potting mix for succulent plants and desert cacti.
The most common symptom of a rotting cactus is that one side (or sometimes two) of the plant will lean towards the ground. This is due to extra weight from the water building up on top because it cannot drain through the roots at the bottom.
Under these circumstances, a very moist environment can lead to root decay and eventually death if not corrected early enough in its development stage.
Some other signs are brownish patches near where new growth is emerging from the soil or cracks in the outer surfaces of the cactus.
The best way to remedy leaning is by simply correcting what caused it. That means ensuring that your soil has proper drainage and you’re not overwatering your succulent plant regularly.
Suppose you’ve found water building up near a certain point where new growth emerges from the roots. In that case, this could also mean that there’s no drainage hole close enough to those roots for them to be appropriately drained too.
What you’ll need to do here is drill one into place (with plenty of airflow).
You can also use pebbles instead of the potting mix as an alternative if drainage isn’t possible. They allow moisture through more easily than garden loam does: they’re best for a cactus plant that naturally has shallow roots.
Can You Straighten a Cactus?
It can be easier to straighten a cactus if you start when it’s young. When the cactus is still small, it will often have some flexibility in its trunk and branches to move as needed.
As the desert cactus grows larger, this becomes difficult because of how rigid its skeleton has become at that point.
The best time to correct an older cactus would be when there is plenty of water available. Dehydration could cause breakage or splitting on account of sun exposure and drought stress.
To straighten a cactus, you need to find a way to keep it stable while still applying enough pressure. This is often done by bending the plant gently and gradually over time until it’s at a proper angle before finally securing its position with some sort of stake or tie-down.
You will then need to gently push the plant in whatever direction it needs to go. You need to see some new growth happening, and symptoms of a healthy, upright position occur:
- Growth begins at the stem base; this means roots are getting stronger and healthier as time goes on.
- The stem starts thinning out more gradually than before because support is being given from below instead of just above ground level.
- The plant will grow new, longer leaves.
It is important to remember that a leaning cactus is not a sign of neglect.
It can happen for many reasons, including the type of cactus, environmental conditions in your home, and how it was planted or transplanted.
With proper care, you should be able to prevent any more leaning cacti from happening. You will be able to enjoy many more years of enjoyment from this drought-resistant houseplant.