Ultimate Guide to Propagating Christmas Cactus

Beautiful Christmas Cactus
You can propagate Christmas Cactus in three ways; stem cutting, division and via seeds.

Are you planning to add more celebratory Christmas Cactuses around the home for the next holiday season?

Do not bother buying a new plant and waiting for another 1 to 2 years for it to bloom when you can propagate the cutting at home.

Christmas Cactus is one of the simplest plants to propagate, and each cutting is guaranteed to bloom into a blossoming plant.

Propagate Christmas Cactus by taking a few Y-shaped stem-tip cuttings with at least three clades and healing them before rooting in appropriate soil mix or water for 6 to 8 weeks to witness new growth.

Newly propagated Christmas Cactus
The easiest method to propagate Christmas Cactus is via stem cuttings.

Voila! Your young Christmas Cactus is ready to thrive in an individual pot and blossom the next holiday season.

However, you can take a lesser-known step of propagating the root division or growing seeds, but it will take longer.

Read on to find out how to propagate Christmas Cactus at home successfully!

Why Propagate Christmas Cactus?

The best reason to propagate houseplants like Christmas Cactus at home is to save a lot of money.

A single plant with whole blossoms could cost between $15 to $30, which you can avoid by propagating as many new plants at home.

Another reason to propagate Christmas Cacti at home is that they are easy to propagate and require fewer techniques.

It means you can grow as many plants as you want to decorate different areas of your home or give gifts to friends and family during the holidays.

However, there is more to propagating this beautiful plant.

Christmas Cactus affected by slight root rot, bacterial infection, or pest infestation would require taking unaffected cuttings to be grown separately.

Diseased Christmas Cactus
You can discard the infected parts and propagate healthy ones to get a new plant.

Moreover, it may be a great learning experience to help induce an entirely new growth from scratch, especially for Antophiles!

Best Time to Propagate Christmas Cactus

Many novice gardeners wonder when to propagate Christmas Cactus to witness the best results and minimum damages.

The best time to propagate Christmas Cactus is a month or two after the blossom has faded.

Technically, you should take the Christmas Cactus cutting and begin growing in early or late spring when the blossoms have already faded.

Christmas Cactus drooping
Wait until the plant is blossomed and resting to obtain new cuttings

Trying to propagate in fall when the blooms are setting and winter when the blossoms are thriving may set back the plant.

Moreover, the warm temperature between 70°F and 90°F during spring and summer would be ideal for inducing new growth.

Blooms usually take up to 12 weeks to appear once buds have formed; hence, you could witness fresh flowers in the coming winter.

How to Propagate Christmas Cactus?

Christmas Cactus is usually propagated via stem cutting, where you take the top edge off and plant them in an appropriate medium.

However, this plant can also be propagated via root division and seeds. Let us take a look at how each propagation method works out.

Materials Required to Propagate Christmas Cactus

Before delving into propagation methods, let us clarify all the items that will come in handy before and during the propagation process.

ItemsPurpose
Pruning ShearsFor trimming and pruning tasks of the plant
98% Isopropyl AlcoholTo sterilize pruning scissors or shear
Potting MixA well-draining potting mix made of coco coir and perlite or sand and peat moss mix.
Clean, tepid waterFor propagation via water
3-4 inch clay, terracotta, or plastic potEnsure the container has multiple drainage holes
500 ml transparent glass vaseFor propagation via water
NewspaperTo collect scraps, debris and to protect the surface
Hand TrowelTo mix and fill potting mix into appropriate containers

Propagating Christmas Cactus Via Stem Cuttings

Propagating Christmas Cactus via stem cutting is the easiest way to go about it because it is relatively more straightforward and produces the best results. 

Let us go through the steps in detail.

  • Start with inspecting the plant for healthy stems. Ensure to pick branches that are not currently producing buds or flowering.
  • You can pick a single segment (leaf) or cut with multiple leaves (clades). Remember, rooting a single leaf will take longer.
  • Ensure that each cutting has 3 to 5 segments long with a Y-shaped end and cut just below the y-section.
  • Instead of using a pruning shear, you can pinch and twist it off a joint.
  • Collect a couple of cuttings to increase your chances of propagation.
  • Set aside the cutting for 122 days to let it heal and grow callous; however, avoid keeping it away from direct sunlight.
Christmas Cactus cutting
Ensure the Christmas Cactus cutting has 3 to 5 segments.

1. Propagating in Soil

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

  • Make a combination of 1/2 coco coir and 1/2 perlite or an equal proportion of potting soil and peat moss.
  • Take a small pot with multiple drainage holes and add the mix-up to the top.
  • Water the medium to make it moist. 
  • Dip the cuttings into the rooting hormone to speed up the growth.
  • Insert each cutting a quarter of their length into the medium.
  • You can add a couple of cutting into the same pot. Ensure to keep an inch between each cutting.
  • Place the cutting in a bright location with indirect sunlight for 6 to 8 weeks and water only when the medium dries to prevent root rot.
Rooting Christmas cactus in potting soil will take at least 6-8 weeks
Rooting Christmas cactus in potting soil will take at least 6 to 8 weeks

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

Moreover, pull the cutting to check for a visible sign of roots after 6 to 8 weeks and transplant it to a different pot with a mix of sand, peat, and compost.

