Old man cactus is unique cactus. It is a hardy plant that requires low maintenance. Although sometimes it shows signs of unhealthy growth. Droppy and leaning old man cactus is the most common problem which gardeners face when they grow this cactus.
In this article, I will answer the question: why the old man cactus dropping and leaning. And what to do in order to help your cactus to grow upright.
But before diving deep into the details I will put the answer for our main question as simple as this: why is my old man cactus drooping and leaning? Old man cactus will drop and lean because of either lack of enough light, inappropriate watering, or insects infection.
Keep reading to know the real cause behind the leaning of your old man cactus in order to take the right action.
The following are the potential reasons that may be causing your old man cactus to lean and drop.
Inappropriate light may cause old man cactus to drop
This is the most common reason behind Your plant dropping. Old man cactus need at least six hours of direct sunlight.
So if your plant is located in a location that doesn’t provide such an amount of light most probably your old man cactus is dropping and leaning because of lack of sunlight.
Old man cactus in such a situation leans towards the light direction in an attempt to reach for sunlight. Also, an old man cactus that suffering from lack of sunlight will stretch itself.
If this is the case move your plant to a location that gets plenty of sunlight. A south or west-facing windows are great for your old man cactus.
But do it gradually in order to not shock your plant. That means introducing your plant to more light gradually. If you don’t have access to a location that gets enough direct sunlight for your old man cactus indoors you can use grow light.
It will be as effective as direct sunlight. Also, you need to give your old man cactus supporters in order to help it to stand straight again.
You can use sticks or any other supporters. With the support of the sticks and enough sunlight, your plant will be growing upright as it is supposed to be. After few weeks you can remove the supporters and your plant will stay upright.
Old man cactus can lean and drop because of overwatering
Overwatering can make an old man cactus lean and drop too. So reassess your watering schedule, if you water your old man cactus too often without allowing the soil to dries out between watering most probably the dropping and leaning because of overwatering.
Old man cactus is native to the Mexican deserts. In its natural habitat, it stays in dry soil for a long period of time. And when rains fall in the deserts it falls abundantly.
It absorbs enough amount of water and stores it in its stem in order to use it throughout the drought season.
And when you water your old man cactus too often, you don’t allow it to deal with water as it is accustomed to in its natural habitat.
In such a case the old man cactus will absorb too much water which is beyond its stem storage capacity. Such a thing will cause your old man cactus to lean.
Also overwatering will cause root rot. Root rot will make the cactus roots too weak to anchor the cactus well in the soil, in return, the plant will lean and drop.
And if the root rot is severe and it has been neglected for a long period of time it will infect the stem. Such a thing will cause the old man cactus to lean and eventually it will collapse and fall.
The right watering schedule for your old man cactus is the schedule that allows the top half of the soil to dries out completely between waterings.
You can check the soil before you water your plant if you found the top half of its soil is dry, then you can water your cactus. And when you water your plant do it thoroughly until the water drains through the drainage holes.
In order to know whether the overwatering is the real cause, besides reassessing your watering practice inspect the stem. If you found it mushy or black most probably the rot is severe.
In such a case treat the stem with fungicide and adjust your watering practice. You also need to inspect the roots. Gently remove your cactus from its pot and get rid of the soil that is attached to the roots.
If you found mushy black roots it means your plant is suffering from root rot. In such a case cut all the affected roots. And hopefully, there are enough healthy roots left to support your plant.
Healthy roots will look white and feel strong. After you removed all the affected roots dust the roots with fungicide. Then let the plant stay without soil for two days in a shaded and dry place In order for the roots to dries out.
Then, repot your old man cactus in a fresh cactus mix that has good drainage properties. After doing so give your old man cactus supporters like sticks in order to help it stay upright. After few weeks you can remove those sticks and your plant will be ok.
I hope this is what causing your old man cactus to drop and lean. Because it can be easily solved. Old man cactus is a drought-tolerant plant. Your old man cactus will forgive you for occasional neglect.
But if you don’t water your cactus for months. Most probably your old man cactus is dropping and leaning because of underwatering.
Reassess your watering schedule. If you found that you have been letting your cactus without water for a very long period of time (months) most probably the problem is because of underwatering.
When old man cactus do not get enough water its cells became weak to the extent that doesn’t allow it to support itself and stay upright.
If this is the case, simply give your old man cactus supporters (sticks) in order to help it stay upright while you adjusting your watering schedule. And within a few weeks, you can remove the supporters and your plant will stay upright.
If non of the above potential reasons behind the old man cactus dropping and leaning relating to your plant. Then you need to check your plant whether is suffering from insects infections.
Old man cactus is prone to mealybugs and ants infections. Look into to plant’s stem if you found any trace to mealybugs treat the affected area with neem oil or alcohol.
After you treated the infection give your old man cactus supporters (sticks) to help it stay upright. Also, inspect the stem for ants.
Sometimes ants may nest in the stem and eat the stem which makes it too week to stay upright. If this is the case simply by using a stream of water wash away any ants living In your cactus stem.
Finally, potted plants need special care so you don’t reach the point where your plant is dying, this is why I wrote the book Container Gardening: A Step-by-Step Practical Guide. Get your copy today through this link.