Why Is My Bunny Ear Cactus Turning Brown?

Why Is My Bunny Ear Cactus Turning Brown

Like any other plant, bunny ear cacti can face issues, and one common problem is the browning of the pads. This can be concerning for plant owners, especially those who care greatly about their plants. The sudden color change can be alarming and raise questions about the health of the cactus.

Your bunny ear cactus is turning brown due to overwatering or inadequate lighting. Cacti need well-draining soil and regular, but not excessive, watering. Alternatively, it could be a sign of pests or diseases, so inspect the plant thoroughly and take action if necessary.

If you are a proud owner of a bunny ear cactus or planning to bring one home, read on to understand why your cactus may be turning brown and how to keep it looking green and vibrant.

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Main Reasons for Bunny Ear Cactus Turning Brown

The charming bunny ear cactus, with its distinctive pads and minimal care requirements, can face issues like browning, indicating underlying problems that need immediate attention. Here are the primary reasons why your bunny ear cactus might be turning brown:


One of the leading causes of browning in bunny ear cacti is overwatering. Excessive moisture in the soil suffocates the roots, leading to rot and eventual browning of the pads. Ensure the soil dries out between watering to prevent waterlogged roots.


Conversely, underwatering can also cause browning. When the cactus doesn’t receive enough water, it draws moisture from its pads, resulting in a parched, brown appearance. Maintain a balanced watering schedule to keep the cactus hydrated but not waterlogged.

Lack of Proper Sunlight Exposure

Insufficient sunlight exposure can lead to weak, stressed cacti with brownish pads. Bunny ear cacti need bright, indirect sunlight. Ensure your cactus receives adequate light to maintain its vibrant green color.

Temperature Shock

Rapid temperature changes, especially exposure to cold drafts or sudden drops in temperature, can shock the cactus, causing it to turn brown. Protect your cactus from drastic temperature fluctuations, especially during winter months.

Soil Quality

Poor soil quality lacking proper drainage, can contribute to water retention around the roots, leading to root rot and browning. Plant your bunny ear cactus in well-draining or succulent soil to avoid this issue.

Frost Damage

Bunny ear cacti are sensitive to frost. Exposure to freezing temperatures can damage the plant cells, causing browning and tissue death. Protect your cactus during cold weather by moving it indoors or providing frost protection.

Fungal Infections or Diseases

Fungal infections or diseases, often resulting from overly damp conditions, can cause browning and deterioration of the cactus pads. Adequate air circulation and proper watering practices can help prevent fungal issues.

Pest Infestations

Pests like mealybugs, aphids, or scale insects can weaken the cactus and lead to browning. Regularly inspect your cactus for signs of pest infestations and treat them promptly with natural remedies or insecticidal soap.

Poor Quality or Inappropriate Soil

Using low-quality or unsuitable soil can hamper drainage and lead to overwatering problems. Always plant your bunny ear cactus in well-draining, nutrient-rich soil specifically formulated for cacti and succulents.

How to Save Your Bunny Ear Cactus That Turned Brown?

If your bunny ear cactus has turned brown, it could indicate a few potential problems, such as improper watering (over or under-watering), inadequate sunlight, low temperatures, or a pest infestation. Fortunately, there are practical steps you can take to save your bunny ear cactus.

Identify the Issue

If your cactus is turning brown from the top, this may be because of too much sunlight. If it’s at the bottom or side, it could be due to overwatering or a fungal infection.


Cacti prefer dry climates unlike most plants, so over-watering is a common issue, causing it to turn brown. A general rule is to water your cactus once every 10-14 days during summer and once a month during cooler months.

The best way to measure this is by using a moisture meter or sticking your finger into the soil to ensure it is dry before watering.


The bunny ear cactus requires total sunlight exposure for at least four to six hours daily. However, excessive direct sunlight can cause sunburn, shown by a whitish discoloration, eventually turning brown. If you think sunburn might be the problem, gradually move your cactus towards a more shaded location.

Temperature and humidity

The optimal temperature range for a bunny ear cactus is 70-100°F (21-38°C). Anything below and above this range can cause your cactus to turn brown.

Cacti prefer low humidity, so a bathroom or kitchen might not be the ideal location for this plant. Also, keep it away from drafts, air conditioners, or heating machines to avoid sudden temperature changes.

Pests Control

Pests such as spider mites and scale insects may be another reason why your cactus is turning brown. Inspect your cactus for pests regularly and use suitable insecticides or remove the pests manually if you notice an infestation.

