How to save an overwatered cactus is a worry that many gardeners frequently have, and in this regard, it is essential to be aware that you can easily do so if the damage caused is not severe. It is possible for cacti to be overwatered, which can harm their general health as they are succulents who seldom like excessive moisture.

Saving an Overwatered Cactus

In this article, we will help you tackle the situation step-by-step. Continue reading to obtain an in-depth and direct look at the process involved in reviving and tips to save the plant before it is too late so your cactus can thrive happily and in good health.

How To Save An Overwatered Cactus Plant?

To save an overwatered cactus plant, you should scale back on the watering, permit the soil to dry out, and place it in a sunny location. Moreover, prune the dead leaves, adjust the drainage, and try rerooting it; lastly, repot it and place it in a clay pot. 

Slowly but surely, you will see how your little cactus plant will be able to overcome the risk of root rot caused by excessive moisture by giving it a proper and appropriately dry environment. Just make sure that when you adjust its every need, it wouldn’t be subjected to the same situation again. 

– Step 1: Scale Back on the Watering

How to save a rotting cactus depends on how soon you take the first step, which is changing the frequency at which you water it. In short, as soon as you suspect overwatering, scale back on the water immediately. Do not water until the potting soil has completely dried out; as a result, a dying cactus can easily be saved if the moisture in the soil is cut back as soon as possible. 

Watering Overwatered Cactus

One of the early signs of overwatering is the cactus turning yellow or turning brown. Thus, you must aim to prevent overwatering cacti as quickly as you spot these symptoms, and doing so would change it greatly.

– Step 2: Permit the Soil To Dry Out

When trying to save cactus plants that have been damaged by overwatering, one of the most important things you can do is only to water your succulents when the soil has dried out. When it reaches the point where the top two inches of soil are totally out of moisture, water the cactus’s soil again. Technically, what this would show you is that the cacti only need to be watered once every ten days as a general rule.

Cactus in Dry Out Soil

However, the top layer of the soil mixture can dry out depending on the temperature in your region, and an underwatered cactus, too, can be under stress. You can determine the amount of moisture in the soil mixture by sticking your finger into it and feeling for any signs of wetness or dryness. 

What you should do is check it and if your finger seems dry and there is a lot of resistance as you insert it, you should hydrate the cactus once more. On the other hand, if the soil is damp to the touch and your finger moves freely through the wet substrate, it is recommended that you wait to water.

– Step 3: Move Your Cactus to a Sunny Spot

You should move your cactus to a location where it will receive more sunlight. Because of the increased evaporation rate, doing so will assist your plant in using water more quickly.

Growing Cactus in Sunny Spot

Remember that these plants, as a rule, do best in environments that receive a lot of bright indirect sunlight. 

If you are growing it indoors, to ensure that your plant gets an adequate amount of the sun, you should move it so that it is situated in front of a window that faces south. Make sure that proper amount of sunlight would come toward the plant from the sun and keep it warm.

– Step 4: Get Rid of All Dead Leaves

If you have been giving your plant excessive water, and you notice that it is starting to lose pieces of its stem or leaves, this is a clear sign it is rotting. Decayed leaves fall, crowding the soil beneath with blackened and mushy stems as signs of overwatered cactus. At this point, you should eliminate all the branches and leaves that are dying off, because they would be a burden on the plant.

If a portion of the stem has rotted away, but the leaves or spines have not, you should consider cutting off that portion. The latter is due to the dead foliage that can attract fungal infection or rot that can spread to other areas of the cactus plant.

Dead Leaves of Cactus

This means, that if you do not cut and remove all of the infected parts, your plant will not be able to survive.

– Step 5: Get the Drainage Right

If the overwatering results from incorrect soil or clogged drainage in the container or pot your cactus is growing in, you can save it by giving proper plant care. You can help a cactus overwatered by changing its soil to a commercial cactus soil mix, which is typically porous enough to allow for complete and efficient water drainage.

Proper Drainage for Cactus

Additionally, to keep the light well-drained, add some sand, pebbles, peat, or pumice that will efficiently create a substrate for your cactus. As a result, you must make sure that the pot you are growing the plant in has proper drainage holes so that no high moisture level would be stuck in the roots. Check to see that they are not clogged by tiny pebbles or debris. Clear the hole so that water can flow out of the pot freely.

– Step 6: Rerooting

Inspect the roots of your cactus. If you notice extensive damage caused by root rot that has spread to multiple parts of the cactus, rerooting is the best option for saving your cactus . Make sure that you would remove the parts of the roots and tissue that have rotted away, and then propagate what’s left of the cactus by burying it about an inch deep in a cactus soil mix. 

Remember that usually, cactus healthy sections can be used to propagate and can root, allowing you to grow new plants from the remnants of the original parent. If the section received from the cactus root rot is tiny, then bury it only about half as deep as you typically would. 

Rerooting Overwatered Cactus

During this time, you should refrain from watering the propagated cactus for the first week. After that, you can begin to water it as per the rate of evaporation of water from the soil, and it will grow well at a better pace as it recovers. Remember, cacti are succulents and seldom tolerate excessive moisture in their soil.

– Step 7: Repot in Fresh Soil

After determining the condition of the cactus’ roots and snipping away any rotten, blackened sections with brown spots or mushy, it is time to repot them in fresh soil. Remember that you should never repot the succulent until you have ensured that every last piece of diseased tissue has been removed. Which means that you must let it recover a bit, first, and then aim to change the pot. 

This is because decayed sections will cause the disease to spread to the rest of the cactus if it contains rotten tissue. How to save a mushy cactus depends on allowing it to dry before repotting it in a mixture of dry soil and sand.

Repotting in Fresh Soil

You mustn’t recycle the old soil because it may still harbor the bacteria or fungi that caused the rot in the first place. After the pot has been changed, you should wait at least three to four days before giving it a proper watering session again and your cactus will, in due time, return to its previously healthy state. 

Pot the cactus in a potting mix that is well-draining gently without upsetting its delicate roots. After the plant has been repotted, allow it to air dry for a few days before giving it a very light misting of water.

– Step 8: Use a Clay Pot

Using a clay pot with proper drainage holes is recommended while repotting. Since it is a more porous material, clay is typically more tolerant of excessive water. Having a drainage hole or holes in the bottom of the pot is crucial so that extra water has somewhere to escape to instead of pooling at the bottom. 

Using a Clay Pot for Cactus

As a result, you must go ahead and select an unglazed clay pot slightly more significant than the cactus and fill it with a commercial cactus mix, because this pot will also keep the moisture of the roots well fitted that you do not need to water it excessively. While the loose cactus mix allows water to drain quickly, the clay pot will ultimately draw more water away from the root zone than a standard drainage hole would.


You have just completed reading and understanding the step-by-step method to save an overwatered succulent like cactus.

Here is a quick summary of information for your convenience:

  • You may salvage your overwatered cactus by minimizing the amount of moisture in the soil around the plant, relocating it to an area with good ventilation and sunlight, or transplanting it into soil that drains well.
  • If you provide a suitable dry environment, it can avoid the root rot that an excessive amount of moisture would otherwise cause.
  • One of the most important things you can do to save cacti damage by overwatering is only to water them after the soil has dried out completely.
  • Examine the cactus’s roots and if you observe significant damage caused by root rot that has spread to several regions of the cactus, reroot it or repot them in new soil.

After reading this article, you should not have any trouble drying out the moist soil of your cacti. So, what are you waiting for; use our tips to work your way through to get the plant back to health

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