What Does An Underwatered Cactus Look Like? & How To Deal With It

underwatered cactus featured image

Cacti are beloved plants known for their resilience and striking appearance, but like all living organisms, they require proper care to thrive. Underwatering is a common issue that cactus owners may encounter. When a cactus doesn’t receive enough water, it can show visible signs of distress. In this article, we’ll explore the telltale signs of underwatering in cacti and provide simple solutions to help your desert darlings flourish.

How To Tell If A Cactus Is Underwatered?

There are several signs that obviously show how thirsty your cactus is. The picture nearby shows overall how these cacti look. I list a few more points for you to check your cacti more carefully:

An image of an underwatered cactus. Source: Pinterest
  1. Wrinkling or Shriveling: One of the most noticeable signs of an underwatered cactus is its shriveled appearance. The once plump and turgid pads or stems may look deflated and wrinkled.
  2. Dry and Brown Spots: As dehydration sets in, dry, brown spots may appear on the cactus’s surface. These unsightly patches are a clear indication of water stress.
  3. Slow Growth: If your cactus has not grown or seems to have stalled, it may be due to insufficient water supply.
  4. Dull or Discolored Appearance: Underwatered cacti may lose their vibrancy and display a lackluster, faded appearance.
  5. Yellowing or Dropping of Pads/Segments: In severe cases, cacti may shed pads or segments in response to prolonged water scarcity.

Solutions for Underwatered Cacti

  1. Water Properly: The first step in reviving an underwatered cactus is adequately watering it. Give the plant a thorough watering until the soil is evenly moist. Ensure that water reaches the entire root system. Cacti thrive on a “soak and dry” watering approach, so wait for the soil to dry out completely. Watering frequency will depend on your cactus species, pot size, and environmental conditions.
  2. Ensure Good Drainage: Cacti sitting in waterlogged soil can experience root rot. Therefore, the cactus soil must be well-draining, and the pot must have drainage holes.
  3. Provide Adequate Light: Cacti require bright light to thrive. Place your cactus in a sunny spot to soak up its needed sunshine.
  4. Monitor Humidity: Cacti may struggle to lose water through transpiration in humid climates. Be cautious not to overwater your cactus in such conditions.
  5. Inspect for Pests or Diseases: Underwatered cacti are more susceptible to pests and diseases, so checking them regularly is necessary.


Caring for underwatered cacti is a straightforward process once you know the signs to look for and the solutions to apply. By providing your cactus with the right amount of water, proper drainage, and adequate sunlight and monitoring its health, you can help it recover and thrive. Remember that each cactus species may have unique needs, so learning about your specific cactus type is crucial for successful care. Enjoy nurturing your cactus back to health and watching it flourish in your home or garden. Happy gardening!

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Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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