Why is My Cactus Leaning?

A cactus is a low maintenance palnt and comes with a huge degree of resilience. However, there are times when you would find it landing to one side even with all the care you shower on it. If you are found of cacti and want to find it growing like a powerful plant, it would indeed be saddening to find it leaning and showing signs of stress. In today’s post, we will learn how to make your cactus plant relisent and stop it from leaning to one side.

Quick Answer

There are multiple reasons that would make a cactus lean to one side and one of the primary causes is the stress. If your plant is stressed out  due to overwatering or underwatering. However, if yu find your plant healthy, yet leaning, it is simply due to the fact that it wants more sunlight. The most common causes of the cactus leaning to one side can be due to root rot, insufficient light, dehydration, pest infection and a  heavy weight.

The cactus may tend to lean both in the case of both indoor and outdoor cactus. They do face all sorts of extreme weather, but that shouldn’t mean they do not get stressed out. It is important to analyse the reasons which can be done  if you thoroughly check your plant to discover what is causing tilting.


Photo: Imgur

Some Reasons Why Is My Cactus Leaning?


Plants start growing towards the sunlight, so your cactus might lean even if it’s in full sun. This is not a sign of a problem if your plant is otherwise healthy. 

However, if your cactus was planted in partial shade and is now leaning, it may require additional sunlight. Other symptoms include weak, frail, yellowing stems that appear diseased. If this is the situation with your cactus, gradually increase its exposure to brighter sunshine to avoid sunburns. Make sure that you do not change the environment abruptly as that can cause shock and the plant health may further deteriorate. 

If you look at a cactus plant’s natural habitat, you’ll discover that it thrives in strong light and heat. They’ve evolved to withstand extreme heat and light. A cactus species maintained as a houseplant, on the other hand, may not be able to endure extended periods of heat.


Insects chewing the stem of the cactus could also make it lean. Mealybugs, for example, could stop the growth of the cactus and it could begin to lean. Mealybugs can be removed with tweezers and an alcohol-soaked cotton swab.

Infection with ants that nest at the foundation of the cactus and nibble away at the stem can also cause the cactus to bend and eventually topple over. You can get rid of the ants by using a forceful stream of water. Insect-infested cactus can develop fungus and rot, and if not handled, it will perish.


Fungi and bacteria that grow on the plant might rot it. Overwatering the cactus is the most prevalent cause of rotting. The diseased area will appear slimy, wet, and dark. 

Rot starts at the bottom of the cactus and makes its way up to the top. The rotting cactus eventually begins to tilt, collapse, and die. 

If you notice rot earlier, simply repot the cactus in new, dry soil. Remove your cactus from soil and cut away the necessary part if the rot has taken over a large portion of the plant. Allow the healthy section to dry for a day before applying fungicide to the cut surface before planting it in sandy soil.


You may have planted your cactus too loosely in the soil if it is drooping from the ground. It could also be an indication of overwatering. The soil in which the cactus is placed must be totally dry before the next watering. Otherwise, the earth around the foundation of the cactus hardens, and the soil loosens. Planting a cactus in dry soil or putting extra soil all around the base of the cactus might be used to solve this problem. 

You can also assist your cactus grow upright by covering the soil with a layer of small stones or gravel.

The pot is far too large.

A cactus demands a container that is neither too big, causing its roots to fight for nutrition and water, nor too small, preventing its roots from growing. A large container inhibits it from absorbing sufficient water, resulting in droopiness. The pot’s regular size should allow for 1-2 inches of clearance at the bottom. Make sure you repot the plant every 1-2 years as it grows.

Overwatering or underwatering

Both overwatering and underwatering a catus can make it become weaker and begin to lean to one side. If you tend to underwater your cactus, it may begin to get dry, weak roots, and weakened stems. Overwatering, on the other  hand, will make the soil to become waterlogged and cause the plant to tilt to one side. It can also cause root rot, which can cactus to lean to one side and eventually die.

Issues with the potting soil

Yet another reason that can make the cactus lean to one side can be the problems with your potting mix. Cacti need well-draining, porous, sandy soil. Rich and moistened soil can make the plant develop root rot and lean to one side. On the other hand, if the potting mix is too loose, it can make make it difficult for the tooth system to develop and cause the cactus to lean to one side.

Heavy weight

If your cactus has grown too heavy, the overweight itself itself can make it lean to one side. This is one of the most common issues with the columnar cactus species. If your cactus grows too taller, the upper parts gets heavy and the root system or the stems fail to support it. Even the pups get havier at times and make the cactus to lean to one side.

