If you want to propagate Christmas cactus, I can agree that it can be a dreadful task if you have never tried it before. But it most certainly isn’t an impossible one.
Don’t get terrified and waste your plant due to lack of interest. Here’s the chance to learn how to propagate Christmas Cactus and spread it in numerous pots.
When pondering on how to propagate Christmas cactus, these are the steps and procedures to go through:
- The right time for propagation
- Making a proper cutting
- Drying the cuttings well
- Rooting the stems (3 methods)
- What to do after you root the cuttings
- Why you need to stay persistent and patient
These aspects will help you not only to comprehend better what propagation is, but will also help you practice your patience. Without further ado, let’s get down to business!
The Right Time for Propagation
Before even following the steps, you have to know when the right time to do propagation is, The success mostly depends on that too.
You can start the process 1-2 months after the blooming is finished, in the summer is completely fine. But remember not to start your propagation in the fall.That’s when they start to bloom. You do not want to miss the chance for your new segments to develop properly and nicely.
So, catch that “propagation train” on time!
Making a Proper Cutting
The first tool you need when propagating Christmas cactus either only your hands or sharp scissors or a knife. Any of these is fine as long as you follow the rest of the steps in order for it to propagate Schlumbergera well.
Remember to cut a Y-shaped 2-6 leaf segments long cutting. If you cut it too short it will not have enough space to spread the roots.
When separating the segments, watch out for the bottom of the pad as the roots grow from that part. This is why you should do it with only your hands if you are experienced. If you try to gently pull it out, then twist the top pad, but carefully.
Choose only those segments that are healthy as the dried or damaged ones will not succeed in the growing process.
Drying the Cuttings Well
After cutting the segments, you will have to let them dry for two days approximately. Some dry in a day, but check it before continuing the propagation.
It is vital to let them dry somewhere cool and shady, not in direct sunlight. If you have a room in your home that does not have much humidity or heat, that is the best place to put the stems.
Watch for the leaves as a sign of dryness, because when they get flat it is the best time to root them. In case they got any wrinkles, you waited for too long or you put them somewhere where direct sunlight dried them.
Always put several stem cuttings as you want to increase the chances for success.
Rooting the Stems (3 methods)
After the preparation, it is time to consider how to root the Christmas cactus. We have provided you with three different ways of doing this, depending on what type of cuttings you have or what you like the best.
1. Upright in the soil propagation
The first way of rooting the stems is to root them upright in a mixture of rooting soil and peat or perlite. You can also mix 1/2 perlite and 1/2 coco coir or a mixture of cactus soil and succulent soil.
These mixtures are important because you have to provide a proper drainage process for your plant or it will rot quickly.
Remember that this technique is suitable for large stems, about 4 pads. You will put it in the pot and try to cover the bottom pad of the stem as it needs protection.
Then, you water it lightly and give it two to three weeks to soak in the water. That’s when the process of development should start. Only after you see that the surface soil has dried can you water it again.
2. Propagation on top of the soil
You can use this method if you have some very short cuttings of 2-3 pads, or if the cuttings you have are damaged. As said, the bottom pad is important. But if you have a stem that is missing, this technique is useful for such instances.
You start by drying them like in all propagation, in a cool and dry place without direct sun.
Then, you place it horizontally on top of the soil. It is better if you use light soil, like the mentioned mixture of succulent and cactus soil types.
Simply try to place it on the soil in such a way that they have a certain amount of contact, but without digging the stem deep in the soil.
The last step is the same as in the previous technique. Water the soil lightly and take a look in about 2-3 weeks to see if it is time for the next watering.
This method is tricky because you have to be careful when watering as not to increase the chances of rotting. You should try to water the soil and keep the actual cutting part relatively dry.
This is why this method is the most difficult one. For example, you can test it when you have cut some of the stems badly but you are persistent to learn how to root Christmas cactus.
Related: Best Potting Soil for Indoor Plants
3. Propagation in water
This technique is one of the quickest ways to root your Christmas cactus. But, just so you know you will eventually have to place it in soil. If you are curious to see the rooting process before placing it in the soil this is a technique for you.
For this method, get a nice longer cutting the stem of 3-6 segments. Let it dry properly, as stated above. After you dried it accurately, the callus will be ready for water without any danger of getting rotten.
Try to leave the cutting in the water for several weeks. You should be able to see the roots after 2-3 weeks. When they increase to an inch or two lengthwise, you can take them out.
Then, you will take the cutting and place it in well-draining soil, like the mixtures mentioned above, in a pot with holes for drainage. This is really important, so try to make these holes yourself if your pot does not have them. Be gentle when transferring the cuttings.
Remember to change the water every few days because freshness reduces any damaging organisms and bacteria that could appear on the roots.
When you have your cuttings in the soil mixture, water the soil so it becomes soaked in all the places and then check if the water is drained well. If it is not, your soil mixture is not combined properly, or the holes of the pot are not big enough.
Keep the plant in a place with a temperature between 60 and 70 degrees F (15-21 C) with a fair amount of indirect light.
In addition to these steps, remember to check the soil always before the next watering. Sometimes it will soak the water faster, sometimes it will not. So pay attention every 2 or 3 weeks because it depends on the place you put it and the soil.
Even though your cuttings will stay in water for several weeks, the transition process will last for a few months in the soil. Pay more attention during those months to see if your new stems are developing.
What to Do After You Root the Cuttings
During the spring and the summer, you will have to water your cactus regularly, meaning once in 2-3 weeks.
If the soil is not dry after two weeks, wait for a little longer and check if the drainage is adequate. This is why it is important to mix the right amount of soil and perlite or peat.
You also have to keep in mind that sometimes the room temperature will not be suitable for this cactus, so try to find an appropriate room.
If that does not help, maybe try using fertilization from April to October to provide suitable nutrients for your plant. The newly rooted stems should not be fertilized immediately. Wait at least three weeks and then check if it requires additional care.
Why You Need to Stay Persistent and Patient
As you have noticed, this process can last for quite a while. It will also be different for everyone as many factors influence the propagation process.
You can impact the placement of your plant, how much light it will get, the soil mixture or, the pot you place it in.
However, you cannot always control the temperature, because we are talking about indoor placements. During the winter, we heat the room, which can dry the plant’s leaves.
Also, you cannot control any sort of bacteria that can develop in the soil or the water, even if you change it regularly. Sometimes the cuttings are simply too damaged but you cannot notice it on the surface.
Nevertheless, be patient and hope for the best. Being delicate, cuttings simply need more attention and time to develop.
Do not compare cuttings as one might succeed one might not, just be persistent and try different techniques multiple times. In time, you will get more experienced.
Now you know how to propagate Christmas cactus so take some gardening gloves and get down to business. Good luck!
If you have already tried it, tell me, which method you used- in water or in soil? Hit the comments section below and share your precious experience with me!