Knowing how to propagate Christmas cactus from cuttings, leaves, a division, and in water can help make holiday shopping less difficult and hectic because it makes a wonderful gift for friends and family.
Although it might seem challenging, propagating your favorite Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera) is really quite simple. It’s enjoyable to share them with friends in addition to being a great way to grow your collection. They’re fantastic Christmas presents.
I’ll detail how to grow Christmas cacti from cuttings, leaves, a division, and in water in the sections below. I’ll also discuss three different approaches you can take and the ideal time to use each one.
Further Reading: Are Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Cats or Dogs?
Method 1: Propagate Christmas Cactus from Stem Cuttings
We’ll start off by talking about how to grow Christmas cacti from cuttings. Using your mature plant as a starting point, you can grow new plants using this straightforward and effective method. It’s usually simple to find the ideal segment. Just find a stem that is healthy and that you feel comfortable cutting off.
I strongly advise choosing a segment with three to five parts. It takes a lot longer for smaller ones to mature, and it’s challenging to keep larger ones stable while they’re rooting because they are top-heavy. It’s crucial to remove them from the plant properly, regardless of the size you select.
Instead of chopping them off, I advise gently twisting the stem where it connects to the segment below. If the bottom is torn or broken above the connecting joint, the plant might not take root.
Simply leave your Christmas cactus cuttings to cure for a few days in a dry, open area before using them for propagation. As the roots grow, this helps to resist rot by allowing the wound to heal and callus over.
But don’t wait more than two or three days. It’s possible that they won’t root if they start to shrivel up.
Further Reading: How Often Do You Water a Cactus?
Method 2: Propagate Christmas Cactus From Leaves
A Christmas cactus can be propagated from a leaf just as easily as from a full stem with a little perseverance. Here are my top suggestions for successfully rooting a single segment.
Remove individual leaves in the same way that you would longer stem. At the location where they are connected to the segment below, carefully twist them off. The leaf won’t root if the underside is torn or broken. As a result, it’s crucial to gently remove them by twisting rather than pinching or cutting them off.
Single leaves will dry and shrivel pretty quickly. I, therefore, advise you to plant them right away rather than curing them.
It’s time to learn how to get the segments to root now that you understand how to remove the segments correctly. My preferred technique, which I suggest you use, is soil-based propagation of Schlumbergera. Cuttings that are rooted in the soil typically grow into plants that are more robust and less likely to rot.
We’re fortunate in that it’s fairly simple to root both the leaves and the stems and that doing so can be done in the same manner.
- Step 1: Prepare your pot with fast-draining soil – Verify that you’re using commercial, lightweight, quick-draining soil. The cuttings might rot if it holds on to too much moisture. Alternatively, you could create your own medium by combining equal parts of coarse sand, perlite, and all-purpose potting soil.
- Step 2: Moisten the rooting medium – Do not completely saturate the soil; just dampen it. Before adding your cuttings, let any excess liquid completely drain from the bottom of the pot.
- Step 3: Dust the cut ends with rooting hormone – Using rooting hormone will help stems that have been callused over or freshly plucked leaves to root more quickly and successfully. You are free to experiment without it if you want because it is optional. Just dust the snipped ends before planting them to use it.
- Step 4: Plant the cuttings – Place them roughly halfway up the bottom segment. To keep the stem or leaf upright, gently press the rooting medium into the soil.
- Step 5: Place them in a warm, well-lit location – While they’re rooting, keep them in a warm, sunny area away from the sun.
Method 3: Propagate Christmas Cactus from a Division
A mature Christmas cactus with multiple main stems can be divided to produce new plants quickly. Pot-bound people make excellent candidates for this.
A pair of bonsai shears or clippers may be required to help separate challenging roots, but generally speaking, dividing a Christmas cactus is fairly straightforward.
- Step 1: Gently remove the rootball from the pot – To hold the plant in place, place one hand over the surface of the soil. Avoid pulling or tugging on the main stem to prevent damage.
