I've had this pair of fairy castle cacti for several years now, and they've done fairly well. However, I noticed today that they have developed brown patches over most of their stems and a few areas have a sort of crackled look. I can't say exactly how long it took for this to develop, but I didn't notice it on the last watering (6-8 weeks ago).

brown patches and "crackling" (lower left and middle right) on fairy castle cactus

in some areas it looks "built up", like it could be chipped off (though I haven't tried). There are also a few very dark spots that almost look burnt, except they are on the side facing away from the window.

"burnt"-looking spots on fairy castle cactus 1

"burnt"-looking spots on fairy castle cactus 2

Any ideas on what is wrong with them, and what I can do about it (natural methods only please - I don't use commercial gardening products)?

  • 1
    I was tempted to say corking (a natural process on some cacti such as prickly pears), but that is usually on the oldest bits of the stems - you've got it on the tips and in spots. So I suspect it is some kind of infection. The cuticle is then dying or if you are lucky responding in a similar way as corking so as to protect the plant.
    – winwaed
    Sep 17, 2012 at 13:36
  • good tips, thanks. Searching for corking did lead me to some helpful search results I wasn't getting by just searching the description of the problem, so I'm a little closer to figuring this out.
    – bee.catt
    Sep 17, 2012 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


It appears to me that you've got more than one thing going on here. "Corking" for sure and in the lowest photo of spots, that looks like physical damage. I've found a great site for you to pursue and more closely identify your problems/questions. Other general information I think all cactus owners should know. Let us know what you decided and what you plan to do, before you do it and we'll be better able to help. cactus fungus and disease

  • Stormy, would you consider adding more information on this? Also, part of the question was "what I can do about it (natural methods only please - I don't use commercial gardening products)?". You should try to cover that in your answer, as well.
    – J. Musser
    Aug 26, 2014 at 2:36
  • What do to about it? Nothing, there is nothing to do with a plant that has corking. It will never regrow "normally", it's a permanent condition. The way forward is to use the resources presented to try to determine what caused it. I wouldn't characterize the pictured corking as "natural". It was caused by something, cold weather, insects, sunburn, physical damage, etc.
    – Tim Nevins
    Feb 12, 2018 at 17:40

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