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Ultimate Guide to Propagating Christmas Cactus

Propagating Christmas Cactus is an efficient way to salvage plants suffering from root rot or bacterial infection.

Christmas Cactus propagation involves taking a few Y-shaped stem-tip cuttings with at least three clades and healing them before rooting them in appropriate soil mix or water. Within 6 to 8 weeks, you can witness new growth.

Alternatively, you can propagate the Christmas Cactus via lesser-known methods like root division or seeds.

Thus, read on to grab all methods of Christmas Cactus propagation with do’s and don’t for optimal propagation.

Why Propagate Christmas Cactus?

A single Christmas Cactus with blossoms could cost between $15 to $30, and you can avoid it by following simple propagation steps at home.

Furthermore, Christmas Cactus makes a great holiday gift, so give your friends and family a newly propagated plant as a green gift.
Christmas Cactus plants with blooms.
Wait until the plant has finished blooming and resting to obtain new cuttings.

Unlike Orchids with painstaking propagation, Christmas Cactus is relevantly easy to propagate.

Besides that, repotting alongside propagation could be the only viable option to save your beloved Christmas Cactus troubled with root rot.

Remember, to prevent invasive plants from destroying native plants, in some countries, propagation of Christmas Cactus is prohibited.

So, if the plant you bought has a label stating propagation is prohibited, avoid propagating it as it is illegal in your country.

Best Time to Propagate Christmas Cactus

The best time to propagate Christmas Cactus is a month or two after the flowering period ends.

Thus, plant propagation is ideal in late spring or summer when the temperature rises to 70°F and 90°F but is unsuitable in fall and winter.

You must refrain from propagating your Christmas Cactus when they are flowering or the blooms are setting.

Disturbing the plant with the propagation can push back the flowering or result in poor Christmas Cactus blooms.

How to Propagate Christmas Cactus?

Christmas Cactus propagation is commonly done via stem cutting, root division, and seeds.

But before delving into propagation steps, gather pruning shears, Isopropyl alcohol, and a 3-4 inch clay pot.

Now, let us get started with Christmas Cactus propagation, shall we?

1. Via Stem Cuttings

Due to the straightforward steps with a higher success rate, stem cutting is preferred over other methods.

  • Look for healthy stems that are not producing any buds or flowers.
  • Pick a single segment (leaf) or cut with multiple leaves (clades). Remember, rooting a single leaf takes longer.
  • Ensure each cutting has 3 to 5 segments long with a Y-shaped end and cut just below the Y-section.
Christmas Cactus cutting
Ensure each Christmas Cactus cutting has 3 to 5 leaf segments or cladodes.
  • Set aside the cutting for a few hours to almost two days to let it heal and grow callus, but avoid keeping them in direct sunlight.

a. Propagating Christmas Cactus in Soil

You can choose from premixed succulent potting mixes like Succulent Premium Mix or prepare one at home.

  • Mix coco coir and perlite equally, or mix potting soil mix and peat moss.
  • Water the prepared substrate to make it moist but not soggy.
  • Dip the cuttings into the rooting hormone to speed up the growth.
  • Insert each cutting a quarter of its length into the substrate.
  • Add a couple of cuttings into the same pot, ensuring they are an inch apart.
  • Place the pot in a bright spot with indirect sunlight and water only when the top inches of soil dries to prevent root rot.

Ensure the temperature stays around 71-81°F (21-27°C) to boost the rooting process.

Within 6 to 8 weeks, you can notice new root sprouts and transplant them to a new pot once they grow over an inch.

b. Propagating Christmas Cactus in Water

Alternatively, root the Christmas Cactus by cutting it in water till you notice inches-long root sprouts.

  • Take a small jar and fill it with tepid tap water.
  • Dip the cuttings into the water and ensure the top stays outside.
  • Add stones into the water to hold the cutting in place.
  • Replace the water every 5 to 7 days to keep it clean.
  • Once established, usually, after 4 to 5 weeks, consider transplanting it in a potting mix.
Propagating Christmas cactus in water
Propagating Christmas cactus in water will root within 5-6 weeks.

Christmas Cactus can be propagated through leaf cuttings, similar to stem cuttings. You can also plant the leaf cuttings right away.

2. Via Division

Christmas Cactus can be propagated by dividing the roots with stem when there is more than one main stem shooting out from the soil.

  • Uproot the plant and brush the soil off the root.
  • Take a sterilized pruning shear and cut through the thick root.
  • Depending on the number of main stems, you can cut them into two or four pieces.
  • Remove the unhealthy-looking feeder roots that are mushy and brown.
  • Apply proper fungicides or neem oil to the root cut ends before planting them.
  • Add a potting mix to a small pot, insert each division, and cover it with soil.
  • Set it aside for a few days to allow the roots to hold onto the soil before watering.

If you need visual guidance, check out this youtube video to divide the Christmas Cactus plant.

3. Via Seeds

Propagation of Christmas Cactus via seeds takes a lot of time and effort.

Moreover, the likelihood of seed germination is much lower and depends on how fresh the seeds are.

Therefore, before buying the Christmas Cactus seeds, ensure they are fresh batch. Otherwise, harvest the seeds yourself.

When your plant produces the flower, it will also bear small fruits. Wait for them to ripen to extract seeds.

seeds of Christmas Cactus plant
Extract seeds from the pod and directly sow them in the soil.

As the seeds lose their viability over time, you should directly sow them right after harvest.

  • Presoak the seeds for 30 minutes in lukewarm water.
  • Add a mix of milled sphagnum peat moss and perlite to a seed tray, or buy a commercial potting mix.
  • Gently sprinkle or sow 2 to 3 seeds 1/4 inch deep in each tray compartment, and do not cover them with soil.
  • Moisten it with water and cover the tray with clear plastic wrap to maintain high humidity.
  • Please place it in a warm place with LED grow light and keep the temperature between 70 to 75°F.
  • Wait until the seedling sprouts 2 to 3 inches to transplant it into a pot.

The seeds will sprout within 2 to 3 weeks, and once the seedling grows over an inch, consider transplanting them into a new pot.

Tips to Care for Christmas Cactus After Propagating

After the successful propagation, you must provide the Christmas Cactus with regular ideal care to thrive.

Moreover, the recently propagated plants are juvenile and require more attention to detail care.

  • Place Christmas Cactus in the east window, ensuring they receive a few hours of morning sunlight.
  • Avoid placing them in direct sunlight and use sheer curtains to lower light intensity.
  • Maintain temperatures of 60-70°F and humidity above 60%.
  • Water the plant whenever the top inches of soil dries out, usually every 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Use organic fertilizer every six months but avoid fertilizing immediately after a month of transplanting.
  • Refrain from fertilizing plants in winter or when the flowers begin to bloom.
  • Regularly deadhead spent flowers and prune away diseased or damaged parts.
  • Ensure the plant attains 14 hours of dark nighttime to trigger flowering for at least six weeks.
  • Otherwise, headstart the budding process by introducing the plant to a temperature of 45°F for at least a week.

From Editorial Team

Feed for More Flowers!

To encourage better blooms after propagation, feed your Christmas Cactus with phosphoric fertilizer after the end of flowering till the fall.

Also, remember to dilute the fertilizer before applying them to avoid chemical burns and salt buildup in the soil.

Happy Gardening!

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