When considering propagating a Christmas cactus, it is essential to be aware that it can be illegal.
The Christmas Cactus, or Schlumbergera bridgesii, has become a popular houseplant and is protected in many regions worldwide due to its endangered status. In some areas, it is illegal to propagate the plant without a permit.
However, if a permit is required, and you have one, you can consider propagation.
What Type of Plant Should I Use For Propagation
You will need to use a mature, healthy plant for propagation.
You will be taking leaf segments from the mature plant and must ensure the existing plant is large enough and strong enough to sustain that loss and the removed leaves are healthy enough to withstand new growth in new conditions.
You must not dig up wild plants as they can quickly become diseased and spread disease throughout other plants if introduced to an indoor environment.
When To Propagate Christmas Cactus
Timing is key. The best time to propagate this plant is during the spring or summer when temperatures are warmer.
More sunlight will also be available during these seasons, which helps speed up the propagation process.
How To Propagate Christmas Cactus in Soil
First, you’ll need to choose healthy stems from an existing Christmas cactus with at least three stem segments with leaves on each segment.
You must be careful when cutting pieces off the mother plant, as they must be long enough to contain segments with nodes and internodes, both of which are necessary for proper propagation.
Cut the stems off the parent plant at the base of the stem segments, leaving at least one leaf on each segment.
Place each stem in moist cactus soil and cover it with 1-2 inches of additional soil.
Place your newly planted stems in a warm area, preferably between 60 – 65°F (16 – 18°C). Then place them in an area with plenty of bright, but indirect sunlight. It is best to grow Christmas cacti near a sunny window but not directly exposed to the direct sun rays.
Water your new plants lightly and often, as the soil should remain moist but not soggy. Mist it daily with water.
It may take up to two months for your Christmas cactus to develop new roots and stems, so be patient.
Once they have rooted, you can transplant them into individual pots and enjoy their beauty in any room of your house.
Please remember that If temperatures reach below 60°F (16°C), this could slow down or even stop root formation. Similarly, if temperatures exceed 60°F (18°C), this could lead to rot and other plant problems. Keeping an eye on temperature and light throughout the propagation process will ensure your success.
Christmas Cactus Propagation In Water
Propagation in water is easy and enjoyable. Gather together a mature Christmas cactus plant, a clean container such as a jar or vase, and fresh water.
- First, carefully remove several leaf segments from the mature plant by snipping them with scissors. Make sure to leave at least 3-4 segments intact on each stem section so it can continue growing after being cut. Remove any dead or damaged leaves before proceeding.
- Once you have your leaf segments, fill the clean container two-thirds with fresh water and place the leaf segments inside.
- Cover the top of the container with plastic wrap or something similar to help maintain humidity levels around the leaf segments.
- Place the container in a warm spot with bright indirect light and wait for new root growth to appear within 1-2 weeks.
Check the water levels at least twice a week and top up with more fresh water as needed. After several more weeks, small plantlets should begin emerging from the leaf segments – you may even see tiny white flowers if the conditions are just right.
When your little plants reach about 3 inches in height, they are ready to be gently removed from their containers and planted into soil.
Make sure to provide plenty of warmth and humidity for them to continue growing into healthy mature Christmas cactus plants.
With proper care and attention, these new plants will produce beautiful blooms in a few years.
How To Grow Your Propagated Christmas Cactus Bigger
With the right water, lighting and soil conditions, your newly propagated Christmas Cactus plant should thrive and grow bigger.
Step 1: Select the Right Pot
Choose a pot with drainage holes to ensure your cactus is not sitting in waterlogged soil. The container should be slightly larger than the plant, giving it room to grow.
Step 2: Use Well-Draining Soil
A well-draining cactus mix is recommended for optimal growth.
You can also use a blend of two parts of garden soil, one part peat moss and one part perlite or coarse sand for an effective growing medium.
Step 3: Plant Your Christmas Cactus
Plant your Christmas Cactus in the pot, so the base of the plant is level with or just below the soil surface. Gently press down on the soil to ensure it’s firmly packed around the roots and any air pockets are removed.
Step 4: Find a Location With Good Light
Your Christmas Cactus needs plenty of bright light but avoid placing it directly in the sun during its active growing period. A bright, filtered light is ideal and will ensure consistent growth during summer.
Step 5: Water Correctly
During its active growing season from spring through fall, keep your plant moist but not soggy.
The best way to water a cactus is to pour water directly onto the soil until some drains out from the bottom of the pot.
Never let your plant sit in water.
Step 6: Fertilize Regularly
During the active growing months, fertilize your cactus every 2 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength for best results. Feeding your cactus during its dormant period is unnecessary and can be detrimental.
Step 7: Prune Your Plant
Pruning your Christmas Cactus regularly is essential to promote healthy growth and fullness of branches. Use sharp scissors or pruning shears to cut back any lanky or unruly stems at least once yearly during summer.
Step 8: Re-pot After Two Years
To give your Christmas Cactus room for further growth, it’s best to re-pot every two years.
When re-potting, move the plant to a slightly larger pot than the previous one and use fresh soil mix to ensure your cactus continues to thrive.
Is It Better To Propagate Christmas Cactus In Soil Or Water
The most common method of propagating Christmas Cacti is with soil.
Both methods of propagating Christmas cacti can be successful with the proper care. However, soil propagation tends to be more reliable as it offers better aeration and drainage for the roots.
Regardless of the chosen method, if you follow the steps mentioned earlier in the article, cuttings take root and develop healthy new growth. You should expect signs of successful propagation within a few weeks.
What Kind Of Pots Do Christmas Cactus Like?
When choosing the right pot for your cactus, there are a few key things to consider.
The pot size should be proportional to your plant’s size and growth rate. A small pot will constrict root growth, which can stunt the growth of the plant.
Choose a pot made of a material that offers good drainage and aeration, such as clay or terracotta pots. Additionally, look for pots with wide bases that give the roots plenty of room to grow.
If you plan on keeping the plant in an area with lower light levels, or you know that you tend towards overwatering, consider a pot that is slightly wider and shallower so the soil won’t retain as much moisture.
If you prefer to give your Christmas cactus plenty of light, choose a pot with a lighter colour that will reduce heat absorption, helping to keep the soil temperature cool.
Finally, consider the look of the pot. You’ll want something that fits with, an enhances, your current decor and vibe. Many pots come with matching saucers which can be used to drain excess water.
Propagating Christmas cacti is a fun and rewarding activity that can bring beautiful blooms into your home during the holiday season every year. With patience, knowledge, and proper care, you’ll be able to propagate successful new plants in no time.
Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links and I will earn an affiliate commission if you click the link and make a purchase. This is at zero cost to you.