Why is My Cactus Turning Pink?

Cactus is known for its being an extremely hardy, easy-care and long-lasting succulent. But, it can also be a difficult day when you notice that your cactus is changing color. Are you worried that your plant is dying? Or telling you that something is wrong?

The cactus can turn pink as a result of environmental stressors. The most frequent causes of stress are abrupt temperature fluctuations and deficiency in nutrients, poor irrigation, root rot and excessive sunlight. For some species of cactus, this is normal and your plant is getting used to the changes.

Find out the causes that could be causing your problem and how you can do to correct your pink Cactus.


Yes, cacti are sun-loving plants. But, a cactus grown indoors is susceptible to sunburns if exposed to excessive direct sunlight.

The cactus could be in the window because glass can intensify sunlight rays. Sunburns can be particularly extreme if you park your plant very near a south-facing window.

If you’re transferring your cactus outside, be sure you make it a gradual process. Rapid changes in the intensity of light will strain your plant and it will react by turning pink.


It is essential to move your cactus away from intense direct sunlight. Place it in a place that will receive an average of at minimum six hours of indirect, bright sunlight. A west-facing or north-facing window is the ideal location.

Inappropriate Watering

The cactus doesn’t have any issues regarding watering, but it does require water. It could be pink due to excessive and insufficient water.

cactus in silver pot

If the problem is underwatering the plant may turn purple or pink before drying to a crisp, dull brown. There may be wrinkling or curling at the bottom of your cactus.

The act of overwatering your cactus can be an easy way to cause root decay. The plant will begin to turn yellow, and then change to the appearance of a pink, brown, or purple hue. Scabbing (developing corky or rusty areas) can also indicate the presence of water.

In time, your cactus will become soft, mushy and then die.


  • The cactus that has been submerged should be watered thoroughly and thoroughly.
  • If your cactus is overwatered Remove any diseased or rotten roots and treat them with fungicidesand then repot with new soil.
  • It is important to let the top 2 to 3 inches of soil completely dry between each drink.

Too Much Heat

The cactus can change color due to excess heat. This is especially the case when the heat is due to excessive sunlight that is not filtered or direct.

It happens by two methods. The first is that your cactus could react to stress of heat by producing anthocyanins. This is an emerald-pink to purple color.

Additionally, extreme heat can cause cactus to burn, causing tissue damage. This prevents your plant from absorbing photosynthesis-important UV sun rays — hence the discoloration.

The roots that are overheated can cause your cactus’s color to change reddish-purple.


Remove your cactus from the heating source. It could be direct sunlight or heating vents, or radiator.

Nutrient Deficiency

Cacti usually change color when they are deficient in important nutrients, particularly the mineral phosphorus. Cacti require phosphorus to produce nucleic acids sugars, energy, and nucleic acids.

Pink cactus can also be the result of nitrogen or magnesium deficiency. Wilting, yellowing, or paling are all indicators of a nutrient-deficient cactus.

Poor drainage, and excessive fertilizer can cause deficiencies in nutrient. Also, look for damage to the roots caused by the infestation.


Repot or top-dress with new, high-quality fertile soil if your current soil is depleted. You can also fertilize your cactus using half strength fertilizer for your houseplants in the peak growth season. (Source: University of Minnesota)

To treat magnesium deficiencies You can make use of Epsom salt.

Poor Drainage

Cactus thrives in fast draining, well-aerated soil. Insufficient drainage makes it difficult for the roots to breathe and take in nutrients.

However, the soil that is not well-drained is prone to becoming waterlogged, which can eventually cause root decay. If they remain in the water for a longer period the cactus’ roots will die and suffocate.

So the plant is not able to absorb water or nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and magnesium, which results in the leaves changing color from pink to purple.


If you notice that root rot has set in, trim dead or damaged roots. Make sure to cut back on vegetation to aid in recovery.

If not, simply make sure that your plant is in good condition and cactus potting mix.

Inadequate Light

The lack of light is another major reason for cactus to turn pink. Cactus plants typically produce more anthocyanins as a result of stress caused by inadequate lighting. The purple hue is more striking than green chlorophyll and gives your cactus a pinkish appearance.

While some species of cactus can endure low light levels, the majority of them will lose their bright green hue if they don’t receive enough light to photosynthesis. There are also white or yellowish regions.


The best option is to place your cactus in a place that will receive enough direct, bright light. Certain species of cactus thrive best in partial sun or part shadow.

Cold Drafts

Although some species of cactus (such as the prickly pears) are cold-resistant however, they are generally averse to extreme temperature drops less than 50 degrees (10 degrees Celsius). This can cause the cactus’s temperature to be stressed and it will begin to show discoloration as a result.


To avoid cold temperatures causing pinking of your cactus, make certain to put your plant in a space that has optimal temperatures. Cactus plants are most happy when temperatures range from 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit (21-27 degrees Celsius).

In the dormancy stage of your cactus, maintain temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees (7-13 degrees Celsius). Additionally, keep it away from areas that can cause cold drafts, like windows that are not insulated, exit doors, as well as HVAC exhausts.

Pest and Diseases

Pink cactus could be an indicator of a pest or a disease.

  • Cactus cyst: The most common discoloration-inducing disease is a cactus cyst (caused by Cactodera cacti which are usually found in infected soil). If you look at your soil for signs of infection, you’ll see tiny, spherical lumps. Other indicators include wilting and slow growth.
  • Fungal stem and root Rot: These diseases which can turn your cactus pink can be caused by fungi such as Dreschlera. Be on the lookout for mushy areas with rotting smell and an uneasy look.
  • Spider mites: These critters sucking sap from the softer areas of the Cactus. Be on the lookout for tiny webs of mites, particularly on the leaf’s underside. There are also spots of brown with an orange halos.
  • Scales: Another type of insect that suckers the sap from tender areas. They also leave ugly brown spots. Some regions may change to purple or pinkish.


It is essential to isolate and treat the affected cactus as soon as possible. Cut off affected or diseased areas to stop further spread.

You now know the possibilities for why your cactus is becoming pink, and the best way to bring it back.



Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)