2. Propagating in Water (Hydroponics)

Alternatively, you can root the Christmas Cactus by cutting it in water until the roots sprout.

In fact, it is a more frequently adopted method for rooting cuttings.

  • Take a small jar and fill it with tepid tap water.
  • Now dip the cuttings into the water, but ensure the cutting’s bottom is submerged and the top stays outside.
  • You can 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 planting it in a potting mix of sand/peat moss or peat moss and coco coir.
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.

Propagating Christmas Cactus via Division

Propagating Christmas Cactus via root division is not a conventional method of propagation, but it would work as long as you do it carefully.

You can divide the root with stems when there is more than one main stem from the soil.

In fact, it is best to give different pots to each main stem for other plants.

  • Uproot the plant and brush the soil off the root.
  • Take a sterilized pruning shear and cut through the thick root.
  • You can cut it into two or four pieces depending on the number of main stems.
  • Remove the unhealthy-looking feeder roots that are mushy and brown.
  • 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.
Christmas Cactus plant taken out from the pot
You can propagate Christmas Cactus through root division.

Propagating Christmas Cactus via Seeds

Propagating Christmas cactus seeds is not for everyone because it takes a lot of effort and time.

Moreover, you must obtain seeds from your ripen plant fruits or buy a fresh batch online.

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

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

In fact, you must plant them immediately because stored seedlings would not work well.

  • Start with soaking the seeds for 30 minutes in lukewarm water.
  • Take a seed tray and add a mix of milled sphagnum peat moss and perlite or buy a commercial potting mix.
  • Press 2 to 3 seeds slightly into each tray, but avoid covering it with the mix.
  • 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.
  • Please wait until the seedling sprouts 2 to 3 inches to transplant it into a pot.

Read more: Christmas Cactus Seeds: Complete Grow and Buying Guide

Tips to Care for Christmas Cactus after Propagating

A recently propagated Christmas Cactus requires intensive care, maintenance, and an appropriate growing environment to thrive as a healthy, blossoming plant.

Follow the care instructions outlined below;

  • Christmas Cactus enjoys average to high humidity above 60% with temperatures hovering between 60 to 70°F (16 to 21°C)
  • Place the plant in a location with indirect sunlight, but avoid windows with high-intensity sunlight.
  • Water the plant whenever the top inch of soil dries out, usually every 2 to 3 weeks.
Beautiful Christmas Cactus by the window
Place your Christmas cactus near the window with a warm temperature and ample indirect sunlight to witness healthy growth.
  • Do not be tempted to water your plant if it looks wilted; wait until the top soil dries out completely.
  • Use a houseplant fertilizer twice a year but avoid fertilizing immediately after three weeks of transplanting.
  • Similarly, avoid fertilizing in winter when the flowers begin to bloom.
  • Keep pruning to late spring to encourage multiple branching and flower buds. Cut a few sections of each stem to help it branch out.
  • The plant requires 14 hours of darkness to trigger flower blooms for at least six weeks.
  • Otherwise, kickstart the budding process by introducing the plant to a temperature of 45°F (7°C) for several nights.

FAQs About Propagating Christmas Cactus

How Long do Cuttings Take to Form Roots?

The roots will begin forming within a few days of rooting, but it will take at least 5 to 6 weeks to see significant change.

The first root growth will be visible within a few weeks.

Will New Christmas Cactus Cuttings Thrive in Cold Temperature?

New Christmas Cactus cuttings require a warm and conducive environment to grow new roots.

Ensure to provide a temperature between 70 to 75°F to boost the rooting process.

Can Christmas Cacti and Easter Cacti Propagate at the Same Time?

Easter Cacti (S. gaertneri) bloom from late winter to mid-spring, unlike Christmas Cacti bloom early to mid-winter.

You can try taking the Easter Cacti cutting in summer and propagate them in early fall.

Will Christmas Cactus Grow Outside?

Unless introduced to an outdoor environment, Christmas Cactus will fail to grow in direct sunlight. Scorching heat and light can wilt the plant leaves and flowers.

Therefore, consider keeping your plant indoors in a warm location with enough indirect sunlight.

Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus is a plant with a massive lifespan of 100 years and can even outlive you!

Read more: Christmas Cactus Light Requirement

Conclusion

Get a good collection of Christmas Cacti at home by propagating healthy stem cuttings from the same plant.

You can get multiple plants propagated in the comfort of your home at no cost.

However, ensure to take cuttings and propagate them carefully to witness successful growth.

Please drop your comment to let us know how propagating Christmas Cactus worked for you.

Happy Gardening!

You may be interested to read about; Three Exotic Types of Christmas Cactus

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