When the rootball is ready to be removed, tip the pot over and tap it on the bottom or side. If necessary, you can help remove it by rubbing a trowel along the inside of the pot.
- Step 2: Separate the stems – The roots can be separated by gently teasing them apart. By hand, untangling them is typically fairly quick.
However, it’s preferable to cut through some of the smaller ones if necessary rather than yanking and pulling them apart. Use clean, sharp clippers to cut through any stubborn roots if necessary so that you can more easily separate the stems.
- Step 3: Repot the division into fresh soil – Each division can be replanted right away into a brand-new soil mixture as long as they have roots. Put them in the ground at the same depth as when they were in the container.
Follow the instructions for rooting cuttings above if you find any that don’t have roots or some of the segments come off during the process.
- Step 4: Water lightly – To help them recover, give your newborns a small drink and place them in bright, indirect light.
Method 4: Propagate Christmas Cactus in Water
Christmas cactus propagation in water has been proven to be the fastest way to propagate cuttings. You can see how Christmas cactus cuttings in water develop roots several weeks before those in soil by watching the video below.
However, when you root your cuttings in water, you will still have the extra step of transferring your cuttings to the soil, which can be a delicate process. Therefore, be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of each method and select your propagation strategy accordingly.
Having a good callus is essential for success with water propagation. To begin, get a good cut by carefully following the directions above. Make sure to let it air dry after that.
Keep it out of direct sunlight and let it dry until the leaf becomes thinner before putting it in water to prevent wrinkles. If it begins to show signs of wrinkling, you may have left your cutting out a little too long.
Your cutting will be ready once it has sufficiently dried (but not too much!), it will have formed a good enough callus that you can put it in water without the risk of it rotting. If your cutting does rot, it didn’t develop a strong enough callus and should be allowed to dry longer the next time.
Leave your cutting in water for several weeks, or until it has roots that are about an inch or two in length. While your cutting is in water, make sure that you change out its water every few days. This keeps the water fresh and lowers your risk of experiencing bacterial rot on your cuttings or on your roots.
When your cuttings are ready to be potted, use a well-draining soil (like cactus and succulent soil mix, or regular soil mixed with perlite), as well as a well-draining pot. This will be crucial for transferring your plant successfully from water to soil.
Christmas Cactus Care
As long as you take care not to treat this plant like a regular cactus, caring for Christmas cacti is not too difficult. Since this species is a forest cactus (originally from Brazil), it prefers much more moisture and less sun than its desert-dwelling relatives.
During the growing season, the soil of your Christmas cactus needs to be kept lightly moist and exposed to bright indirect light. When the holiday season arrives, you’ll notice the plant becoming wrinkled and not budding if you don’t water it enough.
Conclusion: Propagate Christmas Cactus Now
So that’s how to successfully propagate a Christmas cactus! It can be multiplied from cuttings, leaves, a division, and in water. Remember to choose the method that is best for your situation.
Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any additional queries about Christmas cactus propagation or if you’d like to discuss your own experiences with this stunning winter bloomer.
Is It Better to Propagate Christmas Cactus in Soil Or Water?
For Schlumbergera, the best and fastest method of propagation is directly in the soil. Even though roots may grow more quickly in water, once they do, you still need to plant them because, as we’ve already mentioned, Christmas cacti are delicate and prone to breaking. The better, the less handling they get.
Can Christmas Cactus Cuttings Be Rooted in Water?
You can root Christmas cactus cuttings in either water or a mixture of coarse sand and perlite or peat. To root in water, place a two-inch layer of pebbles or small stones in the bottom of a glass jar. Add your cuttings to the jar so that only the bottom tip is submerged in water.
How Long Does It Take a Christmas Cactus to Root from a Cutting?
It can take as long as one month for a To take the root of the Christmas cactus. You must therefore practice patience for at least three to four weeks. To determine if they have rooted, there are two methods.