If you’re a keen cactus grower, you’re bound to spot your cacti turning a little orange from time to time.

This can be a little concerning when you’re unfamiliar with it.

After all, healthy cacti are not usually orange, and discoloring is often a sign of stress.

Why Is My Cactus Turning Orange?

An orange cactus

Your cactus is turning orange because it is either getting too much direct sunlight, it is being overwatered or it’s suffering from a pest infestation.

Orange coloring happens most commonly with cacti that are grown in full sun, especially when they have been kept in a shaded area for some time and then suddenly moved into full sun.

Too Much Direct Sunlight

The most common reason for a cactus to turn orange, surprisingly, is that it is getting too much light.

You might think that seems strange for a desert-dwelling plant, especially if you live somewhere that is not nearly as hot as a desert.

However, many kinds of cacti like at least some shade, and don’t necessarily grow in the full sun in deserts.

Plants that have been grown in low light conditions may also be unaccustomed to brighter lighting and might need time to acclimatize if you have recently moved them.

Related Article: Why Is My Cactus Hairy? (Explained)

Provide Some Shade For Your Cactus

If your cactus is turning orange and standing in full sun on a windowsill, try moving it back a little way so that it gets less direct light over the course of the day.

You should also read up on your specific kind of cactus and see what its light requirements are so that you know if your cactus needs more shade than sun.

Moving your cactus may be impractical, in which case you could rig up a temporary shade to keep it from the full glare of the sun.

You could put it under the shade of other larger plants or you could set up a net curtain to filter the full sun.

Even putting a sheet of paper between it and the window can help to protect it and give it time to adjust to the light levels.

Alternatively, pull it back a short way and it will get less sun.

Sun scorching usually happens at the top of the plant, so if you notice the top of your cactus turning orange, you should look to reduce the amount of light it is getting.

Too Much Water

If instead, your cactus is turning going orange around the base, you are probably looking at a watering issue.

Overwatering is much harder to fix and will often kill your cactus if you act soon enough.

The roots will be rotting and the plant will be rapidly dying.

However, you can take some steps to try and help.

Dry The Roots

First, carefully take your cactus out of its pot and remove rotting roots until only healthy ones remain.

Then set it on some kitchen towel to dry.

This should help reduce moisture on the roots and may save it.

Do not put it in direct sun, but put it somewhere dry and just let the roots dry off naturally, without extra heat.

Analyze The Watering Issues

If the cactus has been overwatered, something is going wrong.

Either you are watering it too often or it isn’t draining properly.

Use The Right Type Of Soil

Cacti like sandy soil that traps very little moisture.

They won’t thrive in ordinary compost.

Use perlite in your soil to help keep the water draining out.

Coarse sand is also a good option.

Water Correctly

Check that soil is fully dry before you add more water, and do not water too regularly.

In winter, you may hardly need to water your cacti at all; they often turn dormant during cold weather, and will not need to drink, as long as you are keeping them in a cool area that’s not too bright.

As the soil will also dry more slowly in the winter, it’s particularly important not to overwater.

Pest Infestations

It’s possible that your cactus is turning orange because it’s being attacked by insects and they are impacting its health.

You should check your cacti regularly to see if there are any mites or other pests crawling around on them.

If you find an infected plant, remove it from the others quickly, and spray it down with 70% isopropyl alcohol.

Place it in the shade and check it again in a couple of days to see if you have successfully got on top of the infestation.

You should also check your other plants to make sure the pests haven’t spread.

Final Thoughts

These are the major reasons that cactus plants will usually turn orange.

The loss of green color indicates that something is wrong, so don’t ignore improper coloration.

Check for sun damage first, particularly if the discoloration is high up on the plant, and make sure you are not overwatering your cactus.