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Why Does My Cactus Not Have Roots

Cacti are one of the most resilient plants on the earth. They’ve adapted to survive the harshest conditions, including drought and high temperatures. Part of the reason they can survive without typical plant essentials is their ability to store water in cells located along the stem. 

If a cactus doesn’t have roots, it could be for a number of reasons. Cacti don’t need a lot of water and can refrain from rooting if they’re getting too much. If conditions are not favorable, cacti may not sprout roots and may start to die. If that happens, growers can take cuttings and replant them, giving them time to root and only watering if the soil is completely dry. 

If you’ve got a cactus without roots, you’re not out of options. Read on to find out what you can do to encourage your cactus to sprout roots and ways you can revive cacti that are starting to lose their roots. 

Can a cactus survive without roots?

Cacti are tough, but they are not immortal. Like other plants, they too need water and nutrients, which they soak up from the ground with their roots. Roots spread out into the ground and help transport essentials to cacti when they need them. Without roots, cacti can survive for some time, though they will eventually lose their stored water and die. 

What to do if your cactus has no roots?

If cactus has no roots, there are a few things you can do. First of all, stop watering. Cacti can lose their roots due to root rot when they have too much water. You also have the option to take a cutting and plant it in a different pot, giving it a chance to root and grow before adding water. 

When cacti have no roots, they can stay alive for some time, though they will eventually dry up when all of their water storage is gone. Once that happens, cacti dry up, lean over, and eventually fall over, dried out from outside. 

How can I encourage my cactus to grow roots?

Cacti survive in harsh conditions due to their ability to adapt. Catching damaged or lack of roots in your cacti early, you can take steps to encourage your cactus to grow roots. 

For Root Rot 

When roots start to rot, you still have time to save them. If you notice your cacti are not turgid and have taken on a yellow tinge, gently remove them from the soil and look at their root system. You can check rotted roots and gently cut them off, allowing healthy roots to expand and grow. 

Once you’ve clipped all problem roots off, place the cactus into fresh, sterile soil and observe it for a few days to see how it does. 

Fix Your Watering

Cacti need water. However, they don’t need as much as some other plants, able to survive without water for long periods. When creating a watering schedule for your cacti, think about the moisture in your soil. Cacti need soil that’s somewhere between moist and dry. Once a week is a good watering schedule, adjusting as you need depending on your cactus. 


Sometimes, cacti aren’t happy in their home. They can be too cramped on the inside, water may not drain well, or there may be something else that’s keeping them from growing. If you’ve changed your watering schedule and clipped off any rotting roots and your cacti are still unhappy, you may need to repot. 

Choose a pot with room for drainage at the bottom, and that’s roomy enough for cacti to spread out their roots and grow. 

Check Your Soil 

Part of the essentials that cacti need is soil. Not all soils work for cacti, some of them holding onto too much moisture. If you’re unsure which potting mix to use, you can opt for a potting mix made especially for cacti. 

Check Your Light

Cacti need a lot of light. They do well with at least 6 hours of sun exposure a day and can start to wilt and lose color if they don’t get it. If you’re keeping them inside, place them near a window that gives them good sun exposure, or add artificial light if you can’t. 


Cacti don’t need to be fertilized, but the right serving of nutrients will help them become healthier. You can find fertilizers with rations perfect for cacti in any gardening store or online. It’s ideal for fertilizing your cacti twice a week unless you notice they begin, wilt, or lose color. If that happens, you may need to change up your fertilizing schedule. 

Can a cactus regrow roots?

Cacti have an instinct to survive and can self-propagate from cuttings if they are damaged. In the wild, cacti typically sprout their roots in the rainy season, using them to soak up as much water as they can to make it through hot, dry summers. They may not sprout roots as fast at home, but they can grow from cuttings.

If your cacti are damaged, take a few cuttings and plant them in different pots, giving them time to adjust and root. In this way, you can keep your cacti for as long as it lives, which can be hundreds of years under the right conditions. 

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