Thanksgiving Cactus Propagation: Stem Cuttings & Division

The Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) is a popular houseplant known for its colorful blooms that appear around the Thanksgiving holiday. Propagating the plant is a great way to increase your houseplant collection or to share the beauty with friends and family.

Thanksgiving cactus can be propagated through several methods, including stem cuttings and division. No matter which method you choose, propagation should be done when the cactus has ended its blooming season and it’s in its active growth period.

Thanksgiving cactus propagation

How to propagate a Thanksgiving cactus

Stem cutting is the most popular way of propagating a Thanksgiving cactus. It’s as simple as propagating the Easter cactus.

Begin by taking cutting from a healthy stem tip. Use a sharp knife to obtain a joined piece of stem about three to four segments long.

Allow the cutting to dry overnight in a cool, dry place before planting. This helps prevent the cut end from rotting. Do not let it overstay; it can lose excess moisture and wrinkle or wither.

Rooting the cutting in soil

This is a popular way of multiplying a holiday cactus. It’s done as follows:

  1. Get a small pot with drainage holes and fill it with potting soil mix formulated for cacti and succulents.
  2. Insert about 1/2 inch of your cactus cutting into the soil mix. You may dip the cut end into the rooting hormone.
  3. Push the cutting into the soil to stick upright or pack some soil around it. If you’re planting multiple cuttings in the same pot, plant them 3 to 5 inches apart.
  4. Water the cutting to keep the soil moist and not too wet.
  5. Place the cutting where it can get 4 to 6 hours of bright, indirect light daily, and keep the room temperature at about 65 to 69 °F.
  6. Check on your project daily and mist the soil when it feels dry.

It can take up to one month for the cutting to root. So you must be patient for at least 3 to 4 weeks.

Rooting the cuttings in water

You can also root the cutting in water and later transplant it in soil.

  1. Fill the base of the jar with about three inches of stones or pebbles and add water. Ensure that the water line is even with the top level of the stones or pebbles.
  2. Next, place your cutting into the jar with the slightest tip of the cut end touching the water. Stick the cutting between two stones or pebbles to maintain an upright posture.
  3. Place the jar in a spot where it will get 4 to 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight daily. This prevents the plant from scorching and drying out of direct sunlight.
  4. Check on your project periodically to ensure that the bottom of the cutting remains submerged. Refill the jar to the appropriate level if the water evaporates.
  5. Once the cutting has grown roots to a length of 2 stem segments, transfer the plant into a pot filled with well-draining cactus soil.

How to divide a Thanksgiving cactus

You can also split a big Thanksgiving cactus into portions and plant them individually in different pots. The process is similar to dividing a Christmas cactus.

Start by removing the cactus from the soil and gently separate it at the base. You can simply split the plant using your hand or use a small sharp knife.

Once you have divided it into pieces, plant them in separate pots. Use a well-draining potting mix for succulents, and make sure the pot has a drainage hole at the bottom.

Thoroughly water the plants and dont let them sit in any standing water. Place the pots in a place that receives indirect bright light.

Regularly check on your plants and water them once the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch.

The Thanksgiving cactus care

Thanksgiving cactus needs a little care to enjoy its beautiful blooms year after year. The plant will need bright indirect light, regular watering but not overwatering, and monthly fertilizing during the growing seasons (spring and summer).

To enjoy beautiful flowers around the holiday, ensure your Thanksgiving cactus gets at least 12-14 hours of darkness daily for six to eight weeks before you want it to bloom. It’s simply the same as getting a Christmas cactus to bloom.

Final Thought

Propagating a Thanksgiving cactus is a simple process that can be done through stem cuttings or division. It’s important to keep your newly propagated plants in a warm, bright location and to water them lightly until they are established.


  1. University of Minnesota Extension: Holiday cacti
  2. The University of Massachusetts Extension: Commercial Production of Holiday Cacti
  3. The University of Arizona: The Thanksgiving cactus or crab cactus

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