Fungus or rot

If your cactus is still turning brown even after appropriate watering, light, and temperature conditions, it’s possible that it could be suffering from a fungal disease or root rot. Treat such problems by cutting out the rot with a clean, sharp knife and applying a fungicide.


In severe cases, the cactus might need to be repotted. This will involve removing the cactus from the pot, cutting away any rotted or dead roots, and replanting in fresh, well-draining soil.

Prevention Tips to Avoid Your Bunny Ear Cactus from Turning Brown

Preventing the browning of bunny ear cactus involves a combination of proper care, regular monitoring, and proactive measures. Here are essential prevention tips to keep your bunny ear cactus lush and green:

Proper Watering

Overwatering is a common reason why Bunny Ear Cacti turn brown. This plant is adapted for a desert environment, so it prefers to be dry rather than overly damp. Ensure that you water your Bunny Ear Cactus sparingly to avoid water-logging. Only water when the top inch of soil is completely dry.

Right Lighting Conditions

Bunny ear cactus requires lots of sunlight, at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight each day. However, sudden exposure to intense sunlight can cause sunburn, which manifests as brown or black spots on the skin of the cactus. Gradually acclimate your cactus to more sunlight if you move it to a sunnier location.

Disease and Pest Control

Bunny ear cacti can turn brown due to fungal diseases or pest infestations. If you notice any unusual spots or pests on your cactus, it’s recommended to isolate it from other plants and treat it accordingly. Use a fungicide or pesticide specific to the infestation affecting your plant.

Maintain Optimal Temperature and Humidity

Being a desert plant, the Bunny Ear Cactus prefers heat. But it can also suffer from cold damage if the temperature drops too low. Try maintaining a temperature of around 20-25°C (68-77°F).

Avoid placing the cactus near drafts, cold windows, or heating vents in winter to prevent temperature fluctuations.

Proper Soil Mix

The type of soil used should have good drainage since these plants hate sitting in waterlogged soil. A well-draining cactus or succulent mix will do the trick. Add perlite, pumice, or coarse sand to ensure proper drainage.

Gentle Handling

The pads of a bunny ears cactus are fragile and can easily be damaged. Handle the cactus carefully to avoid any wounds that can become entry points for pathogens or pests, leading to browning.

Common Diseases and Pests That Attack Bunny Ear Cactus

Like other types of cactus, the Bunny Ear cactus can fall victim to various diseases and pests that can impact its overall health and growth. Below are some of the common diseases and pests that attack Bunny Ear Cactus:

Root Rot

Root rot is typically caused by overwatering the plant, causing the roots to become waterlogged and eventually decay. This disease is characterized by the cactus becoming soft and discolored. The best way to prevent root rot is by ensuring the plant has good drainage and not overwatering it.


Of all the pests that can affect your cactus plant, mealybugs are among the most damaging. They feast on the plant’s sap and can quickly cause discoloration and stunted growth.

They appear as small, white, cottony masses on the plant. Insecticidal soaps, neem oil, or a simple mix of water and dish soap can combat mealybugs.

Scale Insects

Like mealybugs, scale insects feed on the plant sap. They appear as small, flat, round, brownish, or whitish spots on the cactus. They can be physically removed or treated with insecticides.

Fungal Diseases

Without a doubt, Bunny Ear Cactus is highly vulnerable to fungal infections, particularly when cultivated in excessively moist conditions or overwatered. One such disease is Anthracnose, which presents as dark, sunken spots on the plant surface. Fungicides are often used for treatment.

Spider Mites

These tiny arachnids are barely visible to the naked eye, but they can cause significant damage, leaving yellow spots or silvery webs on the cactus. Miticides or insecticidal soap can help control spider mites.

Cactus Moths

The larvae of these insects bore into the cactus tissue to feed, causing significant damage. A reddish, sawdust-like substance near the cactus base often indicates the presence of cactus moths. Removing and destroying infested parts of the plant can control the moth population.

Final Words

Several possible reasons for your bunny ear cactus turning brown include overwatering, lack of sunlight, and pests. You must carefully assess your cactus’s environment and adjust to promote healthy growth.

If you are unsure of the cause or your cactus continues to decline, it may be best to consult a professional for further advice. With proper care and attention, your bunny ear cactus can thrive and bring joy to your home.


  • http://www.cactusedintorni.com/en/The-diseases/index.html
  • https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/GARDEN/PLANTS/cactus.html

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