Why Is My Cactus Turning Purple? + [Ways to fix it]

Why Is My Cactus Turning Purple

Some of the reasons your cactus is turning purple include too much sunlight, temperature fluctuations, excessive roots, poor drainage, nutritional deficiencies, and cysts.

It may go unnoticed, but there is an important and rather old relationship between us humans and plants. Our existence is dependent on plants in more than one way. Their purpose is not only to feed us but provide us a healthy living environment too. The whole earth’s survival is, directly and indirectly, dependent on them. Human Beings are fond of plants since the very start of time, and they can be found nurturing them. A good example of this is the practice of keeping house plants or a garden. 

In today’s busy lives, people still haven’t let go of their fondness and underlying love for plants. However, they have started keeping such plants that require minimum care in maintaining a healthy outlook and essence. One such type of plant is succulents, and the most famous succulent which can be found in many homes and workplaces is cactus. It is a plant that can be found in desert areas, so it can be said they like warm or hot climates. 

Even though it is found in hot areas, they’re pretty low maintenance plants. They only need to be watered once 10-14 days. It doesn’t mean they don’t have issues such as water, sunlight, soil, or the right fertilizer. The most common question asked regarding cactuses is, “why is my cactus turning purple?”. Many cactus owners fail to find an answer and solution to the question, which ends up in them losing their poor cactus plant. Don’t you worry, though; we got you and your dear plant-covered!

Reasons of Cactus Turning Purple

There is not just one answer for the question, why is my cactus turning purple?. There are multiple reasons, and the following are the main ones of why your cactus is turning purple:

Extra Sunlight 

Yes, it is true sunlight is the most essential for cactus, but excess of anything is proved to give bad results. The cactus that we have in-home are brought from nurseries which means there are high chances that they are grown in controlled environments. By controlled environments it means controlled sunlight, shade, and water. So, when at home we try to give them direct sunlight, they don’t take it too well. It doesn’t mean that you stop giving your bright cactus light. It should be bright, however not direct, and must be dispersed. Placing it in direct light suddenly burns the skin of the cactus, which gives it a shade in between red and purple. 

Temperature Deviations 

Just as for us humans, sudden change in temperatures isn’t suitable; the same goes for plants. When cacti are subjected to either sudden changes in temperature or too extreme temperatures, they show it through changing their color. It is normally referred to as temperature-related stresses. If the roots of cacti are overheated or if the plant is too cold, in both cases, the cacti tend to get a reddish-purple shade. Also, cacti being too cold can lead to freezing damage which will ultimately kill the plant if not taken care of. 

Excessive Roots 

Many times different succulents are planted in the same pot. It is also a common practice to use very small pots for succulents. Both of these situations can lead to overcrowding of roots in the soil. Overcrowding of roots can lead to the plant not absorbing enough nutrients for it to flourish. When this happens, the result of it can be seen on its leaves. So, the reddish-purple leaves could also be a sign of cacti being root bound in the pot. Do note that this situation usually occurs after about 2-3 years of cacti being in the same plant. 

Poor Drainage

One main requirement of all succulents is proper drainage. No matter what kind of succulent it is, it needs proper drainage to live up to its full potential. Why is that? Because they are plants that are meant to grow in low humidity or a dry region. If they are watered continuously, they will simply not survive. You are slowly killing them if you do not keep track of watering your cacti. This definitely doesn’t mean that you should deprive them of water. Just make sure that the soil is completely dried out before you water the cactus again, so that root rot doesn’t occur. Root rot can lead to the leaves turning reddish-purple. Now, this can be avoided if your plant has proper drainage. 

Nutritional Deficiencies 

It is true that the plants and we have too much in common. Just as a human needs proper care and nutrients to grow and stay healthy, a plant needs it too. They too suffer from nutritional deficiencies, which can cause them severe damage and eventually lead them to be stunted. But before these extreme circumstances, they do show signs out of which one is the leaves turning into a shade of purple. Mostly the nutritional deficiency occurs due to the absence of magnesium. Christmas cacti are most susceptible to it, but any kind of cacti has the possibility to get it. 

Cysts in Cactus

Cactus, or in fact, any plant, is prone to cysts or infections. The leaves of the cactus start to turn purple if the plant is infected. The infection occurs due to a pathogen called cactodera cacti. Its common name is a cactus cyst. The reason for this infection occurring in your cactus is not the right soil. When soil is infected already, it, in turn, infests the cactus and then, of course, the leaves. But do note if you want to be sure of the infection, then check its roots. Small white colored spheres on roots will give you the confirmation of infection. 

We hope that your question of why is my cactus turning purple is answered. Now onto some tips and tricks to take care of your cactus. 

Easy Steps to Take Care of Your Cactus 

Enough Sunlight 

As mentioned above again and again how cacti is a desert plant and need to be treated as such. That is why try and get your cactus enough sunlight, so it survives. Keep in mind; these plants do not like shadows and dark. 

Regular Watering 

Even though they are desert plants, they still are plants and need water. You need to water them at regular intervals. The intervals should be as such that the soil is completely dried before you water the plant. Not watering a cactus at all can kill the plant as well, especially during summer. 

Right Fertilizer 

There are special fertilizers just for succulents. These are extremely helpful for their growth and can be used as per the instructions. 

Right Soil 

The right mixture of soil is what cacti need. Their soil is different from ordinary plants. It contains more sand and rock, which helps the water to drain. The process helps in the good growth of the plant. 

Protect Your Hands 

Cacti are cute little home plants, but they are somewhat dangerous as well. Their spikes are pretty sharp, and that is why they can easily get stuck in your hand. It will lead to irritation and slight bleeding. You do not want that, so make sure you wear gardening gloves before handling them. 


If you are a plant lover, then it is not difficult to take care of your plants. And if you are a new plant parent of a home plant like cactus, then that’s not difficult as well. All the basic queries are answered above, along with the most common question of new cacti parents, why is my cactus turning purple. Also, do note that like above-mentioned factors might be the reason why but purple cactus not ALWAYS means a bad sign. For some kind of cacti, it’s completely normal to turn purple during different cycles of their lifetime. Happy planting!