Why Is My Cactus Turning Light Green?

Cacti are often a rich, emerald green or even dark green. So when they start to turn lighter in color, it can be worrying. 

Your Cactus may turn light green due to incorrect amounts of water, sunlight, fertilizer, or the presence of pests and disease.

While having unexpected colors on your Cactus can be worrying, some people change the colors of their Cactus on purpose. You can create a Cactus full of stunning colors by adding slight stressors to your plant’s environment. If you want to change the colors on purpose, changing the light, temperature, or water is the easiest and least harmful way to do that. 

If your Cactus starts to turn very pale, yellow, or brown, that is often a sign that something serious is wrong. It is important to fix the problem immediately to prevent the death of your Cactus. When they start to turn these colors, you may also want to look at trimming the damaged areas so that the rest of your plant can continue to grow.  

Why Has My Cactus Gone Light Green?

The most common reason why a Cactus may be turning light green is a lack of light, water, or nutrients or if there are pests present. 


Most Cacti need a lot of bright but indirect sun each day. Usually, around six hours is best. While Cacti may be able to handle direct light in their natural environments, those kept indoors can’t tolerate the direct sun. 

You need to introduce direct sun slowly or keep them in areas where they get bright, but indirect sun. If your Cactus is turning light green, it is often an indicator that they aren’t getting enough sunlight. 


It can be really easy to overwater a Cactus. They don’t need much water and usually go two weeks or longer between waterings. If your Cactus is getting too much water, it will start to turn brown and mushy. However, before it starts turning brown, the outside can start to grow discolored and will turn light green. 

Underwatered Cacti can also turn light green. They will start to become shriveled and lose a lot of their coloring. Most Cacti only need about ¼ cup or ½ cup every two weeks or so. 


Red Spider Mites
Scales, red spider mites, and mealybugs are all common pests of Cacti. They suck on the sap of the plant, which weakens the plant and can cause discoloration like light green color. 

You will want to isolate your Cactus to stop the pests from infecting any other nearby plants. Then, you can work to get rid of the bugs by using things like rubbing alcohol, vinegar, or neem oil. 


If your Cactus isn’t getting enough nutrients, it can start to lose color in its stems and turn a light green. The most important nutrients for a Cactus are nitrogen, magnesium, and phosphorus. 

Sometimes, even if you fertilize correctly, the roots may be rotted or damaged, reducing the amount of water and nutrients they can absorb. Make sure the roots are healthy and not experiencing root rot. If they aren’t, then they will likely just need some fertilizer. 

You can usually use any regular liquid fertilizer, though one higher in phosphorus than nitrogen or potassium is a good idea. Usually, a 5-10-5 is a good ratio. 

Why Is My Christmas Cactus Not Dark Green?

Like any other Cactus, a Christmas Cactus usually grows lighter when its growing conditions are not ideal. Despite their name, Christmas Cacti are not naturally found in the desert and don’t need the same treatment as a regular Cactus. Giving them far too much light and too little water is easy. 

Christmas Cacti need moist soil with a lot of indirect light. Getting incorrect habitat requirements can cause them to become stressed and turn different colors besides green, such as purple or yellow. 

Why Is My Cactus Losing its Color?

If your Cactus is turning very pale, the most common problem is freezing. If the temperature is regularly below 50°F (10°C) in your area, your Cactus will start to lose color and turn very pale. This is because the plant responds to frost on its leaves and stems. 

Stress and strain, like too much or too little light, water, or nutrients, can also cause discoloration or loss of color. 

Why Is My Cactus Different Colors?

Cacti don’t just lose their green hue when stressed; they may start turning all sorts of different colors, like purple, yellow, and pink. A lot of these colors are very pretty and attractive on plants. 

Some people purposefully stress out their Cacti and other succulents to get these stunning colors. It is usually just a little stress, enough to cause the color, but still, allow the plant to grow and live. 

Usually, water, light, and temperature are the best ways to cause stress that causes coloring in a plant. 

Why Is My Cactus Turning Soft and Yellow?

If your Cactus is turning soft and yellow, chronic overwatering is usually a sign. Succulents and Cacti use water to create rigidity in their cells. Without proper water, they may start to droop or shrivel. 

However, absorbing too much water can cause their cell walls to burst, leading to mushy plants that are discolored yellow or brown. 

Unfortunately, as soon as your Cactus has its cells burst, they cannot be recovered. This is usually the end of the line for a Cactus or succulent unless some part of the plant has been spared, such as pups. 

Why Is My Cactus Turning Brown?

Browning Cactus
When Cacti turn brown, this is usually due to too much light or water. When a Cactus turns brown, it usually signals that the Cactus is burnt or dying. Once a plant turns brown, it is hard for the plant to recover. 

You would have to remove the parts of the plant that are damaged and brown and let the rest of the plant recover. If the cause of the Cactus turning brown was root rot, you will have to trim off any damaged roots and repot with a fungicide to prevent further damage to the plant. 

It is important to note that Cacti have a process called corking, which is a natural process. This usually begins from the bottom of the plant and grows upwards. It is typically a sign of aging. Both the texture and color of the Cactus will change. The bottom of the Cactus will start to feel like bark. 

This is normal and not due to health issues. The rest of the plant will still be perfectly healthy. 

How Do I Make My Cactus Greener?

To make your Cactus green, you must keep your plant in a healthy environment that they enjoy. This means ensuring they get the proper water, soil, temperature, and sunlight requirements. 

How Can I Tell if My Cactus Is Healthy?

There are many ways to tell if a Cactus is healthy:

  • Healthy green color
  • Growing and producing new stems and spines
  • Healthy root system
  • Firm and intact skin
  • Not soft or wilting
  • Produces flowers

If your Cactus is unhealthy, there are also signs:

  • Wilting
  • Drooping
  • Discolored, such as brown or black
  • Leaning
  • Spines are falling out and not regrowing
  • Flowers are not growing or are dying quickly
  • Bad smell
  • Mushy


Most Cacti should be a rich green or even a dark green. If they start turning light green or yellow, it is often a sign of stress due to something not being right in their environment. 

Usually, lighter colors on your Cactus like green, yellow, pink, and purple, are signs of environmental stress caused by incorrect water, light, and fertilizer amounts. A Cactus needs bright indirect sunlight, half a cup of water every two weeks, and nutrients like nitrogen, magnesium, and phosphorus in order to thrive and grow.

If your Cactus starts changing to colors like yellow or brown, it may indicate too much direct sunlight or too much water. Be sure to check for signs of root rot so you can help fix your Cactus and watch it grow in your home or garden!