Why Does Cactus Split? 10 Minutes Quick Read

I once saw split or cracked cacti in a shop. I’ve always wondered why cacti split. I had a few theories of my own. But I needed a correct answer. So I did extensive research on this matter. In this article, I am going to share those facts with you. So why does cactus split?

Your cacti may split if they lack sufficient water. In other words, if your cactus spilt, it means the plants need water. You may come across these conditions quite often during the summer.

Why Does Cactus Split

Why does cactus split?

During summer there will be extreme heat and dryness and they will try to get a sudden influx of moisture from rain, irrigation or from both of them. The dryness would make the plants cells shrink, because plants use the conserved water to make them survive.

The shrinking would impact the elasticity of the epidermal skin cells of the plant. When they get water, absorption begins, and the cells are unable to expand as quickly as they used to. Ultimately, it would make the cactus split.

Cacti are slow growing plants, and you have to put a lot of effort and a lot of time to recover them. So, if the plants have been going through hot and dry conditions for too long and if you decide to pour water on them, it will lead to cactus splitting.

Cacti are renowned for their ability to conserve water, so once they get too much water, they would tend to conserve them in the foliage. Once they try to conserve more water they would tend to expand which would ultimately make them split.

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Further once the plants have been going through dry conditions for extended periods, you need to water them slowly whilst allowing them to grow at their own rate. Having said that, you do not need to panic if your plants are split as it would not cause any long term damage to the plants.

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Why Does Cactus Split

Will a split cactus heal?

Yes it certainly can. As explained above it would not create any great damage to the plants. They have adapted to repair themselves. Once the cactus split, they would develop a callus layer and seal off the area. All you have to do is just water them lightly and the cactus would continue as they used to.

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How do you fix a split cactus?

You need to first figure out how much effort you need to put to fix a split cactus. If there is only a minor split you may just leave it as it is since it would bring some sort of unique beauty to the plants. You may consider that as a part of the décor. However if the cactus has split a lot you may need to consider fixing them.  

Fixing a split cactus is somewhat challenging to do as you need to do it with so much gentle care and attention. When fixing the cactus you need to first assess the plant and see how significant the split of the cactus is. I recommend propagating the cactus as a way of fixing the split cactus.

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To do that, you may choose the healthy plant parts of the plants and propagate them. Once you propagate them you can see how they produce the new growths. Next you can leave the specimen in a location where they can gain bright indirect sunlight.

Keep watering the plants lightly whenever their soil is dry and it will allow them to develop firm roots. When the stem is studied you cannot expose the plants to direct sunlight in the morning. Having said that, you need to do it in a gradual manner.

Unless it would scorch the plant. You need to make sure that you exercise the right watering tips so that you will not have to go through this condition once again.

So if your beloved cactus has split , the initial thing which you could do is first assess the extent of the damage so that you could identify on how to proceed with that. For example, you may try to reattach the broken pieces of the plants or consider grafting the plants etc.

If you wish to reattach the plant you could simply try to join the broken parts together. Furthermore, if the cactus has split significantly the best thing you could do is propagate them as explained in the above.

Why Does Cactus Split

What happens if a cactus breaks?

Cacti tend to break as they have fleshy stems and brittle joints. In other words, they would make the cactus susceptible for breaks. Once the cactus breaks, they would act as great entry points for the fungal and bacterial organisms.

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Eventually they would contribute to cactus rot. if there were small breaks in the plants, it would not turn out to be fatal on the plants. However, chances are that it may ruin the whole attractive look of the plants. So, if you are a cactus lover, it is vital that you know how to fix a broken cactus.

How to prevent cactus from splitting?

First and foremost, you need to water the plants moderately and consistently. Do not make cactus dries for prolonged periods and pour water immediately. It would be one of the main causes for cactus split. In addition to that do not repot the plants often as it would traumatize the plants.

Apart from that, growing them in a too small pot may also lead to this condition. Therefore, always try to use slightly larger pots compared to the root ball of the cactus. 

Apart from that, I urge you to keep the plants in a place where the kids or any of your pets can reach the plants easily. Chances are that they may also damage the plants and make the plants split.


If you are a cactus lover, chances are that you may witness your cactus splitting occasionally due to aforesaid reasons. Hence be mindful of what could cause this condition and try to practice all preventive measures to avoid that so that you don’t have to deal with this condition.

Credit to : AzFlora ENG

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About author

Alec Spain is a self-employed content creator with a passion for all things succulent and cactus. With years of experience in succulent and cactus care, Alec is an expert in helping others learn about and properly care for these unique and beautiful plants.