My Cactus Is Shriveled

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Healthy cacti will be firm and smooth.
Image Credit: AndreaObzerova/iStock/GettyImages

For those who don't have a green thumb, a cactus (Cactaceae) can be the perfect introductory plant. However, if you find that your cactus is shriveled, it may not be receiving adequate care. Before you're tempted to throw out a shriveled cactus, you can redeem yourself and revive your plant before it's too late.


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Cactus Plant Features

Most cactus plants come from dryland areas, so if you're looking for a low-maintenance plant that doesn't need a lot of watering, a cactus plant is perfect for your lifestyle. Cacti plants thrive in bright, sunny spots, and they come in different shapes, sizes and colors. When you think of a cactus, you may think of a green prickly plant, but some cactus varieties can bloom and produce flowers if it gets enough light.

If you want to keep cactus plants in your house, they will thrive if you plant them in containers. Cactus houseplants are relatively slow growers, and although you don't need to water them often, you should make sure you're watering them properly every two to three weeks. Since they are slow-growing plants, you don't really have to prune household cacti. Although they don't need a lot of fertilizer, you can fertilize them a couple of times a year with a houseplant fertilizer formulated for cacti and succulents, preferably in the spring and summer months.


Cactus Is Shriveled

Although cacti are dry plants, they still need water to survive. Cacti are pretty low maintenance, but there's a fine line between underwatering and overwatering this plant type. You don't want to overwater a cactus because that can lead to root rot, and the cactus can scab. Scabbing is when the cactus has rusty-colored corky areas on the stem.

On the other hand, underwatering a cactus can cause it to shrivel. If you've neglected your cactus and notice that there are wrinkles on it, then your plant needs a soak-watering. When you soak-water a cactus, the plant will absorb the water and plump up, and the shriveled texture will go away.


Soak-Watering Process

Before you begin the soak-watering process, you want to fill your sink or tub with 3 to 4 inches of water. You don't want the water to be too hot or too cold. When the basin is filled, place the cactus in the water. Make sure that the drainage hole is exposed on the bottom of the container so that the plant can soak up the water through the drainage hole.

Allow the cactus to soak in the water for at least 45 minutes. When the 45 minutes are up, touch the top of the soil to see if you can feel the water on the top 2 to 3 inches. If you can't feel the water at the top of the soil, you can pour a little bit of water on the top. When the soil is evenly damp, remove the water from your sink or tub and let the cactus drain in the basin.

After the water drains, you can put the plant back in its original spot. When your cactus gets the water that it needs, the shriveled texture should go away.