Why Is My Cactus Growing Long And Skinny? – Everything You Need To Know

Why Is My Cactus Growing Long And Skinny

Cacti are known to survive in the harshest of conditions. But if you don’t care for them properly, they will change their outlook just to adapt to the new environment to survive.

So, if you are wondering why is my cactus growing long and skinny, the answer is it’s due to Etiolation.

This happens to a cactus because it does not get enough bright sunlight and alters its growth to reach for sunlight. If you keep your cactus indoors, then this can occur more frequently, especially during season changes.

Etiolation can occur due to many reasons, and each has different solutions. Don’t worry because, in this guide, we will go through all of the details, so make sure to check every part!

Want to learn more about cactus care:

Reasons Your Cactus Is Becoming Long and Skinny

As mentioned, the primary reason for a cactus becoming long and skinny is the fact that it isn’t getting enough bright light. Other factors can also create a scenario where a cactus faces insufficient light for itself.

Reasons Your Cactus Is Becoming Long and Skinny

Therefore, there can be different possible reasons why your cactus may have started to go long and skinny. The most probable reasons are the following:

Insufficient Sunlight

The first and arguably the most common reason is that the cactus isn’t simply getting enough bright sunlight for itself.

In order to gain sunlight, the cactus will slowly start to stretch out to become long & elongated.

But they will become skinny also during this process. Usually, this growth is very weak, and the direction of the growth is usually towards the source of the nearest sunlight.

Not Enough Sunlight Duration

Cactuses generally require around 6 to 8 hours of sunlight exposure for proper growth. If that is not the case for your cactus, then you will have no other option but to wonder why the cactus is growing tall and thin.

Temperature Fluctuation

The preferred temperature settings for cactuses are warm and dry. While they can withstand standard temperature just fine, cold temperature isn’t suited for these plants.

If you are keeping your cactus indoors during the cold, then this may be the reason why your cactus is seeking more sunlight.

This situation is not just limited to cold weather; any sudden drop or sometimes even increase in temperature can lead to this situation.

Overwatering or Underwatering

Inadequate watering is also a viable reason for a cactus to grow long and skinny. In the case of overwatering, the excess moisture from the soil results in rot in the roots, which weakens the cactus significantly. And this results in skinny-elongated cactuses.

On the other hand, underwatering will mean that the cactus won’t be able to generate enough amount for proper growth. This means the plant will end up getting skinny. It will also suffer from wrinkling too. You may see the spines start to fall off over time as well.

Poor Soil Drainage

If the soil isn’t able to drain the water, then the held-up water will lead to over-moisturization, which will hinder the regular nutrition intake of a cactus. There will also be root damage. All of this will lead to the cactus being skinny and elongated.

Suffering from Nutrition Deficiency

Lastly, your cactus might not have enough nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, or phosphorus, which directly affects plant growth. This nutrition deficiency will definitely impact the growth, and you may get a long & skinny cactus instead of a plump & healthy one.

How to Fix a Long and Skinny Cactus?

Now that we have identified the reasons, let’s check some of the solutions that you can opt for to fix a long & skinny cactus:

How to Fix a Long and Skinny Cactus

Prune & Replant

When the stems start to get too long, and the overall size is getting longer every day, it is best to cut off the skinny portion of your cactus and then replant it elsewhere.

This is because skinny cactuses won’t return to their natural health no matter how much heat & nutrients you are giving them. What it may do is make the skinny top heavier, which will eventually lead to the top breaking apart.

Increased Light Exposure

If you are just witnessing the signs, then instantly transfer your cactus outside and place it in a position where it can gain enough sunlight for as long as it wants.

There might be a case where you are just not able to provide sunlight. In that case, generating artificial sunlight should do the trick.

Also, don’t forget to rotate the cactus periodically. This will ensure that it is getting light exposure to every part of its body evenly.

Ensure Proper Watering

Figure out the proper water balance for your cactus and then follow that routine strictly. These plants don’t need much water, but too much or too little will still determine their growth.

Prepare a Well Fertilized & Drained Soil

The soil where your cactus is growing should be in perfect condition. It shouldn’t hold on to any residue moisture due to water drainage issues. Nor should it lack the support of good fertilizers.

What Does It Mean When a Cactus is Growing Long and Skinny?

If you notice a cactus is growing long & skinny, then you should assume the following:

  • It is not getting enough light
  • The cactus has a weakened structure
  • It is now vulnerable to more diseases & adverse conditions

What Is the Right Way to Care for a Dormant Cactus Indoors?

The dormancy period of cacti, which reduces their growth significantly, can be difficult to take care of them, especially if you are keeping them indoors. Lack of proper care will make your cactus long, skinny & unhealthy.

What Is the Right Way to Care for a Dormant Cactus Indoors

That’s why you should do the following:

  • Fertilizer & Watering Reduction:  Cactuses don’t require much watering or fertilizers in the first place, but in dormancy, this need is very low, and you may simply overwater it. So, tame down your usual watering during dormancy. The same goes for fertilizers as well.
  • Adjust Light Exposure: Cactuses love sunlight even in their dormant stage, so exposure to sunlight will always be a plus. You will need to find out the ideal light exposure details by reviewing the type of cactus you’ve got.
  • Keep a Cool Temperature: They don’t usually like cold settings, but in dormancy, you are actually recommended to place them in a cooler condition.
  • Lower Pruning: During dormancy, it is better to keep the pruning to a minimum.

Final Words

Many fail to understand why their cactus is growing long and skinny. They end up taking a bad step which leads to severe damage & even death to the plant.

Therefore, follow the instructions in this guide, shower your cactus with enough sunlight, and you should be able to have a healthy-looking cactus in no time!

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