6 Reasons Why Your Blue Barrel Cactus Has Wrinkled

The most common reason for this problem is that the barrel cactus is not receiving enough water. It may be in a place that does not get much natural light and does not have the ideal temperature or humidity, which makes it difficult for the plant to absorb water through its roots. 


This brings us to the first cause of the problem: underhydration. Barrel cacti need frequent watering and even more frequent misting with water. They are native to desert climates and like warm and dry air; they will almost certainly be unhappy if they are kept in temperatures that are too cold and damp or too warm and humid.

“When dehydrated its leaves wrinkle.”

How to solve the problem?

The solution is to water them. But wait a minute, don’t rush. Overwatering also wrinkles barrel cactus.

If you live in an arid or semi-arid place and have one of these cacti, it’s likely you’ve made that mistake once or twice before. But what causes this wrinkling, and how can you avoid it?

Cacti are succulents, meaning their stems and flesh are adapted to store water for long periods of time. Because of this adaptation, they don’t need nearly as much water as most other houseplants.

In fact, overwatering is far more likely to kill a cactus than under-watering will!

The cactus needs water at least once a week during the summer and only once every two or four weeks during the winter (depending on where you live). Make sure that your soil has dried out enough before watering it again.

If you have a cactus that lives indoors, the best way to water it is to place a wooden stick in the soil and check whether the top 2-3 inches of the soil is completely dry. If it is dry, it indicates it is time to water your Cactus.

The growing season can be a long and arduous journey for your plant, but the right watering techniques can ensure the soil receives enough moisture content for its growth. Soaking and drying methods provide the right amount of moisture to the plants, keeping them healthy and alive.

Placing water near the Cactus causes it to evaporate and be absorbed by the Cactus.

Over Watering

Over Watering

Barrel cactus stems are as hardy as the plant itself, but they can also be quite delicate. If you’re putting a barrel cactus outside for the summer, remember to water it at least once a week. The key to watering your barrel cactus is knowing that there are two main causes of wrinkles on its stems.

The first cause is too much water – if you overwater your barrel cactus, it might begin to rot and die, which means that the water will not reach the stem of the cactus. This can cause their stems to dehydrate and wrinkle.

The second cause is too little water – if you don’t water your barrel cactus enough, these same problems can occur with the opposite effect. You might find dead or rotting roots, which again means that the water won’t reach the leaves of the cactus. This can cause them to wilt and become wrinkled. 

We can compare it to a house that has an aqueduct service, but the water does not reach the home because of the broken pipe. This is how rotten roots are, you can be watering your barrel cactus but the water does not reach its leaves because its roots do not work.

How to solve the problem?

Make sure the drainage holes are unclogged. If you are using soil with poor drainage you will also have problems. Use specialized substrate for barrel cactus.

It’s also a good idea to check your roots and prune any that are damaged and intertwined. 

Poke small holes in the soil, allowing extra air to circulate in the roots. This will help prevent root rot and keep the plants healthy.

The cactus will be placed in a south-facing window with the soil. The pot will be placed on a wooden table or stool to ensure that it gets enough sunlight and air, which will help the soil dry faster.

This cactus requires ample sunlight and well-drained soil. It is also good to place this plant in areas of low humidity around the household. Ideal locations are in the living room or office away from humidifiers, kitchen and washroom areas.

Use free-draining soil such as Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix for proper drainage and come equipped with the essential nutrients.

Too much sun

Too much sun

While it’s true that too much sun can dry us up in summer, cactus are actually better off with slightly less sun. To understand why you have to know a bit about the plant. Barrel cacti grow in a round shape and store water in their thick skin. This water is used during the hot months to keep the plant alive when there is no rain and to help cool it off when it is hot out. With less water available and lower temperatures, they need less intense light to survive.

What can you do?

Protect your barrel cactus from the intense mid-day sun.

Inadequate Sunlight

One of the biggest reasons for a barrel cactus wrinkled is insufficient light. This usually happens because we’re trying to keep our cactus inside for longer than it’s used to. A barrel cactus’s needles are adapted to receive sunlight, which is what they use to produce chlorophyll and other nutrients.

How to solve the problem?

For proper growth, give your barrel cactus about 10 to 14 hours each day off strong indirect lighting.
gradually alter the lighting in the vicinity of the Cactus (slowly increasing time and intensity).
Make sure your cactus is placed where it will receive the maximum sunlight, even if it is dormant for the winter.
To protect the plant from harsh direct sunlight, cover it with a semi-transparent cloth.
Put your cactus in the south-facing window so it can get some diffused light.

Inadequate Fertilizer

Inadequate quantity leads to problems further down the road. When a cactus is getting too little fertilizer or not enough food, it’s going to start shriveling up and wrinkling. And if you don’t do anything to fix it soon, that shriveling and wrinkling may continue until your barrel cactus dies!

In the summer months when the temperature is high, the Cactus prefers more fertilizer than in other months. Fertilizer with a high amount of phosphorus will aid and increase root development, color vibrancy, gorgeous bloom, and stem growth.


Excess humidity is one of the main causes of limp cacti. Remember that these so-called barrel cactus plants like dry climates and poor soils. This acclimatization makes cacti vulnerable to humid or tropical areas. 

Let’s also remember that barrel cacti retain as much water as possible in their leaves to survive in the driest deserts in the world. Thus, an environment that is too humid risks molding the cactus.

Poorly draining soil

Not watering your plant very often does not necessarily mean that it is not a victim of humidity. Indeed, soil that is too wet may cause your cactus to soften. Soil for cactus is an essential element for its well-being. A soft cactus is therefore often planted in soil that is too rich and retains moisture too easily. Changing the soil is a solution to be expected.

Pot or pot cover not suitable

A cachepot that is too wide will cause a damp area around the plant, which may create unfavorable conditions for its growth. Many garden centers sell the barrel cactus in its pot to dress it up. It is true that this aesthetic side is not unpleasant, but a bad pot can kill your plant.

Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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