Is it Possible to Straighten a Bent Cactus?

You can’t modify how the plant has developed in the past since you can’t go back in time. If the cactus’ leaning has progressed to the point where it can no longer stand upright or develop in a healthy manner, re-starting with a cutting may be the only option left to regrow it again. 

If you decide to start over, make sure to give your young cactus enough of bright light to keep it from bending. 

If the weather permits, keep your cactus outside to provide the maximum light exposure. If you’re going to put your cactus on a windowsill, a south or east-facing window will provide plenty of direct sunshine.

How to Fix Leaning Cactus?

Whenever the top 1-2 inches of soil are dry, water the cactus.

Perform a soil dryness test by inserting your finger in the dirt for 1-2 inches before watering it. It’s fine to water it if it’s completely dry. 

If the plant is still damp after watering it more than three weeks ago, the soil and container may be retaining the water and leading the plant to lean over. 

To solve this, plant it in a clay pot that drains water quickly. Take cactus soil having sand-like characteristics if your soil is slow-draining.

Remove pests from the foliage and roots.

You can kill a mealybug or an ant by hand if you see one near the container or perched on your plant. 

To destroy a mature bug and its newly produced eggs, however, it is best to purchase insecticidal soap. You can clean the plant by rinsing it with water and a highly concentrated dishwashing solution. 

If the worm or insect hasn’t caused too much harm beyond the drooping cactus leaves, this method will work.

Replant the cactus in a suitable container.

Repot your plant every two years in a pot that allows for a modest bit of room on both sides. The sides and bottom of a cactus plant’s container should be 1-2 inches apart. This provides ample room for the plant to grow and benefit from the water and nutrients in the soil.

Enough light should be available for 6-12 hours.

One of the most important techniques to prevent droopiness is to mimic the native habitat of the cactus plant. If you first put it in a dim environment, move it to a room that gets enough light.

During the winter, keep the cactus warm.

Because cactus hibernate over the winter, it’s critical to keep them warm if you notice them drooping due to the cold. You can either place it in an area with radiant heat at night or cover this with a cotton sheet to keep it warm.

For more information, check out this informational video-

Can Repotting Fix a Leaning Cactus?

If your cactus is leaning because of any root related issues, repotting it can help you fix the issue. This can also be a practical solution if you pot is not adequate. There are several ways that repotting can help you fix the issue and let the plant grow straight.

It can improve root health

If the cactus has its roots crowded or impacted, repotting can help you fix the issue and assist in a proper growth of the roots. This may help the plant to get the proper root system and grow straight.

It assists in a proper drainage

Repotting can help in proper drainage of the water, thereby preventing the root rot. Since root rot has been one of the prime reasons for the cactus to lean to one side, a proper drainage can help you get the cactus go straight.

It fixes the pot issues

The cactus may lan to one side if the existing potting is not proper. The cactus may have been planted too deep or it may also have been planted at an angle. repotting will help you in fixing these potting issues and let your plant grow straight.

What are the cactus species that are more likey to lean?

Some cactus spciees tend to lean by their inherent nature. Some such cacti species would include Mammillarias and Opuntias. They would invariably lean to one sie no matter what sort of care you may take. The columnar cacti are more likely to lean due to their heavy weight when you compare them to the other species that have a spreading growth. 

The cactus belonging to the Mammillarias species are more likely to lean as they grow taller and longer. These species do not have stiffer vascular cambiums and this would cause them to lean to one side.


Cacti are resilient plants that are rather simple to grow because they do not need a lot of your time. Your cactus, however, requires some specialised care in addition to very little water and maintenance.</span

A few FAQs

What does it mean when your cactus is leaning over?

If you find your cactus leaning to one side, it may indicate it is under some stress. It may not be getting enough sunlight. It can also be a result of overwatering or underwatering. A cactus can also lean if it is infested with pests, is dehydrated or simply facing a heavy weight at the top end.

How much sunlight does a cactus need to grow straight?

A cactus would generally need at least four hours of direct sunlight to grow straight. With no adequate sunlight, the cactus may gt weaker and even look sickly.

Are there any specific cactus species prone to leaning?

Yes, the columnar species of cacti tend to lean to one side. a few of the species and cacti that belong to this category include Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii), Totem Pole Cactus (Lophocereus schottii ‘Monstrosus’), Old Man Cactus (Cephalocereus senilis) and Fishbone Cactus (Epiphyllum anguliger).


Nikita is a Succulent lover. She really enjoys planting and nourishing them. She loves to share information about various Succulents on this blog to aware people more about these awesome plants.

Recent Posts