Cactus plants are unbelievably durable and low maintenance making them an ideal houseplant for beginners.

These plants need little more than light, well-drained soil and a bare bit of moisture to thrive.

But just because cacti are some of the easiest plants in the world to look after, it doesn’t mean you’ll never run into problems with them.

And a common problem that many new owners face is a cactus that starts leaning over to one side.

Why Is My Cactus Leaning?

There are many reasons why a cactus might begin to lean. Some of the most common causes of a leaning cactus are inadequate sunlight, overwatering, rot, and pests.

In general, cacti are a busy gardener’s dream.

They’re pretty low maintenance, and as long as you water them from time to time, you probably won’t need to spare a thought for them.

However, if your cactus was previously growing straight up, but now it has started to lean, you might be wondering, “Why is my cactus leaning?”

In some cases, a cactus that’s not growing straight up is not a cause for concern, but it could also mean that your plant is unhealthy or stressed in some way.

Here are possible reasons why your cactus might be leaning and what you can do to fix it.

Related Article: Why Is My Cactus Growing Arms?

Not Enough Sunlight

A leaning cactus

Cacti, like all plants, naturally grow toward sunlight, so if your leaning cactus is in a well-lit area and looks otherwise fine, you probably don’t need to worry too much about the leaning.

But you could try rotating your cactus once a month so it receives a more even amount of sunlight and hopefully begins to grow straighter.

However, if you have your cactus in partial shade and it starts leaning toward the light, that could be an indication that it’s not getting enough.

In that case, you may also notice that the cactus’s leaves are brittle and yellowing, and the plant will look sick.

If this happens, slowly introduce more light so that the plant can acclimate and avoid getting sunburned.

Overwatering Can Cause Your Cactus To Lean

Overwatering is probably the biggest killer of cactus houseplants.

Cacti don’t need a lot of water.

You should only water a cactus when the soil has completely dried from the last time, and even then, you shouldn’t pour in too much water.

Giving a cactus too much water can lead to many problems that may cause the cactus to lean or even die altogether.

One of the more easily remedied problems caused by overwatering is loose soil.

Cacti need strong, well-packed soil to hold themselves upright, and overwatering will loosen the soil they’re planted in, making it hard for them to set themselves in the ground.

This can cause your cactus to lean.

If this happens, you can correct it by packing in more dirt around the cactus or even adding a layer of pebbles to help the cactus stay upright.

And, of course, reduce the frequency of watering so the dirt won’t get too loose.


One of the more serious side effects of overwatering is root rot, or rot in general.

Since cacti don’t need a lot of water, they won’t absorb the excess water you give them, and instead, their roots will just sit in it, particularly if the water doesn’t properly drain out of the soil.

Essentially, the roots drown because they don’t have access to aerated soil.

Eventually, this will lead to weak roots and decay, which can then spread up into the main body of the plant.

Rot can also happen when bacteria and fungi grow on the side of the cactus, leaving a black spot that looks wet and slimy.

The cactus will no longer be firm and may start to lean.

And if left untreated, the plant could eventually die.

If you catch the signs of rot early, you can just replant the cactus in dry soil.

In more severe cases, though, you’ll need to dig up the cactus, cut off the diseased parts, and then replant the healthy part in dry soil.

Related Article: Why Is My Cactus Skinny In The Middle


Ants, mealy bugs, and other insects will sometimes infest a cactus, eating away at its stem and weakening it until it eventually, leans and falls over.

If left alone, this can also cause bacteria and fungi to grow on the cactus, rotting it and weakening it even more.

If you notice mealybugs on your cactus, pick them off with tweezers or a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Ants can be washed away with lukewarm water.

How Do I Stop My Cactus From Leaning?

In order to stop your cactus from leaning, it’s good to understand the four main causes of a cactus that is growing crooked.

And those main causes are lack of light, overwatering, rot, and pests.

Each of these problems requires different solutions that might involve moving the plant to a brighter area, reducing the frequency of watering, replanting the cactus in drier soil, adding more dirt or gravel to a plant’s pot, and picking off or washing away insects.

Will A Bent Cactus Straighten?

Unfortunately, you can’t go back in time and change how the plant has already grown in the past.

And if the leaning has become so extreme that the cactus cannot remain upright or continue to grow in a healthy way, sometimes re-starting with a cutting is your only way to get it to grow straight again.

If you do begin again, provide your new cactus with lots of strong light and this should prevent the plant from bending.

If the climate permits, keeping your cactus outdoors will help it get maximum light exposure.

But if you are keeping your cactus on a windowsill keeping it at a south or east-facing window will allow it to get plenty of direct sunlight.

And don’t forget to rotate your cactus if you notice that it’s beginning to lean.

Final Thoughts

If you keep a close eye on your cactus, identify problems and take action as soon as you notice it is beginning to lean or show other signs of stress, there’s every chance you can keep your cactus in great health and growing straight.

Cacti are great plants to keep because of their ease of care, but you do still need to check up on them to make sure they’re staying healthy and standing tall.