Christmas cacti are beautiful plants that make great gifts. If you have a friend or family member who loves these holiday cacti, you can propagate cutting from your plant and gift them. You can also get more plants by dividing a bigger Christmas cactus into several portions.
The easiest way to propagate Christmas cactus is by stem cuttings. The cactus cuttings can be rooted in water or soil. Propagating Christmas cactus in water is likely to cause rot. I recommend you root the cuttings in the soil as it is the most natural way to grow plants.
The best time to propagate a Christmas cactus is in the late spring or early summer. This is when the plant is actively growing and has the best chance of rooting. It is also the best time to prune the cactus and use the cuttings for growing new plants.
How to propagate Christmas cactus
To take a stem cutting, you will need a sharp knife or shears
- Choose a healthy stem on the cactus and use a sharp knife or pruning shears to make a clean cut just below a node, which is the point where the stem segments join. The cutting should be at least 4 inches long and have at least 3 nodes.
- Place the cutting on a paper towel in a cool dry place and allow it to callous over for two to three days. This will help to prevent rot and other fungal problems.
- Plant the cutting in a pot filled with a well-draining potting mix. Make sure that the soil is moist, but not waterlogged.
- You may apply a rooting hormone on the cut end before inserting it in the soil to stimulate the quicker growth of roots.
- Place the pot in a location that receives bright, indirect light. I always prefer the east-facing window.
- Water the cutting regularly to keep the soil moist, but do not overwater as soggy soil conditions may cause root rot and other fungal problems.
- The cutting is likely to grow new roots in 2-4 weeks. Once the roots are established, provide care to the plant as you would any other Christmas cactus.
Dividing the Christmas cactus
Dividing your Christmas cactus is a straightforward process as well but it needs you to be more careful.
To divide a Christmas cactus, carefully remove the plant from its pot. Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to divide the plant into two or more sections. Ensure each section has at least one root. Plant the divisions in separate pots filled with a well-drained soil mix or cactus potting mix.
Water the divisions lightly and place them in a warm, bright location. The cactus divisions should root and establish in 4-6 weeks.
Propagating Christmas cactus from seed
Christmas cactus can be propagated from seed, but it will be a slow and difficult process. If you want to give it a try then get seeds from a reputable source. Many garden centers and online retailers sell Christmas cactus seeds but it can be difficult to tell if they are fresh.
Here are some tips for growing Christmas cactus from seed:
- Start with fresh seeds as older the seeds are less likely to germinate.
- Sow the seeds in a well-draining potting mix. A cactus potting mix is a good option.
- Gently press the seeds into the soil and don’t cover them with soil.
- Mist the soil with water to keep it moist but don’t overwater or make it soggy.
- Place the pot in a warm, location with bright indirect light. A sunny windowsill is a good location.
- The seeds may take up to 6 weeks to germinate, so you need to be patient.
- Once the seedlings have sprouted out, thin them out so that there is one seedling every 2 inches.
- Continue to water the seedlings regularly but don’t overwater.
- Fertilize the seedlings every three to four weeks with a balanced fertilizer.
- Once the seedlings are large enough, transplant them into individual pots. Be sure to use well-drained soil and a pot with drainage holes.
Propagating vs buying a Christmas cactus
While propagating a Christmas cactus on your own is less expensive, it can be a time-consuming process that can take several months to get new plants. Additionally, not all the cuttings or seeds will root or germinate.
Buying a Christmas cactus can be expensive but you can get a plant that is well established and already in bloom. Purchasing also gives you the option of choosing your favorite Christmas cactus colors. However, you have to inspect the plant thoroughly for pests and diseases.
Ultimately, the final choice comes down to what works for you. If you are looking for a quick and easy way to get a Christmas cactus then buying is a good option. On the other hand, if you are looking for a cheap and personal way to get a plant, propagating a Christmas cactus is a good option.
Growing Cactus – Texas A&M University
Holiday Cacti – University of Minnesota Extension
Commercial Production of Holiday Cacti – University of Massachusetts Amherst
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.