You might want to expand your collection or spread the beauty of your Christmas cactus to your friends as a holiday gift. This shouldn’t be a problem if you already have a big Christmas cactus. You can simply divide it to produce more new plants.
Dividing a Christmas cactus is an easy process where healthy plant sections are separated and potted in fresh soil. Each new plant should have at least three segments and healthy roots for quicker results.
Late spring or summer is the best time to divide your Christmas cactus. The warm temperature will be ideal for active growth or recovery of the plant.
How to Divide a Christian Cactus
Dividing a Christmas cactus is usually a pretty simple process. You’ll need a sharp knife, potting soil mix, and water.
The following are steps for dividing a Christmas cactus:
- Gently remove the plant’s root ball from the pot – Place one hand over the top of the soil to hold the plant in place, then tip the pot and tap on the side or bottom to loosen the root ball and slide it out.
- Shake some dirt off the root ball to easily identify the main stems and the roots for a good splitting. You may have to remove a few leaves if the plant is bushier.
- Gently tease the roots apart to separate them with your hand. It’s usually pretty quick to untangle them. Use your clean, sharp knife to cut through any roots you can’t pull apart by hand.
- Repot each division into fresh soil mix in separate containers with the same soil type. It’s best to choose small pots since a Christmas cactus likes to be root-bound.
- Water immediately after repotting your plants and place them in bright, indirect light.
- If you end up with any stems that don’t have roots, propagate them to new plants as explained below.
How to Propagate Christmas Cactus Cuttings
Christmas cactus is one of the easiest plants to propagate using stem cuttings. If your cactus is not yet big enough to divide, then you can establish more plants through this method.
Here is how it works:
- Collect your stem cuttings from the parent cactus plant using sharp clippers or a knife. Ensure each cutting has between two and five stem segments for successful propagation.
- Place your stem cuttings in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight for two days for the cut end to be callous.
- In the meantime, prepare your pot with a fast-draining lightweight soil mix. You can create your medium by mixing three parts of regular potting soil with two parts perlite.
- Moist the soil mix without making it too soggy. Allow excess water to drain from the bottom of the pot before you insert your cuttings.
- Plant your cuttings about halfway up the bottom segment in the rooting medium and gently pack the soil around the stem to secure the cuttings in place.
- Place the Christmas cuttings in a place that receives indirect bright light.
- Water your cuttings only when the soil mixture is completely dry, as overwatering may lead to rotting.
The Christmas cactus cuttings will take 3 to 4 weeks to root. So you need to be patient for about one month. New leaves or flower buds will form when the cactus cuttings have successfully rooted.
How to Care for your new Christmas cactus
For your Christmas cactus to thrive, you need to place it in a place with bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight will scorch the new leaves and discolor the plant. Water your Christmas cactus whenever the top inch of the soil feels dry.
If your home air isn’t humid enough, use a spray bottle to mist the leaves. Alternatively, place a container with water next to your plant, and it will provide the required humidity as the water evaporates.
You can stimulate blooming by placing your Christmas cactus in the dark for about 12 to 16 hours every day for six to eight weeks. For healthy flower bud formation, maintain a temperature range between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Apply a houseplant fertilizer two to three times a year, but refrain from fertilizing after mid-October throughout the blooming season. Don’t forget that a Christmas cactus like to be root bound, but you can repot the plant after every two to three years to rejuvenate it.
Sharing Christmas cacti with your friends and family can be very rewarding, especially during the holidays. Splitting or propagating the cuttings makes it an effortless process. All you need is a fully-grown Christmas cactus and a few weeks, as this guide explains.
- The University of Massachusetts Extension, Commercial Production of Holiday Cacti
- Clemson Cooperative Extension, Thanksgiving & Christmas Cacti
My name is Diane M Lewik, and I am the founder of this website. I am a degree holder in plant biology from the University of California – Berkeley. Over years, I have cultivated a vast collection of succulents and I have learned a great deal about how to grow and care for these unique plants.